Well that was…rough. Good think I’m not a betting man, am I right? OK. All jokes aside, it was a tough week for me, but these things do happen. No more excuses. I’ve got to turn this thing around for the credibility of my column and for the trust of my readers.
In order to do just that, I’m venturing to a dangerous place: I’m betting against my own team. Most of you reading this column already know that I’m a Cowboys fan and for those of you who don’t, hold your laughter before you look at the standings. The Cowboys are tied for the second best record in the league and truly look like they’ve turned a corner. They’ve got even me believing them a little bit. But I still have my doubts, so let’s dive in. This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.
Five Star Bets
Texans (+6) over COWBOYS (-110), Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
This is an extremely intriguing game from both a gambling aspect and a real-life aspect. It’s the battle between Texas’ two teams, one that comes around every four years. Also, the winner of this game will be 4-1, which actually has a somewhat decent shot to be, by itself, the best record in football after Week 5 is over. But as a long time Cowboys fan, I feel as though I can almost predict their next move. Dallas just got arguably its biggest win in years over the Saints, who, despite their struggles, are still the Saints. That means they’re primed for a letdown, and no team knows how to do letdowns better than the Dallas Cowboys. Not to mention that they’re favored by six whole points against a 3-1 team. It’s almost sad that this game has classic Cowboys written all over it. A loss would make all the good vibes from the Saints win disappear. Now, there’s no guarantee Dallas loses. J.J. Watt has a tough test against that offensive line and Ryan Fitzpatrick is still quarterbacking this team. In addition, teams tend to struggle when playing Thursday the following week and that’s what the Texans are doing — against the Colts, no less. But Houston will take this game seriously as sort of a rivalry game as well, and it’d be shocking to see these Cowboys cover.
Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
PACKERS (-9.5) over Vikings (-110), Confidence Rating: 4/5
Normally, I don’t like going near the Thursday games because they’re flukey, but this game is too good to be afraid of. Here are the facts: The Green Bay Packers are a good football team. The Minnesota Vikings, in their current state, are not. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers at the helm, a man who has a chip on his shoulder. The Vikings may be starting Christian Ponder, and if not, they’ll be starting rookie Teddy Bridgewater on a bum wheel. Neither of these teams will be looking past this game, but both got big wins last week, and I expect the Packers to handle success better than Minnesota. Down Adrian Peterson, the Vikes look rather overmatched in this one. The line is high, but Rodgers can put up points, and all of these Thursday night games (and a bunch of other primetime games too) have been blowouts. I expect the trend to continue.
Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
Ravens (+9.5) over COLTS, Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
Had it not been for the Steelers absolutely choking away the game against Tampa Bay, last week’s tantalizing teaser would have been a winner. So let’s start this week off with the Ravens. I’m going to be a big time hypocrite here and say I love the Ravens in this spot because the Colts are playing the following Thursday, yet I picked the Texans in spite of that. The difference is, there are several other reasons why I like Houston, as well as several other reasons why I don’t like Indianapolis. Both of these teams are coming off blowout wins, but Baltimore’s victory seems more legit because it was against at least a decent team. This is also going to be only the second good defense the Colts have faced all year. What happened the first time? They were in comeback mode, and if they are again, they can’t cover this teased line. Andrew Luck is very good, but the team around him really is not. Now facing a good team, it’ll be another close one for Andy, while the rest of his team might be looking forward to a more meaningful matchup with Houston.
Bills (+13) over LIONS, Confidence Rating: 4/5
With the Bills being 2-2 and the Lions being 3-1, this is going to mean more to Buffalo, as both teams have big divisional matchups next week. Detroit is coming off a nice win, while the Bills just had a tough loss, putting them in a better spot. The same logic for the Cowboys holds true to the Lions. This team has been such a train wreck in recent years, so can we count on them to sustain this success with everyone praising them? Maybe, but not against a line this high. Buffalo actually has a good defense, something that could really give the inconsistent Matthew Stafford struggles. I’m not buying Detroit yet, and it’s hard to see them beating a competent Buffalo team by two touchdowns. There’s also the factor of a new quarterback providing a spark, although who knows how much Kyle Orton and his neckbeard will do.
Jets (+12.5) over CHARGERS, Confidence Rating: 3.5/5
If this pick is wrong, then the Jets season is over in horrifying fashion — and a lot quicker than anyone had expected. That’s why I’m betting on a desperate New York team to save its season, at least for now. San Diego is a very good team and is riding high, while the Jets are on the ropes, making them much more dangerous. There’s also a very simple concept that should come into play here. Ever since Ryan Mathews has been out, the Chargers can’t run the ball. Coincidentally, the Jets cannot be run on. This is a trend I do not see changing, and as good as Phillip Rivers has been, it’s extremely hard to have success when a team takes away one of the two aspects of an offense. There’s always the possibility of a Jets implosion, so a teased line should help you sleep better at night.
Two-team teaser: Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
Three-team teaser: Bet $20, win $32; Bet $100, win $160
Rams over EAGLES (+260), Jets over CHARGERS (+250), Bills over LIONS (+275), Bears over PANTHERS (+120)
The Steve Smith revenge game really messed with my bets last week. How am I supposed to account for that? Anyways, all four of these dogs have a decent shot to win, and will be getting good value.
Because the Jets are extremely desperate and the Lions aren’t extremely trustworthy, couldn’t you see the AFC East coming out of these two games with a pair of victories? It really isn’t that far-fetched…The Eagles looked like a mess against the Niners. Can’t you see Robert Quinn and company wrecking havoc on this porous offensive line and making Nick Foles even more incompetent than he already is (I’m not a big Foles fan)? St. Louis is coming off a bye and had a lot of time to prepare for this. It wouldn’t shock me if the Austin Davis experiment rolls again, especially against a suspect Philly secondary…This Chicago-Carolina game is a real toss up, and neither team is in much of a better spot than the other. They both need a win, and both of their defenses need to stop the bleeding. However, one defense is facing Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery, while the other is facing Kelvin Benjamin, Fozzy Whitaker, and Philly Brown. I’ll take the Bears on a hunch.
Bet $5, win $514.74; Bet $10, win $1,029.50; Bet $20, win $2,059