At last glance, three-quarters of the betting public was erring on the side of Brees, despite the fact that the Saints have a 1-4 record overall, an 0-2 record at home, and a defense that has allowed an average of 172.8 rushing yards per game at a 5.0 yards-per-carry clip. While your intuition might tell you that the Saints are not as bad as they have played, and that Brees is still a Top 5 quarterback, and that New Orleans can't help but be helped by coming off a bye, Vegas knows all about your intuition, and when it set that line at 1.5, it knew full well what your reaction would be.
Me? I'm staying away from the Saints. In fact, I'm taking the Bucs. The last time these two teams played at Raymond James Stadium, Brees was the quarterback and Sean Payton was the coach and the Bucs were the winner. This was October of last season, the last time Tampa Bay would win a game in the Raheem Morris era.
Two other games that make me leery? The Packers (-5.5) in St. Louis, and the Cowboys (-2.0) in Carolina. I'm not a believer in Cam Newton, and you can count on one hand the defenses that are less talented than the Panthers. So you won't find me putting any money on them. But I'm also not going to let Vegas trick me into taking the Cowboys. At least I hope I'm not. It's only Friday.
Betting against your intuition is not a lot of fun, because it usually involves betting on inferior teams. I'm taking the Titans (+3.5) in Buffalo this week, but I'm not going to like it. I'll reassure myself by looking at the 5.8 yards per carry that the Bills defense is allowing, and by reminding myself that the Titans are probably going to finish the season with more than two wins, and by looking at a picture of Chan Gailey at random intervals throughout the afternoon. But I'm not going to enjoy it until I see zeroes on the clock and I hear the announcers talk about the future that awaits the Buffalo coaching staff during the bye week.
Same goes for betting on the Browns, who are getting between 3 and 3.5 points in Indianapolis against a rookie quarterback who I unabashedly proclaimed to be better than half of the league's starters before he even took a regular-season snap. In this case, my solace comes in the knowledge that the Colts can win by a field goal and still not cover. But again, the Browns are an uncertainty to which I am entirely averse.
Truth is, I'm not a huge fan of this week's lines. I like the Giants because I like their speed on the edges against Robert Griffin III, and I think that the Redskins joined the ranks of the overvalued after last week's win against the Vikings. I am hesitant to embrace the Giants because I don't like giving up 6.5 points in an NFC East, and because whenever the national punditry begins talking about them as the best team in the league, it usually signals a four-game losing streak. I have similar feelings about the Patriots (-10.5) against the Jets. The only quarterback I enjoy betting against more than Mark Sanchez happens to be Mark Sanchez' backup, and few coaches smell blood in the water better than Bill Belichick. The Patriots aren't as good as they used to be, but they are definitively better than the Jets, so I'll make a rare exception and spot the Tebows a double-digit spread.
Betting Big Red
The one guarantee I can make is that the Eagles will not lose this week. Although I did have to check the schedule five times before I typed that sentence.
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