We all have our jobs to do.
If you were going to a dentist and the job you were expecting him to do was extract a diseased tooth you might not want him standing over you saying, “I just don’t know how to do this.”
Well, I’m no dentist. My job is to tell people who is going to win a football game to extract profits from the established point spreads. Tonight, the National Football League is in primetime with their opening Monday Night Football contest. It is a pair of storied franchises going at it in Las Vegas with the Raiders hosting the Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders are currently a four point underdog.
Before you say it, I know what you are thinking, a home team underdog on Monday Night Football is solid gold.
If you think that you just might be old. Because there was a time long, long ago when you could show up at the window blindfolded and bet on a team getting points at home on Monday night and be almost certain to cash that ticket after the game. The Monday Night Football series began in 1970, and for the first decade the dogs in the primetime game had a point spread record that made wagering on a road favorite near folly.
Two things have erased that Monday night home dog magic. First, the books don’t leave leaking holes in their boat of profits for too long, and they adjusted the point spreads to turn the advantage away from home underdogs. Second, the pageantry that was associated with Monday Night Football that seemed to consistently favor the home team dissipated as the game became a staple on the football schedule.
There was a time, that is before 1970, when all National Football League games were played on Sunday afternoons. Last season was the first year in which the NFL utilized every day of the week to stage their regular season schedule. That was a forced issue based on rescheduling due to COVID-19, but Thursday night games and Sunday night games are now weekly affairs along with the Monday primetime telecast.
For the record, if you have just been wagering on Monday Night Football home underdogs over the past ten seasons, you are losing money.
The Raiders also had a strong tradition for the first dozen seasons concerning the Monday night games. They were tabbed the “Kings of Monday Night” by the media for their winning ways while playing out of Oakland. Then in 1982, Al Davis moved his franchise to Los Angeles to play in front of sparse crowds that the NFL did not want to advertise on their featured game of the week.
Empty stands just didn’t go well with the league image.
So, the NFL didn’t schedule home Monday night games for the Raiders anymore, and when the Silver and Black did appear in the primetime game they were routinely on the road against tough competition. The Raiders winning percentages on Monday night wilted like the flowers your girl friend asked you to water while she was out of town.
If someone just woke up from a 40 year coma and found out the Raiders were at home on Monday Night Football and getting points on the spread they would ask to call their bookie before their loved ones.
If you haven’t been in a coma, you know the Raiders are no longer magic on Monday night, are no longer in Oakland and being an underdog to the Ravens (who a person just waking from a coma might ask) is for a very good reason.
Baltimore Head Coach John Harbaugh is very skilled at getting his teams ready early. He has not lost a preseason game since 2015, a current streak that has now stretched to 20 games. He is also solid in opening games, having not lost one since 2016 while outscoring his opponents in those five games by a combined 177-26.
But, before you run down to bet on the Ravens tonight, know this, they are missing some parts that they were counting on to return them to the playoffs.
They have suffered three crippling injuries to their offensive backfield, including top rusher TK Dobbins. Their defense has also been dented by the loss of defensive back Marcus Peters. The one-time first round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs had been a solid contributor in the Ravens backfield since Baltimore acquired him in a trade with the Rams before the 2018 season. The seven-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowl selection helped seal the Ravens playoff victory over the Tennessee Titans last January with a late interception.
During practice on September 8, Peters tore his ACL and is lost for the season.
What that leaves us with tonight is a Monday Night Football legacy that no longer applies, and a favored Baltimore team threatened to have their campaign sidelined by injuries.
I know, it’s my job, but unlike the dentist that doesn’t know what he is doing, sometimes the best thing I do is to advise you to do nothing.