It took longer than I expected but after nine weeks of the NFL season, I finally find myself standing on the positive side of a .500 record. A 6-2 Week 9 record against the spread helped my cause. It definitely eased the pain from my nightmarish 1-7 record from Week 2.
It’s refreshing to be in this side of the world, even though being two games over .500 still doesn’t qualify as a winning record for me. Moving forward definitely requires being in my A game, which is what I plan (or hope) to do now that the real pressure-packed games in the NFL have arrived.
The Browns have a meaningful game this late in the season?!
You better believe it, ladies and gentlemen! The plucky Cleveland Browns are 5-3 heading to Week 10 and are actually just a half-game out of first place in the AFC North. This Thursday, they can go a long ways in vaulting to the top spot if they can beat the Cincinnati Bengals at home as 6-point underdogs. It’s easier said than done, especially when it involves playing a Bengals team that hasn’t lost at home in their last 14 regular reason games at Paul Brown Stadium. I don’t any lopsided betting action on either side here so don’t expect the line to move as high as -7 for the Bengals or as low as -5.
London Calling Part 3
Did you know that the Jacksonville Jaguars is in Year 2 of a four-year schedule that lets them play one game in London every year? It’s too bad that the NFL couldn’t have picked a better team to do it, but I do understand considering that owner Shad Kahn likely has the most ties to London than any other NFL owner on the strength of his ownership of Fulham FC. Anyway, the NFL’s third and final London game of the season has the Jaguars playing the Dallas Cowboys. Most books have put this game off the board but some opened the line with the Cowboys as -7.5 favorites. Something tells me that number was posted with the belief that Tony Romo would be available for the game. I suggest holding off on making any picks until there’s more clarity on Romo’s status.
Miami travels to the Motor City
A lot of playoff implications on this game for both teams, even if it is an inter-conference matchup. The Lions currently occupy the top spot in the NFC North while the Dolphins are right in the heels of the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The line opened with the Lions at -3 for a lot of books even though some veered away from that number and had the Dolphins as short favorites. Detroit giving a field goal sounds like a more natural number so I’ll stick with that. In any case, this is another game that doesn’t look like it’ll get heavy action on one side. Both teams have been playing great this season and there’s enough reason to justify picking one over the other. That being said, I’ll stick to my own personal growing trend and wait later in the week before making any picks.
Saints host Kaepernick and company
Another game oozing with serious playoff implications. San Francisco has lost its last two games and now finds itself traveling to New Orleans to play a Saints team that has won its last two to keep its own hopes of winning the NFC South alive. The line for this game opened with New Orleans as -3.5 favorites, the same number it had last season when it won against San Francisco at home, 23-20. I’m not a huge believer in San Francisco this season and it’s not helping their cause that Jim Harbaugh seems to be going through the motions knowing full well that he’s not coming back to coach this team next season. I’m leaning on New Orleans on this game but I’d be very cautious about how the line moves from that opening number. If it goes up to the Saints laying more than four points, I’d stay away. But if it sticks to that number – or even goes down – I’m riding with the home team to make it 12 straight wins in the Dome.
The Cellar of the NFC South
Remember when the Atlanta Falcons annihilated the Tampa Bay Bucs in Week 3, 56-14? Well, these two teams meet for the second time this season and the Falcons are -1 favorites…in Tampa? There’s a lot about this game that sounds really sketchy to me, not the least of which is the fact that both teams suck. I’ve always stayed away from games where both teams are inept so I’ll probably do the same on this one. As far as line movement goes, I think the number moves to a pick ‘em by kick-off, or maybe even the Bucs switching with the Falcons as the short favorites. Either way, it sounds like a stay-away for me.
Big Ben takes hot arm to the Meadowlands
Here’s another quick stat for you: Ben Roethlisberger has 12 touchdowns in the last two games. The New York Jets have eight passing touchdowns in the entire season. Knowing that and seeing how both teams have played this season, it’s mind-boggling how the Steelers opened as -3 favorites agains the Jets. That number should be a higher by at least two points. You know where I’m going with this, right? Run to your books and bet on Pittsburgh! This may end up being one of the worse sucker bets I’ve ever taken, but I can’t see a scenario where the Jets can keep it close and cover, let alone win the whole game.
Baltimore, Denver laying double digits
I’ll group these two games together since they’re the only ones (so far) with double-digit spreads. The Baltimore Ravens host the Tennesse Titans as -10.5 favorites, even though it appears that the Titans have all but given up on all of their quarterbacks. This game has a chance to get out of hand quickly, especially when you have a Ravens team steaming over getting hung by Ben Roethlisberger to the tune of six touchdowns. If the line moves down from 10, I’d take the Ravens in a heartbeat. Actually, I’d take them at -10.5, too.
Speaking of blowouts-in-the-making, the Denver Broncos opened as -11.5 favorites against the Oakland Raiders. Sure, the game’s going to be in Oakland, but isn’t that the only thing going for the Raiders these days? Having to face Peyton Manning a week after he got pasted in New England isn’t going to invite a ton of confidence either. I’d probably get that line this early because something tells me that’s going to go way up to two touchdowns later in the week.