The underdogs toppled the favorites 8-7-1, according to game-time spreads in a wacky and wonderful leadup to NFL Week Four.
With NFL Week Four odds showing heavy favorites for a select few and a Steelers-Titans game that is off the board at most NJ online sportsbooks due to COVID-19 concerns, it’s good to look back at the previous week for lessons learned.
So as Week Four of the NFL dawns, here is your Football Five.
1. Team sentiment vs. gambling reality
New Jersey online bettors are passionate about their local teams, but the reality isn’t so forgiving right now.
The New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets are a combined 0-6 against the spread through three weeks.
And no team has a win. It’s a combined zero for September for all three. Bettors will need to shelve sentiment and assess games strictly by numbers.
What do the lines say this week?
The Eagles get nearly a touchdown at DraftKings Sportsbook when they visit the San Francisco 49ers. The Giants receive almost two TDs when they invade the Los Angeles Rams.
And the Jets get less than a field goal in a Thursday home game against the Denver Broncos in which they have a reasonable chance to win. The Broncos are 0-3 as well.
2. Think over before under in NFL Week 4
Over-under bettors: The offense is up in the NFL over the past years. In fact, there were more points scored in the first two weeks of this year than in the first two of any of the last 50 years.
The average total per game through Week Two was 50, and it will rise slightly after Week Three. Fully half of the schedule — eight games — exceeded 50 points, and two more were at 49.
One major reason is receivers shaking loose for long touchdown passes. The receivers are ahead of the defenders right now. That led to some exciting shootouts.
For instance, the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys combined for 69 in a 38-31 Seattle victory. Seattle visits the Miami Dolphins this week and may be without injured star runner Chris Carson.
The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints supplied 67 in an excellent 37-30 shootout won by the Packers. Green Bay, 3-0, hosts the winless Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football in NFL Week Four.
And surprise, surprise, the Pack is the favorite with a total of 57.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
There were 56 points scored when the Chicago Bears eked out a 30-26 triumph over the Falcons. Chicago, 3-0, hosts the 2-1 Indianapolis Colts.
Bottom line, sportsbooks like offensive explosions, which bring more special bets. They include yardage totals and the score-and-win concept of a player to notch a TD and his team to win.
3. Betting bust: Atlanta Falcons fumble basic football
The Atlanta Falcons remain the hard-luck team of the NFL. Or maybe hard-headed.
The loss to the Bears gave them two straight weeks of having a 98%-win probability in the fourth quarter and losing, according to NextGen stats. They have scored 90 points in three weeks but are winless.
Atrocious play-calling helped them blow a 26-10 lead with 10 minutes remaining Sunday.
Atlanta had three possessions to work some clock. But veteran quarterback Matt Ryan threw deep incomplete passes that stopped the clock. Atlanta did not secure a single first down when it had the ball and leads of 26-10, 26-16 and 26-23.
How do you score 26 points and then not register a single first down in the fourth quarter?
Even if Ryan had run the ball three times in those third-down situations, he would have burned two more minutes of time and at least denied Chicago one possession.
Atlanta also missed an extra point and a field goal. This team has forgotten how to win, which may soon cost coach Dan Quinn his job.
It will be tough to bet the Falcons with confidence in the short term. Think about that before you finalize your bet slip in Week Four.
4. Betting trust? Bengals are 3-0 vs. the number
We talked about new quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert last week.
While Herbert scuffled and his Los Angeles Chargers lost to the Carolina Panthers as six-point favorites, Burrow delivered again for Cincinnati.
Burrow passed another test, guiding his team to a 23-23 tie against the Eagles as six-point dogs. The number was pounded to +4.5 by game time amid Cincinnati betting support.
The winless Bengals are 3-0 against the spread but may be a secret no more. They are “rewarded” with a tougher number this week. They opened as a -3 favorite for the first time this year in hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A favored winless team against a team that has a victory? Go figure.
5. First really bad call of the year
Will the Rams be angry this week against the Giants? They should be after being flagged for a highly questionable pass interference call after seemingly stopping the Buffalo Bills’ last-ditch pass to the end zone.
Without a penalty, the game would have ended in a Rams victory, after they rallied from a 28-3 deficit.
With the penalty, Buffalo got the first down and a game winner with just seconds to go in the game.
As we head into NFL Week Four, be careful about the bad calls that could change a game — and flip the script.
AP Photo/Zach Bolinger