It’s hard not to be reactionary when you first see the opening lines for an upcoming NFL slate. Sunday’s games are still fresh in your mind and your opinions are either being affirmed or questioned at their most frantic rate. Some will say that the opening lines are the best time to get good numbers. Others will tell you that there is more value to be had 10 minutes before kickoff. But in reality, both schools of thought can be true. It just depends on the number.
What I struggle with when betting a game early is not having the time to fully research all angles. Much less, not being able to see a final injury report. However, if you see what looks to be a valuable number, sometimes it can pay big to lock it in early. And if you wait too long, that number may disappear.
Week 11 was one of those weeks where I felt like locking in multiple picks early. Here are the four sides that caught my eye.
Arizona Cardinals +3.5 at Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks continue to get the treatment of an elite team, despite everyone being fully aware of their dreadful defense. The Cardinals offense isn’t quite Russ and Co., but it’s damn near close. And Kyler Murray can do things on the football field that Russell Wilson simply cannot.
I would handicap these two teams as even, with the Cardinals advantage on defense making up for Wilson and the Seattle offense. With that said, this game looks like it should be Seattle -1.5, not -3.5. The half point is way too valuable to pass up in this showdown. But I’d still bet this down to +3.
The Bet: Cardinals +3.5
Green Bay Packers +3 at Indianapolis Colts
This feels like the too-sharp-for-your-own-good special of the week if you’re on Indy. Sure, taking the Packers is the square play. They did just squeak by Jake Luton and the Jaguars last week.
But come on now. We know the Packers are going to win this game.
I hope I’m wrong, so I’ll take the field goal and put it in my pocket if a book is handing it out.
The Bet: Packers +3
Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 at Las Vegas Raiders
To be fair, I don’t feel as strong on this game as I do the first two.
This is both a gut pick, and likely a public pick, so please feel free to fade with Vegas.
But I simply cannot stop seeing Andy Reid exacting his revenge in my head when I imagine how this game will play out. Kansas City outclasses Vegas on both sides of the ball. And while you’ve heard it a million times, Andy Reid is exceptional coming off a bye. With KC, he is 7-3 ATS off a bye. With Philly, he was 10-4 ATS.
The Raiders embarrassed the Chiefs at Arrowhead earlier this season. I believe the Chiefs can and will win this game by more than a touchdown. And with that, I win the award for squarest handicap of the year.
The Bet: Chiefs -6.5
Los Angeles Rams +3.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are a team that I simply do not believe in. I do not believe they have the #1 defense in the league, as DVOA would suggest. I also don’t believe in their overall DVOA as the #2 team in the league. And while they are likely better than I give them credit for, the loss of Vita Vea eating up space in the middle of the D-line was a huge blow to Tampa.
I trust the Rams more on both offense and defense, so please, give me the 3.5 points.
The Bet: Rams +3.5