Cowboys, Struggling as Big Home Favorites, Host Bears on Sunday night

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While Jay Cutler’s thumb injury might boost the Dallas Cowboys’ chances of defeating the Chicago Bears, Dallas brings a negative against-the-spread trend into the Sunday Night Football betting matchup.

The Cowboys are listed as seven-point favorites with a total of 44.5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cowboys are 9-1 straight-up but 1-9 against the spread in their last 10 home games where they were favored by 6.5 or more points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The visiting team is 4-1 SU and ATS in its last five games in this matchup.

The Bears are 6-2 ATS in their last eight road games. Cutler (sprained thumb) is not practicing, and if he’s down, the Bears will turn to backup QB Brian Hoyer.

Chicago’s offense is ranked 31st of 32 NFL teams after two weeks. Chicago’s primary WR Alshon Jeffery (knee) could be affected by injury, but WR Kevin White is an emerging talent. Running back Jeremy Langford and his blockers might be able to have some positive results against a Dallas defense which is allowing 4.8 yards per attempt.

Dallas, which is coming off a Week 2 victory against the Washington Redskins, is 5-2 SU in its last seven games after winning as an underdog. Rookie QB Dak Prescott has been serviceable while throwing mostly to slot WR Cole Beasley and TE Jason Witten, who has a favorable matchup. Outside WR Dez Bryant could also feast against journeyman CB Tracy Porter.

The Bears have two big-name defenders in ILB Jerrell Freeman and ILB Danny Trevathan, but have struggled to contain the running game so far this season. Dallas rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott will have the opportunity to shine in the Sunday Night Football matchup.

Chicago lost their first road game against the Houston Texans in Week 1. The total has gone under in four of the Bears’ last five games on the road after a loss on the road.

Marcus Mariota can’t even explain his historic touchdown catch

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A touchdown pass to … yourself?!

That’s exactly what happened to Titans QB Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s incredible 22-21 Wild Card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs were up 21-3 entering halftime and appeared to be well on their way to advancing to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, but then Mariota made history with one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see:

With the six-yard touchdown, Mariota became the first player in NFL history to record a passing and receiving TD in a playoff game.

NFL Wild Card Weekend betting lines reflect recent favorites trend

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Wild Card Weekend has been ruled by favored teams recently – on the field, if not on the board. Favored teams are 10-2 straight-up in wild card games over the last three seasons. At the sportsbooks – and this seems germane with the home teams each laying at least six points this weekend – favorites are a more modest 7-4-1 against the spread.

The 2017 playoffs saw home teams go 4-0 SU and ATS in wild card games. Eighteen of the last 28 wild card games have gone under the posted total, with one push.

The Kansas City Chiefs are listed as 9-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 44-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in a Saturday matchup. The Chiefs are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven playoff games as a favorite, but QB Alex Smith has had a stronger second half of the season than Marcus Mariota, his Titans counterpart.

Tennessee, which is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against the Chiefs, could be compromised offensively if DeMarco Murray (knee) is unable to play and spell off team rushing leader Derrick Henry. The total has gone over in five of the Titans’ last seven games against the Chiefs.

The Los Angeles Rams are 6.5-point betting favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 48.5-point total in the late Saturday matchup. The Rams and first-time playoff QB Jared Goff are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. However, Los Angeles, which lost its regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, is 5-0 SU in its last five games after a loss.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan, whose team is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 night games, will not have his optimal offensive line in front of him as LG Andy Levitre (triceps) is out for the season. The Rams defense, led by DT Aaron Donald, has the third-highest tally of interceptions. The total has gone under in the Falcons’ last five games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are nine-point betting favorites against the Buffalo Bills with a 39.5-point total in a Sunday matchup between teams that had a combined 26-year playoff drought (since 1999 for the Bills; 2007 for the Jags). The visiting team is 5-1 ATS in the last six games of this matchup, but Buffalo will likely only stand a chance if RB LeSean McCoy (ankle sprain) is healthy enough to play; there is no way he will be 100 percent.

The Jaguars, who are only 4-13 SU in their last 17 home games against teams with winning records, must hope QB Blake Bortles has some recent regression out of his system. The total has gone over in the Bills’ last five games against the Jaguars.

And the New Orleans Saints are listed as seven-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers with a 48-point total in a late Sunday betting matchup. The Panthers and QB Cam Newton are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six tries against the NFC South rival Saints and also boast the NFL’s 28th-ranked passing attack while the Saints are fifth through the air (each team’s pass defense is right in the middle of the rankings).

New Orleans and veteran QB Drew Brees are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against divisional opponents, as well as 5-0 SU in their last five home playoff games. The total has gone over in six of the Panthers’ last seven games against the Saints. The total has also gone over in five of the Saints’ last six games in the wild card round.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.