Got this out the door a little later than I’d hoped, as I’ve had a busy week so far. Moving right along with it…
I picked Arizona last Thursday and I explained why there, so I’ll just move on to the other four.
Houston +6.5 at Kansas City
Result: Houston 16, Kansas City 17
My analysis that Kansas City’s offense would not be able to be effective enough to make this game a blowout was largely right. This bet wasn’t a slam dunk, though: there were missed opportunities to score on both sides, from Kansas City being stuffed at the 1-yard-line, to Gary Kubiak’s decision to have Houston keep kicking field goals in spots where going for it had more value. The Kansas City defense had definitely figured out Keenum and the Houston offense by the end of the game; fortunately, at that point the Kansas City offense had no intention of scoring.
I think I made a solid bet all in all, but some of those factors changing by just a bit would have made it a loser. I thought it was favorable enough to take it, and while it’s difficult to know for sure if it was, the predictable factors I outlined earlier give me some confidence that it was a positive bet, if not a slam dunk.
Tampa Bay +7 at Atlanta
Result: Tampa Bay 23, Atlanta 31
So close. Obviously, if a couple of things go differently, I win. Some aggression from Greg Schiano in the late stages of the game. Mike Glennon not being strip-sacked early on for Tampa to fall behind by a touchdown.
On the other hand, some of those factors were predictable. Mike Glennon is a rookie quarterback with arm strength and not much else. Greg Schiano has no business coaching an NFL team. If a cover requires Tampa Bay to play up to their potential, well, then that’s probably a bad bet. If it hadn’t been the fumble and the passivity, it would have been something else.
I was right that the Buccaneers were able to stop Atlanta up the middle. Unfortunately, Matt Ryan sliced the defense open with the passing game. The Bucs’ defense has too much talent to be playing like that. (Honestly, Bill Sheridan probably shouldn’t be coaching at this level, either.)
More importantly, this line had shifted further towards Atlanta as the game approached. At that point, I’m not looking for an edge on a 50/50 proposition anymore; I’m actively stating that my information is so good that I can bet on something like a 47/53 proposition at even money. To do that, I have to know something extremely reliable that wasn’t factored into the game line. Greg Schiano and Mike Glennon are not reliable.
It would be easy to talk myself into thinking I was just unlucky here. Likewise, it would be easy to see a loss and assume I had gone wrong somewhere. I’m not sure if betting on such a dysfunctional team is always a mistake, but I am sure taking the worst of it on a stale line is. On balance, I made a mistake playing the bad line, and that should have outweighed my thoughts on Tampa’s matchup advantages.
Carolina -6 vs. St. Louis
Result: Panthers 30, Rams 15
I said St. Louis had no offense, Ron Rivera had finally unchained the Carolina offense, and Carolina not only had more talent but matched up well with St. Louis. That’s pretty much how it went down.
I thought this line either underestimated the Panthers or overestimated the Rams. I think it would be bigger if they played again next week (even if Sam Bradford was playing).
Buffalo +8.5 at Miami
Result: Buffalo 23, Miami 21
I didn’t get to watch this game, so I can’t say what specifically worked for the Bills. I thought Miami was still overrated by the betting markets and Buffalo underrated. I thought the pass rush would be a problem for Miami, and although the Bills only got two sacks, one of them forced a fumble that led to the game-winning field goal. In the inverse of the Tampa Bay selection, the line here had moved favorably for me, and the Bills were about 59% to cover based on the line available at an 8.5 spread.
Even though I didn’t see anything particularly special in Buffalo (other than the good matchup for their front four), the combination of data I cited in the previous paragraph makes this a pretty good bet, I think. Even if Buffalo lose the two key turnovers and points scored from them, 21-13 is still a cover. When your bet wins big enough to fade losing a couple of high-variance positive plays, that’s a good feeling.