The “bad beats” industry is thriving with the expansion of sports betting across the country. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, alongside his producer Stanford Steve, delivers a tremendous segment on SportsCenter each week and, with every passing day, bad beats get more attention when they (inevitably) happen. On Sunday, disaster struck backers of the Houston Texans (+3.5) and, if you paid attention to this space last week, you would know that we were also on that side.
If you missed it, the Texans led by one point with two minutes remaining. Then, Houston scored a touchdown, pushing their lead to seven, and they had a chance to put the game away with a two-point conversion to extend the lead to nine. While some saw that as a controversial decision, Houston’s choice to go for two was defensible but, when they didn’t get it, the Titans marched down the field, scoring a touchdown with just seconds to play, making the extra point (instead of missing or going for two) and sending the game to overtime. On cue, Tennessee then won the coin toss, putting the fear of God into every Texans backer, and the Titans went on to score a touchdown, covering the 3.5-point spread in memorable and horrific fashion.
At any rate, Week 6 wasn’t terribly kind to us, and the Texans debacle swung things from a positive week to a negative one. But, as Week 7 arrives, opportunity reigns and, before we get to the picks, here is a glance at how 2020 has gone to this point.
- Week 6: 2-3
- 2020 Season: 18-11-1
Come get these winners.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) over New York Giants
What in the world? A favorite? Of more than a field goal? Yes, a favorite of more than a field goal. The look-ahead line here was -7, and I’ll go ahead and tell you that a move to -4.5 in this spot is enough to get me on Philadelphia. Is it the public side? Probably, but I also believe the Eagles are the solidly better team on a neutral field. Also, home teams have historically been the play on Thursday night, and we can be “Joe Public” for one night.
Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans UNDER 24.5 points in the first half
Four consecutive games involving the Titans finished over the total. Three of the five Steelers games in 2020 finished over the total. As such, this number is a bit inflated, both for the full game and the first half. I still like the full game at anything over 50, but the first half is my preference here. It is possible that either team opens it up after the break, especially if a multi-score lead emerges, but I trust Pittsburgh’s defense and Tennessee might lean on Derrick Henry in chewing some clock. Give me all of the punts and field goals.
New England Patriots (-2) over San Francisco 49ers
We don’t give out a lot of favorites in this space, but we’re giving out a second one this week. I love this spot for New England. We faded San Francisco for a few weeks, jumped off that wagon just in time for the Niners to “get right” in Week 6, and now we’re back on the other side. The Niners did look (much) better last week, but this feels like an overreaction, both to what San Francisco did and what New England didn’t do against Denver. If you can snag this at less than a field goal, I think the only side is the tiny home favorite in a buy low spot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Las Vegas Raiders UNDER 53 points
A (formerly) Sunday night under! As you’ll see again momentarily, I generally think the numbers have gotten out of control with all of the talk of increased scoring. In this game in particular, the Buccaneers are still a defensive team and, at the moment, that might be the best defensive unit in the league. Las Vegas can certainly score, which is admittedly scary, but this line is a touch high. This game got moved to the 4 p.m. ET window as the Raiders deal with their entire offensive line in quarantine and its possible this game never even happens, so, be aware of that.
Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams UNDER 45 points
Another Under is here and we’re taking three totals in the same week. I simply don’t trust the Bears offense to do much of anything and, while the Rams are capable of explosiveness, Chicago is a genuinely strong defensive team. Some of the value is gone from the opener of 47 but, as long as you can catch 45, I think there is enough to pounce on the Under in this spot. Perhaps the Bears will play to their strengths and try to grind this thing out for us.