There are at least three basic ways to pick a football game.
One can base a pick on the talent of the team they are choosing. Perhaps a bet against a bad team is a good idea. Or you can bet a game based solely on the situation; the teams matter none.
That’s what we’ve got tonight when the Houston Texans host the Carolina Panthers to open third week National Football League action. That is the last time we need to mention these two teams by name. From now on they are simply team A and B, or in rotation language, numbers 301 and 302.
Three-oh-one opened the season as a favorite over the New York Jets and won the game and covered the condensed point spread of 3½ points, 19-14. In second week action, they were home underdogs to the New Orleans Saints, who had opened the season as an underdog and blew out the Green Bay Packers, 38-3.
A win that lopsided in a game the Saints thought they could lose against Aaron Rodgers exploded New Orlelans’ confidence beyond recognition. The following week’s result was easily identifiable before it happened, the Saints lose while suddenly going from a home team underdog to a road favorite.
The benefactors of that Saints collapse was 301, who as a home underdog were prepared to play a much better team than the flat Saints they crushed, 26-7. What 301 gained from beating New Orleans is a road favorite role tonight with a point spread blown clearly out of proportion.
We know this, 301 as a road favorite off a home underdog win that they think their talent achieved when actually it was a predictable Saints drop, sets them up for defeat in their next game.
That is tonight.
Three-oh-two brings their own set of liabilities.
They lost their star quarterback to a consequential set of circumstances outside the football arena, and last week his backup went down with a hamstring pull that will keep him out of tonight’s game.
The home underdog tonight opened the season as the worst team in football based on wagering odds. Their season win total, which allows a wager to go over or under their actual win total, was a league low four games. They opened the regular season with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars as a bet-against home underdog.
It can be substantially argued that the contest in Houston was decided by the Jaguars being a bad road favorite more than 302 a reliable home underdog. In second week action, as a road underderdog with a bloated 13½ point spread, 302 got the money with a ten point loss, 31-21. The winning team in that game, the Cleveland Browns, were in a tough spot off a straight-up hardfought loss in Kansas City and unlikely to cover a bloated line.
In other words, the 302 results in their first two games were not decided by 302, but by their opponents. That is why a team as bad as the Houston Texans can have a 2-0 point spread record.
It’s not them winning, it’s their opponents losing.
Like the Panthers tonight.
Qoxhi Picks: Houston Texans (+8) over Carolina Panthers