With Christmas in the rearview mirror, it’s time to turn our attention to some New Year’s Resolutions. If your year in gambling was anything like mine, then there is *ahem* plenty of room for improvement. That’s ok. That’s why we bet responsibly and help each other out. Today’s tiers will give you five of my New Year’s gambling resolutions.
Tier 1: Be Adaptable (Season Record: 22-22-1)
Commanders -1.5 over Browns
Vikings +3 over Packers
Bengals +1.5 over Bills
To be honest, this is just good life advice too. It may seem like good betting strategy to just bet on the best teams and against the worst teams each week, but if you look at the patterns that’s not the best way to win consistently. Kansas City, for example, is one of the best teams in football and if you want to bet the moneyline each week for a measly payoff that’s fine, but they are only 5-9 against the spread for the year. The linemakers simply try their hardest to make it prohibitive to bet on teams like the Chiefs. However, look at the four teams with double digit “wins” against the spread for the season. The one thing that Cincinnati, Detroit, Cincinnati, and the New York Giants all have in common is that they’ve exceeded expectations for a significant stretch of the season at some point. For the Giants, they came out of the gate firing and exceeding expectations. Cincinnati and Detroit overcame slow starts and began heating up midway through the season. San Francisco endured two quarterback injuries and a still unconscionable (cue the Stephen A. Smith voice) loss to the Broncos but look like the best team in football now.
Washington is another example of a team that has run the gamut of what NFL play looks like this season. At the beginning of the year, they seemed destined to lose Ron Rivera his job, however with a healthier defense and Taylor Heinicke taking over the QB1 position Washington has looked like a playoff team, for the most part. One of those main exceptions, though, was last week which has opened the door to Carson Wentz taking back the starting job. The Browns haven’t been much good for the whole year, and while Deshaun Watson should improve with each week back it seems foolish to think Cleveland will win this game. Buffalo might be better than the Bengals, but they aren’t playing better right now which makes me curious why the Bills are favored in this game. I might look back on this and feel silly, but Cincinnati is still fighting for a division title and home field in the Wild Card round and are one of the hottest teams in football. Minnesota may have already clinched the NFC North, but I can’t foresee them laying down at Lambeau this week. They are better than Green Bay and still have a shot at the top seed in the NFC and the first-round bye if Philadelphia screws up.
Tier 2: Hammer Bad Quarterbacks (Season Record: 19-28)
Panthers +3 over Bucs
Jets -1.5 ovr Seahawks
Rams +6.5 over Chargers
This probably seems obvious, and a little mean, but it’s worth a reminder. Eight teams have a .400 or worse winning percentage against the spread this year. One of those is Kansas City (there are exceptions to every rule I guess). Two more are quarterbacked by Russell Wilson and Tom Brady, who both have looked less than their name value this year. Geno Smith and Justin Fields quarterback two of the others both of which, to be fair, have had some brilliant moments but have mostly been mediocre. The other three have started three different quarterbacks this year at least. Bad quarterback play is the most difficult thing to overcome in the NFL and the easiest thing to consistently bet against.
Wow talk about ignoring your own advice! But there’s a reason why I think each of these bets are not only defensible, but money winners. The Panthers, a team I’ve written off at least half-a-dozen times already, just seem to punch somebody in the mouth right when they seem down and out. Maybe they will lay down and look awful again this week, but Tampa Bay has been horrendous against the spread all year and doesn’t play like a team that even wants to be in the playoffs. Mike White coming back for the Jets is the only reason to bet them this week. I am a little worried about the travel west, but this team really seemed to rally around Mike White earlier in the year and I would be surprised if they didn’t do it again. The Battle for Los Angeles no longer has any playoff implications with the Chargers clinching a spot Monday night, but it has plenty of implications for Baker Mayfield’s future in the NFL. Baker perpetually seems to thrive in the back-against-the-wall role and I would be surprised if the Rams can’t keep things close.
Tier 3: Be Judicious With Parlays and Teasers (Season Record: 22-28-1)
Eagles -6 over Saints
Jaguars -4.5 over Texans
Chiefs -12.5 over Broncos
49ers -10 over Raiders
The sharps will tell you to always avoid parlays and teasers. This is sage advice if you are trying to make a living on this, which you probably shouldn’t do by the way, but if you are just doing this for a bit of fun then a little parlay or teaser every now and then can add to the excitement. Just don’t go crazy with it, because there’s nothing fun about burning money…unless you’re a pyromaniac or The Joker. Keep it to two or three games at most and try to look for things with reasonable, but not outrageous, returns. This gives you a decent shot to actually hit one every now and again.
Jalen Hurts might be good to go this week and the Eagles still need wins to get the wild card bye. They should be this lousy Saints team by a touchdown. Likewise, the Jaguars are now in the catbird seat for the AFC South, but they haven’t clinched. Trevor Lawrence has been playing like a man possessed and should continue that against Houston. Kansas City and San Francisco aren’t my favorite bets of the week, but I just can’t bring myself to pick the Broncos or Raiders either. Kansas City still plays with its food too much and maybe Denver will have the post-coach firing, dead cat bounce game, but I doubt it. Their problems run deeper than just poor head coaching. Las Vegas, on the other hand, will struggle to slow down the San Francisco running game and it’s hard to imagine them moving the ball consistently.
Tier 4: Don’t Bet the Over (Season Record: 25-18-4)
Titans +12.5 over Cowboys
Lions -5.5 over Bears
Steelers +2.5 over Ravens
This is another page ripped out of the sharp’s gambling manifesto. This applies to both win totals and game totals. The over is a sucker’s bet. It’s like the carnival game of sports gambling. It’s set up to sucker people in because people want to watch and pull for points to be scored. This means people will rush to bet on more points being scored. You can make money by finding games you like the under (like any Broncos game other than last week) and betting those instead. Also, if you come across any sports gambling column with “best bets” that have you betting overs then throw them in the metaphorical trash, because chances are they don’t know what they are talking about.
Ryan Tannehill is done for the year and there’s a good chance Tennessee will fall out of the playoff picture all together, but Dallas tends to let these games be closer than they should. I know they blew out the Colts a few weeks back and the Vikings a few weeks before that, but they’ve also needed a late score to beat the Texans and lost to the Jaguars. I just see this being one that we keep waiting for Dallas to break it open and then before we know it the clock hits zero and they are only up by 7. Detroit had a huge letdown last week and it will very likely cost them a shot at the playoffs but expect a rebound this week. Baltimore may have beaten Atlanta this week, but they have a long way to go to earn my trust back. Atlanta is completely lost offensively. Pittsburgh may not be much better but Kenny Pickett has had his moments and has at least shown some ability to find the end zone.
Tier 5: Don’t Bet on College Football (Season Record: 29-18-2)
Falcons -3 over Cardinals
Dolphins +3 over Patriots
Giants -5.5 over Colts
If overs are the carnival games of sports gambling, then college football is goofy golf. The transfer portal and NIL deals have made forecasting college football even more difficult than predicting the week-to-week consistency of teenagers and twenty-year-olds was in the first place. Maybe I’m just saying this because I have had a truly awful year picking college football games, but I think college football gambling will be a major money loser for the foreseeable future. It was already one of the most difficult sports to make money gambling, but now it just feels like playing rock-paper-scissors blindfolded.
Your guess about Indianapolis’s quarterback situation is as good as mine, but I’m not sure it really matters. New York might be playing with one-arm tied behind its back with all of the poor injury luck, but they are still a touchdown-plus better than the Colts. Stay away from the other two games. I have no idea what to make of the Atlanta-Arizona or Miami-New England games, but I feel confident that both games will be poorly played and unsatisfying to watch. They aren’t worth your time or money.
Last Week’s Record: 6-9-1
Season Record: 117-115-8