NFL 2018 Season - Week 14
 

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Reasonable Action
by Dennis Ranahan

I will be the first to say the final week of a preseason schedule is the sketchiest of all the weeks of an NFL season. One might be wise to skip this week altogether, but for me, that is akin to a guy sitting at a stop light in his muscle car and have some clown to his left rev the motor on his Honda.

What is he supposed to do, let the Honda pull ahead or accept the challenge and punch away from the stop light?

The guy in the muscle car doesn’t have to race the Honda, but it is there and he thrives on the challenge. So to do I hold preseason football, regular season football or the playoffs … as the greatest challenge on earth. You think I’m not looking for an edge? If the books know enough to determine the favorite and set a line on the final week of the preseason, then there must be a way to find an edge.

The books don’t gamble, if a game is truly uncertain, like a possible loss of a key player through injury, they won’t post a line on that game until the player status is certain. They usually know by Thursday night, even in situations where the coach of the player in question claims it is a game time decision.

The first thing you would look for in finding an edge is to locate where the books plotted a game to lure the public the wrong way. Like last week, where they offered the Green Bay Packers as much as a touchdown on the spread for their game against the Oakland Raiders. The public backed the Pack with the points, and the books won with the Raiders, 13-6.

On Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys were home underdogs to the Arizona Cardinals, this after opening as a three point favorite. A six point shift in a point spread that is driven purely by smart money, the public was split on the game, most often indicates a good play. The books don’t move a line that dramatically unless they are looking to protect themselves from a bad spot.

The books were right, the Cardinals won easy, 27-3.

This week, the Atlanta Falcons opened as a 2½ point favorite over the Miami Dolphins and public money is heavily backing the home standing Falcons … and the books moved the line to Miami as a pick ‘em.

Why?

In the preseason point spread shifts are most often driven by coaching decisions. The Packers had decided early that they weren’t going to play their first line offense in Oakland last week, and the books reflected that information in the point spread long before the public was aware.

The Atlanta Falcons are poised for a Super Bowl run and open their season a week from tomorrow in Philadelphia against the defending champion Eagles. The Miami Dolphins are looking to recover from a down year in which they were missing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Both teams come into this game 0-3 in the preseason, and one of them could care less about this result as they prepare for Philadelphia and the other squad is egging for a win in Tannehill’s return to the lineup.

That is why I would pick the Dolphins over the Falcons this week. But the books have their own reasons, and their thinking is always reflected in the point spread. They know something I don’t, and they are on the same side I am for other reasons.

Which leaves only one reasonable action … bet the Dolphins.

Qoxhi Picks: Miami Dolphins (pk) over Atlanta Falcons