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Posted by on Dec 7, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

NFL 2019: Week #14

 

contrarianism

 

“Buy low, sell high” is a tried and true investment strategy that has some application to sports betting.

Certainly, we want to take advantage of undervalued teams where we’re possibly getting extra points and avoid teams where the line might be inflated.  That often means betting on teams that have struggled lately while wagering against teams that are playing well.  In a betting environment where margins are slim and information is correctly factored into the line, there’s probably some merit to adopting a contrarian strategy of buying low and selling high.

This week, the “buy low” teams appear to be:  Denver, LA Chargers, Carolina, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Oakland, NY Giants, and Philadelphia.  Despite being 10-2, some might also include New England as a “buy low” team since they’ve failed to cover the spread in the last two games.

Meanwhile, the “sell high” teams look to be:  Baltimore, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Seattle.  Some might also include Kansas City and Houston.

For Week #14, I’m combining this concept while also factoring in the high percentage of covers by road underdogs (70-48-4 ATS).  Moreover, I’m applying a couple of historical betting angles with plenty of trials that have produced a profit over the years.

Read the full write-ups on each game below.

Also, a short personal note:  Thanks to everyone for the kind wishes last weekend while I was in the hospital for the first time in my life.  I experienced a health scare, but am back to handicapping and trying to beat the point spread.  The messages were deeply appreciated.

 

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2019 NFL WAGERING RECORD

Wins — Losses — Pushes          39 — 41 — 1

Starting Bankroll:   $ 8,398.

Current Bankroll:   $6,676.  (- $1,722.)

Last Week’s Results (Week #11):         4 — 3 — 1  (+ $140.)

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THIS WEEK’S WAGERS:  This week, I made 13 wagers.  I’m laying $3,612. to win $3,250.  Here are the plays (each listed at -110 unless noted otherwise):

Buffalo +6 vs. Baltimore — Risking $275 to win $250
Buffalo/Baltimore UNDER 44 — Risking $275 to win $250
Denver +8.5 vs. Houston — Risking $275 to win $250
San Francisco +2 vs. New Orleans — Risking $275 to win $250
Cincinnati +7 vs. Cleveland — Risking $275 to win $250
Carolina +3.5 vs. Atlanta (-115) — Risking $287 to win $250
Miami +5 vs. NY Jets — Risking $275 to win $250
Indianapolis +3.5 vs. Tampa (-115) — Risking $287 to win $250
Oakland +3 vs. Tennesee — Risking $275 to win $250
Pittsburgh/Arizona UNDER 43.5 — Risking $275 to win $250
Tennesee/Oakland UNDER 47.5 — Risking $275 to win $250
Seattle/LA Rams UNDER 48 — Risking $275 to win $250
NY Giants +9 vs. Philadelphia — Risking $275 to win $250

 

THOUGHTS ON EACH GAME:

Baltimore at Buffalo (Bet BUF and UNDER)

BAL is laying -6 at BUF with a total at 44.  Weather is not expected to be a factor in this December Buffalo home game, which probably helps the Ravens, winners of eight straight games SU, and suddenly the odds-on Super Bowl betting favorite.  Yet this looks like a particularly tough test for BAL, which has defeated playoff-bound teams in 5 of its last 6 games.  Facing a rested BUF team off the ten-day break after beating the Cowboys on the road in a definitive statement game will be another challenge.  The Bills defense has been stellar, allowing 20 points or less in 10 of 12 games, this season.  I think given the extra rest, a solid defense, home-field advantage, and the Ravens coming off a big but exhausting win last week at home versus San Francisco, there’s sufficient reason to play the home dog.  It’s not often we see a 9-3 team getting nearly a touchdown (+6) at home.  Add the fact that BUF is 4-0-1 ATS their last five games as a dog, and that shows the market may be still undervaluing this team.  I made two wagers.  Grab the Bills at this bargain price, despite all the respect in the world for the Ravens.  I also like the UNDER in this game, especially at 44 — since BUF is 3-9 to the UNDER this season.

Washington at Green Bay (No Wagers)

GB is laying -12.5 at home hosting WAS, with a betting total of 42.  No opinion for me on this game, though the Redskins riding an unforeseen two-game winning streak should be factored in.  This is only the second Packers home game since Oct. 20th.  I think GB is too inconsistent to be laying this high a price, but a trend keeps me off the dog (historically, teams favored in the 10-14 range cover nearly 55 percent of the time when bet blind, and that includes nearly 500 trials over the past 20 seasons.  Interesting schedule quirk — Packers play each of their three division rivals the final three games of the season after this game, so GB might be content to get the lead, sit on the ball, and not show much if they can get out of Lambeau with an easy win.

Denver at Houston (Bet DEN)

Denver is a quagmire, covering in 6 of 8 games and 4 of their last 5, but few bettors look to them as an attractive play.  Big concern is the offense, but they have scored 23+ in last 3 of 4.  I’m on the Broncos here given this recent trend and the road dog phenomenon this season (covering in 60 percent of all games).  Houston might also be inflated at this high number, especially coming off the impressive win over NWE on Sunday night.  We catch several solid contrarian angles converging here, so I’m taking the Broncos getting points.  It’s also worth noting that DEN defense remains solid, ranked in the top ten in both yards and points allowed.  Hence, getting +8.5 should be the right side here, especially given HOU is just 2-4 ATS at home this season.  Hoping DEN offense can produce enough points to keep this within the margin.  I have no opinion on the total, which is 43.

San Francisco at New Orleans (Bet SFO)

Tough stretch of schedule here for 49ers which must play back-to-back road games versus two of the NFL’s best teams.  San Francisco did stay on the road all week in prep for this contest, and might be the better team by a slight margin — and yet is getting +2 points.  SFO has excelled in the dog role, going 5-1 both SU and ATS on the road this season and 4-0 as a dog.  Meanwhile, the Saints have not enjoyed as much an advantage in the Superdome as oddsmakers forecast, going just 2-7 ATS their last nine games at home.  I’ll hop onto the road underdog trend combined with those recent figures and bet on the 49ers.  Also of note — NOR has already won the division and is almost guaranteed a first-round bye.  SFO is fighting for the division crown (versus SEA) and probably needs this game slightly more.  SFO showed me a lot of determination despite the loss at BALT last week.  I think they keep this very close or win outright, so I’m taking the +2.  No opinion on the total.

Cincinnati at Cleveland (Bet CIN)

Could the Bengals be the better team at the moment?  Maybe.  CLE is banged up and yet still laying an unreasonable number of points when the respect is unwarranted.  Browns have gone just 2-5-1 ATS their last eight games.  CIN is regarded as one of the NFL’s bottom teams, but they have also gone 2-0-1 the last three games, which shows some fight.  The return of formally-benched QB Dalton sparked a win last week, and now facing the cross-state rival Browns, the Bengals are in a favorable position to keep this game close, certainly under a touchdown margin.  Credit CIN for going 4-1 on the road this season (sans the London game), despite being just 1-11 SU.  Also noteworthy — CIN has won and covered in five straight at CLE.  Glad to take the still-fighting underdog here versus one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams in 2019.

Carolina at Atlanta (Bet CAR)

CAR fired head coach Rivera this past week.  Oftentimes, when a coach is fired, that shakes up the team and players rally in their very next game.  That’s been a handicapping staple for decades now, although it might not apply as strongly to NFL games.  Nonetheless, I’ll take the Panthers here getting +3.5 juiced to -115, figuring both of these teams are in a deep funk at the moment and just about anything could happen.  CAR has played horrendous at times, but somehow is 4-2 ATS on the road.  Meanwhile, ATL gets its third consecutive home game versus a division opponent, after losing both ATS and SU the last two weeks.  We really have no idea of the mindset going into this game, so getting more than a FG seems to have significant value.

Detroit at Minnesota (No Wagers)

Just a hunch that the Vikings are going to murder the Lions in this game, but I’m still not betting it.  Third-string QB Blough filled in marvelously on Thanksgiving Day for the Lions, even with the loss.  He looked comfortable and his throws were crisp.  But Blough also struggled a bit more as the game went on, and now going on the road in a tough place for the visitor, I’m expecting a very long day for Cinderella.  The Lions’ season effectively ended with that loss, while MIN is very much in the hunt for a division title and the playoffs.  Vikings lost a tough one in SEA last week, which is no shame, and should bounce back easily versus an opponent against whom they enjoy clear superiority.  In fact, MIN hasn’t really played a solid game since mid-Oct. when they whipped DET at Ford Field.  I look for a rebound confidence builder here, but I’m not going to lay -13 points in a divisional game.  So, even though I feel confident in a Vikings possible rout, I’m passing on the wager.  Lean UNDER because I think DET will have serious difficulty putting up many points in such a hostile atmosphere.

Miami at NY Jets (Bet MIA)

Are the Jets really laying -5 to anybody?  Didn’t MIA beat these Jets only a few weeks ago?  Didn’t the NYJ get pounded by the Bengals last Sunday?  NYJ has been on a mini-roll the last month before the disaster at Cincinnati.  Now, whatever scraps of support remained for Adam Gase has evaporated and the vultures are at it again screaming for a coaching change.  I have to play MIA +5, which has covered 6 of their last 8, including a defeat of NYJ earlier.  Lean to the OVER 46 also since both teams are likely to play with reckless abandon.  MIA has crushed the OVER the last three weeks, and before the CIN loss, the Jets had scored 34 points in three consecutive games.

Indianapolis at Tampa (Bet IND)

I’ll make this one short and sweet.  Tampa is favored by -3, which seems dead on.  The Bucs remain the NFL’s most unpredictable team, capable of offensive fireworks one week and self-destruction the next.  Given many factors that are hard to measure, I’ll take the team that figured to be a bona fide playoff contender (Indianapolis at 6-6) getting points…..now up to +3.5 since I waited and juiced to -115 which I now think is a compelling play.  Moreover, the last two Colts’ losses were somewhat misleading scores.  IND had a shot to win both of those games late.  Figuring that even if TB wins the game, it won’t be by a huge margin.  The total at 47 looks dead-on perfect.  No wager on that number.

LA Chargers at Jacksonville (No Wager)

What an ugly game.  Nothing smells worse than betting on the Chargers laying points on the road, except perhaps the idea of taking the woeful Jaguars at the moment.  There’s nothing about this game tempting to me.  I’m passing.

Kansas City at New England (No Wager)

Premier game of the week looks to be lined correctly, though we rarely see the Patriots (-3) priced this low at home.  NWE hasn’t looked like the Pats of old during the last month, certainly due in part to playing a tougher schedule than the first half of the season.  Split decision on NWE as one of the “buy low” teams and the general trend of taking road underdogs.  Let’s call this a handicapping push and look for a better game with discernable edges.

Pittsburgh at Arizona (Bet UNDER)

Steelers are getting more love than I think they deserve, laying -2 to a feisty team that had no serious expectations coming into the season, yet have overachieved against the spread, going 7-4-1.  Cardinals were routed at home last week, which I think motivates a better effort here.  PIT hasn’t broken the 21-point barrier its last four games, relying on some very solid defensive play.  For this reason, the Steelers are still bidding for a wild card spot.  PIT has covered 6 of their last 7, which will keep me off the underdog Cardinals.  So, this game side is a pass.  I do lean very strongly to the UNDER 43.5 based on Steelers trends going 14-5 to the low side of the total since mid-2018.  Prediction — this total will fall to 43 by game time, so catch the half point now.  23-20 sounds perfect here.

Tennessee vs. Oakland (Bet OAK and UNDER)

Titans are suddenly hot again, at 7-4 SU and playing for a division title.  Meanwhile, OAK which was tied for the AFC West lead three weeks ago, totally shit the bed and will likely play out its last season in Oakland.  Typically, this is a game TEN should dominate with a power running game, a better defense, a hot quarterback who’s won five of his six starts, and the added motivation of chasing a playoff spot.  But in the unpredictable NFL, these are the types of games when disrespected home teams with veteran QBs will rise to the occasion and pull off upsets.  Note that QB Derek Carr was having a Pro Bowl season prior to December and the Raiders looked to be very much in the mix.  Had we lined this game just a week or two ago, it most certainly would have been around OAK -3 and perhaps -3.5.  So, linesmakers have shifted this number six points the other way based on recent results.  I think that’s an overreaction, even though the Titans’ numbers are superior in every phase since making the QB change benching Mariota in favor of Tannehill.  When line moved to OAK +3, that’s enough for me to take the home dog.  Playing contrarian to the market here.  I also like the UNDER as OAK is likely to get back to more balanced offensive attack that worked for them mid-season.  Given both teams should run a fair amount combined with a higher than average total, I’ll bet the low side of the number.

SNF:  Seattle vs. LA Rams (Bet UNDER)

So-called “sharps” continue getting burned fading Seattle.  All the Seahawks do is win and cover, it seems, especially when playing tough competition and when disrespected.  Each of the last three games (PHI, SFO, and MIN) the Seahawks have gone astray of trends and stats showing them ripe for a letdown and a defeat.  This game seems much the game.  SEA is listed as a PICK against the NFC West rival Rams, even though they’re 10-2 and tied for the best W-L record in the NFL.  I think what many bettors might be missing, however, is the way the Rams defense has been able to dictate the pace of play during the last two months when many observers might have crossed them off as a serious contender (and quite possibly the third-best team in the division).  Aside from being destroyed by BAL, LAR have allowed an average of just 11 points per game the previous six weeks.  Hence, Wade Phillips’ defense appears to be slowly coming into playoff form.  However, I still don’t trust this offense to produce points, which has been woefully inconsistent.  Given the stakes, both teams battling for playoff seeding, I look for a balanced game with few chances being taken.  Given the total seems a bit high for a Rams game (UNDER 6 of last 7 and 8 of 12 this season), I’ll wager UNDER 47.5….up to 48 now which I found, so UNDER 48 is now an even more attractive number.

MNF:  NY Giants at Philadelphia (Bet NYG)

What a gem.  It’s best to keep one’s emotions out of handicapping, but I lost all respect for the Eagles last week in losing to MIA, with the chance to jump into a first-place tie with the Cowboys.  The defense was horrendous in that game.  Under no circumstances would I wager on PHI, especially laying -9 versus a division rival.  It’s hard to make a convincing case for betting the NYG at 2-11 SU, but given the Giants are 9-3 ATS as road dogs, since late last season, that’s something to strongly consider.  There’ also the Eli Manning factor, who is slated to start again after riding the bench for eight weeks.  Manning has added nothing to the Giants the last several years, but here in the twilight of his career, with one more shot to shine, coming in healthy and rested, this could be a spark to the punchless Giants.  Rarely would Manning be worth a few points to the line, but I think he’s clearly an upgrade in this spot.  Let’s also consider the Eagles are riding a three-game losing streak and haven’t shown the ability to rise when given opportunity (Dallas lost again, this week setting up a possible first-place tie).  Here’s a couple of scary stats — PHI is 10-20-1 ATS their last 31 games, and a dismal 3-8 ATS their last 11 home games.  And the Eagles are laying -9?  I’m taking the dog plus the points.

 

CONTEST WINNER ONLY/NO POINTSPREAD [$200 entry fee]

Season Record To-Date:  113-80-1

 

BD /SM INVESTMENT GROUP [37 persons Active]

Investor  —- Amount —- Pct. of Total Fund
Heldar $ 211 2.51%
Watanabe $ 100 1.19%
Peter Lucier $ 1,000 11.91%
Kramer $ 302 3.60%
Finbar O’Mahoney $ 200 2.38%
Howler $ 100 1.19%
Linda Keenan $ 500 5.95%
John Pickels $ 100 1.19%
Patrick Kirwan $ 100 1.19%
Sean McGinnis $ 300 3.57%
Jim Anderson $ 252 3.00%
Chad Holloway $ 200 2.38%
Eric Schneller $ 500 5.95%
Randy Collack $ 351 4.18%
Dave Lawful $ 100 1.19%
Paul Harris $ 1,000 11.91%
Dan Goldman $ 51 0.61%
Sharon Goldman $ 51 0.61%
Ken QB $ 102 1.21%
Chuck Weinstock $ 102 1.21%
Peter Taki Caldes $ 102 1.21%
Kenny Shei $ 51 0.61%
Jeff Deitch $ 51 0.61%
Kevin Un $ 128 1.52%
Becca (Kerl?) $ 22 0.26%
Corey Imsdahl $ 102 1.21%
Don Bingo Rieck $ 102 1.21%
Jeff Siegel (pending) $ 1,000 11.91%
Stephen Cohen (pending) $ 100 1.19%  XXX
John Reed $ 114 1.36%
George Wattman $ 51 0.61%
Mickdog Patterson $ 51 0.61%
Larry Lubliner $ 100 1.19%
Grizz Berentsen $ 100 1.19%
Edmund Hack $ 100 1.19%
Bob Feduniak $ 500 5.95%
David “Quick” Horowitz $ 102 1.21%
TOTAL $ 8,398 100.00%

$200 Invested into Pick Contest (see above)

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