NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Whack Job
by Dennis Ranahan

After four weeks of National Football League regular season action there are two undefeated teams and one squad that hasn’t beaten a point spread. Most people would be relatively quick to come up with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams as the two 4-0 teams straight-up, but I’d wager a bar bet that most couldn’t name the only team without a point spread win even if given eight guesses.

When the NFL releases their lines for a new week the first thing I do is look for the Old Maid, the point spread that doesn’t seem to match conventional thinking. No number is posted without good reason, and one that stands out as odd is most often a solid wagering proposition against how most view it.

This week, the point spread that seemed odd early had the only team without a point spread win as an underdog on the road. While that seems perfectly logical when you know a team hasn’t won a game against the point spread, most people would not have known this team was winless against the line and think the point spread was off.

How do we know that?

Because the winless point spread squad is the fourth most best team on the board, and they are no longer underdogs, but in fact, now a road favorite.

Know who they are?

I bet not.

Go ahead, take your guesses?

Got the eight teams you think might be the only team without a point spread win this season in mind or written down? Good. Is the Denver Broncos on your list?

No?

Didn’t think so.

Denver opened the season with a pair of straight-up wins, at home over the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders. They pushed against the point spread in their opener, beating the Seahawks by a field goal, 27-24, while giving three points on the line. In second week action, a furious fourth quarter rally nipped the Raiders by a point, 20-19, while they were six point favorites.

In their first road game, the Broncos met the Baltimore Ravens, and John Harbaugh’s team handled them with relative ease, 27-14, while covering a 5½ point spread. Last week, in a nationally televised Monday Night Football encounter, the Broncos got as close as any squad this year to knocking the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs from the undefeated ranks. Still, the closing point spread on the game only offered the Broncos 3½ points on the spread, and they lost by four points, 27-23.

Four games, two wins and two losses straight-up, and no point spread wins.

Still, when Denver was listed on the opening line as an underdog for their game this Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the line not only looked odd but the public jumped on the Broncos getting the one point on the spread like it was a sure thing. Today, the Broncos are no longer getting that point on the spread, but instead the heavy public action on Denver has the New York Jets now the home team underdog against the only team in the league without a point spread win.

How can this be?

The Jets were underrated in their season opener and they got a lopsided road win over the Detroit Lions, 48-17. That result elevated the early reviews on rookie quarterback Sam Darnold to star status, and since that opening victory the Jets have lost three straight games both straight-up and against the point spread.

Now, we start the second month of the regular season with the appraisal of these two teams in public opinion polls totally out of whack. The Jets three game losing streak dimming their prospects in the minds of most, and the Broncos narrow Monday Night Football loss elevating their public perception well above their actual talent level.

These facts are out of focus for the general wagering public, but not the Las Vegas book makers. They know the real strength and prospects for these two teams, and they were also aware that if they made the Jets the favorite for their game against the Broncos the money would come in on Denver.

Do you think the books wanted money on the Broncos if they thought they were going to win?

Me neither.

Qoxhi Picks: New York Jets (+1) over Denver Broncos