With sports betting becoming legal in an increasing number of states, more and more Americans will give football betting a try as their state allows it.
For each Lions matchup this season, I will provide my analysis as well as pick both a “side” and “total” for the game, using the consensus Las Vegas betting lines on Friday afternoon before the game.
For those people completely new to sports betting, bookmakers set a “line” on each game, determining which team is the favorite to win the game, and by how many points that favorite should win by to “cover the spread” (the line). For instance, in Monday Night’s Lions vs Jets game, Detroit is favored by 6-½ points, meaning that if you lay the points with the Lions, you need Detroit to win by seven points or more.
Conversely, if you choose the Jets on Monday night, New York can still lose the game by one to six points, and your bet is a winner. If the Jets win, you also win.
Each game also gets a “total” assigned to it, and bettors try to determine if the game will feature more (“over”) or less (“under”) the posted point total. Again, in the Monday Night game, the total is 45. If EXACTLY 45 points are scored, neither bet wins, and money is refunded. If the game has less than 45 points, “under” bettors win, and vice versa if it goes “over” the total.
While each sportsbook (where you bet the games) is different, most straight bets incur a 10% vig (vigorish, or “juice”), meaning you need to bet $11 to win $10 (get back $21). If you feel lucky and “parlay” the side and total, you should win $13 for every $5 wagered (13-to-5).
Each week, I’ll provide the Lions side and total, and two other NFL wagers that I think will be profitable.
So without further ado….
New York Jets at Detroit Lions
Monday, September 10 7:10 pm ET
Detroit -6.5 Total 45
Before we get started, let me tell you a little about myself. First of all, I’m only a Lions fan inasmuch as I’ve lived in the Metro Detroit area for a large chunk of my life. I’m actually a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but with sports betting, you wager with your head, not with your heart.
I used to work in Las Vegas as a sportsbook supervisor for a small (now defunct) casino called the Las Vegas Club (downtown, was next door to Binion’s Horseshoe) that was an “independent” book–meaning that we set our own lines and totals, and could offer bettors value because our lines weren’t “tied in” to the bigger casinos betting lines.
We had to be sharp, or professional gamblers would eat us alive, so we had to know our stuff. Since then, I’ve only “recreationally” followed the betting aspect of NFL games….
Also, I have the Lions pegged as a 6-10 team this year, so don’t believe for a second that I’ll pick the Lions to cover the spread every single week. I’m not a “homer!”
That being said, I really like the Lions this week.
Lions fans know how hard it is to win on the road in the NFL. The Jets were not a good team last year, and they probably won’t be one this year either. Add to this equation that they will be starting rookie quarterback Sam Darnold on Monday Night Football inside Ford Field in front of pro-football-starved fans, and what we have here is a potential blowout.
The Jets leading receiver is Robby Anderson. Not an ideal #1 wideout. They also have Terrell Pryor (former college quarterback) who is recovering from ankle woes. The Jets, like the Lions, do not project to have a strong running game. This means they will be forced to let Darnold air it out for most of the game. Not a great recipe for success, especially against Detroit’s under-rated defensive backfield. Expect a defensive score (or dare I say TWO?) for the Lions.
On the other side of the ball, Detroit will try (in vain) to get their not-very-good running game going, but will more than likely end up throwing a lot, as they are prone to do. But that passing offense, led by Matthew Stafford should light up New York.
The Jets defense, while on the improve, has not been stout of late (for years), averaging giving up 23.9, 25.6, 19.6 and 25.1 points per game over the last four seasons.
As I stated, this could be a blowout, so laying six and a half points with the home team looks very intriguing. Note: the Jets are 2-6-1 against the spread in their last nine road games.
BET DETROIT -6.5 points
As for the total, while 45 points may seem a little high, we’ve already looked at what the Jets average allowing over the last four years. The Lions have allowed 23.5, 22.4, 25.0 and 17.6 points per game in that span.
In a game where the teams should both be throwing (incompletions stop the clock, causing more plays per quarter), one team has a decided edge in offensive ability (Detroit), and a team has a rookie with no running game to speak of, playing his first game on the road at Ford Field on Monday Night Football, and you have all the makings for a high-scoring “over” bet. I think the score will go over the total late in the third quarter.
BET OVER 45 points
The other two NFL wagers I like this opening weekend are:
WASHINGTON (+1) over Arizona at Arizona
These two teams will have vastly different records at the end of the year. Washington projects to be a much better team, while Arizona will most likely struggle to win four or five games. The line on this game is too low, and the Redskins (with new quarterback Alex Smith) should win this one easily, even on the road.
SAN FRANCISCO and MINNESOTA Under 46.5 points
The 49ers winning out to finish their season after acquiring QB Jimmy Garoppolo was a “feel good” story and that may help inflate some totals in San Fran games early in the season. I have no opinion on which team covers the spread in the game, but with Minnesota’s strong defensive play, and the 49ers opening the season on the road, I feel 46.5 points is too many in this contest, and the under is the play.
LIONS side: 0-0
LIONS total: 0-0
OTHER wagers: 0-0