NFL BEST BETS
Week 12 of the NFL season is already here, which means that two-thirds of the season are already over. That’s kind of sad to think about, but at least we have a few more weeks to try to end this losing streak and finish strong with our best bets. Last week, we were 1-2, losing one game by half a point and the other on a last-second field goal. There have been a lot of tough losses like that this season, but that’s the nature of sports betting, and it just goes to show how good the oddsmakers are at setting those lines.
The splits between favorites and underdogs, both home and away, have been remarkably even this season. Home teams are 77-78-9 against the spread, and favorites are 78-77-9. Home favorites are 48-48-5, and home underdogs are 29-30-4. There is absolutely no edge in blindly betting on a team based on their status as a favorite or underdog or if they’re home or on the road. The search for any edge is always a challenge. I think I found one based on overall team health in one of my best bets this week. As for the other two games, I look at so many different factors, including DVOA, EPA, YPP, PPP, and a dozen other acronyms. As usual, there are no obvious edges, but when taken together, all these factors add up to what amounts to a slight preference for one of the teams.
I’ve been tracking my betting model since the start of the season by placing one until on every game’s spread, total, and moneyline. The hope is to find where the model does well and where it can be improved. If you want to see all my bets, which are currently outpacing my best bets, overall, I post my picks on my X profile on Sunday mornings. Here’s my record through 11 weeks of the NFL season:
- Straight Up: 100-44, 69.4%
- Spread: 75-67-6, 52.8%, ROI: 0.8%
- Over/Under: 76-70-4, 52.1%, ROI: -0.5%
- Moneyline: 73-65, 52.9%, ROI: 2.7%
Colts -2.5 vs Buccaneers
The Colts are coming off a bye week and enter the game with the advantage of extra preparation and rest. I expect them to be well-prepared to exploit the vulnerabilities in the Buccaneers’ injury-ridden defense, which is already allowing 5.7 yards per play.
Offensively, the Colts have displayed impressive consistency, scoring 20 or more points in nine consecutive games. This, coupled with Tampa Bay’s struggles on third-down defense (ranked 30th), leads me to believe Indianapolis will be able to put up a lot of points. Defensively, the Colts have allowed just 19 points in the last two games. Indy is averaging five more points per game than the Bucs, and I don’t think Tampa’s offense is good enough to match the Colts on the scoreboard. I’m taking the Colts at home as long as the spread stays below three points.
Giants +3.5 vs Patriots
The New England Patriots, with a lackluster 2-8 record against the spread, enter MetLife Stadium as 3.5-point road favorites – a seemingly odd choice considering their recent struggles. The Patriots’ vulnerabilities start with their shaky defense, ranking 31st in sack rate. Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito will have a lot more time to throw the ball than he did last week against the Commanders, when he was sacked nine times.
Adding to the Patriots’ woes is their inability to breach the 20-point mark in all but one game this season. The Giants, too, have faced offensive challenges, standing shoulder to shoulder with New England as one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams. However, a glimmer of hope emerged last week when the Giants’ offense roared to life, putting up 31 points. One key player who could tilt the scales in the Giants’ favor is the explosive Saquon Barkley. With his game-changing potential, Barkley becomes a formidable force that the Patriots must contend with. His ability to break through defenses with huge plays could give the Giants scoring opportunities.
My model has this game at -2 for the Patriots, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this line comes down, but at +3.5, I’ll take the Giants in this one.
Broncos -1.5 vs Browns
Cleveland heads to Denver to face the red-hot Broncos, winners of four straight games. In the last three games, the recently improved play of the Denver defense has translated into 12 forced turnovers. With the Browns sticking with rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, the chance for more turnovers is pretty strong. Cleveland managed only 3.5 yards per play last week with Thompson-Robinson at the helm, who is PFF’s lowest-rated starting quarterback.
The Broncos started out slow but have come on strong with some big wins against the Chiefs, Bills, and Vikings in consecutive weeks. Denver has had one of the toughest schedules in the league and is probably better than their 5-5 record suggests. The Browns allow almost 30 points per game on the road, and with Thompson-Robinson leading the offense, Cleveland won’t be able to keep pace. With one of the better home-field advantages in the league, the Broncos seem like a good bet to cover the -1.5 spread.
Doug Burrell finished 2022 as Fantasy Nerd’s Most Accurate Expert in NFL Picks and Tallysight’s #1 ranked expert Against the Spread Expert out of 200+ experts. He is a veteran, a runner and an avid fantasy sports enthusiast since 1999. You can reach him on Twitter @dougwburrell.
Doug is a veteran, an avid runner, and works as a copywriter. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and three dogs. You can reach him on Twitter @dougwburrell.