From the best NFL games to bet, to the ones you should steer clear of, check out our guide to get you through the week a winner. Then check out how the rest of our crew of pigskin experts see this weekend’s action as they pick against the spread.
RAMS AT JETS
1 p.m. Sunday, FOX, Jets by 2, 39½
WALDER’S WISDOM: The scientifically-proven “Jeff Fisher .500 Theory” dictates that the 3-5 Rams should win this game. A coach as mediocre as Fisher never ought to stray too far from being perfectly average. But I’m not sure what happens to Fisher when he has a quarterback as horrendous as Case Keenum. Just kidding, I know exactly what happens. Remember when the Rams coach said on Hard Knocks, “I’m not f—ing going 7-9”? Yeah ya are, Jeff. Yeah ya are. And this is going to be one of the nine. Don’t get me wrong − the Jets have an awful quarterback, too. Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick might be the two worst QBs in the league right now. But the Jets are being treated as effective underdogs at home giving just 1.5 points. I don’t see that, because I think the Jets are slightly underrated given how many of their losses have come to good teams. Additionally, because the Jets’ defensive weakness is against the pass game (and they are so good against the run), Keenum is going to have to be passing, and that’s a problem for the Rams. Also, maybe it was the start of a trend or maybe it was just an aberration, but quietly Darrelle Revis played better last week.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Jets and the under.
BENGALS AT GIANTS
8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN, Pick ’Em, 47
WALDER’S WISDOM: Here are the four teams the Bengals have lost to this year: the Steelers, Broncos, Cowboys and Patriots. The NFL is complex, but sometimes the analysis can be simple. That list above is all you need to know about why the Bengals’ record is what it is this year. Cincinnati is the epitome of being consistently good from season to season and I don’t see a good reason why they ought to be any worse than decent the rest of the way. In addition, they are coming off of the bye, which ought to give them another boost. The Giants, meanwhile, sport a better record than the Bengals but have yet to win a single game by more than a score. I’ve actually been quite impressed by their defense and wouldn’t overreact to one bad game from Eli Apple. But the strong defensive play doesn’t make up for the reality that Eli Manning is not as good as Andy Dalton (don’t believe me? Check the numbers), which will be the difference in this one.
IF I WERE A BET TING MAN: Bengals and the under.
FALCONS AT EAGLES
1 p.m. Sunday, Falcons by 2, 50½
WALDER’S WISDOM: Want to know something bizarre? The Eagles − yes, the 4-4 Eagles − are still the No. 1-ranked team in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. No question, it’s odd, but that metric does a good job of synthesizing the fact that they have lost four one-score games while dominating the Steelers and Vikings. Also, they came awfully close to beating the Cowboys and the Giants the last two weeks, so they could easily be 6-2. The reason it seems more surprising is because Carson Wentz has hardly been impressive lately. Instead, this team is boosted by defense and special teams. Both of those units are rated No. 1 in their respective DVOA categories. Especially because the Eagles’ excellence isn’t on offense, they are not given the credit that they deserve. While Atlanta has been impressive this season, they do not deserve to be road favorites here.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Eagles and the under.
CHIEFS AT PANTHERS
1 p.m. Sunday, Panthers by 3, 44½
WALDER’S WISDOM: Justin Houston is back, baby.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.
One of the reasons I picked the Chiefs to beat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl was that I thought this team was strong enough to play well without Houston and that he would give that extra spurt of ability in the second half and the playoffs. Somehow, Houston is overshadowed by J.J. Watt, Von Miller and Khalil Mack, but this is a guy who racked up 22(!) sacks in 2014, the last time he played 16 games. No, I don ’t expect him to be a full go right away, but he should help what is already a strong defense. Alex Smith is returning as well, so this Chiefs team should be in good shape. While the Panthers have played better of late, the reality is that they are not the team that made it to the Super Bowl a season ago. Most of all their secondary has not been up to par, and I think that is something that will continue to plague them for the rest of the year.
IF I WERE A BET TING MAN: Chiefs and the over.
SEAHAWKS AT PATS
8:30 p.m. Sunday, Patriots by 7½, 49
WALDER’S WISDOM: This is a spot in which I basically would never consider the favorite. Seven-and-a-half-point spreads are a strong indication of a public-backed favorite, as most common bettors don ’t look all that closely at the number and are willing to lay that significant extra half point. I probably should be on the Seahawks, and I imagine the sportsbooks will be on the Seahawks. But I can’t go against my new rule − Always Bet On Belichick − because of that stat I dug up a few weeks ago. Remember, Belichick has covered 59.1% of the time against the spread since he took over the Patriots’ reigns. Which means that even though his teams have been considered very good for the vast majority of his tenure, he still manages to beat expectations.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Patriots and the under.
49ERS AT CARDS
4:25 p.m. Sunday, Cards by 13½, 48½
WALDER’S WISDOM: Chip Kelly’s fightin’ ’49ers let me down last week as my best bet, but I just can’t quit ’em. San Francisco is, unequivocally, a terrible football team. They’ve got a firm handle on the title of second-worst team in the league, and that’s why they’re getting so many points this week. But let’s talk about that number: 13.5 points. That is a lot for a team that has underperformed this year to lay. It’s too much. The 49ers are an auto-pick for me because of the double-digit spread, but I’ll throw another reason why you ought to take them this week: Colin Kaepernick. Last week against the Saints, Kaepernick completed 24 of 39 passes with two TDs and an interception (along with 23 rushing yards), in his best game of the year. If he’s just decent, the 49ers should cover.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: 49ers and the under.
BRONCOS AT SAINTS
1 p.m. Sunday, Saints by 2½, 49
WALDER’S WISDOM: I’ve been think ing about it and I’ve finally figured it out: Vegas just hates the Broncos. Well that, or Vegas is anticipating everyone else underrating the Broncos so much that, expecting bets against them, they aren’t making lines suggesting the Broncos are one of the best teams in football.
Guess what? The Broncos are one of the best teams in football. I’m not really sure why that should be hard to figure out. They’re 6-3 and their defense is Joe Flacco-level ELITE. Listen, Trevor Siemian isn’t great, but he isn’t the reason that this Broncos team is good. Accept him for what he is and just understand Denver doesn’t have to rely on him all that much. Meanwhile, the Saints defense stinks.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Broncos and the under.
BOYS AT STEELERS
4:25 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 5, Steels by 2, 50½
WALDER’S WISDOM: This is a nice recency-bias buster game for us to take advantage of. It’s a pretty clear picture: This game features two of the best teams in football. The Cowboys are coming off of a blowout victory in Cleveland (it was the Browns, relax), while Pittsburgh suffered a loss to the Ravens even with Ben Roethlisberger back. So quite possibly because of those two results, the Cowboys are an effective neutral-field favorite here by getting only 2.5 points on the road. I think this game clearly ought to be a three-point spread, so we’re getting an extremely significant half point by taking Pittsburgh in this game. Also, last week Roethlisberger obviously wasn’t at 100%, having come back early from injury. He’s had another week to recover and should be better.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Steelers and the under.
VIKES AT WASHINGTON
1 p.m. Sunday, Washington by 2½, 41½
WALDER’S WISDOM: Confession: After I traveled to Minnesota and watched the Vikings beat the Giants in Week 4, I promptly booked hotel rooms for the first two rounds of the playoffs in Minneapolis on the off-chance I’d be back for those games. So yeah, maybe I jinxed them.
Since then, the Vikings are 1-3 and their current three-game skid has people running away from them. Their offensive line is terrible, I get it. But if there’s one thing I try and do in this column it’s to look at teams through a wider lens − i.e. a larger sample − so I’m not just going to focus on Minnesota’s struggles, but how good they were before. I still think that talent is ingrained in this team, and to a certain degree, Vegas agrees, since Minnesota is only 2.5-point dogs.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Vikings and the under.
BEARS AT BUCS
1 p.m. Sunday, Bears by 1, 45½
WALDER’S WISDOM: I’m confused by this spread. Somehow the Bucs are so bad that they are home dogs to… Smokin ’ Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears? That doesn’t feel right. Chicago is probably a better team than Tampa Bay both DVOA and ESPN ’s FPI say so — but not by much. I don’t think, like, 4.5 points kind of better. That’s what we’re seeing here. I’ve written before, that Jameis Winston has completely flopped relative to my — or anyone’s — expectations this year.
But this seems like a good spot to pick them. They ’re coming off of a large-margin loss — a 43-28 defeat to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football in Week 9 — which means that we’ve got the recency bias factor working in our favor. It might not be pretty, but it’s the right call.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Bucs and the under.
TEXANS AT JAGUARS
1 p.m. Sunday, Jaguars by 1.5, 42.5
PICK: Jaguars and the over.
DOLPHINS AT CHARGERS
4:05 p.m. Sunday, Chargers by 4, 48.5
PICK: Chargers and the under.
LOOK, DON’T TOUCH
PACKERS AT TITANS
1 p.m. Sunday, Packers by 2.5, 49.5
This pick is difficult because I’m anticipating a line move in the opposite direction that I want to bet. With 84% of the bets coming on Green Bay, per theSpread.com, and with the Packers being a team that many folks like to bet on, I think that by Sunday this line will move to three.
At that point, I’d definitely be feeling the Titans. At +2.5, it’s a lot closer. So my actual advice is to hold off on this game, and then jump on the Titans if you see them at +3.
But if you’re telling me you literally cannot resist betting on this game at this very moment? Oy. OK, hang on, let me think for a minute.
(30 minutes just passed.)
Ugh, fine. Titans. I guess since it makes me uncomfortable it must be the right move.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Titans and the over.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET: 49ers. Sticking to my guns. One of these days they’ll cover for me.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News