A ton of money changes hands in Las Vegas sportsbooks on NFL Sundays.
They have crack teams of number crunchers who are way better than me and you when it comes to guessing likely scores of NFL games.
Many sports fans have joked about a team kicking a late field goal to finish just under or over the betting line, as if the game was fixed or something. And, well, the game bettors play is kind of fixed, because those aforementioned number crunchers are so darn good at what they do.
It would be foolish for the fantasy football community to ignore these experts. We are better when we take the sums of many parts to form our opinions about players and situations, and Las Vegas betting odds need to be one of the primary parts of the equation.
Here are the projected scores using the current (early) over/under and betting odds for Week 3 of the 2015 NFL season:
Week 5 projected scores based on Las Vegas odds
|Thu Oct 8||Indianapolis Colts||23.25||Houston Texans||21.75||8:25 PM||45|
|Sun Oct 11||Buffalo Bills||23.75||Tennessee Titans||20.75||1:00 PM||44.5|
|Chicago Bears||17.5||Kansas City Chiefs||27||1:00 PM||44.5|
|Cleveland Browns||18.5||Baltimore Ravens||25||1:00 PM||43.5|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||19.5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22.5||1:00 PM||42|
|New Orleans Saints||22.25||Philadelphia Eagles||26.75||1:00 PM||49|
|Seattle Seahawks||20||Cincinnati Bengals||23||1:00 PM||43|
|St. Louis Rams||18.5||Green Bay Packers||27.5||1:00 PM||46|
|Washington Redskins||20.25||Atlanta Falcons||27.75||1:00 PM||48|
|Arizona Cardinals||23.25||Detroit Lions||20.75||4:05 PM||44|
|Denver Broncos||24||Oakland Raiders||19.5||4:25 PM||43.5|
|New England Patriots||29||Dallas Cowboys||20.5||4:25 PM||49.5|
|San Francisco 49ers||18||New York Giants||25||8:30 PM||43|
|Mon Oct 12||Pittsburgh Steelers||21.25||San Diego Chargers||24.25||8:30 PM||45.5|
Carolina, Miami, Minnesota and the New York Jets are on bye this week.
Surprisingly this week, the Kansas City Chiefs have the shortest odds to win, favored by 9.5 against the Chicago Bears. The Packers are also favored by a pretty large score — nine points — against the St. Louis Rams. The Patriots are just below them with an 8.5-point edge over the Dallas Cowboys. The Thursday night Colts-Texans game has the tightest betting line of the week, coming in at 1.5 in favor of the Colts. The Cardinals-Lions game is the only other one under a field goal (Cardinals, by 2.5).
That NE-DAL game also has the highest over/under of the week at 49.5. The Saints and Eagles are just half a point behind. The lowest under owner belongs to the Jaguars and Buccaneers, coming in at 42 points. There are two games with teams expected to score just one more point. The Seahawks vs. the Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants.
Despite five games with a spread of a touchdown or more and the return of the New England Patriots, the average over/under this week is a only a tenth of a point more than last week (45.2-45.1) and the average odds to win is exactly the same at -2.4.
That means we’ll have a handful of blowouts and a handful of really close games. As we’ve discussed in previous weeks, that means there could be some serious implications for our fantasy football lineups.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Chicago Bears — Huge favorite at home with an elite running back? You know what to do. Take all the Jamaal Charles and Chiefs defense shares in your cash games.
Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams — Unlike the Chiefs, I feel like we have to consider Aaron Rodgers and all parts of the passing game in this one, even though the Packers are huge favorites at home. When the Packers lead by a pile of points it’s because Rodgers and Co. got going early. That doesn’t mean Eddie Lacy and the Packers defense should be ignored.
New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys — The Patriots are the only blowout winner playing on the road. We know how to call this one: Play Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis until they stop scoring 50 points. But if it is a blowout, LeGarrette Blount could get a lot of work salting away the game late. There are some sneaky plays for the Cowboys, too, they’ll be playing from behind all game. Cole Beasley takes over the Edelman/Dion Lewis/Jarvis Landry role with Lance Dunbar‘s season ending injury so he could be a huge play in PPR. Terrence Williams is a garbage-time target as well.
There are five games expected to be decided by a field goal or less. While game scripts get thrown out in blowouts — a stud running back may get half his normal touches if he’s not a part of his team’s passing game and they’re behind by three touchdowns — teams in close games will use everything in their arsenal to win.
That means we shouldn’t have any special concerns beyond matchups and recent performance for players in the following games: Colts-Jaguars, Cardinals-Lions, Bills-Titans, Jaguars-Buccaneers, Seahawks-Bengals, Steelers-Chargers.
Next, let’s look at a list of teams ranked by projected score this week. A team that has a high projected score should have more fantasy points to go around on game day.
The Patriots return to the field and Las Vegas boosts them right to the top of the list. Difficult to ignore. Like I said above, as long as this offense is firing, keep starting their top players.
The No. 2 team, the Falcons, isn’t very surprising considering recent performance. Devonta Freeman likely won’t have another three touchdown game. He has seven touchdowns already. No Falcons running back has had six or more since 2012. The Redskins are a top-10 defense against the run, but they get crushed in the passing game. That’s music to Matt Ryan‘s and Julio Jones‘ ears. However, the Redskins have been ok against No. 1 wide receivers but have struggled against No. 2s. Maybe a big day for Leonard Hankerson incoming?
Not much of a surprise at the bottom of the list until you get to the Seahawks, who are projected to score just 20 points and lose on the road to the Cincinnati Bengals by three points. They went from being a top-5 scorer last week to a bottom seven scorer this week. This is also a pretty significant matchup because of how well the Bengals offense has been playing. We’ll probably want to avoid Andy Dalton and A.J. Green this week in our cash games.
|New England Patriots||29|
|Green Bay Packers||27.5|
|Kansas City Chiefs||27|
|New York Giants||25|
|San Diego Chargers||24.25|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22.5|
|New Orleans Saints||22.25|
|St. Louis Rams||18.5|
|San Francisco 49ers||18|