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NFL Week 4 Picks Against The Spread

As the 2011 NFL season heads to Week 4, there are more juicy spots on the betting board then I’ve seen in a while. The one thing to keep in mind though is I am making this post during the AM hours of Wednesday 28 September 2011. Many teams are just starting their weekly practices and injury statuses and team health will certainly change some of the lines later in the week. In spots where this is more of a concern, I’ll be sure to include a note in my write up. With that said here are my six wagers for 2011 NFL Week 4.

Monday, October 3, 2011 – Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Buccs

My favorite game on the board this week is the Monday night sleeper that has the 0-3 Indianapolis Colts visiting to 2-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The point spread on this game is Buccs -10 and the over/under is 40.5 at most US sportsbooks and 41 at European bookmakers. Despite the odds makers not predicting much of a competition in this one, I love this game from a betting perspective and have two picks on it, a straight bet on the total, and a teaser on the spread.

The straight play for this game is the under. The Buccs aren’t well known for their rushing attack, but with the Colts major offensive struggles and their inability to stop the run things start to change. If the Buccs jump out to early lead, clock killing shouldn’t be too much of a challenge in this one. My math and simulations predict the Colts scoring 13 points, and Buccs scoring 23. The injury factor is Kerry Collins, but he’s been so inept this season, I’m not overly concerned if Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky takes his place. With plenty of margin for error here I’m going Under 40.5 -110 at www.betonline.com. For anyone outside the US, be sure to check European bookmakers were under 41 might be available.

Teaser Bet

The second wager I’m making on this game is a teaser. www.5dimes.com currently has the Colts listed at +11.5 -130, where everyone else has them at +10 -110. Considering 5dimes offers 2-team 6-point teasers at industry leading odds of +100, and they’re spotting me an extra 1.5 points, this one is no brainer. From here it comes down to finding a team to match them with. The best option I see for doing that is teasing the New Orleans Saints to -1. I will note that this goes against conventional wisdom as teasing teams -6.5 rarely ever makes sense. However in this game the odds on the moneyline at the lowest juice site are Jags +260 / Saints -295.

To show why this teaser selection makes sense, let’s start with converting the moneylines to implied probabilities. The math for this is risk/return=implied probability, where return is our stake plus potential win. So for the Jags we risk $100 to get a return of $360 ($100 stake + $260 win), here our math is 100/360=0.2778 which is 27.78%. With the Saints we risk $295 to win $100, so our return is $395 ($295 stake + $100 win) and the math is 295/395=0.7468 which is 74.68%. Now you’ll see 27.78% + 74.68% = 102.46%. The reason the probabilities total greater than 100% is the bookmaker advantage. To remove it we just do some simple divisions. The Saints no-vig probability is 74.68%/102.46%=72.89% and the Jags no-vig probability is 27.78%/102.46%=27.11%. To double check our math is correct 72.89% + 27.11% = 100%. This checks out so we know the odds makers are giving the Saints a 72.89% chance of winning this game. Now what I happen to know that teams favored by -4 to -9 lose by exactly one about 2% of the time. Consider we’ve teased to -1 we need to account for this. Of that 2% probability 1% is in our -1 line and 1% is in our opponents +1 line. So here we take 72.89% -1.00% and price the fair probability of the Saints cover -1 at 71.89%.

Our final step here is to see how often each team needs to win for a 2-team teaser at +100 to achieve break even. We know off hand because the odds are +100 that BOTH teams need to win 50% of the time. So to figure out how often each team individually must win we take the square root of 0.50 and see that calculates to 0.7071 which is 70.71%. So here we need the Saints to cover -1 70.71% of the time and our math on the market shows odds makers have them covering -1 71.89% of the time; we obviously have a +EV bet here.

Win or lose I am quite confident my two picks I’ve just done the write ups for are +EV and betting these over the long haul you will make a profit. My picks:

Bet One: Buccs/Colts under 40.5 -110 (BetOnline)
Bet Two (Teaser): Colts +17.5 / Saints -1 +100 (5Dimes)

2011 Week 4 Sunday Game Picks

There are four other games on the board I like this week; I’ll provide a brief write up for each.

San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles

When I talked about some injury statuses not clear this week, this one of the games I was referring to. Let me start by telling you I handicapped this one as Eagles -7 based on a health Frank Gore for the 49ers, No Braylon Edwards for the 49ers, and a healthy Michael Vick for the Eagles. I run a picks pool contest where I need to set the spreads each week and I set this one at Eagles -4.5. Vick has serious rib injury, it was reported he had a broken non-throwing hand (now reported as bruised) he appeared in last week’s game to also suffer a minor head injury. In any case he finished last week on the sidelines watching the conclusion of an undecided division game which his team had a chance to win. I wasn’t sure when I made the -4.5 line he’d play this week. However, the early reports on Wednesday do suggest he is practicing, but if he does play he’s near certainly not 100%. There’s a chance we Vince Young at some point in this game which is a major downgrade from a healthy Mike Vick.

Me personally seeing Pinnacle having this one at 49ers +9 -103 – I’m going to gamble and get in on this now. If Gore is out and Vick is 100%, okay I got burned on a bad line, but all reports do suggest Gore is also going to play. Just keep in mind if Gore and Vick were both healthy I have Eagles as a -7 favorite. I purchased the points here and took the 49ers +10.5 -134 at Pinnacle Sports. It would take me long boring right up to explain the point mathematical aspect of the points buy, which would show it is a “slightly” worse option than betting straight. My decision however was based on the injuries the Eagles are plagued with. Yes the 49ers if down by a ton could quit to preserve players but week 5, BUT… with 49ers 2-1 and Eagles 1-2 don’t expect any quit. At the same time don’t expect the Eagles to be gunning for it if they are up exactly 10 points. Their defense is rather healthy and matches up great here. Andy Reid if up by 10 should be calling on the defense to preserve the game. The decision to buy points is border line, but I feel I squeak out a little more value buying to +10.5 -134.

Bet 3: 49ers +10.5 -134 (Pinnacle Sports)

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys | Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs

I’m not going spend too much time on a write up for this one. This is a basic strategy teaser which is only available at www.betonline.com. The reason you must use them is because at the time of this post everyone else has the Lions +1 or a PK where BetOnline has them at +1.5 making the tease possible. They also have the Kansas City Chiefs +1.5. So the play we’re making here is a 2-team 6-point teaser @ -110 teasing Chiefs to +7.5 and Lions to +7.5. This is another game on the board where injuries are a major factor. The Cowboys are really banged up with the biggest concern here Tony Romo. This game does have the makings for a shootout and Romo is reported to be practicing this week – but as QB prone to injuries one can only speculate that he might not be able to play this Ironman roll too long. This is basic strategy either way – but I like the added advantage we get from Romo being so banged up. For the other leg the Chiefs and Vikings each must win this game, but with an over/under betting total set at just 39.5 points, teasing to +7.5 has even more value.

Bet 4 (Teaser): Lions +7.5 / Vikings +7.5 -110 (BetOnline)

Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns

These two team are both 2-1 and despite neither being considered a playoff contender at the start of the season, if any Week 4 game could have dire playoff implication (I know it sounds crazy) this is probably the game. The AFC is weaker than it has been in any recent season – the Titans division is up for grabs, and with one team from the AFC East the heavy favorite for a wild card spot, there’s one wild card spot left. I think most assume this will be the Steelers or the Ravens, but the Cleveland Browns schedule certainly makes them a contender even if a long shot for that spot. There’s no question about it, motivation is not a factor in this game; each team will be giving it there all. Perhaps the difference here between most NFL match ups and this one, giving it there all means not making mistakes, not committing penalties which will stop the clock, not turning over the ball, and letting their defense win the game. I expect this to be a closely contested game that goes under the 39.5 total.

Bet 5: Titans/Browns u39.5 -110 (5Dimes)

Three Team 10-point Ties Win Teaser

The final wager I’m making this week is a 3-team 10.5 ties incorrect teaser at 5Dimes. The odds for this are -120 and I’m making this half my normal wager size. This bet is the way to leverage two shades as well as three strong leans. The teams I selected are below.

Bet 6 (Teaser): Steelers +14.5 / Panthers +17.5 / Ravens +7.5 -120 (5Dimes)

This is six wagers but action on 10 games for 2011 NFL week 4. As I mentioned the board is really juice, if you have direct TV, NFL.com Game Pass, or will be at a Las Vegas sportsbook this week, these picks provide you with a plethora of action. Good luck on these or any picks you make yourself for 2011 NFL Week 4.