You know what the beautiful thing about sports betting is? Anything can happen. Ok, well maybe that’s not beautiful. In fact, it showed last week with my picks. While I was saved by Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks in overtime, Carolina bombed against the Steelers, leading me to go 1-1 in my Five-Star Bets. Granted, I may have overlooked that the Steelers were in a much better “spot” than the Panthers, which is something I wanted to focus on in my column this week. In addition, I went 2-1 in my teaser picks, as my archrival Giants came back to bite me, showing they’re not dead yet. 2-1 isn’t terrible, but you don’t win any teasers going 2-1.
To help clarify my picks this week, I’m going to give each pick a confidence rating out of 5. That way, it will give you a better judgement on who to pick and how confident you can feel. Also, keep in mind that in my teasers and parlays, the picks I make are sometimes different than my best bets, but it wouldn’t hurt to throw them in a teaser or parlay as well. As always, choose wisely, but let’s get into the games and put some focus on the spot.
Panthers (+3) over RAVENS (+105), Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
Carolina betrayed me last week…yet they’ve made it back into my Five-Star Bets. What gives? I’ll give them a second chance because I think they’re a lot better than they showed against Pittsburgh. That defense is legit (I know what happened Sunday night), and the Baltimore offense is very hit-or-miss and will be even more without security blanket Dennis Pitta. Defense can weather the storm of playing on the road, so I like the Panthers getting 3 points here. Now let’s look at the spot. Both of these teams have tough matchups next week, with Carolina hosting the Bears and the Ravens going to Indianapolis, but it’s not likely for either team to really look ahead to those games. Instead, let’s remember that Baltimore barely squeezed out a win over the Browns, while the Panthers were blown out. Look for Carolina to have revenge on their minds and Baltimore to come out flat.
Bet $20, win $21; Bet $100, win $104.99
Falcons (-3) over VIKINGS (-110), 4.5/5
For once, on the road, the Falcons will feast. Atlanta has a lot of things going for them in this contest. First off, the Falcons have some extra rest, having not played since their thrashing of the Bucs last Thursday night. On the contrary, Minnesota will be looking ahead to next Thursday and a date to Lambeau. As I mentioned last week, teams playing on Thursday the following week usually fall flat on Sunday. These factors are precisely what put the Falcons in a great spot. But when you look at this matchup on paper, you think the same thing. Can someone explain to me how Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Asiata are going to not get outscored by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones by at least 3 points? Sometimes it’s that simple. I know Atlanta is bad on the road and I know a QB switch can breath some life into a team, but at the end of the day, the Falcons offense is that much better than the Vikings offense. And they got that spot thing I mentioned, remember?
Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
COLTS (-1.5) over Titans, 4/5
Sometimes, looking ahead can be a little overrated. For example, just because Indianapolis is hosting Baltimore next week doesn’t mean that they’ll overlook their current game. This one is more important. They’re 1-2 playing a divisional game at home. It’s not a must-win, but it’s close. The Colts will be ready. And that Andrew Luck guy is pretty damn good. Even if his team starts slow, Luck should have no issue shredding the Tennessee defense to bring them back. Although I do still wonder when Ahmad Bradshaw will take over as the top running back for Indy. Maybe it’s this week. Sorry T-Rich, you are the weakest link. And on the other side, oh how the mighty, mighty Titans have fallen. After being blown out two straight weeks, they look like just another below average team. However, there’s just enough talent for Jake Locker to throw to that makes me avoid the original line and want to tease it. This is a must win for Tennessee too, so they’ll be ready as well. The Colts are just better. Feel free to pick this game normally if Locker’s injury keeps him out of the game. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to make that bet now, that way, if he does sit, you’ll be looking at a much more manageable 7.5 points (or 1.5 if you tease) and Charlie Whitehurst as the only thing standing in your way.
STEELERS (-1.5) over Buccaneers, 4.5/5
The Bucs have officially made it onto my poison list (the only other team on there right now is Jacksonville) after being housed by Atlanta the same way a frat guy would destroy a case of beer. Pittsburgh is better than Tampa Bay in so many ways. They’re light years better on offense. Le’veon Bell is like the anti-Doug Martin, and I’m not sure who is even going to start for the Bucs (I really don’t care) but he won’t be as good as Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers D isn’t good, but Tampa Bay is atrocious, which is shocking with Lovie Smith as head coach (poor guy). It looks like this team has already quit. So Pittsburgh by only 2? Yes please! The only reasons I’m not all over them and that they’re not a Five-Star Bet is that the Steelers are coming off a huge win and may sleepwalk through this one (that burned me with Carolina last week) and I’m still a little tentative after writing teams off for dead when the Giants showed me last week that they were still alive.
CHIEFS (+9.5) over Patriots, 4.5/5
Why do I love to tease this line so much? Let me count the ways. Kansas City looked competent in Miami on Sunday. Whether Jamaal Charles or Knile Davis (or Joe McKnight!) is running the ball, Andy Reid’s ground game should succeed. Keep in mind, this team was very close to beating Denver in Denver. Another reason? The Pats looked miserable against the Raiders at home. Yeah, that’s an actual factual sentence. It’s hard to be confident in them. Then you tell me New England hosts Cincinnati next week, a game that could very well decide if they get a first round bye or not? And all the Chiefs have to do is not lose by double digits at Arrowhead freaking Stadium?!? This game is a goldmine of “the spot,” but there are a few things that can prove the spot wrong here or there. One of them is a good quarterback, and would anyone really be shocked if Tom Brady pulls out a vintage performance on MNF as everyone is doubting him? That’s why I like teasing K.C. more than picking the normal line.
Two-team teaser: Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
Three-team teaser: Bet $20, win $32; Bet $100, win $160
Panthers (+155) over RAVENS (CR: 4/5), COWBOYS (+145) over Saints (CR: 2.5/5), Bills (+155) over TEXANS (CR: 2.5/5), CHIEFS (+160) over Patriots (CR: 3/5)
So I’m cheating and using some repeats, but hey, I’m trying to give you a better bet. There’s a lot of sketchy lines this week, some I wouldn’t touch with the money of my worst enemy. That being said, I’ll take Carolina and Kansas City to win outright here for reasons above, as well as the fact that they’re both at good value. The Cowboys pick was more of a “fuck it” pick to add value to the moneyline. Neither of these teams are in a particularly good or bad spot, but we’ve seen New Orleans lose on the road twice already, and if they’re not as good as we thought they were, and if DeMarco Murray can actually hold onto the ball and keep it away from Drew Brees, it’s not unthinkable to see Dallas get a win in primetime. Then again, I’m sure Jerry Jones will keep the dome closed. And who on this defense can even think about guarding Jimmy Graham? Let’s move on before I change my mind. Finally, I think the Bills have a shot here. This game is really a toss-up between two bad quarterbacks, so it’s just a matter of which team can win in spite of their signal caller. It’s tough to say, and it will be interesting to watch, as this game should tell us a lot about these two teams. But when in doubt, take the points.
Bet $5, win $202.10; Bet $10, win $404.20; Bet $20, win $808.41
See that number? $800! You could win that! (Sorry, I’m doing my best to not be an enabler.) Best of luck this week everyone, and hopefully we can get this column on track and I can make you richer than Floyd Mayweather’s future great grandchildren ever will be.