Six Teams I’m Looking to Bet Against Early in the NFL Season

After months of research and reading, I’m ready to reveal some of my NFL thoughts for the 2018 season. I’ll start with teams I’m looking to bet against early in the season. That can include under the season win total, bets against teams in individual regular season games or both. I also looked closely at the yes/no props to make the playoffs that are posted for each team, which is something new for me this season.

Before starting, I have a few things to say about the Buffalo Bills. I bet Bills under 6.5 wins in early July. The most popular win total bet I saw people talk about earlier this summer was Bills under 7 or 6.5 wins. Then LeSean McCoy was involved in domestic violence allegations and the win total went down to 6. I still think they go under 6 but understand if people want to stay away now that some of the value has been extracted. Everything lines up for the Bills to be an under team this season. They made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. They traded quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and signed A.J. McCarron and drafted Josh Allen. I’m not sold on McCarron as a NFL starter and Allen had accuracy concerns in college. The offensive weapons in Buffalo are limited and the defense benefitted from turnover luck last season. The Bills have road games against the Ravens, Vikings and Packers in September with a Week 2 home opener against the Chargers in between. If the Bills have a poor record to start the season, I’m guessing they’ll start Allen and become an even worse team. I can see the Bills finishing with the worst record in the NFL but they’re already being priced as one of the bottom teams in the league.

Jaguars- When looking to identify teams that I want to bet against, I tend to look at teams who greatly exceeded expectations the previous year. The Jacksonville Jaguars had a win total of 6.5 after winning three games in 2016. They won 10 games last season and now their win total has increased by 2.5 games to 9. Under 9 will be a bet for me. Jacksonville’s defense is an amazing unit but I don’t believe in Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette’s numbers were inflated by breaking off a few long runs. The Jaguars benefitted from Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck not starting against them in both games, and Texans and Colts will be a lot better than they were last season. I’m undecided if I want to bet against the Jaguars in Week 1, where they are a 3.5-point favorite at the New York Giants, but I’ll be looking to fade them in other spots early in the season.

Verdict: Jaguars under 9 is a strong bet and also betting against them in several early season games. Continue reading

NFL: Preseason Week 1 Handicapping Preview

Some see the NFL preseason as bad football but I see it as great opportunities to find point spread value. Unlike the regular season, coaches usually open up about their game plan. If you read articles and tweets from beat writers, you will find out how many snaps the starters will play and how the team will approach the game.

It’s too early in the week to know about how teams will approach these games but I have found three contests in Week 1 of preseason where I think I have a strong angle.

One thing I look for when picking preseason games is quarterback competitions. There are several teams with two of more quarterbacks that still think they will win the job and will be giving their maximum effort when they get an opportunity. I also looked at teams with new coaches. The best way to win over a fan base and impress the local media is to win in your home debut. There a several of those cases right off the bat.

Buccaneers at Eagles (-3) 

The Eagles haven’t played a game under Doug Pederson but the pressure is already on the first-time head coach. It started when the team re-signed Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel followed Pederson from Kansas City to Philadelphia. It looked like those two would battle for the starting quarterback job until a third player entered the picture. The Eagles traded a package of draft picks for FCS star Carson Wentz. It looks like Bradford is the favorite to start in Week 1 of the regular season but it can’t help his confidence that his coach wanted a player from North Dakota State so desperately that they traded valuable assets for him.

Philadelphia is a market that wants to win now and the media isn’t shy to share their honest opinions about the team. Because of that I think Pederson will want to make a statement in his first home game in charge, even if it doesn’t count in the standings. Quieting the media and satisfying the fans early should be motivation for the Eagles to want to win the game.

As mentioned before, the quarterback competition for the Eagles is still up for grabs so we should see four quarters of play from three motivated players who think they can win the job. Chase Daniel is familiar preseason situations from his days with the Saints and Chiefs so this pick is partly on him to play well. The motivation for the new coach and quarterback competition leads me to taking the Eagles.

Pick: Eagles (-3) over Buccaneers

Cowboys at Rams (-3.5)

The NFL is back in Los Angeles and the Rams open their preseason schedule at home against the Cowboys. A few factors have me favoring the Rams against the spread in this game even though they are giving more than a field goal. Motivation is the first reason as the Rams will want to put on a show for their new fan base and collect a win.

The Rams are another team with a quarterback competition. Case Keenum is listed as the starter for now but rookie Jared Goff has to believe he can win the job, and St. Louis might leave the first team offense out so the first overall pick gets a fair shot.

This pick is also a play against the Cowboys. Dallas was plagued by injuries last season and it’s already beginning in training camp. Backup quarterback Kellen Moore broke his ankle and running back Ezekiel Elliott has been banged up. The Cowboys main priority is to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries, so I’m guessing Tony Romo and the starters will only see one series if they suit up.

The Moore injury really hampers the Cowboys in this game as rookie Dak Prescott is now the backup. Jameill Showers is Dallas’ other option. I’ll take the Rams here as they have a huge edge when it comes to the quarterback position and the motivation angle.

Pick: Rams (-3.5) over Cowboys

Texans at 49ers (-3)

The biggest takeaway from the 2015 preseason was that Chip Kelly wants to win and isn’t afraid to run up the score. Philadelphia finished the month 3-1 with a point differential of +56. Kelly showed off his hand-picked offensive offensive weapons and the buzz was so great that the Eagles became a Super Bowl favorite because of their exhibition game play.

Things didn’t work out in Philly and now Kelly is back on the west coast with the 49ers. He faces a huge challenge as he tries to resurrect the career of Colin Kaepernick and attempts to get the most out of Blaine Gabbert. It doesn’t look pretty but these two players will be looking to impress their new coach and win the starting job. Kelly will let both play and he’s a coach you want to back in preseason based off his track record.

The Texans have a new quarterback and running back this season but here’s another team that just needs to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries. Most notably, J.J. Watt is in danger of missing the start of the regular season after undergoing back surgery. Houston will want Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller to get used to the new offense but I’m going to predict Houston will wait until the second or third game of preseason to put them on display. The 49ers are a bad team but I feel comfortable in supporting Chip Kelly in this spot.

Pick: 49ers (-3) over Texans

NFL: Week 16 Picks

Chargers (+1.5) over 49ers: The 49ers have nothing to play for and Jim Harbaugh has one foot out the door in San Francisco. The 49ers also played the Seahawks last week and teams struggle the week after playing Seattle. The Chargers need this game to stay in the playoff race.

Vikings (+7) over Dolphins: The Dolphins aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but they are pretty much done. Their coach also might be fired and the Vikings have been a covering machine.

Raiders (+7) over Bills: The Bills had a huge home win against Green Bay, and have held Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers without a touchdown pass the last two games. However, the offense has been terrible and their touchdown last week was a special teams score. The Raiders have shown up the last two times at home and won. I think they will cover this number and possibly spoil the Bills’ postseason chances.

Bengals (+3.5) over Broncos: The Broncos are winning games but something is wrong with Peyton Manning. It looks like Denver is locked into the No. 2 seed so I don’t think they will give a maximum effort on the road. The Bengals are in a must-win situation and I think they will be able to run with rookie running back Jeremy Hill. A successful running game will keep the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands, which would be ideal for Cincinnati in primetime.

Contest Picks

Redskins (+8) over Eagles

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NFL: Week 10 Picks

Here are my Week 10 NFL picks and the rest of the contest picks:

Chiefs (-2) over Bills

Under 49 in Saints vs 49ers

Under 46 in Buccaneers vs Falcons

Under 43 in Cardinals vs Rams

Contest Picks 

Cowboys (-7) over Jaguars

Dolphins (+3) over Lions

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