Let's have some fun.
Sparked by legalized sports betting, the zany crew of Beat the Degenerates and the crazy, fantastic finishes of the NFL, here comes a new column. It's called Between the Lines, and it will originate midweek, amid the atmosphere of shifting betting lines and at a time when people make key decisions about their upcoming wagers.
The information is serious, gleaned from weekly personnel developments, injuries and, later in the season, weather. But the outlook is more lighthearted, based on the fact that even someone armed to the teeth with great information and analysis may not win. Yet it is intoxicating to try.
How do you bet all of this, now that NFL wagering is legal? Long-term success depends on finding your groove and betting big when you feel the mojo.
So here we are, Week 3. Let's take a look at the lineup. The favorite is listed first and the minus sign indicates the amount of points given to the underdog. Over-Under totals are in parentheses.
Cleveland -3 vs. NY Jets (39.5)
Minnesota -16.5 Buffalo (40.5)
Carolina -3 Cincinnati (43.5)
Baltimore -5 Denver (42.5)
Green Bay -2.5 AT Washington (45.5)
Philadelphia -6 Indianapolis (47.5)
Houston -6.5 New York Giants (42)
Atlanta -3 New Orleans (53)
Miami -3 Oakland (44)
Kansas City -6.5 San Francisco (56)
La Rams -6.5 La Chargers (48)
Chicago -6 AT Arizona (no total)
Seattle -1.5 Dallas (41.5)
Pittsburgh -1 AT Tampa Bay (53)
Jacksonville -6.5 Tennessee
Let's look at some big lines moves. Seattle dropped from -3 to minus 1.5 in its home opener against Dallas after starting 0-2. Chicago gives 6 rather than 4 to hapless Arizona, and Pittsburgh went from minus 2.5 to minus 1 Monday night against Tampa Bay. Key factors could be the lack of protection Russell Wilson got against Chicago on Monday night along with no running game. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has major discipline problems with Antonio Brown sitting out team film reviews and LeVeon Bell holding out. Coach Mike Tomlin does not look to be in charge here.
HOW YOUR DEGENENERATES PICKED.
Excerpted from the Beat the Degenerates hosted by Press of Atlantic City Director of Entertainment Scott Cronick and me during his Off the Press radio show on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND. Picks are from the two of us along with Dave Weinberg, Eagles beat writer for The Press of Atlantic City. I bill these picks as “entertainment only,” and you may be indeed entertained to the point of laughter ...
BONTEMPO: Seattle, minus the 1.5. This fits an idea that when the game lays right, slam it, regardless. Seattle was picked to win 8 games, cannot afford an 0-3 start and should come out blazing in its home opener. Yes, the team has declined, but I will buck the crowd and play them. Because of the vig - a 10 percent premium you pay up front for nearly every NFL pick - you have to identify a game you love once in awhile and go big. I would try this one.
CRONICK: Minnesota minus 16.5 against Buffalo. The Bills have given up 78 points in two games and look awful. Minnesota is revitalized under Kirk Cousins. They have a good deep passing game and an opportunistic defense. They play very well at home, and, importantly, rarely allow those cheap touchdowns at the end of games to make bettors lose covers. Would not be surprising to see their defense score.
WEINBERG: He likes the 49ers plus 6.5 against the Kansas City Chiefs. This figures to be a back-and-forth game with two high-powered offenses. This could be the most exciting game of the week. Will this one come down to which team has the ball last? San Francisco was the hottest team in the league at the end of last year and put its first win on the board last week.
ALSO: Scott's Beat the Degenerate listener took the Rams at minus 6.5 against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Rams come off a 34-0 shutout of the Cardinals and did so with a heavy run attack. They lost their field goal kicker in warm-ups and didn't even need him.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Carson Wentz returns for the Eagles Sunday against Indianapolis. He doesn't have his full complement of receivers and running back Jay Ajayi may be limited. Nonetheless, the Messiah is back from last year's injury. Bear in mind that similar reunions throughout the league often result in just an average game from the quarterback, as timing issues and rust come into play. Eagles are minus 6 if you want to play, but it's a tough call.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: Packers fans were justifiably outraged by a “late hit” on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who threw a game-ending interception, but new rules say if you put too much of your weight into a quarterback hit, it's roughing the passer. How do you measure “too much?” You can't. Awful call. For his part, Cousins called it a generous call. Good for him. He rallied the Vikings to a tie after the gift.
Some NFL players get their number retired at halftime, long after they've been in action. Vontae Davis unfurled a new twist last Sunday. He RETIRED HIS OWN NUMBER, quitting right at halftime of a Bills loss. He will forfeit nearly $4 million of a $5 million deal and certainly felt he could not do it anymore, but what timing.
The New England Patriots will take a chance on oft-troubled Josh Gordon from the Browns and are negotiating a deal in which he must stay with them for a certain period of time to close the deal.