The Supreme Court opened the door for sports betting legalization with its May ruling that struck down a 1992 law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Sports betting is not yet legal in Illinois, but with football season underway, former Northwestern offensive lineman Eric Olson will take a weekly look at the odds surrounding the action on the field.
YTD record: 16-7 against the spread (69.5%) (6-1 last week)
Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets 10/7 12:00pm CT
Line: Jets -1
Betting Percentages Split: 76% of the tickets on the Broncos
The play: Jets -1
Buy low, sell high. It’s weird to say you are selling high on a team that just lost in prime time, but, good losses (especially in the public’s eyes) are a real thing in the NFL. The Broncos realistically deserved to win that game on Monday Night and, with all of the Chiefs hype, people are now buying the Broncos. I instead ask you to look at the bigger picture here. That was as good of a spot as possible for the Broncos, they still have noodle-armed Case Keenum as their QB and their offensive line struggled to protect the QB against a below average Chiefs defense. The Broncos are better than they were last year, but realistically, they will be an 8-9 win team. Combine the regression I expect to see from them in the coming weeks, along with the fact that they are on short rest, traveling across the country, to play a 11:00 am Mountain Time game against the lowly Jets, and I absolutely love this spot for Darnold and Co. Give me the Jets as a small favorite at home.
Tennessee Titans vs Buffalo Bills 10/7 1:00pm CT
Line: Titans -4
Betting Percentages Split: 72% of tickets on Titans
The play: Bills +4
Close your nose folks, we are betting on the Bills. To be successful betting on the NFL, you must be willing to make gross bets like this. Let me explain why I am backing the Bills. The Titans are one of, if not the biggest, surprise of the NFL season. While nobody expected much from the Bills, they still are one of the most disappointing teams in the league. The Titans just won a game against the defending Super Bowl champs. The Bills just got shut out by an iffy Packers team. Well, you might ask “Eric, aren’t those reasons to be backing the Titans?” To which I say, “have I not taught you anything??” Buy low, sell high and find yourself line value wherever you can. Being a four point home underdog in the NFL is significant and I think you are getting value by betting the Titans to begin to regress.
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions 10/7 12:00pm CT
Line: Packers -1
Betting Percentages Split: 69% of tickets on the Packers
The play: Lions +1
This game doesn’t fit as cleanly into a buy low, sell high situation as two above games. However, similar principles are at play. If this game was last week, after the Lions just beat the Pats and the Packers lost handedly to the Redskins, what would the line would have been? Lions -2.5? Maybe the movement would not have been that drastic, but I do not think Green Bay would be favored on the road. The Lions took the Cowboys absolute best shot last week and still were leading until the final seconds. I think this line is an overreaction to last week’s results and I’ll gladly take the Lions as a small home underdog.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks 10/7 3:25pm CT
Line: Rams -7
Betting Percentages Split: 75% of tickets on the Rams
The play: Seahawks +7
This is my grossest set of picks to date and I absolutely love it. Every single one of these picks is attracting less than 35% of public bets. Are the Rams potentially Vegas-proof, joining the elite company of Villanova basketball, Alabama football, the Patriots and Golden State Warriors? (Meaning, it doesn’t matter where you set the line, they will somehow always cover). While it may be starting to look like they are in that category, I will go back to the well one last time and bet against a team that has looked unbeatable thus far. While no eye test has the Seahawks hanging around, this game fits everything I look for. Home underdog, in division, getting a full touchdown, going against a team that just had a great performance on national TV. I’ll bet that the Rams aren’t quittteeee the team people think they are and take the 7 points at home for the Seahwaks.
Bonus College Game
LSU vs. Florida 10/6 3:30pm CT
Line: LSU -2.5
Betting Percentages Split: 72% of tickets on LSU
The play: Florida +2.5 (get 3 if you can)
LSU is not the fifth best team in the country. Not even close. Joe Burrow is yet to commit a turnover, they won a game at Auburn where they trailed for nearly all of regulation and are still getting too much credit for a win over an completely overrated Miami team week 1 (I was at this game, this had much more to do with Miami’s struggles at QB than anything LSU did). Florida is tied for the lead in the country in takeaways and I absolutely love them to finally give Burrow some trouble. On top of that, we get a home underdog, in conference getting less than 30% of bets, auto play for me. Take the Gators.