Well, I went 1-2 again last week bringing our season record to 11-9. Still a winning record, but when you factor in the juice on each bet we’re probably sitting right around break-even. I’d do the math to try to figure it out, but that doesn’t seem like a ton of fun for me and it’s easier for me to overestimate and make myself feel better about only being two games over a 50% win rate. Let’s take a quick look at last week’s bets before we jump into this week’s picks.
Packers/Bengals under 25.5 1st Half: This one was a real killer to watch. A Ja’Marr Chase 70-yard touchdown with less than a minute to go to hit the over. I feel like I had a pretty good feel for this game, especially since the full game still didn’t go over even with overtime, but the chips didn’t fall my way and I finally got burned by the first half under. Like I’ve said before, I guess that’s why it’s called gambling.
Buccaneers over 29.5: For a minute or so I thought this bet might hit in the first half when the Bucs had the ball and 24 points in the second quarter. Then for another minute, I thought they weren’t going to score again after a scoreless third quarter. They ended up putting up 21 in the 4th quarter and easily going over the 29.5 mark. What a rollercoaster.
Ravens -4.5 1st Half: It’s hard for me to find a way to rationalize this loss while also making fun of myself because I didn’t watch a second of this game due to a prior engagement at Fenway Park. My Boston Red Sox knocked off the one seed Rays to move on to the ALCS while Lamar Jackson did all of the things I said he would do, he just waited until the second half.
Now, let’s get to some picks.
Chargers @ Ravens First Half O/U
Last week, I called my own article a Texas Roadhouse because first-half unders are my bread and butter, and that’s what you’re all coming here for. Today, I’m committing what should be a felony and telling the waiter to skip the bread and butter, I’m just gonna order a meal. I can’t believe I’m doing this but I’m taking a first-half over. The line is set at 24.5, which is a little higher than I was hoping to see, but I’m still confident we can get points on the board in the first half here.
Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert are both playing like MVP candidates at the moment. Jackson in particular has become a completely different player than who everyone has said he is over the course of his career. His performance on Monday night as a passer was nothing short of spectacular. Mike Williams and Marquise Brown have both developed into downfield threats that can score from anywhere on the field. It’s not just the personnel that leads me to believe points will be put on the board; these teams play fast and are prone to giving up big plays. Overall these two teams aren’t the fastest-paced, but in neutral situations, the Chargers are the fastest team in the league with the Ravens in the middle of the pack. Both defenses also surrender explosives plays at a high clip with each team giving up plays over 15 yards on 14% of run plays. The explosive pass play numbers aren’t quite as high, but both quarterbacks are willing to sling the ball down the field evidenced by their fairly high average depth of targets. A west coast team playing in the early window on the east coast can sometimes get sketchy, so the Ravens team over 27.5 might be something to consider as well. I’ll put my money with both offenses here and take the first half over.
Pick: OVER 24.5 First Half Points (-110, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Texans @ Colts First Half Spread
As wrong as picking a first-half over felt, this pick somehow feels even more wrong. This matchup brings us two teams with 1-4 records that haven’t been playing good football. The Colts certainly have more talent on their roster than the Texans, but they’re coming off a complete meltdown against the Ravens that will be tough to bounce back from. The Texans, on the other hand, gave the Patriots a game, holding the lead for most of the game. Davis Mills threw for 312 yards on just 21 completions and earned an 85.9 ProFootballFocus rating, easily his highest of the season. He’s showed flashes that he can be a competent quarterback, and while betting on Mills to play well two weeks in a row might not be the best idea, I’m willing to roll the dice.
This is probably one of my least scientific picks of the season because I’m really picking based on feel here. I know the Colts are at home, but from what I’ve seen from them thus far, they should never be favored by ten over anyone. These offenses should operate incredibly slowly based on how they’ve played so far this season, so possessions could be limited. A Texans’ turnover could throw a wrench in the plans here by giving away cheap points, but I don’t see the Colts being able to run away with the game by any stretch of the imagination. Six of the last seven matchups between these two teams have been decided by one score, and divisional games always seem to be dogfights. So far this season, both teams have allowed about ten points per game in the first half, while the Texans actually score about four more points per first half than the Colts. I’ll take the points and ride with Davis Mills and the gang, even after the Colts’ great first half last week.
Pick: Texans +6.0 First Half (-110, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Vikings @ Panthers First Half Spread
I’d be lying if I said I really understood the line for this game which gives me pause in choosing a side, but I’m gonna trust my research and statistics and go with my gut. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back losses after opening the season with three straight wins, but both losses were tight games. The Vikings are 2-3 and coming off a close win against the Lions, who are admittedly a scrappy team. Kirk Cousins has a very high ProFootballFocus grade this season (89.4) but the Vikings are only scoring 22.6 points per game, good for 19th in the league.
It’s still up in the air if Christian McCaffrey will play this week, which would be a big loss for the Panthers, but they should still be able to compete in this game, especially at home. This pick is more about the Panthers’ defense though. As I mentioned, Kirk Cousins has graded out very well this season, particularly from a clean pocket. With a clean pocket, Cousins has a YPA of 8.6 yards; that number drops all the way down to 4.2 when the pocket collapses and he faces pressure. The Panthers’ defensive line, even without huge names, has managed to sack opposing quarterbacks on about one in every ten dropbacks. Even if they don’t get sacks, just forcing Cousins to check down can be huge in contributing to getting stops. Lastly, the Panthers are getting points at home. Take the point, watch Sir Purr do his thing, and (hopefully) win some money.
Pick: Panthers +1.0 First Half (-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Featured Image by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)