Being a successful sports bettor is not about betting on the best team, but betting the best number. Scoring the optimal odds for your wager can sometimes be a race to the window – or your mobile – to get the spread or total you want before it changes. Or, sometimes it’s a waiting game until just before kickoff, projecting how the public players will manipulate the numbers.
Covers’ Senior Industry Analyst Jason Logan gives you a heads-up on the best “Bet Now/Bet Later” games on the NFL board each week.
Week 3 gives us a clearer picture of who teams really are but there’s not enough out there to point the finger with confidence. That makes getting down on the best spread and total for your opinion even more important. Here goes Week 3…
SPREAD TO BET NOW: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -6.5
NFL bettors get a great game in the 1 pm E.T. slot in Week 3 with the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs butting heads in a battle of offenses ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in average yards, respectively. However, Baltimore’s results should be treated like a king cobra: respect what it can do, but don’t trust it.
The Ravens ransacked the boxscore in matchups with Miami and Arizona – two teams that sat at the bottom of the NFL season win totals board this summer. Baltimore’s defense could be exposed against this elite K.C. offense. The Ravens gave Arizona only 22 minutes with the football last Sunday and rookie passer Kyler Murray produced 349 yards passing and 17 points in that short frame. Baltimore is allowing 5.4 yards per play through two weeks, yet ranks second in yards allowed per game. Hmmmm.
Kansas City is in Arrowhead for the first time this season after two solid road showings. The Chiefs blasted Oakland in Week 2 after putting 40 on the Jacksonville Jaguars (who lost their starting QB in the middle of the game) in Week 1. While those opponents/circumstances are almost as soft as the Ravens’ slate, Kansas City did do so away from home and will have a sizable edge in the homer opener Sunday, especially when it comes to crowd noise versus Lamar Jackson and this wheelin’-dealin’ Baltimore attack.
If you aren’t sold on the Ravens running up the score and think the Chiefs are worth your pocket change, hit the home side under the key number of seven right now. Plenty of books have already moved to -7 so getting the fave at -6.5 could be vital in what should be a really fun game.
SPREAD TO BET LATER: MIAMI DOLPHINS +21.5
There’s a point in every bad team’s season in which the betting markets over-correct so much, it actually makes a bad bet a good one. And for a team as bad as the Dolphins, that tipping point could be as early as Week 3.
The math is simple: one team heading down, losing its first two games by a combined 92 points, and tanking like Zion Williamson is waiting on the other side. The other team is 2-0, putting up the second-most yardage in the NFL, and one of the most popular franchises (and bets) in all of sports. Mix it up in a bowl with a dash of early sharp money, and you get a spread moving from as low as -15.5 to -21.5 on the home side.
If you’re on the fence about the Dolphins, just let the media puff up the Cowboys and bash the Fins (especially now that they’re trading away top young players) this week. Come Sunday, you could be looking at even more points.
TOTAL TO BET NOW: UNDER 44.5 NEW ORLEANS AT SEATTLE
How much is Drew Brees worth to the Saints’ odds? Well, the lookahead had New Orleans getting a point in Seattle with a total of 50 before Brees was ruled out for the next six weeks with a thumb injury. So, do the math lazy.
Losing Brees is crushing but the Saints are somewhat set up to absorb that injury better than most teams. Backup Teddy Bridgewater has experience and shared plenty of reps with dynamic QB Taysom Hill in the preseason. That switch does shorten the New Orleans attack, but it doesn’t completely pull the plug.
The Seahawks offense went back to the basics in Week 2, running the football 33 times and chewing up almost 36 minutes in time of possession in a win over Pittsburgh. Last season, the Seahawks loved to pound the turf at CenturyLink, averaging 175.5 yards on the ground per home game (almost 39 yards more than on the road) with nearly six more handoffs as a host.
This game is also in Seattle, where people still put weight into this home-field edge. I will say, the crowd noise could give the Saints’ backups some issues on snap counts and audibles and rain is also in the forecast for Sunday, so yeah… it’s Seattle.
If you project a low-scoring finish in the wake of the Brees injury, then have at it. This total will likely tick down before the 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff. But watch for sharp buy back on the Over. Plug this Over/Under into your Covers Live App and let the line alerts do the heavy lifting.
TOTAL TO BET LATER: OVER 48 HOUSTON AT L.A. CHARGERS
These teams combined for a grand total of just 23 points in Week 2, with Houston just getting past Jacksonville 13-12 and Los Angeles falling 13-10 at Detroit. That’s ticked this total down from 49 points to as low as 47.5 at some books.
Those early Under bettors have been quick to downgrade two very strong offensive teams that ran into solid defenses and played in tough situational spots last Sunday. I try to keep my own wagers out of the way with these “Bet Now/Later” articles, but I like the Over in this Week 3 matchup and love seeing the total go the other way.
Houston has a loaded receiving corps and showed that on Monday Night Football in Week 1, and now that group gets to snack on a bunch of rusty lawn chairs – or whatever secondary the Bolts have left after getting chewed up by the injury bugs. Unfortunately for the Texans, their defense is not so loaded, giving up key plays and big gains to both Brees in the opener and rookie QB Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars last week.
The L.A. offense (which sits fourth in yards per game) left a ton of points on the table in Motown, with two touchdowns called back on penalties, a goal-line fumble, an interception in the end zone and two missed field goals. We’ve seen the Chargers do this exact thing in the past, only to rebound with a strong scoring effort the following week.
If you’re like me and love the Over, be patient and let this continue to creep down. Injury reports on Thursday and Friday won’t paint a pretty picture for the Bolts pass defense, so you might want to snap up the Over on the lowest number you can get before then. Good luck.
Are you ready for some more MAC-tion? Because there are two more games on the schedule Wednesday night. We break down the best bets for these games and take a look at the weekend ahead in college football – from sides and totals to props and everything in between.
ROOM TO ROAM
The Toledo Rockets might be only slight favorites for Wednesday night’s MAC tilt with visiting Northern Illinois, but they have a significant advantage in at least one area – and it could turn this one into a bit of a laugher. The Rockets come into the game with the nation’s No. 12 rushing offense, averaging nearly 251 yards per game on the ground – and they’ve been especially dominant over their previous two games, racking up a combined 664 rushing yards in narrow victories over Eastern Michigan and Kent State. The Huskies, meanwhile, are coming off getting routed 48-10 to Central Michigan in which the Chippewas posted 327 rushing yards.
An edge like this makes Toledo a terrific option in a variety of different bet scenarios; we recommend buying a few points in their favor and taking an alternate line of -6.5.
MIAMI (OH) FOR 3
The Miami (OH) Redhawks should have little trouble filling the board Wednesday night as they host a Bowling Green defense that ranks among the worst in the nation in points allowed. But while the Falcons have surrendered a mind-boggling 33.8 points per game so far this season, the Redhawks might not necessarily be headed for a parade to the end zone. Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst touchdown-to-field-goal ratios in the country coming into Week 12, having scored 22 TDs compared with 16 FGs – six of those coming over the course of their current three-game winning streak.
Miami (Ohio) is a big-time favorite here, and is a good bet to open the scoring given BGSU’s 2.5 first-half-points-per-game average on the road this season. We like the Redhawks FG to kick off the point parade.
GILBERT GETTING BACK
Kansas State’s premier rushing threat might be back on the field this weekend. Wildcats senior James Gilbert practiced on Tuesday and is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an undisclosed ailment that kept him out of last week’s 27-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns. It was originally thought that Gilbert would be in the lineup vs. Texas, but he was a late exclusion – and Kansas State struggled in his absence, finishing with a paltry 51 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Gilbert ranks ninth in the Big 12 Conference in rushing yards (558) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.
Gilbert’s return would invigorate a Kansas State rush attack that has a favorable matchup against a West Virginia defense allowing 173 rushing yards per game. We recommend the hosts ATS if Gilbert is deemed fit to return.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have seen their season take a terrible turn with word that standout wide receiver Sage Surratt will miss the remainder of 2019 with an undisclosed injury. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson confirmed Tuesday that Surratt, who wasn’t featured on the team’s depth chart ahead of its Week 12 encounter with Clemson, would be out for the rest of the season – though he wouldn’t specify what was wrong with the star wideout. Surratt finishes the year with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 66 receptions as the premier target for quarterback Jamie Newman.
The absence of Surratt should give bettors even less of a reason to bank on Wake Forest, which has seen the line shift as far as four points in Clemson’s favor. Look for the Tigers to keep the undermanned Deacons below their team total.
This may require a double-take, but listen up. The Miami Dolphins have been the best bet in the NFL since the start of October. Yes, those Miami Dolphins. We break down the odds and let you know what bets we like in Week 11 of the NFL as we dive into sides, totals, props and more.
STAYING HOT IN Q1
The hottest team in the league right now is Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. After knocking off the Patriots in Week 9, they turned their crosshairs on the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. The Ravens ran just 48 offensive plays but managed to put up 49 points. Lost in the 49-13 win was the fact that Baltimore moved to 8-1 against the first-quarter spread after winning the first 15 minutes 14-0.
This week, Baltimore is a 4-point home favorite versus a Houston team that is coming off their bye. If you don’t trust a team coming off a blowout win versus the worst team in the league and/or covering their last three games, take a look at the 1Q Ravens -0.5 (-105) as an alternative.
Baltimore is second in the league in first quarter points per game at 9.5 and third in the league in points against in the first quarter at 3.67 while the Texans are 0-3-1 on the road this year in the first quarter. Take the Ravens 1Q -0.5.
FEAST AWAITS EVANS
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face a very motivated New Orleans Saints team Sunday, but NOLA will be without their top cornerback in Marcus Lattimore. The third-year CB is week-to-week with a hamstring injury meaning Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will face sub-par corners in P.J. Williams and Eli Apple.
As Brad Evans pointed out on twitter, this is especially great news for Mike Evans who has struggled over his career versus Lattimore. Evans put up a donut early this year in Week 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and averaged 9.5 targets for three catches and 34 yards in two games in 2017 (last year Lattimore struggled following up his 2017 DROY but has been much better this year).
Even with Jameis Winston getting sacked nearly four times a game, Evans is averaging 139 yards a game over his last four contests. Jump on Evans’ receiving yard total on any number below 85 and check in on his reception total, hitting the Over on any number below 7.
No team in the league relies on the screen game more than the Minnesota Vikings. Per ESPN, Minnesota is averaging 9.8 yards per screen attempt which is 3.5 yards more per attempt than the No.10 team.
The beneficiary of this is running back Dalvin Cook who gashed the Cowboys in primetime every time he got the ball with blockers ahead of him. Over the last three games, Cook has amassed 193 yards receiving and will face a Denver Broncos’ defense that is giving up 8.6 yards per pass to RBs since Week 8.
Grab the Over on Cook’s receiving yards on any total less than 40 yards.
LOADING SCREEN PT. 2
If you’re tailing the Cook receiving yards play and want some action on the other side of the ball, maybe look to fade the Broncos’ backfield in receiving yards. Denver is the worst team at generating yards on the screen game (3.7 yards per attempt) and neither Phillip Lindsay nor Royce Freeman has topped 17 yards receiving in the last two weeks. In the only game Brandon Allen has started at quarterback, Lindsay wasn’t targeted at all and Freeman saw one target which he lost a yard on.
Feel confident in taking Lindsay’s Under receiving yards on anything greater than 19 and Freeman’s Under on any number greater than 25.
AIN’T FADING THE FINS NOW
The best team ATS over the last five weeks has been the Miami Dolphins. The former 0-7 team has rattled off five-straight wins ATS and face a Buffalo Bills team that has zero offensive identity of late and trailed the Dolphins by five points heading into the fourth quarter just four weeks ago.
We are a little bearish on Miami hitting a sixth-straight win ATS but have no problem fading Josh Allen’s Bills who are putting up just 288 yards of total offense over the last three weeks, good for sixth-worst. Their once stellar defense now sits 12th in Wtd DVOA — 9th against the pass and 27th against the run.
The Bills needed 22 4th-quarter points in their last meeting to cover their team total and we don’t see Brian Daboll’s offense clearing 23.5 points since they are 2-5 O/U that total in their last seven.
Get on the Bills’ team total Under 23.5 now, as it may drop under this key number later in the week.