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.
JETS AT STEELERS
1 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 2, Steelers by 7, 48
WALDER’S WISDOM: Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets have soured to the point that I and many others feel uncomfortable wagering money on them. The back end of the defense is porous and Fitzpatrick looks like he’s regressed to like his 2009 level of play. Perfect! This clearly represents an opportunity.
Gang Green’s backs are against the wall with their record sitting at 1-3, and with virtually no belief in them. Meanwhile the Steelers have regained the status as a popular pick after their absolute destruction of the Chiefs last week. That one will be hard to forget.
But the Jets don’t need to beat the Steelers to cover this line — there’s plenty of room under seven for them to lose and still cover. And who knows? Ryan Fitzpatrick could have a good day. Darrelle Revis (if healthy) and the secondary could have a good day. All we’re asking is for the Jets to keep this one close.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Jets and the under.
GIANTS AT PACKERS
8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC, Packers by 7.5, 48
WALDER’S WISDOM: This is another great spot for the bettor, because you can see the overreaction in the line itself. The Giants received a smacking in prime time last week and now find themselves more than a touchdown underdogs. That difference of a half point — from 7 to 7.5 — is really insulting to Big Blue.
Here’s the thing: The Giants lost to a good team in the Vikings. A very good team! Why should we change our opinion about them this much after losing a game that, frankly, they were expected to lose.
At this point I think of Big Blue as a league-average team. Green Bay is good — no question about it. But the odds of the Giants winning on Sunday night combined with the odds of them losing by a touchdown or less ought to be more than 50%. Plus, one of these days Odell Beckham Jr. is going to get his head screwed back on straight breakout in a major way.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Giants and the under.
EAGLES AT LIONS
1 p.m. Sunday, Eagles by 3, 46.5
WALDER’S WISDOM: We’re going to continue to fade Carson Wentz until it finally nets us a win.
Seriously, I think it pays to bet against the rookie. Unquestionably, he’s been good through his first three games. But I think it’s worth keeping in mind that he still hasn’t proven it against a good defense yet. The Eagles have played the Browns, Bears and Steelers so far, and none of those teams particularly scare opposing offensive coordinators.
It just seems unlikely that Wentz is really that good already. And here’s the real kicker — the Eagles are being priced like he’s definitely a very strong quarterback already, rather than still somewhat of an unknown quantity. While some of the Eagles’ rise has been due to their defense — which does seem very legitimate — being three-point favorites on the road (read: nine-ish point favorites at home) is an honor rarely bestowed upon someone with a question mark at quarterback. Therefore, the Lions represent a value on Sunday.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Lions and the under.
(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
PATRIOTS AT BROWNS
1 p.m. Sunday, Patriots by 10.5, 47
WALDER’S WISDOM: Remember back in Week 2 when my stats dive revealed that since 2000, double-digit underdogs covered the spread 54.8% of the time? Well I’m obviously going to stick to my guns on this one.
This time it’s an even more enticing opportunity, with the Browns as double-digit home underdogs — a pretty rare occurrence. On top of that, factor in that Tom Brady is returning from his four-game DeflateGate suspension and that Rob Gronkowski is presumably healthier with each passing day, and you have to figure that everyone will want to be on the New England bandwagon. It’s Brady’s revenge tour! They’ll blow the Browns out by 50!
We’ll see about that.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Browns and the under.
BUCS AT PANTHERS
8:30 p.m. Monday, Panthers by 7, Off
WALDER’S WISDOM: This feels like an awfully high spread for a game where Cam Newton (concussion) may not play. It’s still not clear if Newton will be back in time, so I’m thinking there’s value in guessing that Derek Anderson will be the starter and that this line will drop as a result — so grab the Bucs at +7 while you can.
The key to this equation is that the Panthers defense has been just OK through the first four games of the season, so it isn’t like they are able to carry a game perhaps like they might have been able to a year ago. Their pass defense in particular isn’t as good, so I’m thinking this will be a big game for Jameis Winston.
Both these teams were blown out a week ago, but my guess is that most people still believe in the Panthers (as evidenced by this line) and have given up on the Bucs.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Bucs and the over.
BEARS AT COLTS
1 p.m. Sunday, Colts by 4.5, 48
WALDER’S WISDOM: When are people going to stop giving the Colts credit they don’t deserve? I know Andrew Luck is a talented quarterback, but that really isn’t enough. And years of poor front office decisions by Colts GM Ryan Grigson has put this team in a position where it is so bad that that even Luck can’t save them.
The Colts rank 27th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA at the moment, and yet somehow we are to believe they are at least 1.5 points better than the Bears (23rd in DVOA) on a neutral field? Why?
Let’s take the points and roll with Brian Hoyer again.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Bears and the under.
BENGALS AT COWBOYS
4:25 p.m. Sunday, Bengals by 1, 45.5
WALDER’S WISDOM: This is a tough one for me because I feel like the Bengals are generally an underrated team, but I’ve also been a believer in Dak Prescott since the preseason. I feel like Vegas hasn’t quite made up its mind about Prescott, and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit here as a slight home dog. The rookie QB, in case you hadn’t noticed, still hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season and is sporting a quarterback rating just shy of 100.
Another big factor here is that the Dallas defense has been adequate. They’re 18th in total defense and (10th in points), which is actually good enough! The Cowboys can control the game with their offense and as long as the defense holds its own, they ought to be in the same ballpark as the Bengals. Add in the home field advantage of Jerry World, and the Cowboys are the play.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Cowboys and the under.
TITANS AT DOLPHINS
1 p.m. Sunday, Dolphins by 3.5, 43.5
WALDER’S WISDOM: As of writing this no decisions have been made about the state of this game with Hurricane Matthew threatening Florida. It’s unclear what will happen, and while the game may end up still going ahead as scheduled or in Miami with a delay, there has be to some chance that this game gets moved to a neutral site, which could limit the Dolphins’ home field advantage. That chance probably isn’t being baked into the spread at the moment, so there’s probably a sliver of value to be scooped up by taking this line now with the possibility of the game being moved later.
The Titans continue to be one of those teams that it is hard to have confidence in, but the reality is that Miami isn’t a good team either. Because of that, I think the Titans would still be the play here at +3.5 even if the game is played as planned.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Titans and the under.
FALCONS AT BRONCOS
4:05 p.m. Sunday, Broncos by 5.5, 47
WALDER’S WISDOM: I generally like to pick against teams coming off of wins in which they greatly outperformed expectations. Unfortunately, some of the time two of those teams face each other — which is what we’ve got in this case.
This game and this spread boil down to the question of: is Atlanta legit? I think the line of Broncos by 5.5 is essentially saying, “we don’t know.” The Broncos are by and large a known quantity, but the Falcons are difficult to read. They’ve lost to the Bucs but beaten the Raiders, Saints and Panthers (and how good are the Panthers? That’s another question).
This is a close one but I’ll edge toward the underdog, especially since in the back of my mind I’m still questioning Trevor Siemian, who is battling a shoulder injury. If Paxton Lynch starts instead, all the better.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Falcons and the under.
Sam Bradford hands the ball off to Jerick McKinnon.
(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
TEXANS AT VIKINGS
1 p.m. Sunday, Vikings by 6.5, 40
WALDER’S WISDOM: I was in Minneapolis last weekend and came away impressed with just about everything. The stadium was great, their defense was awesome and that new chant they stole from Iceland was pretty cool too.
But you know who else came away impressed with the Vikings? Everyone watching Monday Night Football (which is probably a lot of people), which has almost certainly secured the Vikings in the top tier of football teams in most people’s minds. It’s hard to argue anything about that because they really have been fantastic.
This matchup isn’t one where I can point to a singular piece of evidence to suggest the Texans are better than they are believed to be. Rather, I think this will be a close call against the spread and, when in doubt, I presume that good teams like the Vikings are overvalued.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Vikings and the over.
LOOK, DON’T TOUCH
BILLS AT RAMS
4:25 p.m. Sunday, Rams by 2.5, 39.5
WALDER’S WISDOM: This game features two teams that have outperformed expectations the last few weeks. The Rams are on a three-game win streak (what is going on?) and the Bills have now beat the Cardinals and Patriots.
I was so torn on this game that I decided to crowdsource this one. I tweeted out a poll to my followers on Thursday afternoon, asking who to take against the spread in this contest. It was close, but 57% of them said I ought to side with the red-hot Los Angeles Rams.
So, true to form, I’m going to take that information and do the exact opposite. I almost always want to be in the minority, so I’m going to be aligning with Rex Ryan in this one. Still, it’s not one of the plays I feel better about this weekend.
CAN’T HELP YOURSELF? Bills and the over.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
Jets: I really don’t want to do this — that’s how I know it’s a good one.
WASHINGTON AT RAVENS
1 p.m. Sunday, Ravens by 4, 45
PICK: Washington and the under.
CHARGERS AT RAIDERS
4:25 p.m. Sunday, Raiders by 3.5, 50
PICK: Chargers and the under.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News