Last week against the spread: 1-3
2021 overall ATS: 8-11-1
A pattern has started to emerge, and it goes a little something like this: on even-numbered weeks I do pretty well, and on odd-numbered weeks I do really, really shitty. I have alternated going 3-1 or 1-3 since Week 2, but luckily for me we are on Week 6, meaning I am destined to do a great job.
Trucking right along, it’s already Week 6. The separation of contenders versus pretenders has already started. One of the themes this week is picking against those teams whose value has skyrocketed, and betting on those who are either undervalued or underrated altogether.
1. Tennessee Titans (+6) vs. Buffalo Bills
The Titans have kind of been flying under the radar ever since they got blown out by the Cardinals, 38-13, in Week 1. They followed that with wins against uninspiring teams like the Colts (1-4) and Jaguars (0-5), and wedged an overtime loss to the Jets (1-4) somewhere in there. Tennessee’s lone somewhat impressive win came in overtime against the Seahawks (2-3) on the road in Week 2. Other than that, not a lot to say about them.
The Bills have essentially been the exact opposite; after their momentous 38-20 dismantling of the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football last week, everyone you know or have heard of that speaks on TV has anointed them the new favorites to win the AFC. For all I know — which is very little — they could be dead-on correct. It just takes more than that to get me to believe.
One thing that bothers me about this point spread, if I were betting on Buffalo instead of Tennessee, is what would the line be if the game was being played at the Bills’ home field? Given the fact that it’s as high as 6 points in Nashville, betting markets are suggesting that Buffalo would be something like -12 — given the 6-point flip of home field — if the shoe was on the other foot. Does that seem right?
Listen, as a Chiefs’ fan I know what it’s like to be the odds-on favorite to win every week. That’s basically been the case for the last three years. It’s one thing to beat up on lesser competition when you, too, are vying to be the top dog. But what happens once you get there? Then you are the team that everyone is trying to knock off. I’m not saying the Bills aren’t that team, and I’m not here saying they can’t be. All I say is that we have yet to see what they look like when they are in that spot.
Monday Night Football is the time when we see home underdogs step up, and it’s not like Tennessee is bereft of star power. I am betting that Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones come out and remind everyone that the favorites in the AFC South are capable of giving the Bills everything they can handle.
Score prediction: Bills 27, Titans 24
2. Las Vegas Raiders (+4) at Denver Broncos
The best time to bet on a team is when no one else wants to. After Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden resigned following revelations of a slew of racist/sexist/homophobic emails, I can’t imagine that many people rushing to their local sports book to bet on the team he just left, particularly considering the Raiders are coming off back-to-back losses against the Chargers and Bears.
The fact that they are catching more than a field goal in Denver — who is coming off two straight losses of their own — feels sort of like a free roll. What I mean by that is this: Let’s say within the Las Vegas locker room that they really liked Gruden. Wouldn’t this seem like a spot where they would be max-motivated, and win one for their old ball coach?
Or maybe they didn’t care for him at all? Maybe they thought he was a fucking asshole. Then this could be a spot where they go and show everyone that they don’t need him to win. Perhaps the fact that he isn’t there will make them want to be even better.
I could be wrong on both counts, but I have a hard time seeing the Broncos blowing anyone out. So let’s take the points. Let’s sprinkle some on the money line. And let’s see what this Raiders team is made of in the post-Gruden era.
Score prediction: Raiders 26, Broncos 17
3. New England Patriots (+3.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Every year we all forget just how long a football season actually is. Some teams come out of the gates scorching hot, and others slowly build. This matchup seems to perfectly personify that dichotomy: You have the red hot 4-1 Cowboys (who are a perfect 5-0 ATS) and the measly 2-3 Patriots (2-3 ATS) in a game that everyone expects Dallas to win fairly comfortably.
I’m not there. Strange as it may sound, before the season started these two squads had identical season win totals (9.5). In a matter of five weeks the Cowboys have transcended to 3.5-point road favorites in a game they theoretically would be have been 3-point underdogs before the season started (given they are even teams, and given a 3-point home field advantage).
I submit that the Cowboys are the better team and should be favored in this game; I’m just not willing to admit that a 6.5-point swing is justified, particularly considering how hot the Cowboys have been and how average the Patriots have looked so far.
Score prediction: Patriots 26, Cowboys 24
4. Cleveland Browns (-3.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals
This one is pretty simple: it’s supposed to be extremely windy in Cleveland on Sunday, and that favors the Browns since (a) they are predominantly a running team and (b) the Cardinals are perhaps more pass-first than any team in the NFL. I’m pretty pissed that Nick Chubb — my first round pick in fantasy football — is OUT while the guy I’m playing has Kareem Hunt. But I have to leave my emotions out of this shit since picking winners against the spread means more than my stupid 2-3 fantasy team.
It’s also a fact that Arizona’s head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, and a slew of other coaches won’t be on the sidelines because of Covid. Last time we saw so many coaches miss a game was a few weeks ago when the Saints got thrashed by the Panthers. I’m betting that the Cardinals will be just a little out of whack, and that the Browns need this game a lot more.
Score prediction: Browns 20, Cardinals 13