In the daily battle 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 4 schedule and highlights the best opportunities for spot bettors to take advantage of the NFL odds.
LETDOWN SPOT: WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT NEW YORK GIANTS (-3, 49)
This letdown spot started setting the table back on April 25. That was Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft, on which the Giants selected Duke QB Daniel Jones with the sixth-overall pick. It was a baffling pick that was instantly criticized and continued to be so until Jones showed flashes of brilliance in the preseason.
New York finally pulled the plug on Eli Manning’s time as the starter versus the Buccaneers in Week 3, turning the keys to the franchise over to the 22-year-old rookie. And Jones stepped up, passing for two touchdowns and running in two more with RB Saquon Barkley on the sideline with an ankle sprain. The Giants got the win thanks to a botched last-second field goal attempt from Tampa Bay, and the G-Men’s front office breathed a collective sigh of relief. They were right and everybody else was wrong. Suck it.
That thrilling win (and “I told you so!” moment) sets up New York for a letdown spot in Week 4, hosting the rival Redskins as a 3-point favorite. As mentioned, Jones doesn’t have Barkley to draw the eye of the defense and was sacked five times in the squeaker at Tampa last Sunday. The Redskins’ rotten defense has been roughed up, but they’ve also been on the field an average of 33:08 minutes per game (fourth most) thanks to turnovers from the offense. If the stop unit can force some turnovers of its own versus a rookie QB, the Giants could fall for this longgggggggg-running letdown.
LOOKAHEAD SPOT: OAKLAND RAIDERS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-7, 45)
Even the pros get caught fantasizing. Given their circumstances entering the season (you know? Their franchise QB abruptly packing it in), a 2-1 start to the 2019 schedule has to have the Colts feeling good about their chances in the AFC South. And hell, if not for Adam Vinatieri finally showing cracks in his once-unflappable leg, Indianapolis could be 3-0 in the post-Andrew Luck era.
The Colts have great shot at jumping to 3-1 with the road-rashed Raiders coming to town in Week 4. Oakland (which is on a crazy 49-day gap between home games) lost at Minnesota in an early 1 p.m. ET starts in Week 3 and travels to London, England for Week 5 (vs. Chicago) after this 1 p.m. ET game in Indy Sunday. Shouldn’t be too much trouble for the red-hot Colts, right?
Indianapolis could get caught looking past the tarnished Silver and Black and ahead to Week 5 when they travel to dreaded Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. There are also key injuries on both sides of the ball for the Colts heading into this Sunday’s game, with top WR T.Y. Hilton dealing with a nagging quadriceps injury, safety Malik Hooker out of action (knee), and LB Darius Leonard in concussion protocol.
SCHEDULE SPOT: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT DETROIT LIONS (+6.5, 54)
The Chiefs find themselves back in the visitors locker room for the third time in the first four weeks of the season when they take on the “undefeated” Lions in Detroit this Sunday. Kansas City opened 2019 with back-to-back road games in Jacksonville and Oakland before a grueling home opener against Baltimore in Week 3.
Not only does a road heavy schedule weigh on players and staff, but this is the Chiefs. The AFC’s No. 1 seed from a season ago was able to catch plenty of teams off guard at the start of 2018 campaign (which led to a perfect 7-0 ATS mark through the first seven games), but now have a huge target on its back as teams get up to play the conference’s elite.
Kansas City’s offense also limps into Week 4 with WR Tyreek Hill out (collarbone), LT Eric Fisher sidelined (hernia), and running backs LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams listed as day-to-day with their respective ailments. The rigors of the road could compound those issues come Sunday, especially with K.C. giving a near touchdown as the visitor.