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NFL parity benefits books, dog bettors

November 16, 2021 07:48 PM

On another unpredictable Sunday, Tom Brady threw two interceptions and looked anything but terrific as Tampa Bay was stunned by Washington. In the type of upset that makes the day for bookmakers, the Buccaneers were 10-point favorites in a 10-point loss.

Cam Newton, watching football from his couch since being released by the Patriots before the season, made an instant impact for the Panthers by running for a touchdown and passing for another in a 34-10 win at Arizona, a 7-point favorite. Remember when the Cardinals were the hottest team in the league?

A week after blowing out the Bengals in Cincinnati, Baker Mayfield and the Browns hit the road to New England and took a 45-7 beating from the Patriots.

“If you figure out the NFL this year, you are an absolute genius,” South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said.

The Patriots’ victory was predictable, and some other results made sense in Week 10. Two of the biggest favorites on the board took care of business as the Bills blasted the Jets 45-17 and the Cowboys made quick work of the Falcons 43-3. But Buffalo and Dallas were bouncing back from embarrassing losses the previous week.

Rewinding to Week 9, the Rams were rising to No. 1 in the power rankings before quarterback Matthew Stafford imploded in a home loss to the Titans. Not long ago, the Buccaneers and Rams were winning the popular vote as the league’s top two teams, yet they are a combined 1-4 straight up and 0-5 ATS since Halloween.

From week to week, there are no dominant teams, no security blanket the betting public can count on to deliver the cash. The defensive deficiencies of the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers have been exposed in two consecutive defeats, and Brady is unable to save the day with tight end Rob Gronkowski and wideout Antonio Brown gone to injuries.

“There is definitely no great team,” DraftKings sportsbook director John Avello said. “I don’t see it. The Cowboys are playing as good as anybody, but are they a great team? No. The Bills are better than good.”

BetMGM lists the Bills as + 550 favorites on the Super Bowl futures board, followed by the Buccaneers (+ 650), Rams (+ 700) and Cardinals (+ 800). The Chiefs, Cowboys and Packers are each posted at 10-1 odds.

Dak Prescott has rediscovered his hot hand for Dallas (7-2 SU, 8-1 ATS) just in time for this week’s showdown in Kansas City. The Cowboys are 2.5-point underdogs against the Chiefs, who suddenly have their swagger back.

The Chiefs took a 2-7 ATS record and all sorts of offensive concerns into Sunday’s game in Las Vegas. Patrick Mahomes passed for 406 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-14 victory over the Raiders, who are unraveling on and off the field.

“Are the Chiefs back? That’s a tough answer,” Avello said. “The defense has played a lot better, and (Sunday night) we saw the old Chiefs offense. But will that continue? We’ll see. I think the Raiders are finished for the year as far as the playoffs are concerned.”

It’s too soon to say Mahomes and the Chiefs are fully in form again. In the NFL this season, the only constants at the top are change and chaos. The Bills (6-3) are Super Bowl favorites, but they lost to the Jaguars, Steelers and Titans.

Speaking of the Steelers, who just played the winless Lions to a tie, the AFC North is not looking so tough anymore. The Ravens kicked off last week by losing as big favorites in Miami.

When the favorites are fragile, bookmakers benefit from chaos and underdog bettors should thrive. NFL dogs are 85-61-1 ATS (58.2 percent).

The Titans share the league’s best record (8-2) with the Cardinals and Packers. Tennessee has an impressive resume that includes consecutive victories over the Bills, Chiefs, Colts, Rams and Saints, yet the Titans might not get injured running back Derrick Henry back until the playoffs. Henry missed the last two games yet still is tied for the NFL rushing lead with the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor.

Arizona’s mini-slump has something to do with the absence of quarterback Kyler Murray, who has missed two games with an ankle injury.

An immunized Aaron Rodgers returned from a one-game COVID-19 absence to help the Packers beat the Seahawks 17-0 in Week 10. Russell Wilson was rusty in his return from a finger injury. The hyped Rodgers-Wilson duel fizzled fast in the lowest-scoring first half in the league this season, with Green Bay leading 3-0.

The Packers are 9-0 ATS since a 38-3 spanking from the Saints in the season opener. Rodgers drama aside, Green Bay is as good as it gets in terms of consistency. Its defense allowed a total of 34 points in the last three games, with Murray, Mahomes and Wilson as the opposing quarterbacks.

“The Titans have been pretty solid, and the Packers have the best quarterback in the league, so they are always capable,” Avello said. “Are there any surprise teams out there?”

How about the Patriots at 20-1 odds? Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is beginning to resemble the next Brady, and coach Bill Belichick’s defense dominated during the beatdown of the Browns. New England (6-4) has won and covered four in a row. The Patriots are 6.5-point favorites at Atlanta to kick off Week 11 on Thursday.

The week ends Monday with the Buccaneers favored by 11 against the Giants. Brady has lost his last two starts against Washington’s Taylor Heinicke and the Saints’ Trevor Siemian. Daniel Jones is on deck.

The NFC was the far superior conference through Week 7, when the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Packers and Rams were a combined 30-4. Those five teams have a combined 6-8 record the last three weeks.

“Is there a great team?” Avello said. “It doesn’t mean much right now. It’s about who’s got it going at the end of the year.”


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