While there is a thread in National Football League results that affect scores from one week to the next, too often bettors think that what happened last week is likely to occur again.
The opposite is more often the case.
When a team has a big outing, scores 50 points or wins a particularly important contest in relation to their postseason aspirations, a drop off is a lot more common than another triumph. Also, teams that roll through the first half of a season with consistent point spread wins are most often not the same teams that will pay for bettors over the second half of a season.
The reason for this is tied to the people most skilled at separating gamblers from their money, the books. They set lines that take away obvious advantages. A team that pays bettors six, seven or even eight weeks in a row have two counts working against them in upcoming games. First, opponents are on high alert when they play a team with extended success. Second, the books pull the rug out from under consistent winning patterns with point spreads that make the longtime successful side the lower percentage proposition.
While my father taught me as a kid that you take home the girl you brought to the party, schooled on that at a time when a teenager could breakup and makeup in a matter of hours with a special friend, the same rules do not apply to football wagering. For those bettors that cashed winning tickets with the Dallas Cowboys in their first seven games this season, the pressure on the Cowboys and bloated point spreads have taken their toll in recent weeks.
Since their quick start, the Cowboys have two wins and three losses against the point spread in their most recent five games. This week, they are favored on the road against the Washington Football Team, an opponent they will meet both this weekend and again in two weeks in their return meeting in Dallas.
Washington has a nearly opposite season in the works than the Cowboys.
Ron Rivera’s team started with point spread losses in seven of their first eight games and have now won four games in a row both straight up and against the point spread. Their recent success has also pulled them within two games of the NFC East Division leading Cowboys. Which means this, if Washington was to win their final five games of the 2021 season they would capture their second straight NFC East title.
I have shied away from Washsington plays this season because of a mistrust in their starting quarterback, Taylor Heinicke. He was not slated to be the starter in Washington this season, but an opening day injury to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick forced Rivera’s hand.
Heinicke played his college ball at Old Dominion, and wasn’t drafted after his final collegiate season in 2015. He was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Vikings that year, and went on to play for three other NFL teams, New England, Houston and Carolina, before joining Washington last year.
When an injury sidelined Alex Smith for Washington’s Wild Card Weekend matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last January, Heinicke was forced into action and played well enough to keep his team competitive in a 31-23 loss. This year, in a return meeting against the now defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, Heinicke led an upset victory, 29-19.
So, why have I shied away from picking the Redskins under his direction this season? Perhaps it is the vision of him falling inches short of a touchdown without a defender in sight in a game seven weeks ago at Lambeau Field. Because a quarterback doesn’t have to be touched to be considered down, the play left Washington short of the score they needed to win with 8½ points on the spread in a game they lost to the Green Bay Packers, 24-10.
I’ll try to push that play out of my thoughts this week as I ponder whether to actually bet on Heinicke against the Cowboys. If I do, I will probably win.
Qoxhi Picks: Washington Redskins (+4½) over Dallas Cowboys