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.
RAVENS AT GIANTS
1 p.m. Sunday, CBS, Giants by 3, 44½
WALDER’S WISDOM: A close call in an important game for Big Blue in which they try to end a three-game slide. Although the Giants’ losing streak generally would have me itching to wager on them, they covered against the Packers last week and the Ravens are coming off a disappointing loss to Washington. To further complicate things, Baltimore was a team I liked in the preseason — I tabbed them for the second AFC wild card spot — and largely have exceeded expectations. So the Giants being three-point favorites at home feels about right. When the usual factors don’t allow me to make a snap judgment on a game, I turn to outside resources. In this case, I want to look at ESPN’s FPI rating — which measures a number of factors like efficiency in past games and rest heading into the next one — to spit out how many points a team is above or below average. In this case, the Giants are at -.9 and the Ravens are -2. So, after factoring in 2½ or 3 points for home field advantage, Big Blue is the better bet if we’re trusting (this) number.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Giants and the over.
JETS AT CARDINALS
8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN, Cardinals by 8, 46½
WALDER’S WISDOM: I missed badly on the Jets last week. There’s a difference between getting unlucky and making a mistake. This was not luck. I had Gang Green as my best bet in Pittsburgh last week at a +7 spread, but I was quickly shown that was an error. The market moved the line all the way up to 9.5 (!) by kickoff, which shows how flawed the original line was. I had trusted the market to correct for the Jets’ problems by mid-week, which it did not. So am I crazy to (possibly) make the same mistake again? Maybe. But here’s the thing: there’s just no way at this point I can lay those 7½ points. Believe me, I want to. I’d much rather not trust the Jets’ leaky secondary traveling across the country and count on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Eric Decker-less offense to score points with a dynamic Cardinals team. But that’s why. I can’t imagine most people want to either, and so — like Brandon Marshall — I’m going down with Fitz and the Jets for this week.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Jets and the under.
49ERS AT BILLS
1 p.m. Sunday, Bills by 8, 44½
WALDER’S WISDOM: Can we pump the brakes on the Bills? I mean, I know they’ve won three games in a row, but the last one was against the Rams, who needed to lose a game so Jeff Fisher could get back closer to .500 and restore equilibrium to the universe.
That win alone does not vault Sexy Rexy and his fightin’ Bills into a world where they can be 8-point favorites against anyone not named the Browns.
Regarding the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick is getting his first start — another reason why I like this matchup. Kaepernick at QB signals a greater range of outcomes for this game because he is somewhat of an unknown quantity at this point, and I think that works in the favor of the large underdog.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: 49ers and the over.
BENGALS AT PATRIOTS
The Daily News’ staff picks.
1 p.m. Sunday, Patriots by 9, 47½
WALDER’S WISDOM: This is an absolutely perfect contrarian spot. The Bengals are coming off a 14-point loss to the Cowboys and have sputtered to start the season at 2-3. Cincinnati is a team that I’m guessing most casual fans are skeptical of because of their lack of postseason success and the fact that Andy Dalton is their quarterback. Don’t be fooled! This is a good team. Maybe not great, but good.
And on the other side we have the almighty Tom Brady and Bill Belichick combo — which looked like an unstoppable duo against Cleveland last week. But hang on a second: that was basically an exhibition game. Yes, the Patriots will be very good this year — but don’t go thinking they are unbeatable just because they toppled the Browns with style. Nine points is a heck of a lot to lay against a solid squad like Cincinnati.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Bengals and the under.
COWBOYS AT PACKERS
4:25 p.m. Sun., FOX, Packers by 4, 47½
WALDER’S WISDOM: I’ve been on record in favor of Dak Prescott for a long time now, but I think this is a tough matchup for him and the Cowboys. In each of Dallas’ four wins, Prescott has attempted 32 or fewer passes. Presumably, the Cowboys want to keep it that way. But against the Packers, that’s going to be tough for two reasons. First, the Packers have the league’s top ranked rush defense, so this might mean you want to avoid Ezekiel Elliott in daily fantasy.
And second, the Packers can score points. Lots of ’em. So there’s a solid chance that Prescott is playing catch up in this one. Side prediction: Prescott will throw his first interception of the year in this game.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Pack and the under.
FALCONS AT ’HAWKS
4:25 p.m. Sunday, Seahawks by 6, 45½
WALDER’S WISDOM: Beat the defending NFC champs? Check. Beat the defending Super Bowl champs? Check. Start 4-1? Check. What do the Falcons have to do to get some love? I’m not asking for them to be favorites here. But 6½ suggests that the Falcons can’t — to borrow a phrase from Rex Ryan — hold Seattle’s jock. And that simply isn’t true. The Seahawks are ranked third in the league in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Falcons are fifth. That’s close enough that this game ought to be a 4 or 4½-point spread. Take the bonus points, root for the underdog, and take comfort in the reminder that the Seahawks lost to the Rams earlier this year.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Falcons and the under.
CHIEFS AT RAIDERS
4:05 p.m. Sunday, Chiefs by 1½, 46½
(Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
WALDER’S WISDOM: It worked so well I’m bringing it back and making it a recurring feature: the reverse Twitter poll is here to stay! Last week I asked my followers who would win against the spread in the Bills vs. Rams game. They voted for the Rams, and true to my betting philosophy, I decided to go against my followers and take the Bills. And look who won!
This time, my Twitter followers were all over the Raiders, as 71% voted for them. They’re hot and a pick ’em at home, so I’m not all that surprised. Given that the Chiefs were my preseason Super Bowl pick, I’m happy to hang tough with them here.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Chiefs and the under.
COLTS AT TEXANS
8:30 p.m. Sunday, Texans by 3, 48
WALDER’S WISDOM: In general, I love taking teams that are coming off a big and embarrassing loss. It takes advantage of recency bias, because most people just think of the last game each team played. They think of the recent terrible performance and don’t want to bet on that team. I’m betting that’s the case here. The Texans were utterly bested by perhaps the best team in the league, the Vikings. So everyone is down on Houston and that’s understandable. The Colts are not a good football team! Andrew Luck has a brutal supporting cast and anyone who is forgetting that based off of one win over the Bears is fooling themselves.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Texans and the under.
STEELS AT DOLPHINS
1 p.m. Sunday, Steelers by 7½, 48
WALDER’S WISDOM: I’m applying the same logic to the Steelers as I did with the Texans, just in the opposite way. Pittsburgh is looking unbeatable after coming off two victories in which they absolutely trounced the opponent. Everyone’s going to want to be on the side of this team. Everyone but me, of course. Seven-and-a-half points is a lot to lay on the road, and the home team must be truly terrible in order to justify it. Don’t get me wrong, the Dolphins are not a good team. But this line is essentially indicating the Steelers would be favored by 13½ over the Dolphins at Heinz Field. And while I think the Jets are better than the Dolphins, I don’t think it’s a four-point difference.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Dolphins and the under.
PANTHERS AT SAINTS
1 p.m. Sunday, Panthers by 3, 53½
WALDER’S WISDOM: Boy do I want to take the Panthers here. You can feel it. Backs against the wall. Cam Newton’s (likely) return from a concussion. A bad defense. This could be a monster game from Newton in which he asserts himself and his team as legitimate contenders even though they have had a rough start to the season. But I do not bet on feel. I bet with logic and I bet the number, and in this case, I’ve got to take the short home favorite. There just isn’t a reason to think the Panthers are good enough to be this favored on the road. The key difference is their pass defense, which was stout a year ago but now is ranked 22nd in the league in DVOA. Drew Brees will have big numbers, too.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Saints and the under.
Carson Wentz lost the first game of his career last week.
(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LOOK, DON’T TOUCH
EAGLES AT WASHINGTON
1 p.m. Sunday, Eagles by 2.5, 45
Road favorites of three points or above are basically a no-go for me. Two-and-a-half points though, leaves the door open just enough that I might take it. That’s part of what makes this game so hard to pick.
The Eagles have been knocked down a peg after their loss to the Lions. Had they won that game, they might be field goal favorites here against the Team-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. On top of that, I’m largely a believer in Carson Wentz and I most certainly think the Eagles defense is the real deal (2nd in DVOA).
But on the other hand, the Eagles are clearly the team that most people are going to be on. The one loss isn’t scaring people away, and according to thespread.com, 69% of bets are coming in on Philadelphia. I like to be on the other side of that. So this is a split decision for me, which is why I’m staying away. But if you…
CAN’T HELP YOURSELF?
Eagles and the under.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
Bengals. No one lays nine points on Andy Dalton.
JAGUARS AT BEARS
1 p.m. Sunday, Bears by 2.5, 46
PICK: Bears and the under.
RAMS AT LIONS
1 p.m. Sunday, Lions by 3, 43.5
PICK: Lions and the under.
BROWNS AT TITANS
1 p.m. Sunday, Titans by 7, 43.5
PICK: Browns and the under.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News