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Yes, the Atlanta Falcons are improved. But are they good enough to be a road favorite?
Sure when the opponent is the Oakland Raiders.
Atlanta is laying a field goal to the Raiders, a team that only has covered 29 percent of the time during their past 44 home contests.
“The Falcons should be favored because they are the better team,” said Mike Seba, a senior oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants.
This leads to the next question, which is are the Falcons favored by too much? LVSC’s opening line recommendation was Atlanta minus 2 ½.
The Falcons have to make a long trip and will be playing on grass, an off-surface for them. Atlanta has lost road games to Tampa Bay, Carolina and Philadelphia by a combined 43 points. The Falcons averaged 10.6 points versus these three clubs.
Oakland isn’t near as good as the Buccaneers, Panthers and Eagles. But the Raiders do have decent running backs and play hard on defense.
Certainly don’t look for the line to rise above three.
“The professionals all will be on Oakland at plus three,” Seba said. “The line can only go down.”
Arizona appears to be another risky road favorite. The Cardinals are 16-59 in their previous 75 away matchups. They are 9-23-1 against the spread during their past 33 non-division road contests.
But on Monday the Las Vegas Hilton had Arizona minus three at St. Louis.
“I can’t imagine giving the Rams three at home considering how well they’ve been playing,” Seba said. “This is a huge division game for them. Sometimes you can handicap just by looking at the standings and the Rams desperately need this game.
“There would be a lot of value catching three at home with the Rams.”
Seba was shocked by the Miami-Denver line. LVSC’s opening send-out was Denver minus six. Early money has been on Miami. The line currently is at Broncos minus 3 ½ or three.
The Dolphins are off a huge home division victory against Buffalo, while the Broncos were idle this past week. Seba admits his company, which supplies the betting numbers to many of Nevada’s hotels, was too low with its opening number on Miami-Denver. But he says the spot is ripe for the Broncos.
“It’s hard to repeat a supreme performance week-to-week, especially when going on the road,” Seba said. “Denver is off a loss and a bye. That’s a dangerous combination for Miami to overcome.”
The New York Giants were favored on Monday from 7 ½-to-nine points against Dallas at home. The line only would have been three if injured Tony Romo were at quarterback for the Cowboys, Seba said.
“Seven is the right number,” Seba said about the Cowboys-Giants matchup. “You can’t totally discount Dallas because of the quarterback injury.
“Even though it’s a division game, the Giants might not play at a high level because they could subconsciously let down knowing Dallas doesn’t have Romo. The Giants also are off a huge road win against Pittsburgh.”
Playing the physical Steelers also takes a toll the following week. Opponents who just got done meeting the Steelers this season are a combined 1-5 in their next game.
The biggest spread is Chicago laying 12 ½ or 13 at home to winless Detroit. LVSC’s opening number recommendation was Bears minus 11.
“It’s crazy to lay double-digits in the NFL,” Seba said. “People laying double-digits are why sportsbooks stay in business.”
Teams getting 9 ½ or more points this season are 10-2 (83 percent) against the spread.