Week 7 of the NFL season offered an even 7-7 split between favorites and underdogs, based on against the spread (ATS) betting, but an odd statistical deviation did develop nonetheless.
Teams playing on the road reeled off an impressive 11-3 record ATS, including several outright upsets that shook up the standings.
The Carolina Panthers (4-2) visited the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles (3-4), but despite closing as (+4.5) dogs, Cam Newton put up 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure a 21-17 victory.
And in an AFC South division deciding showdown, the Houston Texans (4-3) dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) to the tune of 20-7 as (+3.5) dogs in Duval.
Finally, the New Orleans Saints (5-1) were (+2.5) road dogs against the Baltimore Ravens (4-3), but offense prevailed over defense in a 24-23 nail-biter.
Looking ahead to Week 8, thanks to the opening lines posted by online sportsbook Bovada, bettors may have a few more chances to ride undervalued roadies.
Led by a defense that held Saints quarterback Drew Brees to just 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and a Joe Flacco comeback drive in the closing minutes, the Ravens did everything short of forcing overtime last week.
But when Justin Tucker missed the first extra point of his career – spanning 223 point after attempts in the NFL, college, and high school – Baltimore suffered an especially cruel defeat.
Washing that taste out of their mouth won’t be easy though, not with a trip to Carolina on tap. Newton’s aforementioned comeback gave the Panthers their first road win, but they’re 3-0 in the comfortable confines of Carolina.
Even so, Baltimore gets the slim (-2) advantage as road dogs, with the books seemingly disbelievers in last Sunday’s fluky endgame outcomes.
The Indianapolis Colts (2-5) had no trouble in a 37-5 rout over the hapless Buffalo Bills (2-5) last week, and they might just have another chance to run up the score this Sunday. Indy heads to the Black Hole for a date with the Oakland Raiders (1-6), a team that has been stripped for parts – and first round draft picks – by new head coach Jon Gruden.
Gruden traded edge rushing monster Khalil Mack to Chicago in the preseason, and with Oakland on their bye week, he continued dismantling the roster by trading wideout Amari Cooper to Dallas. When NFL coaches must convince the world – media, fans, and players alike – that his team isn’t tanking, home dog status certainly makes sense.
Sure enough, the Colts are laying (-3) in this one.
Finally, the San Francisco 49ers (1-6) were written off when starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo went down, but backup C.J. Beathard has filled in admirably.
Rookie QB Josh Rosen has done the same for the Arizona Cardinals (1-6), but even with home field advantage on his side, a depleted roster and locker room drama make Rosen and the Cards slim (+1) dogs against the Niners.
Preseason prognosticators probably wouldn’t have believed it, but this week’s Thursday Night Football showdown between the Miami Dolphins (4-3) and the Houston Texans (4-3) has plenty of potential postseason implications.
Both teams are currently in the thick of the playoff race, with Houston holding the AFC’s fourth seed based on tiebreakers, but Miami owning an identical record. A win for the Phins would flip that dynamic, while a loss would put them at .500 and squarely at the back of the Wild Card pack.
Normally, a TNF game between two similarly matched teams would offer bettors a low line, but Houston is laying a heavy (+7.5) at home.
That inflated line is likely based on the injury catastrophes plaguing the Dolphins who just lost leading wideout Albert Wilson for the year with a hip injury last Sunday. Throw in starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill with an arm ailment, wide receiver Kenny Stills (groin), and defensive end Charles Harris (calf) – and Miami is the ultimate M.A.S.H. unit heading to Houston.