Regular readers of this column know by now that I don’t have any “system” to make them rich. Look at my record this season; my inklings aren’t going to lead anyone to living on Easy Street. So, I’m going to switch it up with six more weeks to bet on in the regular season. From now on, I won’t be simply betting against quarterbacks who I think are bad — Case Keenum exposed the flaw in that idea. I’m going to be betting against the public. In all honesty, I’m still going to place impulsive bets on scenarios I think are likely to play out. But I’ll be dedicated to retroactively validating those biases with data. Because I’m tired of blaming myself week after week — and data feels like the perfect fall guy.
One pick in, and I’m already going to contradict myself, because the public loves New England. But, in this case, the majority of bettors should be right. As long as Bill Belichick has been head coach, the Patriots have owned the Dolphins. Miami will be starting Matt Moore. Matt Patricia’s defense has improved every week. And here’s some data, courtesy of George Chahrouri of Pro Football Focus: “The Dolphins have allowed a passer rating of 122.4 on deep passes this season which is worse than everyone but the Raiders and let me be the first person to say that Tom Brady throws a decent deep ball (he leads the league with 16 “Big Time Throws” 20-plus yards downfield).” Good enough for me, now back to my new, unoriginal philosophy.
Let’s do this “fade the public” thing right. As of Friday, only 18 percent of bets thought the Jets could cover the spread against the Carolina Panthers, according to Sports Insights. It’s a fair assumption: Cam Newton will get Greg Olsen back on a team that has won three straight. But, the Jets are 5-0 against the spread at home this season. Keep it close, and they improve to 6-0. It may feel gross, but it’s time to ride the Jets at home against a playoff contender.
I understand why folks aren’t jumping all over the Rams against the Saints. Drew Brees and Sean Payton have their team looking like it’s due for another Super Bowl run. But this week, they’ll be without cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore — a legit rookie-of-the-year favorite — and Ken Crawley. That means Jared Goff’s life won’t be as hard as originally projected. Only a third of bets are riding with Sean McVay despite the Rams being 4-0-1 in their last five games. And they weren’t playing cupcakes during that stretch: The offensive savant beat the solid defenses of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans, while embarrassing the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals.
Jaguars/Cardinals — over 38
A matchup of Blake Bortles against Blaine Gabbert has 52 percent of bets going to the under, the highest share for such a bet on this week’s sheet. I don’t have much to justify this pick, but I’m going to trust the system because the Cardinals defense is prone to giving up big points. This is the same group that allowed Tom Savage and the Houston Texans to put 31 on the board last week. Leonard Fournette and the impressive Jacksonville offensive line can gash a bottom-six scoring defense. Hopefully.
Steelers/Packers — under 42.5
Juju Smith-Schuster is out for the Steelers and Brett Hundley is in as the starting quarterback for Green Bay. It certainly makes me nervous that Pittsburgh scored 40 points last week and appears to have found a rhythm on offense. But 73 percent of bets have come in for the over in this game and I will not let that kind of hubris go unchecked. Is this new style of betting a cynical attempt to salvage a completely lost betting season? You bet it is. Time to get back to .500 in 2017 — by any means necessary.
Week 11: 2-2-1
MATCHUP SPREAD MONEYLINE OVER/UNDER
Cleveland at Cincinnati CIN -8.5 CLE +330, CIN -410 +/- 38
Chicago at Philadelphia PHI -13.5 CHI +700, PHI -1100 +/- 44
Miami at New England NE -16.5 MIA +1000, NE -1800 +/- 48
Buffalo at Kansas City KC -10 BUF +400, KC -500 +/- 45.5
Tampa Bay at Atlanta ATL -9.5 TB +350, ATL -430 +/- 49
Carolina at NYJ CAR -5 CAR -220, NYJ +190 +/- 40
Tennessee at Indianapolis TEN -3 TEN -160, IND +140 +/- 45.5
Seattle at San Francisco SEA -6.5 SEA -270, SF +230 +/- 44.5
New Orleans at LA Rams LAR -2.5 NO +120, LAR -140 +/- 53.5
Jacksonville at Arizona JAX -5.5 JAX -240, ARI +200 +/- 38
Denver at Oakland OAK -5 DEN +195, OAK -230 +/- 43.5
Green Bay at Pittsburgh PIT -14 GB +750, PIT -1200 +/- 42.5
Houston at Baltimore BAL -7 HOU +260, BAL -320 +/- 38
Lines courtesy William Hill; updated Friday, Nov. 24