NFL 2018 Season - Week 14
 

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Spread Game
by Dennis Ranahan

The month of November is typically the only month of a football season that the books don’t dominate the public wagering. It was explained to me by one of the best sports book managers in the business a few years ago this way. “By this time of the year, the bettors know who the best teams are and they bet them every week. If we don’t set point spreads to trip up those teams, we get beat.”

Okay. Now that we know the books are setting point spreads this month to trip up what appears to be obvious winners, where are the advantages? Last Sunday, the books didn’t get the job done with the spreads as the public had one of their best days ever … and the books, wait for it, got hammered.

The favorite public teams that included the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings all won and beat the spread. The only public favorite team to lose last Sunday was the Los Angeles Rams, but they were playing against another favorite, the New Orleans Saints.

The only three underdogs to win in addition to the Saints last Sunday were all road teams that had small spreads, the Atlanta Falcons (+1½), Houston Texans (+1) and Los Angeles Chargers (+1). Those three teams defeated respectively the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. This week, the spreads are higher still, as the books look to find a number to trip up the public bet teams.

The books know this too, once the public starts winning they will be back the next week flush with cash and making larger wagers now that they are playing with “house money.”

I can’t tell you how jolting it is to my very fiber to hear someone use that term, house money. There is no house money, there is cash either in the possession of you or the house. If you think you are playing with their money, you are likely to return it to them as fast as you got it.

Winning in November requires two basic rules; don’t get swayed by big spreads while the books are in their yearly quest to lay lines in their difficult task of tripping up the best teams, and second, don’t get caught with a bad line.

Sometimes, those two elements can work in our favor. They do this week in Tennessee where the Titans host the New England Patriots.

Since their two losses in September, Tom Brady and his troops have settled into typical New England football. They have a firm hold on the AFC East Division lead while winning six straight games that includes five point spread triumphs. Their only loss against the number in this run was by a half-point decision to the talented Kansas City Chiefs.

This week, Bill Belichick leads his squad into Tennessee to meet a Titans team that has lost as many games this season as they have won, four. This is a team that opened October with a loss at Buffalo to a bad Bills team and were shutout the following Sunday in a 21 point loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The problem with the Titans is centered around an offense that has struggled all year and enter action this week ranked 30th in the 32 team league in points scored with 134.

But, their offensive woes can be tracked to the opening day elbow injury suffered by quarterback Marcus Mariota. Following their bye week, which allowed Mariota to rest his injured arm for two weeks, the one-time first round draft choice played his best game of the year on Monday night in a road win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Now, at home, with a rock solid defense and a healthy quarterback, the Titans are in a perfect spot to challenge the talented Patriots. Because the Patriots are also a public favorite, we can be sure that this month the books will set a line against New England in an attempt to erode the public advantage. The Titans are also coached by Mike Vrabel, a one-time Patriot, who is in a position to use his knowledge of Belichick’s team against him just as New England’s former defensive coordinator and current Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patricia, did earlier this season in guiding the Lions to a win over New England.

Which leaves us with this, a good home prospect with a bloated line courtesy of public wagering and the books need to combat their November challenges.

Qoxhi Picks: Tennessee Titans (+7) over New England Patriots