It was a bit of an up and down week for me. I was right on the Chiefs and Jaguars pulling off upsets, but dead wrong on Seattle and San Francisco. And the Cowboys too, but I can live with that. This week I’d like to focus on a very important football player in the NFL today: Andrew Luck.
Luck was not only the No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford, but also the supposed second coming of Peyton Manning. He was drafted by the Colts, had all the talent and intangibles in the world, and he had something special about him. That something special was what made me believe that from Day 1 (before Day 1, back when he was in college actually), Luck was going to be the real deal, and nothing was going to stop that. Then, despite having a fantastic rookie year and leading a previously 2-14 Colts team to the playoffs, people were, for some reason, saying that Robert Griffin III should have been taken ahead of him. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but even back then, that was an absurd claim. You don’t bet against Andrew Luck.
Which leads me to the theme for my column: not betting against Luck. The QB has taken a huge leap in his third year, and you can make an argument that he’s a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. Probably in three years, he’ll be no worse than second. And maybe a few years after that, he’ll be alone at that top.
Luck wins games. Luck makes comebacks. And Luck covers spreads. The Colts are 6-1 ATS this year, better than any team in the NFL, and Luck is a huge part of that. Back when I was betting on the NBA last year, I would bet on the Spurs and the Pacers (in the first half of the season) all the time because they always came through, no matter the spot. Sometimes there are teams that are like that. Or in this case, sometimes there are players that are like that.
Five Star Bets
Colts (-3.5) over STEELERS, Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
I think I gave you guys enough reasons to pick the Colts in this one, but I’ll throw you a few more. First, Andrew Luck. Second, while both teams are coming off big wins, Pittsburgh has one less day to prepare after playing Monday. Third, Andrew Luck. Fourth, the Steelers have a huge game next Sunday night, hosting Baltimore (arguably their biggest game of the season). While this game is important too, they may overlook it. Fifth, Andrew Luck. Sixth, after watching these two teams play the past few weeks, how do you not pick the Colts to cover? And seventh, and finally, Andrew Luck.
Bet $20, win $19.04; Bet $100, win $95.23
Bears (+6) over PATRIOTS, Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
If it wasn’t for all the Luck love, this game would be No. 1 because of how good of a spot the Bears are in. See, the Bears aren’t a bad team, they’re just wildly inconsistent. They’re winless at home, but this game is in New England. They’re coming off a loss, while the Pats are coming off a win. They seem to be one of those “every other week” teams like the Jets were last year. They’re also heading into a bye next week, while New England has a HUGE contest coming up against Denver. And, to be honest, are we so sure that the Pats are so good and the Bears are so bad? This line is too high, and I’ll gladly take it with Jekyll Cutler at the helm.
Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
Lions (+3.5) over FALCONS, Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
Both of these teams have byes this week and while the Lions won a tough one against the Saints while Atlanta lost in a blowout, I just can’t feel confident about them at all not playing in the Georgia Dome. This game is in London, so it’s going to be funky, no doubt. But when you have the ferocious Lions defensive line going up against a banged up Falcons offensive line , this seems like a no brainer. I’ll take the teased line and the points to stay on the safe side, but I expect Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate to enjoy some tea and crumpets in this game.
Eagles (+8.5) over CARDINALS, Confidence Rating: 4/5
Battle of the birds, it appears. The Eagles were really good coming off a bye with Andy Reid coaching, and I expect it to continue with Chip Kelly. Philly is undefeated after the bye with Kelly manning the controls! OK, so they’re only 1-0, but that one game was off their bye last year against these same Cardinals, ironically enough. Arizona is coming off a win and riding high, but the normal line in this game was giving the Eagles points anyways, which is odd, because I feel like Philadelphia is the better team. Give me 8.5 and I’m all over this one.
Packers (+7) over SAINTS, Confidence Rating: 4/5
Despite covering last week, the Saints blew a road game to the Lions, making some wonder when the bleeding will stop. It might be this week at the Super Dome, but with the red-hot Packers coming to town, it might not. Contrary to what we thought at the beginning of the season, New Orleans is not really close to as good as Green Bay is. Combine that with the fact that the Saints have to play Thursday, in an enormous divisional tilt against the Panthers (they’ve got to know their only playoff hope is winning the division) and that the Packers are playing the bye, and it’s just too good a spot too ignore. Of course, contrary to what some people think, the Saints are not terrible, and could very well win this game, so I like the +7 a little more.
Two-team teaser: Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
Three-team teaser: Bet $20, win $32; Bet $100, win $160
Eagles over CARDINALS, Bills over JETS, Bears over PATRIOTS, Vikings over BUCCANEERS
Already told you who I feel will win battle of the birds, but I like Philly to win this game outright, even in a tough environment in Arizona…Buffalo has a bye next week, and something tells me the Jets come out a little flat after giving it their all against New England on Thursday. Don’t expect Percy Harvin to rescue them yet. The Bills are the better team…With Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte, Chicago always has a shot. It wouldn’t shock me to see them upset New England…I don’t have a great feel on this game, but here’s my logic: It’s a bad team against a worse team. And the worse team is laying points. So take the Vikings over toxic Tampa.
Bet $5, win $171.46; Bet $10, win $342.93; Bet $20, win $685.87