One of this season’s most surprising results (other than the Bears allowing 50 points plus in consecutive games) occurred last Thursday night in Cincinnati when the host Bengals were soundly defeated by their Division and instate rivals from Cleveland.
The 24-3 rout was as impressive a win as the Browns have had in some time and came as a major surprise considering the recent history of both teams.
This further shows how topsy turvy the NFL can be, both on a week to week basis as well as season to season. More than halfway through, this is a good time to take a look at how NFL teams have fared as measured by their projected season win totals prior to the start of the season.
At 8-1 Arizona has already exceeded its win total of 7.5 even with losing Carson Palmer for the season. You could consider it a “bad beat” of sorts as backers have to wait almost two more months to collect.
Cleveland is just one win away from exceeding the projection of 6.5 wins and that would be a big score for the bettors who laid close to -200 on the OVER.
Don’t feel too sorry for the books as they will do very well if Dallas can win just two more games. The Cowboys were priced in the vicinity of -270 on the UNDER 8 wins so it would take a 1-5 finish for Dallas just for the books to issue refunds on a push.
At 4-5 New Orleans would do no better than push its total of 10 wins if they lose just 1 of their final 7 games.
With Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh the New York Jets avoided a situation in which they could do no better than push their win total of 7. OVER bettors are hoping for a miracle: their season to end with a 7 game winning streak to have a winning ticket.
At 1-8 Tampa Bay can do no better than push its season win total of 8.
It’s rare that teams can have their season win totals decided just past the halfway point of the season but that’s the nature of the modern NFL.
Yet although the individual teams may show wide fluctuations from season to season on a global basis the NFL still shows some consistency when it comes to point spread results.
Through Sunday favorites are 72-69-3 ATS with 2 games lined at pick ‘em.
Home favorites are 48-48-3 ATS with home underdogs 20-22 ATS. The three London games had favorites go 2-1 ATS.
There have been 10 more OVERS (77) than UNDERS (67) with 2 games resulting in pushes. An average of 46.5 points per game have been scored.
Kansas City has been the best point spread performer this season, going 7-1-1 ATS with Arizona and Indianapolis close behind at 7-2 ATS.
At the other end of the spectrum are Jacksonville and the New York Jets. Both are 2-7-1 ATS using the closing lines at the Westgate.
OVER players have been rewarding by playing the ‘high’ in games involving Denver, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England and New Orleans. That quintet has combined for 36 OVERs and just 9 UNDERs with the Packers 8-1 to the OVER and the other 4 teams 7-2 to the OVER.
Buffalo +5 at Miami (42.5): These longtime foes are remarkably close in most statistical categories although the Dolphins do have slight edges in most. Both teams are 5-4 which makes this a more important game for the Fish after losing that first meeting. Considering the success of Thursday night favorites the preference is to side with hosts off the short week of preparation. MIAMI.
Houston +3 at Cleveland (42.5): Although Houston is off its Bye week Cleveland also has extra rest after winning at Cincinnati last Thursday. At 4-5 Houston is on the periphery of Wild Card contention and is much improved over last season. Houston has a powerful defensive presence that could present problems for Browns’ QB Brian Hoyer whose play has been shaky even while the team has been winning. HOUSTON.
Minnesota +3 at Chicago (47): The Vikings have performed better than their talent level suggests and the bears have been one of the most under achieving teams in the league relative to their talent. This is a spot where professional pride kicks in for the Bears, especially since they are yet to win at home this season. Chicago’s main defensive weakness has been against the pass whereas the Vikings rank number 30 in passing offense. CHICAGO.
Philadelphia +6.5 at Green Bay (53): Both teams are off of prime time games last Sunday and Monday nights and barring key injuries resulting from Philly’s game against Carolina the Packers should be about 6 point favorites. Both teams have top10 offenses and statistically average defenses. Backup Philly QB, veteran Mark Sanchez, fits nicely in coach Chip Kelly’s offense which suggests that, barring brutal weather conditions, this game should be as high scoring as expected. OVER.
Seattle +1.5 at KC (43): Each team has a solid defense and rather pedestrian offenses. Each offense is more reliant on the run than the pass and both defenses are outstanding against the pass. Both offenses have also excelled at protecting the football. This combination of factors suggests that the best units on the field will be each team’s defense, leading to a low scoring game. UNDER.
Atlanta +3 at Carolina (47.5): The Panthers ares off of Monday’s game in Philadelphia while Atlanta is off of a rare road win, its first this season, albeit occurring at lowly Tampa Bay. The Panthers are such a foe with a fairly porous defense and an offense that can rely on the talents of QB Cam Newton to keep the Atlanta defense off balance. Incredibly, both teams are still in the race for the Division title with leader New Orleans just 4-5. OVER.
Cincinnati +7 at New Orleans (50.5): Cincinnati was badly outplayed in last Thursday’s 24-3 loss to Cleveland. The Bengals now take to the road after three straight home games. Though not having a typical season, New Orleans QB Drew Brees is far outperforming Cincy’s Andy Dalton and the Bengals will be hard pressed to trade scores with the angry hosts who feel last week’s game was stolen from them. NEW ORLEANS.
TB +7 at Washington (45): Both teams have losing records but while Tampa Bay is arguably one of the 2 or 3 worst teams in the league the Redskins are not that far from being competitive. They have a road win at Dallas and have suffered only one truly ugly loss. Tampa’s offense has been inept, scoring 17 points or less in 7 of 9 games, including four straight. Rookie coach Jay Gruden has more to work with than does his Tampa counterpart, Lovie Smith. WASHINGTON.
Denver -9 at St. Louis (50.5): Denver has lost only twice this season and both were on the road, at Seattle and at New England. It’s hard to step in front of the Denver offense, which should find the pristine indoor conditions much to their liking. The Rams have had their moments on defense but this will be, by far, the best offense they will see this season. This is Denver’s third straight road game which is normally a negative. But Denver is an “extreme” team likely to handle this scheduling spot better. DENVER.
SF -4 at NY Giants (43.5): The Giants are a team in disarray with virtually no chance at making the playoffs. San Francisco may have saved its season with its overtime win at New Orleans, a win that should provide some short term momentum. Coach Jim Harbaugh can also use the 2011 NFC Title game loss followed by a 23 point home loss the next season to the Giants as motivation. And the Niners will be stronger defensively with LB Aldon Smith returning from suspension. SAN FRANCISCO.
Oakland +10 at San Diego (45): Oakland remains winless at 0-9 which makes them dangerous – at least in most situations. The Chargers are the more talented team on both sides of the football and with the better QB and head coach. Much in need of a confidence boosting win if they are to remain in contention for a Wild Card, expect San Diego to be well prepared for this rematch, especially given the closeness of that first divisional meeting. SAN DIEGO.
Detroit +1 at Arizona (41.5): This game could determine for home field advantage in the NFC Playoffs. Drew Stanton replaces injured Carson Palmer at QB for Arizona which may not be a much of a dropoff as often occurs when a backup replaces a starter. Both teams have solid defenses and allow less than 19 points per game while also limiting turnovers on offense. UNDER.
New England +2.5 at Indianapolis (57): The Bye may have been more of a momentum breaker for the Pats who have won 5 in a row. The Colts had their own 5 game win streak snapped in Pittsburgh before their Monday night rout at the Giants prior to the Bye. The Colts are at home for the first time in four weeks while three straight home games and the Bye have New England away from Foxborough for the first time in well over a month. INDIANAPOLIS.
Pittsburgh -5 at Tenn (47): The Steelers were due for a poor game following three straight home games, all wins, with the latter two in dominating fashion behind QB Ben Roethlisberger’s record setting efforts. Sure enough, four turnovers proved costly against the Jets in a 20-13 loss. They are on the road for a second straight week. At 2-7 the Titans are relegated to playing spoiler and thus should be up for this prime time encounter. The Steelers are now 2-3 SU and ATS on the road. TENNESSEE.
Last week: 7-5 (before MNF)
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]