Ryan’s Lions Betting Preview-Week 4 Edition

The 1972 Miami Dolphins. The 2018 Cleveland Browns. The 2008 Detroit Lions. All three teams had an “unblemished” record, with a zero on one side of the win/loss column. I’m well on my way to a “perfect record” of sorts here as I’m now 0-3 in my predictions of the Lions games in respect to the point spread.

I laid the points with the Lions in Week 1 and watched them get blown out at home. I sided with the 49ers, who won the game but failed to cover. I laid the points with the Patriots, and watched the Lions resemble a good NFL football team. So, what to do with the Lions at Cowboys game?

When wagering on a single team on a week-to-week basis (which isn’t a solid strategy unless you are riding a hot team or “fading” a poor one) has you on the wrong side in consecutive weeks may make one decide to abandon ship, I have tasked myself with choosing the side and total in every Lions game this season, and 0-3 be damned, I’m still trying to beat the number.

I haven’t fared much better in the Lions game totals (over/under) either, going 1-2 on the season, with the only win being taking the over in the Jets game. But thankfully, I’ve gone 5-1 against the spread in my “other” NFL wagers so far–a phenomenon easily explained since I have the entire NFL slate to try to find winners, not forcing myself to have an opinion on any certain game.

And therein lies the point to this week’s introduction part of this week’s betting preview piece–being selective with your wagers is paramount in maintaining profitability. It’s not healthy to bet every game on the NFL slate, nor is it a good idea to stray from your comfortable wager amount (unless you are playing with “house money”). Anyone (betting touts!!) can claim a profit off a losing record, but reasonable sports bettors don’t bet $50 on one game and $2,000 on another.

Slow and steady wins the race over the course of an NFL season, and although I’ve started 0-3 on the Lions games, there is plenty of time to get to profitability in those wagers.

Now, back to the Lions vs Cowboys game–the early Las Vegas consensus point spread was Dallas -3-½. It is now a solid Dallas -3, meaning early bettors “took the hook” by betting the Lions plus a field goal and a half point (the “hook”). This is important to note, because sportsbooks don’t like moving on or off the magic number of three.

The reason is simple: if the game ends with the Cowboys winning by EXACTLY a field goal, the book would have to pay the early Lions +3.5 bettors and refund the money to all Lions +3 AND Cowboys -3 bettors. So moving the line to THREE becomes a liability. And let’s face it–these games end somewhere NEAR the point spread way more often than they do not.

With the knowledge that the line has moved, in most cases, an argument can be made that the Lions are the “public” side because more wagers were placed on the Lions than the Cowboys. This is not always the case, as there are professional bettors who love nothing more than taking three and a half points, no matter what team is getting them. So, unless we work at the sportsbook, we don’t know whether this is a “public play” or “smart money”. I’m willing to guess it’s a combination of the two. And that is based upon my time actually working in a Las Vegas sportsbook.

As for the game itself, the Lions are coming in high after their Primetime win at home against the Patriots, while the Cowboys seem to have forgotten how to play on the offensive side of the ball. Dallas is really missing their deep threat Dez Bryant (who is still watching NFL games from the couch for one reason or another) and their over-the-middle stalwart tight end Jason Witten.

After this game, each team will be one quarter through their season, and most NFL teams break their successes or failures down into four-game segments. In this case, I think it’s time for the Cowboys to really worry about their offense. Teams can feel free to “stack the box” and dare running back Ezekiel Elliott to beat them. With no deep threat, and quarterback Dak Prescott looking like he has regressed from his rookie year magic, the Cowboys offense is not impressive.

Hopefully we’ll see the Lions in victory formation in Dallas.

I believe this is where the Lions will have the edge, and the reason I’ll be taking the points this Sunday–the Lions defense should dominate the Cowboys offense, and that will help the Lions offense by creating positive field position scenarios, as well as the potential for turnovers if not straight-up defensive scores.

Lions running back Kerryon Johnson logged over 100 yards in the Patriots victory, and much was discussed about this feat (won’t rehash it here), but that was more of a specific game result than what I feel will be the norm for the Lions. He’ll do well going forward, but he’s not expected to be “the next Barry Sanders”–just yet. Look for the Lions to be able to use the run to set up the pass–a beautiful thing for this Jim Bob Cooter offense (I love typing that!).

The Lions are 6-1-1 ATS their last eight games against teams with a losing record. For the last nine NFL seasons, the Cowboys are 2-7 ATS in week 4.

Take the LIONS +3 at Dallas.

The total on this game is currently 44 and has been all week. My opinion on the total goes hand-in-hand with my opinion on the side–I think the Cowboys will sputter on offense against the Lions defense, setting up the Lions to play a ball control type game, getting out to an early lead, and holding on to it throughout. If the Lions can get 25 or more rushing plays, this will help burn the clock–especially late in the game. I feel this is an “under” game, with the Lions winning 24-10.

Take the UNDER 44.


The other two NFL wagers I like this week are:

Bet the Los Angeles Chargers -10 at home against San Francisco

All is fair in love and war and sports betting. Yes, the line on this game is inflated due to the 49ers losing starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season due to an ACL tear suffered last week. C.J. Beathard is tasked with “replacing” Jimmy G. Had Garoppolo made it through last week’s game unscathed, the line on this game may have been only L.A. -4. You’ll have to pay a “premium” on betting the Chargers this week, but I really believe this game is a blowout, as the Chargers have a formidable offense, and their poor defense gets a break on Sunday as the 49ers offense will be one-dimensional.

San Fran is 2-6 ATS in their last eight September games. Expect a two touchdown and a field goal victory at the VERY LEAST for the Chargers.

Unless the 49ers secretly signed 1980’s Joe Montana this week, we’ll go ahead and take the Chargers minus double digits.

Bet the Denver Broncos +4-1/12 at home against the Kansas City Chiefs (MNF)

Sometimes, being a contrarian becomes profitable. Ask anyone who is a better NFL team this year, and you’ll most definitely have way more people answer Kansas City than Denver. This is why they put betting lines on sporting events–to make it “interesting”.

Nearly every “betting angle” I’ve research for this game point to the Chiefs (3-0). As mentioned, they will most likely have more people wager on them, based on their prolific offense, headed by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. They can beat you in many ways, whether running the ball, passing the ball, or on special teams.

The Broncos (2-1), are coming off their loss at Baltimore, and will be ready for this Monday Night matchup in the Mile High City. While their offense is nowhere near as prolific as the Chiefs, the key to this game will be when the Broncos have the ball. They have to limit the amount of time that the Chiefs are in possession. Luckily, the Chiefs defense is not very stellar, and I believe this is where the Broncos will succeed.

Look for Denver to make this a very close game, as they will be able to eat the clock, capitalize on long drives, and limit the Chiefs ability to score early and often. I’ll even stake my 5-1 “other NFL games” record on the Broncos winning this game straight up. All it takes is one big turnover and a subsequent “point swing” (taking away one team’s opportunity to score then scoring on top of that) to be the difference. Look for a Denver defensive score to be the catalyst of the Broncos Monday night victory.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
Can the Denver defense thwart the potent Kansas City Chiefs offense? I’m hoping that they can–for at least one big play.


LIONS side: 0-3

LIONS total: 1-2

OTHER wagers: 5-1

Total: 6-6

Written by Ryan Dickey

Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio (Sylvania, more precisely), I started following harness racing at the now-defunct Raceway Park in 1991. I attended Bowling Green State University, and started there as a Sports Management major. In 1994, I turned 21, and won $500 on a trip to Las Vegas (where my family now resides), and decided I needed to live there. I attended UNLV.

I worked in the sports wagering industry--first with a handicapping service, then as an assistant supervisor at the Las Vegas Club race and sports book.

My love for Thoroughbred racing started there, but was cemented in 1997, when I attended the Santa Anita Derby. The horse that finished that race in second place was a gray colt by the name of Silver Charm. To this day, the near-Triple Crown winner is my all-time favorite racehorse. And you see me pictured here with him in May 2015 at Old Friends Farm in Kentucky.

I moved to the Detroit area in 2002 (finally finishing my bachelor's degree at Siena Heights University in 2007), and became a full-time firefighter/paramedic. But I still had a love of sports, and began writing: first about fantasy football, then about sports wagering (under a pseudonym). Then, I started writing about horse racing--my true love.

I cover local high school sports and community events in the Dearborn/Dearborn Heights area, as well as Downriver.

I've had nearly 400 articles published over the years (in print media and online) and look forward to writing hundreds more. I will be covering the Detroit Lions for Detroit Sports Nation.

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