Not gonna lie, I’ve been pretty discouraged over the last few weeks betting on NFL games. It’s not that I’m doing poorly, per se, it’s just that around Week 5 or 6 I felt like I was starting to figure shit out. I thought I knew which teams were good and which teams weren’t, and so adjusting for the spread was supposed to be something I could constantly improve upon.
Instead it seems like the opposite has happened. These consistent 2-2 records are decent, but they aren’t how I expect to do. I go into every week expecting a 4-0 mark, which might not be realistic but it’s my mentality nonetheless. I don’t know if I’m overthinking every game or if I’m not doing enough homework. Left is right, up is down, and I don’t know what direction to go in anymore.
Last week ATS: 2-2
Overall ATS: 19-16-1
1. New England Patriots (-1) at Houston Texans
To me this comes down to motivation. The Patriots are 4-5, and if they squint really hard they might just convince themselves that making the postseason is a possibility. To get there they will have to jump a pair of 6-3 teams, whether it’s the Raiders, Dolphins, Titans, Colts, or Ravens. New England would not be the first 4-5 team to finish a season 10-6, and that’s the win total they will have to get to to give themselves a chance.
On the other side you have the 2-7 Texans who don’t seem to have a lot to play for. They won’t be making the postseason this year, and their interim head coach — Romeo Crennel — used to be an assistant for Bill Belichick. Houston actually opened this game as a 2.5-point favorite, a number that was quickly bet to New England -2 before settling at NE -1. If you wait a little bit you might be able to get this game as a pick ’em, but even laying the point doesn’t seem too crazy given the idea that the Patriots absolutely should, and need to, win this game if they have any chance of making the playoffs.
Score prediction: Patriots 25, Texans 22
2. Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) at Las Vegas Raiders
Typically I’m not in the business of laying more than a touchdown for road favorites, but the best team in football is not your typical road favorite and the Raiders aren’t just any team. The last time these two teams met the Raiders won, 40-32, in Kansas City. After the game the team took their busses around Arrowhead Stadium to do a victory lap.
This feels to me like that game where people look at the standings and see that the Chiefs are 8-1 and the Raiders are 6-3, and think, well, if Las Vegas wins then Kansas City will only be a game ahead. For Chiefs fans that’s kind of a spooky thought, since everyone (us included) pretty much expects Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes to walk away with the AFC West for the fifth straight year.
But then the game starts, the Chiefs score and score and score some more. And the Raiders will prove themselves to be outmatched by a superior quarterback, head coach, and defense. Rarely am I this confident in my team winning, but this feels like a big win.
Score prediction: Chiefs 37, Raiders 17
3. Philadelphia Eagles (+3) at Cleveland Browns
This pick doesn’t make a ton of sense, but that’s where I’m at this football season. I am taking the 3-5-1 Eagles to cover the spread on the road against the 6-3 Browns.
My logic is that I figure eventually the Eagles will run away with the worst division in football, and this season a “run away” might be 6 or 7 wins. Do I like Carson Wentz? No. Do I like head coach Doug Pederson? Not particularly. But I feel like Wentz is the type of dude who performs best when his back is against the wall, and this game might be the perfect weird spot for him to come away with a win.
So, fuck it.
Score prediction: Eagles 23, Browns 19
4. New Orleans Saints (-3.5) vs. Atlanta Falcons
A buddy of mine bet this game when the Falcons were +7, but when Drew Brees got put on IR with some broken ribs and a collapsed lung the line shot down by a massive 3.5 points. I like the Saints here because, in spite of Taysom Hill playing QB in lieu of Brees, I think the Saints defense is underrated. Last year when the Saints were without Drew Brees the club went 5-0 in large part due to the defense playing lights out. I think we can expect something similar here.
Obviously the offense is going to have to adjust. We’ll probably see more traditional power running from Alvin Kamara. And I don’t even know what to expect from Taysom Hill, but I’d guess he’ll run for 50 or 60 yards and throw for a couple hundred more. Just enough to ensure the Saints defense won’t be put in too many stressful situations.
I could see New Orleans winning this game fairly comfortably, but the Falcons have one of those offenses that can put points on the board quickly in garbage time. Look for the Saints to control the game and have Matt Ryan throw a bullshit touchdown at the end to make the final score look respectable.
Score prediction: Saints 25, Falcons 19