Each week during the pro football season, Covers Expert Art Aronson looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Spread to bet now
Atlanta Falcons (+9.5) at Carolina Panthers
If you don't mind laying about 20 cents extra, you can still get the Falcons at 9.5. The line is dropping though, with 9’s and 7.5’s starting to predominate.
How the mighty have fallen. After getting shellacked 27-13 by Arizona last weekend, Atlanta enters this game at just 2-5. The surging Panthers are second only to the Saints at 4-3 in the NFC South, winners of three straight.
Carolina has scored a combined 96 points on its recent three-game surge but bettors aren't being fooled, as those three victories have come against teams with a combined four wins between them (Vikings, Rams, Bucs).
If you think that Atlanta has something up its sleeve this weekend, likely best to jump on board as soon as possible.
Spread to wait on
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks (-18.5)
No team in the NFL enjoys a home-field advantage more than the Seahawks. The fans, dubbed the "12th Man", are so loud during the opposing teams' offensive series that they've consistently induced the most false starts penalties over the last half decade. Players are simply unable to hear their quarterback making the calls.
This line opened at a whopping 18.5 points, but is starting to drop already. Seattle is coming off back-to-back divisional road contests and barely escaped St. Louis with a win Monday night. With a game in Atlanta next week, bettors are wary of a letdown vs. the lowly Bucs, who have nothing to lose.
Look for the Seahawks to roll in this one, but wait a little closer to kickoff before getting down.
Total to watch
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (45)
Over bettors have feasted on Sunday night's this season, so if you think the Colts and Texans are going to follow suit this weekend, you may want to wait a bit closer to kickoff. This line opened at 45, but for the most part 44.5 dominates the board.
While the Colts are coming off a big 39-33 win at home over the Broncos two weeks ago, they have gone 3-4 O/U this year, including 0-3 O/U on the road. Indianapolis may have a hard time duplicating its points output in Houston.
Despite their 2-5 record, the Texans are the highest-rated defensive unit in the league, giving up an average of just 267.7 total yards per game. And the Colts give up an average of just 18.7 points per game this year.