Free NFL Bets
After another split week, our year-to-date record on free bets stands at 14-10 (58.3%). Despite cooling off after a torrid start, we’re still 6% above the profitability line for the season and just three winning bets away from locking up a profitable 2020 campaign. Let’s see if we can go outside the box a bit and get two of those three wins this week. First, the trends:
- In the second matchup of the year between teams, the underdog is 12-3 (80.0%) against the spread. In the first or only matchup between divisional opponents, the underdog is just 23-23 (50.0%) against the spread. Lions, Falcons, and Broncos are all underdogs in their second meeting with the Bears, Saints, and Chiefs, respectively.
- There are two different types of 4:00 games: those that actually take place at 4:00 on the east coast, and those that are actually 1:00 games on the west coast. Late-window games out west average 51.0 points per game, while late games in the east average just 48.7 points.
- Last week’s blowout of the Raiders by the Falcons is the largest margin of victory against the spread so far this season. Atlanta closed as 3.5-point underdogs and won by 37, covering the spread by 40.5 points.
We’re back on a teaser hot streak, cashing each of our last two. A third-straight would tie our longest teaser win streak of the year at three, and I’m sure you can already guess at least one of the two teams I’m including this week. And for the first time all year, a team total that I think is going to move rather quickly.
Lions Team Total Over 20.5
For those unfamiliar with team totals, it’s quite similar to betting an over or an under; you’re essentially betting on the number of points scored by only one team, as opposed to betting the combined score between the two teams.
I mentioned in the intro that I’m going a bit out of the box, but I like this bet for a few reasons.
First, the Lions are getting healthy. Matthew Stafford’s thumb injury happened three weeks ago now, and he’s played through it already, so it’s no longer a concern. Detroit’s two biggest injuries have sidelined perhaps their two best offensive players – D’Andre Swift and Kenny Golladay – but both have a chance of returning on Sunday.
All signs point to Swift suiting up. He’s cleared the concussion protocol, and despite feeling a bit under the weather this week, he’s no longer listed on the injury report. He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry this year, which is 12th among qualified running backs and sandwiches him right in between Aaron Jones, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and James Robinson. Decent company. And he’ll be going up against an overrated Bears run defense, who ranks just 21st in the NFL.
There’s an added level to Swift returning as well. For some unknown reason, Matt Patricia, who is mercifully no longer in the picture for the Lions, refused to give Swift lead-back duties, opting for 79-year old Adrian Peterson instead. Now that Patricia is gone, I expect Darrell Bevell, the interim head coach, and offensive coordinator, to make the obvious move and hand Swift the reigns.
Chicago may get run-stuffer Akiem Hicks back to try to plug up the middle, but he still only practiced in a limited capacity, so even if he gives it a go, he’ll be less than 100%. Khalil Mack also popped up on the injury report with a back injury, so at minimum, two of the Bears’ best defensive players will be at less-than-full-strength.
As far as Golladay is concerned, he’s no sure thing to play on Sunday. But, he’s got a chance. And if he’s able to go, he’s just about as dynamic and important as it gets at the wide receiver position.
Chicago’s defense is eighth overall in points allowed, but they’re still giving up 22.7 points per game, which is enough to cash this team total. But, they’ve been much worse of late, allowing 28.0 points per game in their last three, including 41 last week to the Packers. I think their defense is getting tired and worn down late in the season because the offense is so anemic and is unable to sustain drives. So, this one may start a little sluggish for Detroit, but they’ll be able to kick it into gear after they get their footing, especially if they’re forced to go score-for-score with the Bears.
Score-for-score with the Bears? I know, it sounds ridiculous. But the Lions are absolutely dreadful on defense, which is what’s keeping me off betting the Lions +3. They’re a bottom-four team in all defensive DVOA categories, so the Bears offense may actually be able to do something on offense. If that’s the case, and I expect it to be, Detroit is going to need to score to keep up.
The Lions aren’t the usual high-flying offense we’re used to, they’re just 22nd in points per game, but they’re still totaling 22.9 per contest. Interestingly enough, they’ve covered a team total of 20.5 in nine of their 11 games this year. The only two outliers are a 20-point output against Minnesota – so they missed the total by a half-point – and the infamous goose egg against Carolina. Remember, the Lions scored 23 points on the Bears defense before it was worn down in Week 1, and it would have been a 30-point output had D’Andre Swift not dropped the game-winning touchdown.
Final point: I touched on the coaching changes in Detroit earlier. I don’t usually love buying into the “new coach lights a fire under the team” narrative, but this situation is unique. The Lions players did not like Matt Patricia. They openly did not like Matt Patricia, and they didn’t shy away from showing their approval when he was finally let go last week. With him gone, I expect the Lions to come out with their hair on fire to prove a point: he was the one holding them back. And, I expect Darrell Bevell, who as mentioned is an offensive coordinator by trade, to give the offense a nice boost this weekend. Remember, he’s got a five-week audition to prove he’s worthy of a head coaching job – even if it’s not in Detroit.
Packers (-2.5) / Seahawks (-4) Six-Point Teaser
What a surprise, I’m riding the hot hand and teasing the Packers yet again. They’ve really become the most sensible team in the league to tease, and as I mentioned last week, I’m happy to throw my money behind Aaron Rodgers to beat a sub-.500 team at home by a field goal.
While the Eagles have been dreadful this year, their defense actually hasn’t been so bad. However, that usually doesn’t make too much of a difference against Rodgers. So far this year against defenses ranked in the top half of the league, the Packers have scored 37 (Saints), 34 (49ers), 31 (Colts), and 41 (Bears). Their lone stinker was a 10-point showing against the Buccaneers, but not to worry: Philadelphia’s defense isn’t as good as Tampa Bay’s.
The Packer’s defense is always a slight concern, but the Eagles offense is so inept right now that I don’t expect it to be any sort of a problem. In fact, the Packers defense is 18th in DVOA and the Eagles offense is 30th, so the matchup actually favors Green Bay. The Eagles would have and probably should have had a total of just nine points on Monday at home against Seattle, if not for a miracle hail mary late in the fourth quarter. Nine!
Philly is also one of just four teams averaging less than five yards per play; the other three are the Bears, Bengals, and Jets. Yikes. Even if the Eagles defense plays well, I can’t see their offense keeping pace with Green Bay.
Teasing the Seahawks down to -4 seems like a strange number – normally I like to tease through three and seven as often as I can – but this is really just a fade of the Giants quarterback situation. Colt McCoy is looking more and more like the starter on Sunday, as Daniel Jones hasn’t practiced at all this week outside of some throwing drills on the side. McCoy has taken the majority of first-team reps after he looked completely overmatched last week against possibly the worst defense in the league in Cincinnati.
I understand he was coming off the bench cold after most-likely not taking a first-team rep all year, but he was still 6/10 for just 31 yards in almost two full quarters of action. Even if Daniel Jones suits up, not only will he not have taken many, if any practice reps with the starters all week, he’ll be less than 100%. And Jones’ injury is to his hamstring, which all-but takes away the most effective part of his game: his ability to run.
Seattle has really come back down to earth on offense, but their new-found commitment to the run should open up some play-action opportunities for Russell Wilson against a surprisingly solid Giants defense. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks have really turned it around and are playing so much better than they were for the first two months of the season. After allowing over 30 points per game through eight weeks, they’ve held their last three opponents to just 20.3 points per game, which is the ninth-lowest in the league over that span.
As I usually say at the end of my teaser handicaps: I’m happy to back two of the best quarterbacks in the league, and that’s exactly what I’m doing here.