Rich Hribar and Raymond Summerlin bring you their best bets every Friday of the NFL season as well as a preview of Sunday Night Football. The preview is free, but the bets can only be found in the Rotoworld Season Pass. Don’t miss out on the action.
Rich: 5-4 season record (last week: 0-4)
Raymond: 7-2 season record (last week: 3-2)
All lines taken from the VI Consensus at VegasInsider.com Friday morning.
Sunday Night Football – Patriots @ Lions (+7) – Total 53.5
Rich: The Patriots are coming off a loss, which has historically been kind to them attacking the spread. Over the past 10 seasons, New England is 25-9 versus the spread following a loss in the same season. However, eight of those nine games in which they failed to cover off of a loss came when they were giving six or more points on the road. Under those circumstances, they are just 5-8 against the spread.
Piling on, teams which have started 0-2 on the season have been strong against the spread in their third game. Over the past decade, 0-2 teams are 45-36-1 versus the spread with nine of those failed covers coming against another 0-2 team. If you strictly bet every 0-2 team over the past decade, you’d only have two losing two weeks with the last one coming in 2013. There’s no denying the Patriots are a better football team than the Lions, but I flew into the face of the sun against two long-running trends a week ago and was turned to ashes. I would be hesitant to lay the points here.
I do, however, feel strongly about the game total here. The above numbers already suggest the Lions have favored odds of playing well, and now the Patriots’ defense may be in jeopardy of not having either Patrick Chung or Tre Flowers on the field this Sunday. Neither has practiced at any point of this week through Thursday as they are in the concussion protocol. Detroit has been a sieve defensively so far, allowing 48 and 30 points to the Jets and 49ers, teams not nearly with the measured pedigree as the Patriots’ offense. Those opening two game totals have been 65 and 57 points. Expecting Detroit to play well at home offensively off of two losses and the Patriots inherently scoring a high number of points, I’d swing at the potential shootout ringing true and the game total going over here.
Pick: Over 53.5
Raymond: Like Rich, I lean toward the Lions here because of the success 0-2 teams have had against the spread, but there are a couple caveats. First, the Patriots are coming off a loss of their own, so while there is value on the line – this was tabbed as a four-point game by line makers in May – there is perhaps not as much as there would have been if New England was 2-0. Second, former Bill Belichick assistants have not fared well against the former boss, winning just eight of 22 meetings, and Matt Patricia has looked out of his depth in the first two games. All of that is without mentioning the serious issues Detroit has on defense and Matthew Stafford’s uneven play through two weeks. I would go with the Lions in a pick’em pool, but there are enough concerns to push me off a bet.
Raiders @ Dolphins (-3) – Total 44.5
Rich: Rolling with 0-2 teams is going to be a theme this week given the information above, and we will be staying away from non-winless teams playing against winless teams this weekend. The Raiders have actually led at the half in each of their first two games against the Rams and Broncos before giving away games after the break. They also have been strong in early road starts with Derek Carr under center, going 11-6 against the spread in 1 PM ET starts.
Pick: Raiders +3
Raymond: Rich mentions the 0-2 aspect here, but the Raiders have another trend working in their favor. Teams playing in a road game after a road loss are good in general (226-176-6 ATS since 2008), and they are even better as short underdogs, covering 67.7 percent of the time over the last 10 seasons. The logic behind this trend is all losses are not created equal, and losing a road game disproportionally affects a team’s standing with the betting public, something which seems to be especially true in even matchups. The fact the Dolphins are also surprisingly 2-0 only helps add more value to the Oakland side.
Pick: Raiders +3
Packers @ Washington (+3) – Total 45.5
Rich: Washington is coming off an embarrassing home loss as a heavy favorite, but they are in an advantageous spot to place blind faith in facing a Packers team coming off an overtime game. Over the last four seasons, teams coming off an overtime game are just 45-68-1 against the spread. Under the new overtime rules, they are 21-30-1. Teams playing on the road after an overtime game from the same group are just 11-20 versus the spread.
Pick: Washington +3
Raymond: Rich laid out the case for Washington perfectly, but it is also worth noting records following an overtime game become even worse the longer that overtime lasts, a factor I foolishly overlooked when picking the Steelers last week. Considering Green Bay went the distance with Minnesota, they are primed for a letdown spot on the road.
Pick: Washington +3
Saints @ Falcons (-3) – Total 53.5
Raymond: There is not any one trend pushing me toward the Saints in this game, but they have a lot of things working in their favor. To start, they are an 0-2 team against the spread, which has been a marker for Week 3 success. Second, they are a divisional underdog early in the season, another situation which has been profitable over the last 10 seasons (127-87-4). Finally, New Orleans’ history the last few years suggests this is the game they figure it all out. Since 2014, the Saints are 1-9 both against the spread and straight up in the first two weeks. In Week 3 they are 3-1 ATS with a straight up win last season in Carolina as 5.5-point dogs. Put it all together, and it feels like they have a good shot to cover this week.
Pick: Saints +3
Steelers @ Bucs (+1.5) – Total 54
Rich: Pittsburgh isn’t 0-2, but they are winless and desperate to have a good showing this week. The Buccaneers are on fire and the Steelers are on the road, so the public will surely be against them. The road game hang-ups for Pittsburgh are really only tied to early game starts, and they have been a juggernaut in prime time games recently. They currently have won 10 consecutive prime-time games outright, with only one of those by less than three points. Five of those wins have come on the road, all by three or more points.
Pick: Steelers -1.5
Giants @ Texans (-6) – Total 42, 49ers @ Chiefs (-6.5) – Total 55, Cowboys @ Seahawks (-1.5) – Total 41.5
Raymond: This trend is more adventurous than my other picks, but it has been too successful in the past to leave out. Only a few teams begin the season with back-to-back road games each year, and, for some reason, those teams are awful in their home opener in Week 3. Overall they are 9-21-1 against the spread since the 2008 season, and favorites are just 4-17-1. All three teams this season are favorites in their home openers. While the Texans and especially Seahawks being 0-2 does give me some concern, this quirky trend has been too good to pass up.
Pick: Giants +6, 49ers +6.5, Cowboys money line (+105)