The saga of the half-point, multiple betting options and the shifting lines continue to mark the young NFL betting season.
Last week, we outlined the half-point shopping available with the Raiders giving Cleveland 2.5 instead of 3 at some books. I snagged the Raiders at that 2.5 margin, while many books had them giving 3 to the Browns ... and won by that half point.
My Beat the Degenerates cohort and Atlantic City Weekly Director Scott Cronick seized a half-point drop in the Rams-Vikings last Thursday, moments after we finished the segment on his Off the Press radio program on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND. It momentarily shifted from 7 to 6.5 points, and he covered when Minnesota won by 7,
Keep looking for values.
It's like Lending Tree. When books compete, you win. And be prepared for changes in the lines. With more books available, it takes less money to change the spread.
Line movers this week include Denver going from pick-em to plus 2 at the New York Jets, Green Bay at -1 or -1.5 at Detroit, depending on where you look, and the Carolina Panthers moving up to 7 from 6.5 as they host the New York Giants.
The Eagles are still -3 in some places, -3.5 in others as they host the Vikings this week. The Los Angeles Chargers shifted between 5.5 and a 4.5 pick against the Raiders, and this was only midweek.
Storylines for Week 5
Let’s start with the question of whether the Saints can put up monster numbers at home against the Redskins? And a unique focal point for the Eagles: They came of age in the playoffs against Minnesota last year, and now - after a tough-to-swallow overtime loss to Tennessee last week - they will be challenged to define themselves against that same team.
Our thanks to Fairway Jay, a Las Vegas-based handicapper and sports analyst. On the radio show, he shared with us the impact of quarterbacks who influence the betting line if they get injured. Aaron Rodgers would cause a 10.5 point drop in the line if he got hurt. Matthew Stafford of Detroit is at 9 points. Carson Wentz, surprisingly, was only a -4 if he drops off to Nick Foles. You can see Jay's work at TheLines.com or VegasSportsZone.com.
Latest Lines Week 5, subject to change Over/Under in parentheses.
Thursday, Oct. 4
New England -10 Indianapolis (53)
Sunday, Oct. 7
Philadelphia -3.5 Minnesota (44.5)
San Francisco -4 Arizona (41)
La Rams AT Seattle -7 (49)
Houston -3.5 Dallas (45)
New Orleans -6.5 Washington (52)
Pittsburgh -3 Atlanta (57.5)
Baltimore -3 AT Cleveland (47)
New York Jets -2 Denver
Green Bay -1.5 AT Detroit (51)
Kansas City 3 Jacksonville (48.5)
Los Angeles Chargers -5.5 Oakland (51.5)
Cincinnati-6.5 Miami (50)
Carolina 7 New York Giants (44.5)
Tennessee -3.5 AT Buffalo (38.5)
Picks This Week
Excerpted from the Beat the Degenerates show hosted by me and Cronick. Listen to this week’s show 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND, 92.5-FM, WONDRadio.com and the Tune In app.
Bontempo: I like the Eagles to define themselves against the Vikings. The line moved to -3.5 during the day, but you can still get this at -3 in many places. How do teams answer a bad beat? If they are good, they will make a statement game.
Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City Philadelphia Eagles Beat Writer: Weinberg did not hesitate when asked his favorite selection this week, taking Cincinnati minus the 6.5 against the Dolphins. Asked his reasoning, he said “The Dolphins stink.” For him, this was a no doubt-about-'er.
Cronick: Kansas City minus 3 against Jacksonville. The Chiefs have one of the best offenses in football and rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to nip Denver on Monday night. Jacksonville comes off a nice covering effort against the New York Jets.
Fairway Jay: He likes the Washington Redskins at plus 6.5 in New Orleans this week. That's his official pick. He also leaned toward Cleveland getting 3 at home against Baltimore on the rebound-off-the-bad-beat theory. The Browns lost a heartbreaker in Oakland last week.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Our buddy Pickett Russell, aka The Kipster, provided a strong pick last week as he selected New Orleans and rode them high as they beat the Giants. Bad Beats for Cronick, who had Kansas City -4.5 on Monday night to Denver in a game they won by 4. And I was victimized by a late penalty that wiped out near field-goal range for Indianapolis as it was marching toward the game-winning kick against Houston. They instead lost 37-34 in OT. Weinberg selected the Rams, which was a push at -7 against the Vikings when he played it. Our radio show listener of the week nailed it with the Bears covering against Tampa Bay.
We were all close, but Kipster and our listener got the cigar. We all pick our games early for the show and this column and usually add some real-time bets over the weekend.
Tampa Bay Bucs will start Jameis Winston at quarterback when the team comes off the bye next week. Smart move to announce it now and avoid a controversy. Tampa went 2-1 under Ryan Fitzpatrick when he was suspended for the first three games of the season, and he finally entered in the second half of a blowout loss to the Bears last weekend. He comes in just as Fitzpatrick was starting to tail off. The Bucs have over-achieved to this point. Their over-under projected win total was 6.
Did You Notice?
The oddsmakers had the New Orleans-Giants over-under dead solid last week. It was 50, and New Orleans covered that with a touchdown as it was trying to run out the clock. Final total: 51. Russell Wilson of the Seahawks rarely runs anymore. And even when he does, he's lost two steps. If he has to stay in the pocket, this team will be in trouble. You will see over-under totals spiking up while books absorb the impact of new roughing-the-passer rules that have opened offensive floodgates.