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The NFL season has passed the halfway point and as such weather will increasingly become a factor to consider when handicapping games.

We are also at the stage when roster depth becomes more of a factor as teams continue to lose players to injuries. Many may have been of the nagging variety, but become more serious as the rigors of the game take a repeated toll.

All teams have now played at least eight games and we are starting to see a clear stratification in the standings.

Atlanta remains the lone unbeaten at 8-0 but just a game ahead of 7-1 Chicago for the top seed in the NFC. San Francisco is 6-2 while both Green Bay and the New York Giants are 6-3. 

After a sluggish start the Packers now control the first of the two NFC wild cards. Two 5-4 teams are the leading contenders for the second wild card, but while Seattle is ascending Minnesota is falling.

No other NFC team has a winning record.

The 7-1 Houston Texans control the top seed in the AFC with a one game lead over 6-2 Baltimore. The hottest teams are New England and Denver, each at 5-3. The Patriots have won two in a row and return from their bye after a 38-point rout of St. Louis in London. 

Denver has won three in a row and appears clearly the team to beat in the AFC West. Another pair of 5-3 teams (Pittsburgh and surprising Indianapolis) is in control of the two wild cards.

It’s become almost commonplace in recent seasons for a team led by a rookie QB to make the playoffs. We saw Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and even Mark Sanchez do it towards the end of the last decade and last season Andy Dalton did it for Cincinnati.

Might Indy rookie Andrew Luck be the next? Perhaps. Keep in mind that before the disaster that was 2011, the Colts under current Broncos QB Peyton Manning, led the team to nine straight double digit win seasons. So there are a number of players on the Colts who know about winning.

Favorites had their best week of the season, going 9-4 ATS through Sunday. Underdogs are still enjoying great success, covering at a bit under 60 percent with a 73-52-6 ATS mark. Smart shopping might well have converted one or two of those pushes to point spread wins. Favorites have not had back-to-back winning weeks this season.

With the covers by both Green Bay and Houston on Sunday double digit favorites are 5-4 ATS. The OVER holds a slight 67-63 edge with one push. Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay and Washington have byes this week.

Here’s a look at the 14 games that will be played.

Thursday, Nov. 8

Colts -3 at Jaguars (42½): The Jags continue to struggle on offense without injured RB Maurice Jones-Drew. The Colts are showing marked improvement week by week as rookie QB Andrew Luck gains experience. COLTS.

Sunday, Nov. 11

Bills +11½ at Patriots (51): These teams met in Week 4 with the Pats rallying for a lopsided 52-28 win, outscoring the Bills 31-7 in the fourth quarter. These teams have scored at least 65 combined points in four of their last five meetings, including each of the last three. OVER.

Giants -4 at Bengals (48½): Teams are an ugly 3-17 ATS this season prior to their bye weeks when not playing another such team. The Giants finally get their bye next week so this situation would point to a play on the Bengals. But Cincy has lost four in a row overall, three of which have been at home. The Giants are a notoriously strong road team. This line may be a bit short. GIANTS.

Chargers +3 at Bucs (48): Based on performance Tampa Bay has been the better team. On talent level the Chargers would seem to have the edge. Chargers have generally excelled over the second half of the season under coach Norv Turner and have played well on the road. Getting points from a team not accustomed to being a favorite is the more appealing option. CHARGERS.

Broncos -4 at Panthers (47½): Denver is on a roll with three straight wins, including two on the road. But now they travel east for a second straight week and have a pair of divisional games on deck. Carolina’s fine play in recent weeks was rewarded with a solid road win at Washington. The Panthers are just 2-6 but five of the losses have been by six points or less. PANTHERS.

Titans +6 at Dolphins (44½): Normally this would be a good spot to play the Titans who won their most recent road game following a trio of road losses and non covers earlier. But their offense is too inconsistent to justify confidence. Miami’s low risk offense does suggest points at a premium. UNDER .

Raiders +7½ at Ravens (46): This is Baltimore’s first home game in nearly a month after a pair of road games sandwiched around its bye. And the Ravens have a pair of tough road games on deck. We should see Baltimore take advantage of Oakland’s defensive weaknesses and top 30 points for the fourth time in five home games this season. RAVENS.

Atlanta -2½ at Saints (NT): Atlanta is a solid 6-2 ATS and has averaged beating the line by 6.8 points per game, third best in the league. Still, the Saints have the offensive firepower to potentially deal Atlanta its first loss in a game that should be very wide open. Both quarterbacks should post big stats. OVER.

Lions -1½ at Vikings (47): Minnesota won the first meeting 20-13, scoring a pair of special team touchdowns, but the offense was unable to find the Detroit end zone. Since that game the fortunes of both teams have reversed. The Lions have overcome a 1-3 start to reach .500 while the Vikes have dropped to 5-4 after starting 4-1. LIONS.

Jets +6½ at Seahawks (38½): Seattle is a perfect 4-0 both straight up and ATS at home following their win over Minnesota, their first in the role of a favorite this season. The home team is now 7-1 in Seahawk games. The Jets continue to struggle on offense and it won’t get any easier at one of the NFL’s noisiest venues. The cross country trip does not help either. SEAHAWKS.

Cowboys +2½ at Eagles (NT): Both teams have been money burners this season with Dallas 3-5 ATS and Philly 1-5-1 ATS prior to Monday night. Recent meetings have been relatively low scoring with five of the last six producing a combined 41 points or less with three of the games staying below 30 points. UNDER .

Rams +11½ at 49ers (38½): Both teams return from byes. The 49ers have held four of its last five foes to six points or less with the lone exception being the 26-3 loss to the Giants three games back. They lead the NFL in fewest points allowed. The Rams are 0-3 both SU and ATS against the elite teams they’ve faced this season (Chicago, Green Bay and New England). 49ERS.

Texans +1½ at Bears (41½): Chicago’s defense leads the NFL in forcing 3.5 takeaways per game. Houston’s defense has allowed just one foe to rush for more than 99 yards although both defenses are allowing an average of less than 90 rushing ypg. Texans playing first road game since Oct. 8. BEARS.

Monday, Nov. 12

Chiefs +12½ at Steelers (43): It’s hard to believe but the Chiefs have not had the lead at any point in any game this season but for when they led by winning in overtime in New Orleans. Their three road losses have been by 18, 28 and 18 points. KC is averaging just 11 points per game the past month. Steelers offense can be conservative. UNDER .

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

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About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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