Wild Card Saturday’s Best Bet Against the Spread

The NFL Playoffs are supposed to bring about the exciting conclusion to 17 weeks of high stakes, non-stop football action. Yet somehow, the opening day to the postseason schedule looks like a truly despicable day of football. But just because the NFL has scheduled the equivalent of an eight hour colonoscopy for Saturday, it doesn’t mean the evening should be wager-free.

Much like some backwards Thanksgivings hosted by backwards people, the main course on Saturday is getting served up in the afternoon. Instead of turkey, the main course is terribleness, and the side dishes are disappointment. The historically bad quarterback duel between known garbage Brock Osweiler and unknown (but probably garbage) Connor Cook is the game that seems to be tripping most bettors up.

The Houston Texans are 3.5-point favorites despite being one of the worst DVOA teams to ever make the playoffs. Asking an Osweiler-led offense to outscore any opponent is already a risky proposition, but when that victory needs to come by four or more, you’re flirting with Hurt Locker levels of danger.

The flip side would be trusting a third-string quarterback with one-half of NFL experience against a top-level defense; that’s also a hard sell, even if he does have a great offensive line.

The only things all parties appear to agree on about this game is that: 1) it will suck and 2) offense will be hard to come by. (The fact that the over/under is set at 36.5 and hasn’t moved supports that theory.) So in a game that figures to be sloppy, it’s nearly impossible to see a Texans team that only averages 17 per game blowing out the Raiders, even if they trot out Mark Davis, himself, under center. With that in mind, the best way to approach this game appears to be throwing Oakland in a teaser.

In the spirit of getting the most out of this terrible day, the night game makes for a good teaser partner. Seattle has looked terrible over the last three weeks. The only team entering the playoffs colder is Detroit, a team that’s lost three in a row straight up and four in a row against the spread. The Seahawks dominance at home (particularly in the postseason) makes them the prohibitive favorite to win the game, but eight points is a lot to lay on a team that nearly lost to San Francisco in Week 17.

For a long time, the Lions had a nasty habit of playing close games, and even last week against the Packers, showed they are capable of cheap, late scores that can screw over bettors. Rather than trust Seattle to win in dominant fashion, tease the line down to a number so small, even a shanked extra point from Steven Hauschka won’t cost you.

Teasers may not be the sexiest way to bet games, but when the day is full of unpredictably heinous teams, it’s a nice way to mitigate risk. And you want to have some action on the game right? Otherwise you’re just watching terrible football, and who would want to do that?

Although, I guess you could not watch the game at all…

Nah. Teaser it is!

The Play: 6.5-Point Teaser with Oakland (+10) and Seattle (-1.5)


Photo credit: BenJones88 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Boris

Hockey may be a wildly unpopular sport in the U.S., but where no one is paying attention, there's a ton of value for Boris to mine. An avid NHL fan of over 20 years, Malloy made his first bet against a friend during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals (going against Ray Bourque) and has been hooked ever since. He has yet to pay off that debt of $2, but he's made plenty back since. In between worrying about the league's next lockout, he regularly contributes to MTS and is also fluent in football, basketball, baseball and French (sort of).