- ESPN Sports Betting Analyst
- Host of Daily Wager
- Behind The Bets podcast host
Betting worlds will collide when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5), delivering the league’s most financially rewarding team against the costliest one. This matchup also pits the wiseguys against recreational bettors, affectionately known as “Pros vs. Joes.”
Tom Brady and the Bucs have only covered a league-worst three games this season (3-9-1 ATS), while Cincy is at the top with a 10-3 ATS mark, covering 10 of its past 11 games. Yet, the Bucs are drawing sharp money, just as they have done nearly every week this season.
“I still don’t know what I’m missing with Tampa, other than they are old and bad,” SuperBook head oddsmaker Ed Salmons told ESPN, also referencing how the betting market favored the Bucs over the Chiefs in Week 4. “I argued to open KC as a three-point favorite. They bet it to TB -1.5 and the Chiefs won (convincingly).”
The irony is palpable. For nearly two decades, the public raced to the counter to back Tom Brady. However, the 45-year-old has been a profitable fade this season, and recreational bettors have turned on their former good luck charm. Reportedly around 80% of wagers on this game are backing Cincinnati.
“It would seem like a walk in the park for the visiting team, and that’s where the recreational money is landing,” BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott told ESPN. “However, some of the smartest and most successful individuals and syndicates view it through a different lens and are with Brady and the Bucs. BetMGM will be with the pros.”
A handful of pro bettors have insisted to me that Tampa Bay is the only side worth backing. If this matchup occurred a few weeks ago, the Bucs might be favored at home. While I understand the concept of “line value,” I also remember that sharps backed Tampa last week as 3.5-point underdogs to Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners rolled 35-7.
I lean to the Cincinnati side, but I just cannot pull the trigger. There are better bets out there on the board.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets (-1, 43.5)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Detroit is back to being the public’s darling, having covered in six straight games. I backed the Lions last week as favorites, but I like the Jets. I would prefer Mike White at quarterback, but I am OK backing Zach Wilson, after waffling a couple of days. Truthfully, this is a bet against Jared Goff, who has a 30 QBR in nine career games when the temperature is below 40 degrees. The former Cal player has more interceptions than touchdowns in such games, and now he faces a stout Jets defense. I also lean to the under, too.
Pick: Jets -1
Philadelphia Eagles (-8.5, 48.5) at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Soldier Field, Chicago
This matchup presents a classic look-ahead spot for Philly, which travels to Dallas next week for a high-profile game that already has seen some trash-talking. I do think there is something to be said about the human element, and it would certainly make sense if the Eagles are not entirely focused on the Bears. I lean to the Bears +8.5 for that reason, but I prefer the over. I think Justin Fields will generate enough offense, and the Bears’ defense is fourth worst in efficiency. Seven straight Bears games have gone over for a reason.
Pick: over 48.5
New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders (-1, 45)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
The teacher faces a former pupil, and while Bill Belichick is the better coach, I believe Josh McDaniels has the better roster. This New England team has caught a lot of breaks to linger in the playoff picture. Their seven wins have only come against one true starting quarterback (Jared Goff). The other QBs were Mitchell Trubisky, Jacoby Brissett, Colt McCoy and Wilson (twice). The New England defense is solid, but the Raiders’ offense should be too much for an anemic Pats offense to match.
Pick: Raiders -1
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