Gambling is never easy.
Not only because of the emotional and financial stress it can cause, but also because there is always more information to know. Any time you think you have a great read on a game, it’s likely best to go the other way. If a bet is too good to be true, it probably is, and there is someone is Las Vegas eager to take your money if you don’t realise it quick enough.
Sadly, to my knowledge, it is impossible to predict the future. We analyse trends and make our best guesses, but one guarantee about football is that you can’t know how a game is going to end until the final whistle blows.
All of that to say – this is an extremely tough week to bet on football.
But while other bettors might want to use this week to play it slow, that’s not an option in our quest to win $US1 million in the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest.
Through four weeks our picks are sitting at an admirable 11-9, but in order to take home the top prize, we need to keep grinding out winners week after week.
This weekend, I’d be fine with going 3-2. It’s dangerous out there.
Below are our best bets for Week 5 of the NFL season.
SuperContest Pick 1: Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over Minnesota Vikings
This is a tough spot for the Eagles, as Minnesota is riding two straight losses and rather desperate for a win, but Philadelphia tends to rise to the occasion at home.
While the team had to scramble to beat the Colts during their last home stand, the 16 points they ceded to Indianapolis was the most they had given up in Philadelphia since Week 9 of last season.
Further, the Eagles offence, despite not being able to seal the deal against Tennessee, feels like its finding its groove. Expect tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to both be heavily involved in the passing game, and with Alshon Jeffrey back in the fold, hopefully the Philadelphia attack can get back to looking like Super Bowl champions.
SuperContest Pick 2: Oakland Raiders (+4.5) over Los Angeles Chargers
The Oakland Raiders win over the Browns last weekend might not have been wholly convincing, but it was enough to give bettors faith that Derek Carr and company can at least get points on the board.
Meanwhile, the Chargers had to pull off a late comeback to beat the C.J. Beathard-led 49ers in a game that was much more gruelling than it should have been.
But the main reason we’re backing the Raiders in this spot is their home-field advantage. While this game is technically being played in Los Angeles, the Chargers have a habit of letting opposing fans invade their territory, as has happened time and time again over the past two seasons.
With Oakland just a drive away, and with Los Angeles already full of citizens of Raider Nation, the Black Hole should be in full force on Sunday. The Chargers apparently know what’s coming, even prepping for crowd noise to be a factor despite playing what is supposed to be a home game.
The Raiders should at least be able to keep this one close.
SuperContest Pick 3: Buffalo Bills (+3.5) over Tennessee Titans
Betting on the Buffalo Bills can feel a lot like jumping through a flaming table: you know it’s going to hurt, but given the circumstances (an especially animated Bills tailgate, in this case) it feels like the right thing to do.
First and foremost, you always want to lean in the direction of the home underdog. While the Bills are considered by many to be the worst team in football so far this season, their defence is not bad, and if Josh Allen can reel in his cannon of an arm to make just one or two accurate throws, Buffalo can get on the board.
Further, the Titans are coming off of wins over the Eagles and Jaguars – two of the final four teams playing postseason football last year. If there was ever a spot for a let-down game, it’s here.
And even if Tennessee does prevail in the game, there’s still hope for our bet. The Titans are 3-1 on the season, but all three of their wins have come by exactly three points – if the trend continues, the half-point hook will be enough to swing our bet to victory.
It’s a plan so crazy it just might work.
SuperContest Pick 4: Baltimore Ravens (-3) over Cleveland Browns
I know I just spent 200ish words in defence of backing the home underdog, but we’re going against my expert advise with our very next pick. I am large, I contain multitudes.
The story is just a little too perfect for the Browns in this spot, and that makes me suspect. Cleveland famously lost its team to Baltimore in 1996, and have been cursed ever since the franchise returned in 1999. Baker Mayfield now carries the weight of a city on his shoulders as he attempts to right the ship, and what better place to do it than at home, against the team that sent the Browns spiraling into the eternal plumbs of the NFL?
It feels too good to be true. The Browns are still the Browns. The Ravens have beaten them 18 of 20 times since 2008. And Baltimore looks like a team that is firing on all cylinders right now.
Mayfield is an electric player that is impossible to take your eyes off of, and the Cleveland defence is likely one of the top 10 in the league, but they’re still the Browns until they prove they aren’t.
SuperContest Pick 5: Washington Redskins (+6.5) over New Orleans Saints
It never feels great to bet against the Saints at home in primetime, but when considering this game with my cousin and partner-in-gambling Trey, we came to a simple conclusion – you’ll never feel like an idiot getting points with a solid team coming off of a bye week.
It’s not hard to imagine the Saints rolling in this one, but gambling rules dictate that we lean with the underdog with an extra week to prepare. There are just too many tough picks on the slate this week, and sometimes, not feeling like an idiot is as good as you can do.
LAST WEEK: 3-2
Eliminator Lock: Carolina Panthers
Teams used: Saints, Rams, Vikings, Chargers
The Panthers are at home, coming off of a bye week, and playing a Giants team that still looks lost. Even if New York can get its offence going, expect the Carolina offence to tear the Giants to shreds.
Money Dog: Atlanta Falcons (+150)
The Atlanta Falcons defence is admittedly a mess right now, but their offence might be one of the strongest units in football. The Falcons have put up 29 points per game so far this season and that’s despite the fact that Julio Jones still hasn’t found the end zone.
Pittsburgh is no easy place to play, but the Steelers have plenty of their own problems internally as well. It’s a must-win game for Atlanta, who can’t afford to fall too far off the pace in the NFC South.
For a game that feels like it’s going to be a shootout, why not bet the dog and hope it’s Matt Ryan executing a two-minute drill for the win?
Weekly Tease: Panthers (PK), Cardinals (+9.5), Rams (-1)
So far this season we’ve kept things simple with two-team, 6-point teases week after week. But after starting the year off 3-1 on my teaser picks, I’m feeling a little frisky, so we’re adding a third team to the tease this week to increase our odds from -110 all the way up to +165.
First, we’re taking the Panthers down to a pick-em to take care of business at home against the Giants. To that, we give the Cardinals a little extra cushion, bringing them up to 9.5-point underdogs against the 49ers, and finally, we’re trusting the Rams to stay undefeated during their trip to Seattle.
If this crashes and burns, we’ll regroup next week. If it hits, enjoy your payday.
Monday Night Chaser: Redskins @ Saints Under 53
NFL teams have been scoring too many points this year. It has to end eventually. So I’m betting the under on Monday night.
Best of luck.
Now check out our best bets for this weeks college football action
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