Well this is fun. According to ESPN Stats & Info, underdogs are, counting the Raiders’ cover against the Chiefs Monday night, 45-30-3 against the spread so far this year, their best record through the first five weeks since 2010.
NFL underdogs are 9-5 against the spread in Week 5 and 44-30-3 (.595) on the season, the best ATS mark through five weeks since 2010 (.622), per @MackNova.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) October 10, 2022
Home dogs are 17-13-2, away dogs an even more impressive 28-17-1.
Is this actionable information we can use to win money at America’s sportsbooks, or just a bunch of noise?
Obviously, I have no answer here. Small sample size and all.
But it is interesting, especially when contrasted with a trend I think I’ve picked up on this year: It seems teams are generally being more cautious with injured players. (Except one team that rhymes with “Fiami Folphins.”)
Again, this is unscientific, but my Twitter news feed is lousy with NFL injury updates. Seems like a lot of injured players are getting limited practices on Wednesday, skipping Thursday, back to practice Friday.
CeeDee Lamb did not practice because of a groin injury, but he doesn't seem overly concerned. "I'm fine," he said. "We're good … I don't want to scare nobody." He said his GPS numbers were high.
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) October 6, 2022
Is it possible then — and this might be a reach — teams that are home favorites are being even more careful with their players? Is it possible — and I’ve never been in an NFL locker room, so, you know, I know nothing — home favorites are taking the foot off the gas in an effort to keep their players healthy?
I know this sounds like so much nonsense, but I think there’s something here. Teams seem to be more cautious with injured players, which would indicate teams are being more cautious, period.
Actionable? Again, too small a sample size and zero scientific inquiry, but worth noting for this week: The Jaguars are +1.5 dogs in Indianapolis, the Patriots are 3-point dogs in Cleveland, the Jets are 7.5-point dogs in Green Bay, the Panthers are 9.5-point dogs against the Rams, the Cowboys are 5-point dogs in Philly, and the Broncos are 6-point dogs against the Chargers.
I don’t know what this all means — like, not even a little bit — but the NFL is objectively more fun when the underdogs rise up. That much I know.
The +1000 or more parlay of the week
What’s aggravating about writing this column so early in the week — which was my idea, as I thought it would be a fun experiment to get my thoughts out there before I start reading actual NFL analysts — is that as the week goes on, my opinions change.
For instance: I placed one extra parlay last week, and if I wrote this on Thursday, it would’ve been my pick. It was the Texans +275 over the Jaguars, the Cowboys +195 over the Rams, and the Bucs -450 over the Falcons. I’m not saying this to brag — OK, fine, I am saying it to brag — but it was a +1252 play that I felt very confident about. It was my largest parlay bet to date. I had conviction. It would’ve been my play in this space.
Instead, my play was … well, it included the Jaguars.
This week — and I can’t promise I won’t completely throw any of these legs out by Friday — I’m going with this beaut: The Bucs laying 8 points in Pittsburgh, the Jets getting 7.5 points in Green Bay, the Seahawks getting a field goal at home against the Cardinals, and over 53.5 in the Bills-Chiefs game.
Rationale: Tom Brady is on a mission; Aaron Rodgers is not on a mission; I have developed a platonic crush on Geno Smith (more on that later); and the Bills and Chiefs should light up the scoreboard. I bet this one on Monday morning on DraftKings at +1173.
The on-paper, no doubt, three-team teaser that’s bound to lose
I’m down to 1-4, I got destroyed last week, I stink at teasers. Let’s run it back at Caesars for the following at +160: The 49ers pick’em over the Falcons, the Bucs giving 2.5 points to the Steelers, and the Eagles getting a point at home against the Cowboys.
This one is looking a little fishy to me
I brought the record down to 2-3 here last week by backing angry Tom Brady, who apparently wasn’t angry enough. This week, my fishy play lives at FanDuel, where the Patriots are giving three points to the home Browns. Here’s the thing: I want to give up on Bill Belichick, but he still knows how to win games and get the most out of his defense. Taken together, I fail to see how the Browns — who are snakebit — will be able to overcome this. Love the Patriots this week.
Language warning! 😂😂😂
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) October 10, 2022
Did I win the DraftKings Milly Maker?
I didn’t, but I got off the schneid and had my best week of the year, highlighted by a fifth-place finish (out of 9,512) in the $5 Huddle.
And this team was led by … Geno Smith, who, along with the rest of that game stack — I threw in DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Alvin Kamara, and Chris Olave for good measure — catapulted me up the leaderboard. While it wasn’t a million bucks, it was only $999,400 less, so who’s complaining?
DraftKings DFS play(s) of the week
From last week’s column: “Even the value that opened up because of injury is ugly. You want to play a Falcons running back against the Bucs? Dyami Brown against anyone?”
Um … wow. As it turns out, you did want to play Dyami Brown. Oops-a-doops.
This time, welcome to Kenneth Walker chalk week. I also think Breece Hall is going to get very popular. It’s hard to argue with either play, though it is notable that Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley, possibly Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, and Alvin Kamara are all on this slate, and all will be under-owned as a result. Spending up to be contrarian is definitely on the running back menu this week.
My mortal lock five-star only for my best customers can’t lose guaranteed best bet of the week
The Eagles won, but didn’t cover, so we’re down to 2-3. This week, let’s go with that over 53.5 in the Bills-Chiefs game. I have a hard time seeing these teams not scoring.