The books were on the numbers last week.
Amid the fanfare of Thanksgiving, records, streaks and crazy plays, handicapping proved difficult last week for some, but the oddsmakers were right on the line.
Dallas, favored by between 7 and 8 points, nipped Washington by 8. New Orleans, a 13 to 13.5 point fave against Atlanta, won by 14. Minnesota scared its backers with the dreaded “hook,” giving 3.5 points to Green Bay before covering. But did you see what the Vikings passed up? They were ahead by 10 points in the final minutes, had 4th-and-2 from the Green Bay 7-yard line and passed up the field goal. When Green Bay then drove inside the Minnesota 20 with two minutes left, it nearly stole a back-door cover. But the Packers kicked a field goal and the Vikings held on 24-17. And yes, the Patriots covered the 9-point number against the Jets, winning 27-13, but had to break up a short pass to the end zone with time running down. They covered by one play.
And Carolina did not cover by one play. The Panthers had a 7-point lead against Seattle in a 4th-and-3 from the Carolina 40 with three minutes left. Instead of taking the short pass, Seattle threw a bomb ... and converted for a touchdown. Carolina sagged, Seattle stopped the next series and won with a field goal on the final play.
This week’s games
It's a road show.
Denver projected itself back into the playoff running by nipping Pittsburgh last week, and the Broncos visit a drowning Bengals team with an injured quarterback in Andy Dalton. Are the Bengals better without him? The line is Denver -4.5 on the road.
Carolina has won nine of its last 11 games against Tampa Bay and opens at -3.5 in this road game. Houston, 8-0 after an 0-3 start, gives six to Cleveland in a battle of entertaining quarterbacks, DeSean Watson and Baker Mayfield. The Brownies just manhandled Cincinnati.
Chicago visits the New York Giants and gives 4.5, but there was no over-under on Thursday because of the uncertain status of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
The Jacksonville Jags fired their offensive coordinator and benched quarterback Blake Bortles and host Indianapolis as a four-point dog.
Mattias Stetz, COO of SugarHouse Online Sportsbook & Casino, told Between the Lines in midweek that Trubisky is worth about 1-1.5 points to the line and said that if bettors think he'll play, Trubisky will enhance the over because they play at a faster pace with him and he takes risks downfield.
“If you think Trubisky has a good chance to play, then betting the Bears and the over right now would be wise,” he says.
Stetz also said the Ravens opened as much as a 3-point pick against the Falcons, but became a 1.5-point underdog when Lamar Jackson was announced as the starter. He also pointed out that late money was starting to filter in on the Cowboys for their game last night against New Orleans, moving the line from 7.5 to 7.
To place bets with Sugar House, you can to to PlaySugarHouse.com for lines and wagers.
Here are this week's lines, courtesy of Draft Kings. Over-under in parentheses.
Green Bay -13.5 Arizona (44.5)
Atlanta -1 Baltimore (48.5)
Miami -4.5 Buffalo (40)
Carolina -3.5 Tampa Bay (55)
Chicago -4.5 NY Giants (no over-under on Thu)
Denver -4.5 AT Cincinnati (43.5)
Indianapolis -4.5 AT Jacksonville (47.5)
Los Angeles Rams -9.5 AT Detroit (54.5)
Kansas City -14.5 AT Oakland (55.5)
Tennessee -7.5 New York Jets (40.5)
New England -5 Minnesota (48.5)
Eagles -6 Washington (44)
Houston -6 Cleveland (48)
Seattle 9.5 San Franciso (46)
Pittsburgh -3.5 Los Angeles Chargers (51.5)
Who's hot, who's not
HOT HOT HOT: but just doused. New Orleans. The Saints entered last night at an incredible 9-2 against the spread, but they tripped on Dallas in Dallas. Stetz told us the late money was coming in late on the Cowboys ... and that proved prophetic.
QUITE HOT: Remember when we said the Bears were due for a breakout after some tough losses? They have five straight covers. They are a good-looking 8-3 and beat Detroit on Thanksgiving Day with a backup quarterback and a defense that earned the deciding pick-six.
STARTING TO BOIL: The Cowboys have covered four straight times, including Thursday night. They beat the number against Philly, Atlanta, Washington and then the Saints.
The Giants have covered in three straight, covering against San Francisco, Tampa Bay and the Eagles. In a lost season, they are at least rewarding their backers.
BURST OF HEAT: The Denver Broncos, in recent games, have covered against the Rams and Chiefs, beaten the Chargers and Steelers. That's four strong covers for a team that plays in a very strong division.
CRYSTAL BALL HOT: We knew about the late money on the Cowboys. We don't know how much of that was Scott Cronick's. But the Director of Publications for The Press of Atlantic City and radio show host called out the Cowboys as Thursday's lock on Beat the Degenerates, which we co-host on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND, 92.5-FM, WONDRadio.com and the Tune In app. Check out next week's show 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, to find out about his new bankroll.
Cronick once hosted a party called Cronickstock. That could be the name of his rising bankroll. In recent weeks, he tabbed Pittsburgh over Carolina, the Bears over the Vikings, the Seahawks over the Panthers and then the Cowboys last night, which he had on the moneyline too.
COLD: Green Bay has lost eight in a row on the road with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Signs of a fading team. They are good at home, however, and host the Arizona Cardinals, a franchise that has not won in Wisconsin since 1949. And Jacksonville ... no wins since Week 4 against the Jets
This week's picks
Dave Weinberg, Eagles beat writer for tthe Press of Atlantic City: Took the Saints last night, but covered last week with the Giants against the Eagles.
Da Kipster, aka Pickett Russell, our guest Degenerate of the Week. He takes Pittsburgh -3.5 against the Chargers.
Bontempo: Atlanta -1.5 against Baltimore
Cronick. The Rams giving 9.5 to the Lions, in Detroit.
Last Week: A wave of Ws. Cronick (Seattle), Bontempo (Buffalo) and Weinberg (Giants) all covered the number.
Highlights from last week
Play of the year? Pittsburgh is losing 10-3 to Denver. Last play of the half. The Steelers line up for a short field goal. But the snap goes, not to the holder, but to the kicker Chris Boswell, who throws a touchdown pass to 6-foot 9 tackle Alejandro Villanueva. A kicker to a lineman? That deserves a creativity award.
They take 3 points off the board and let it all hang out on a gutsy play. Although the Steelers later lost, this was a gem.
How to lose your job in a few not-so-easy-steps: The Jacksonville Jaguars followed their offensive coordinator after a heartbreaking 24-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Here's what probably did it: With the game tied 14-14, the Jags scored a passing touchdown that was overturned on the field, but had first and goal at the one. On two running plays, they appeared to be in, but no! Then came a sack. And then came a missed field goal. And then Buffalo scored the next 10 points to win.
What were the Giants thinking going for two after going up on the Eagles 6-0? Don't you think that last kick by Jake Elliott would have been more pressure-filled if a miss would have resulted in a loss, not a tie?
Phillip Rivers of the Chargers set an NFL record by completing his first 25 passes of the game.
Good luck in this week's games.