In the fight against the big bad bookies, sports bettors have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal – some more effective than others.
One of the most popular methods of getting a leg up on the sportsbooks is situational handicapping: factoring in unique situations for the teams involved. Some of the more common situational plays – or spot bets – are “letdowns”, “lookaheads”, and “schedule” spots.
Covers’ Senior Industry Analyst Jason Logan combs through the Week 3 schedule and highlights the best opportunities for spot bettors to take advantage of the NFL odds.
LETDOWN SPOT: CHICAGO BEARS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+4, 41.5)
That strong gust blowing around Chicago Sunday night wasn’t the famous Windy City breeze. It was the collective “Phew!” coming out of Bears fans as kicker Eddy Pineiro connected on a 53-yard field goal to give Chicago a 16-14 win as time expired – avoiding an 0-2 start to the season.
Not only are the Bears breathing a sigh of relief for escaping Mile High with a victory, but it looks as though their kicking woes have subsided – for now – with Pineiro going a perfect 3 for 3 on field goal attempts in Week 2. That also sets up Chicago for a letdown spot at Washington for Monday Night Football in Week 3.
In fact, Da Bears find themselves stuck in situational sandwich mode (mmmmmm…) in Week 3. Not only is there the threat of a letdown from that thrilling win but this trip to D.C. is their second straight road game (coming off a draining SNF showing in the thin mountain air) and they could also get caught looking ahead to a home divisional date with Minnesota in Week 4.
Chicago has had a tough enough time working against itself through two weeks of football (30th in yards per game, 28th in passing, 30th in scoring with only 9.5 ppg), now this team has to deal with that slippery situational stuff.
LOOKAHEAD SPOT: CINCINNATI BENGALS AT BUFFALO BILLS (-6, 44)
The Buffalo Bills are off and running after taking New York by storm – if you want to call road wins over the Jets and Giants a “storm”. Either way, Buffalo returns home to Orchard Park with a 2-0 record and the Cincinnati Bengals coming to town for Week 3.
Buffalo opened -4 and has been bet up to -6 for this game, with one-sided action on the Bills. It would seem the betting markets think this team is for real. Well, to quote Han Solo, “Great kid. Don’t get cocky”.
The Bills will get their chance to prove their validity in Week 4 when they welcome the New England Patriots to New Era Field. The Patriots have been downright nasty in Orchard Park the past two years (wins of 25-6 and 23-3) and own an average margin of victory of 15.6 points in their last five trips of Buffalo.
The six points the Bills are giving to Cincy Sunday seems like a lot, considering the quality of Buffalo’s opponent and the real risk of a lookahead to the big bad Pats next week.
SCHEDULE SPOT: OAKLAND RAIDERS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-8, 43.5)
Not that bettors need much convincing to fade the Raiders most weeks, but Week 3 is the first step in a daunting stretch of schedule for Oakland that won’t bring the team back to the Bay Area until Week 9.
The Silver and Black play two straight roadies – starting in Minnesota for an early 1 p.m. ET kickoff Sunday and at Indianapolis in Week 4 – then hop the pond for a matchup with the Bears in London, England in Week 5. Oakland gets a bye in Week 6 before playing at Green Bay in Week 7 and at Houston in Week 8. That’s a 49-day stretch without a home game.
Just focusing on the next three games, the Raiders will have plenty of planning, logistics and off-field affairs to tend to (and that’s with jamming practices and travel in as well) before getting a week off in October. Feels like piling on for a franchise that was exhausted before the schedule even began, after the preseason cameras of HBO’s Hard Knocks and the drama of the Antonio Brown ordeal.
I don’t buy into automatically fading West Coast teams playing in 1 p.m. ET starts but the Raiders haven’t had much success in those 10 a.m. PT kickoffs (they haven’t much success no matter the time. Sooooo…). Oakland is 0-4 SU and ATS in its last four 1 p.m. ET games the past two seasons. And looking at the Raiders’ record in the Eastern Time Zone, they’ve gone 1-7 SU and 1-5-1 ATS (includes three 8:30 p.m. ET primetime starts) in that span.