Picking football games (against the spread) in review

I recently wrote about 10 bets I would have made if I was (still) betting on football. This post is to take account of those picks.

  1. UNC (+1.5) over Duke

Actual score: Duke 27, UNC 17

Outcome: Loss

2. Old Dominion (+28.5) over Virginia Tech

Actual score: Virginia Tech 38, ODU 0

Outcome: Loss

3. Texans (+14) over Patriots

Actual score: Patriots 36, Texans 33

Outcome: Win

4. Falcons (-3) over Lions

Actual score: Falcons 30, Lions 26

Outcome: Win

5. Falcons/Lions over 51 points (-115)

Actual score: 30-26 (56 points)

Outcome: Win

6. Dolphins/Jets under 43 points (-110)

Actual score: 20-6 (26 points)

Outcome: Win

7. Bills (+3.5) over Broncos

Actual score: Bills 26, Broncos 16

Outcome: Win

8. Broncos/Bills under 39 points (-115)

Actual score: 26-16 (42 points)

Outcome: Loss

9. Packers (-8) over Bengals

Actual score: Packers 27, Bengals 24

Outcome: Loss

10. Bengals/Packers over 46.5 points

Actual score: 27-24 (51 points)

Outcome: Win

College football is not my friend. North Carolina led Duke 17-13 more than halfway through the 4th quarter, then promptly allowed a one-yard touchdown run before throwing a pick-6 to give Duke the final two scores of the game, and thus the 10-point win. The Blue Devils are 4-0 right now.

Virginia Tech, meanwhile, was meandering along with a 3-0 lead well into the 2nd quarter. They looked sloppy on offense and seemed to justify the faith I had in them looking past ODU. Then… the onslaught began. They scored two quick TDs and went into the half with a 17-0 lead, then poured it on in the second half with three more scores. Virginia Tech is also 4-0.

NFL games were a little kinder to me. I posted a 6-2 record on Sunday, with my only losses coming in the Broncos-Bills over/under and picking Green Bay to lay 8 points against the Bengals. Every other bet was sound.

It wasn’t exactly Upset Week in the NFL, which is good for the elimination pool I’m in, but it could be described as Tease Week. Both the Patriots and Packers — the two biggest favorites in Week 3 according to Vegas — won by only a field goal and failed to cover the spread. (The Packers needed overtime to do so, while the Pats did it with a mere :20 left on the clock.) The true upset of the week came in Chicago, where the Bears (who were 7.5-point home underdogs) beat the 2-0 Steelers in OT.

The takeaway from this football weekend is the same as it is most others: never trust anything, basically. The Saints blew out the Panthers on the road; the Jets, perhaps the NFL’s worst team, won handily against the Dolphins; the Jaguars beat the Ravens 44-7; the Bills beat the Broncos by 10 points.

None of those conclusions were shocking, per se, but before the day I probably would have picked against them all on the moneyline.

There were only a few games that restored some sense of normalcy, but none of them came particularly easy. The Falcons (3-0) covered the spread by a single point against the Lions; the Chiefs (3-0) easily covered by beating the Chargers 24-10 on the road; the Titans (2-1) won by 6 against a confusing Seahawks club.

On the whole, a 6-4 record (60%) is something I will take under normal circumstances. Generally speaking, a 50% conversion rate is acceptable when betting on sports.

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