I’ll be going to Vegas on December 14th. Just a quick weekend trip, to try to not lose all my money on sports gambling, see a live NHL game, maybe worm our way into the big UFC fight at whatever arena they’re doing it in. Should be a good time!
So, in our run-up to that weekend, my buddy and I have been throwing out fake bets every week to try to hone our craft. We’ve dabbled in teases, parlays, moneyline parlays, over/unders, and just your general regular point-spread bets. It’s been a mixed bag, and I know anything can happen in any given week, but I feel like I’m making some real progress in my way of thinking about these things.
I was all over the Jets last weekend. For some ungodly reason, the Redskins were favored by 1.5 points, which makes no sense because their quarterback doesn’t even know the playbook! He’s looked as bad and as unprepared as anyone has ever looked, and I know it never feels great putting your hard-earned fake money on a team like the Jets, but they absolutely should’ve had no problem getting the win in that game. Lo and behold, count one for the good guys!
Of course, by the same token, I loved the Steelers on the moneyline, who were getting points against the Browns. The Browns have now been favored for 2 straight weeks against some quality defenses (the Bills the week before) and have covered both games, which is interesting because coming into that Bills game, the Browns were a whopping 2-6 and looked dead in the water. My radar was flagged when they were favored against the Bills, like Vegas knew something the rest of us didn’t. Like they were expecting a big Browns bounce-back or something. Here we are, and they’re now 4-6 and were starting to look frisky until that guy murdered that other guy with his own helmet on national television. I think that’s what happened, right? First degree premeditated murder? That’s what everyone’s so God damned up in arms about?
One trend I’ve noticed is Vegas has seriously overestimated the defensive capabilities of the Tampa Bay Bucs. For the last three weeks, their over/unders have been set FAR too low; I’ve fake-bet the over in each of the last three Tampa games and would’ve come out a winner. I want to make sure I track these games for the next few weeks and see who else has shoddy defensive play that we can exploit for big financial gains! And, conversely, which defenses are playing really well, to pound some unders.
I think Dallas’ defense is sneaky terrible. Minnesota’s defense is vastly overrated. Jacksonville might be on the decline and could fall apart at any time. Washington’s defense is, of course, abysmal. Nothing to like about Miami. Houston’s defense could be on the decline as well. Arizona, of course, couldn’t stop a cold (is how I think that phrase goes). On the flipside, maybe Philly’s defense is back? And Atlanta has been particularly frisky in their quest to save Dan Quinn’s job since the BYE.
Anyway, heading into tonight’s game, 7 of the weekend’s games went over, and 6 (including Thursday) went under, which I would presume is exactly where Vegas wants it to be.
I did like Dallas to cover 4.5 points, Buffalo and New Orleans to prevail pretty strongly in their respective games (or, at least knew enough to stay away from Miami and Tampa). I liked Oakland in any tease you wanted to put them in, but I also liked them straight up and they didn’t cover the double-digit spread somehow. I also thought Carolina would get right and they looked as bad as can be.
So, let’s get to it. I’ll throw out some of my best bets below for next weekend and we’ll see how I do.
Just to get it out of the way, Thursday Games should be off limits for the purposes of this exercise, but I like to look at them anyway because they can be wacky and if I ever quit my job to gamble on sports full time, I’d like a head start on where I think these games will go. So, let’s look at Houston/Indy. The Texans are at home and favored by 3.5 points. I think Vegas expects a lot of money on Indy with that extra half point. The Colts are good, but banged up. The Texans, on the other hand, just got thrashed by the Ravens. The over/under is 46.5, but I have no good read on that; I would assume a lot of these Thursday games go under just by way of still recovering from the week before. If I had to bet this game, I’d take the Texans. I think they win by 7+.
Oh man, there are so many interesting gambling games this weekend! The one that jumps out at me is Cleveland -10 at home against Miami. Vegas is all in on this Browns resurgence! I think that’s too many points though, especially with the Browns losing their best player for the rest of the year. I think this line moves down a bit before gametime; I’m inclined to go Dolphins. And, if I’m inclined to do that, I’m also inclined to parlay that with the over of 44.5 points. So, maybe one with the Dolphins and the points, and a separate bet parlaying the over. I could also tease the Dolphins and the over, moving 6 points for each, so it’s Miami +16 and over 38.5.
Next up, let’s look at that Tampa game. With an over/under of 54, it looks like Vegas is finally correcting themselves. The interesting thing here is that this game is in Atlanta, and the “lowly” Falcons are favored by 4.5 points. Now, obviously the Falcons have looked excellent the last two weeks – at NO and at CAR – and with that has come a rejuvenated defensive performance from the team. By that token, something has to give here. Either Tampa’s passing attack brings them back down to Earth, or the Falcons continue this improbable run they’ve been on and the under comes into play. In a weird scheduling quirk, this is the third division game out of five in a row for the Falcons (they also host the Saints and Panthers again in the next two weeks). I don’t know how that plays into this, but any information is good information, I suppose. Part of me wonders if the Falcons haven’t stumbled onto something; but also they can’t be this good and these good vibes have to end sometime! This game is probably a stay-away for me, but I think if anything this game probably goes under for Tampa for the first time since I’ve been tracking this.
Okay, here’s an easy tease: Pittsburgh at Cincy is favored by 6.5; New England at home vs. Dallas is favored by 6.5. Tease Pittsburgh and New England down to 0.5, to where they just have to win their respective games. I think the Steelers’ defense is good enough to hold Cincy at bay, and I think the Pats are simply better-coached than the Cowboys. That should be an easy 2-team tease right there.
Here’s another tease that might float your boat: New Orleans at home is giving 9 to Carolina; the Bears at home are giving the Giants 7. Tease the Saints to 3 and the Bears to 1. The Bears’ defense is good enough by itself to get that win over a pretty terrible Giants team; at worst I think this ends up being a push if the Saints only win by a field goal. You can also mix & match these with my Pittsburgh and/or New England teasers.
Underdog Watch! How can you not like the Seahawks getting 2.5 points in Philly after a week off? The Seahawks under Pete Carroll generally come out with a win in games leading up to and immediately following their BYE. You could take the Seahawks on the moneyline, or you could take the points and I wouldn’t be mad atcha; this one should be close regardless. With an over/under of 49, I could certainly see this one going over, but I don’t know if the Seahawks’ defense has turned a corner or not. I wouldn’t bet the under, because I think you’re going to be clenching your buttcheeks for 3+ hours, so probably stay away from that one and just take the Seahawks and the points.
In Irrational Homer picks, I have a doozy. I’ve been saying this for two weeks and I’m ready to quadruple-down on it here: the Packers are going to San Francisco and they’re getting 3.5 points. Not only do I think the cover is a mortal lock, I think the Packers will actually come away with the win. So, bet the Packers on the moneyline to your heart’s content!
Finally, I’ll present Steven’s Stay-Aways, the games I won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. I want no part of Tennessee (-2.5) vs. Jacksonville. I don’t like anyone crossing multiple time zones, so don’t talk to me about Oakland (-3) at the Jets. And, God help me if I change my mind and put money on Detroit (-3) at Washington (unless you like over 41.5, because I think these defenses are both pretty crappy; you know what, put a hundo on the over!).
As usual, I’m a degenerate. Happy gambling everyone!