The Muffed Punt: Trap games, revenge situations and look-ahead spots

Sep 23, 2017 |
The Muffed Punt: Trap games, revenge situations and look-ahead spots
Over the last ten years, teams playing a road non-conference game one week before a road divisional game have gone 27-54 SU and 34-46-1 ATS in the non-conference encounter.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
Over the last ten years, teams playing a road non-conference game one week before a road divisional game have gone 27-54 SU and 34-46-1 ATS in the non-conference encounter.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Trap games, revenge situations, look-ahead spots.

If you’ve been in the sports betting racket for more than five minutes, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across at least one, if not all, of the aforementioned phrases in your research. The question, however, is whether or not you should buy into any or all of these concepts. Some in the industry believe that there is real value in identifying these unique situations, while others consider the aforementioned notions as nothing more than a distraction from what’s truly important.

No matter what side of the aisle you find yourself sitting, it’s probably in your best interest to incorporate at least a modicum of situational analysis into your handicapping. That doesn’t mean you have to believe in “revenge” games, but there is definitely something to be said about teams that have to travel over 1,500 miles across two time zones to play a Thursday road game four days after having played on Sunday (more on this in the coming weeks).

As it pertains to situational analysis, there are two games on Sunday’s docket that warrant your attention: Pittsburgh at Chicago and Oakland at Washington.

The Steelers and Raiders are both playing road non-conference games one week before playing road divisional games. Pittsburgh is at Chicago this week and will travel to Baltimore next week, while Oakland heads to Washington before a trip to Denver in Week 4. As we all know, non-conference games carry less value than any other possible matchup, while divisional showdowns carry more value than any other possible matchup.

And over the last ten years, teams playing a road non-conference game one week before a road divisional game have gone 27-54 straight-up (.333) and 34-46-1 against the spread (.425) in the non-conference encounter.

Just something you may want to consider before laying serious points on either Pittsburgh or Oakland this weekend.

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With two weeks in the books

Home teams ATS: 16-14-1
Favorites ATS: 15-15-1
Home underdogs ATS: 5-4
Over/Under: 12-19

Trend of the Week

The OVER is 17-3-1 in the Atlanta Falcons’ last 21 games overall.

Reigning MVP Matt Ryan and the Falcons travel to 2-0 Detroit this week to face a Lions team in a matchup that features a total of 50.5 points.

Sharps like…

*Information courtesy of Jason Simbal, Vice President of Risk Management at CG Technology. Follow Jason on Twitter @JSimbal.

Cincinnati Bengals (+7.5 at Green Bay): Marvin Lewis and company have had ten days to get ready for this game, the first that won’t include offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, who was relieved of his duties following Cincinnati’s 13-9 home loss to the Houston Texans on Thursday night back in Week 2. The Bengals are 7-2 ATS over their last nine games played on a grass surface and will likely open up the playbook in Week 3 now that Lewis, quarterback Andy Dalton and a host of other individuals find themselves on seats that are growing increasingly hot.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3 vs. Baltimore in London): This is the fifth consecutive year in which the Jaguars have found themselves playing a game across the pond, while the Ravens will make their European debut this Sunday. Outside of previous international experience, I can’t figure out for the life of me why the professionals would side with Blake Bortles and the Jaguars in this spot.

The public likes…

Oakland Raiders (-3 at Washington): They have yet to commit a turnover in 2017, but we advise you exercise caution when it comes to wagering on the Silver & Black based on the information contained within the opening section of this column.

Denver Broncos (-3 at Buffalo): No surprises here after the Broncos smashed Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys to the tune of a 42-17 annihilation last Sunday in Denver. However, we advise you pay close attention to two factors here: First, it’s expected to be unusually hot and humid in Buffalo on Sunday, something that could play a vital role in the second half of a game that features a Broncos team that has participated in back-to-back contests at a high elevation entering Week 3. Second, this is your classic “look-ahead” spot, as Denver plays host to division-rival Oakland next Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7 at Chicago): Pittsburgh is 2-0 with one of the NFL’s scariest offenses, while Chicago just got trashed 29-7 at Tampa Bay last Sunday. But just like the Oakland Raiders, the Steelers are playing a road non-conference game this Sunday just one week before a road divisional showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. Additionally, note that the Bears are 5-1 ATS over their last six home games.

Biggest line move…

“Denver opened -1 in Buffalo, which was quickly bet up to -3,” Simbal told

The Broncos are 0-5 ATS over their last five games played on an artificial surface, while the underdog is 4-0 ATS over the last four encounters between these two teams.

Biggest sweat…

“Without question, at the current moment it’s shaping up to be the Raiders,” said Simbal.”

Be advised that Washington is 11-5 ATS over its last 16 games overall.

Muffed Punt Picks: Week 3

Last week: 2-0
Season: 4-1

Seahawks at Titans Under 41 total points: Playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense have managed a grand total of just 21 points through the first two games of the season, which came against a suspect Green Bay defense that was absolutely shredded last Sunday night in Atlanta and a San Francisco defense that just gave up an astounding 41 points to Jared Goff and the Rams on Thursday night. Look for the Titans to focus heavily on a run-first offensive attack in Week 3 against a Seattle defense that, while dominant, currently ranks 4th-worst in the NFL in yards per rush surrendered.

Los Angeles Chargers (+3) vs. Kansas City Chiefs: New year, same old Chargers as the Bolts have found familiar ways to lose each of their first two matchups thanks to shoddy special teams in high leverage situations. But we all know what happens when you back an animal into a corner and at the moment, Philip Rivers and the Chargers are that animal, as Los Angeles finds itself 0-2 in a division that features three rivals with perfect 2-0 records. And did you see what happened when Chiefs signal-caller Alex Smith found himself under heavy duress for a full 60 minutes? After completing 80 percent of his passes for a QB rating of 148.6 in Week 1 at New England, Smith tossed just one touchdown pass with Philadelphia’s front 7 in his face for the better part of last Sunday afternoon, something that should feel like déjà vu in Week 3 against a ferocious Charger pass rush led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

[MONDAY] Arizona Cardinals (+3) vs. Dallas Cowboys:
The Cardinals have looked dreadful through the first two weeks of the season, which includes a blown fourth quarter lead in Week 1 at Detroit and an overtime victory over incomprehensibly atrocious Indianapolis last Sunday. But this point spread is all out of whack. For starters, this is Arizona’s home opener and it’s coming on NATIONAL TELEVISION on a MONDAY NIGHT, so you know the Big Toaster will be rocking. Further, the Cowboys might be the most overvalued team in the NFL at the moment, as partially evidenced by the fact that Jason Garrett and company are 2-7 ATS over their last nine games overall and 0-4 ATS over their last four road dates. Additionally, note that the home team is 8-2 ATS over the last 10 meetings between these two teams, which includes the Cowboys going 1-4 ATS over their last five trips to Arizona.

DFS Value Play of the Week

Jay Cutler, QB, Miami Dolphins: Smokin’ Jay looked sharp in Los Angeles against the Chargers last Sunday completing 72.7 percent of his passes for 230 yards and a touchdown in a 19-17 upset win. But this week offers an even more enticing matchup for the former Chicago Bear as Cutler and the Dolphins travel to New York to face a Jets defense that is currently surrendering more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season than every team in the NFL except two (New Orleans and New England).

Granted, we would still advise investments in signal-callers like Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr—to name a few—before considering Cutler in Week 3, but those of you looking for a sleeper option with a high ceiling should definitely target Cutty for a reasonable amount of exposure.

Quote of the Week

“A man’s gotta make at least one bet a day, else he could be walking around lucky and never know it.”

--Jimmy Jones

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