History says the Browns are the best NFL bet in Week 7

Life on the road is tough for NFL players. Private jets, plush hotels, endless room service, flocks of female fans… it all just sounds so terrible.

OK, maybe we’re not talking Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” here, but the rigors of the road have effected a number of NFL teams, which have started the schedule winless away from the comforts of home heading into Week 7. 

There are eight to be exact, and three of those squads sitting 0-3 SU or worse on the road are once again hitting the highway this Sunday: 0-4 Cleveland at Cincinnati, 0-3 San Diego at Atlanta, and 0-3 Indianapolis at Tennessee (Chicago fell to 0-4 with a loss at Green Bay Thursday).

Those three winless road teams are a combined 4-5-1 ATS away from home this season, which would be enough to sour most football bettors. However, there is a little sweet to balance out that bad taste.

Going back to 2011, NFL teams with a 0-3 SU record on the road are 22-11-1 ATS (9-24-1 SU) in their fourth road games of the schedule – covering 64 percent of the time. That bodes well for the Chargers +6 and Colts +3.

“But what about the 0-4 Browns?” you ask.

Rarely in this industry do you get a chance to say something positive about Cleveland (unless we’re talking Cavs or Indians), like Hillary Clinton struggling to say something nice about Donald Trump when prompted in the debate (His kids, I guess?). But thanks to an incredible long-running NFL betting trend, the Browns may just be the best bet on the board in Week 7 – if history has anything to say about it.

Teams starting the season 0-4 SU on the road are an astonishing 90-51-3 ATS (55-89 SU) in their fifth road game, covering at a 64 percent rate since 1985. And shrinking that sample size down to the past six NFL seasons, those 0-4 road teams are crushing the sportsbooks with a 16-6-1 ATS count, covering the spread at a 73 percent clip since 2011.

The Browns are getting 10.5 points on the road in Cincy and the Battle of Ohio has been kind to underdogs in past seasons, with pups posting a 13-4-1 ATS record in the last 18 meetings between these state foes.

If this road trend pays out again with Cleveland, NFL bettors should mark November 13 on their calendar: that’s when the Bears take their 0-4 road record to Tampa Bay in Week 10.

No Ben, but don’t break

It’s tough to recall a time in Ben Roethlisberger’s storied career when he wasn’t nursing some sort of ailment. The Steelers quarterback is the NFL’s version of “Super” Dave Osborne and has taken major punishment, which is one part shoddy offensive line and one part balls to stand in the pocket and take the hit.

Big Ben is once again sidelined in Week 7, out two to six weeks after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee in last week’s loss to the Dolphins that required surgery. That injury has shifted the Steelers from -1 to +7 when they host the Patriots Sunday. You Pittsburgh fans out there are undoubtedly upset but with Roethlisberger a frequent feature on the inactive list over the years, the Steelers know how to get the job done without No. 7 taking snaps.

Since 2005, the first season in which Roethlisberger was the full-time starter, he’s missed 18 regular season games. And in those 18 games, Pittsburgh has posted an 11-5-2 ATS record (10-8 SU), covering 69 percent of the time without its star quarterback in the lineup. And it’s not been the backup QB and the offense who pick up the slack (Landry Jones takes over Sunday), it’s that vaunted Steelers defense making the difference.

Without Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh averages just over 21 points for and only 16.7 points against versus an average spread of +0.472 points. That uptick in defense has also helped produce an 8-10 Over/Under mark in those games. Sunday’s total opened at 45.5 and is now up to 48 points.

London calling

The NFL takes to the rugby pitch when the Rams and Giants come to Twickenham Stadium in London Sunday (it’s a real place and not the spot where Harry Potter played Quidditch).

Favorites have been the profitable play when the NFL jumps the pond. The Jaguars beat the Colts 30-27 as 1-point chalk at Wembley Stadium back in Week 4, improving faves to 10-5 ATS all time in the International Series – 67 percent winners.

The cool angle this time around is that the game is being played at a rugby stadium and not on a soccer pitch, which is much harder, slicker and has shorter grass than a football/rugby field. Previous international games at Wembley have produced a 9-6 Over/Under count – 60 percent Overs – and an average combined score of 49.5 points on those fast tracks. But the softer and more sturdy Twickenham pitch could put the breaks on things. Sunday morning’s total is set at 44 points.

Mo’Minny, Mo’Money

The Vikings have a chance to eclipse the 2001-02 New England Patriots for the third longest ATS NFL winning streak, since 1985.

Minnesota has covered in 10 straight outings, going back to last season, putting them on par with the Cinderella Pats, who capped their ATS stretch with an upset over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI as 14-point underdogs.

If you started with a $100 wager on the Vikings back on December 10, 2015 at the standard -110 juice, and rolled your total returns over in each of those ATS wins you’d be up $64,306 heading into Week 7, where Minnesota is a 3-point road favorite at Philadelphia.

Next up on the list of all-time ATS winning streaks are the 1992-93 Chargers (13 ATS wins in a row) and the 1985-86 Patriots (14 ATS wins in a row).

Expert advice

It would seem that the new Dyson vacuum cleaner I received for my birthday isn’t the only thing that sucks hard in my house.

If
you’ve been following my weekly picks in this column each week, you
probably want to punch me in a face. Well, I want to punch me too. And
it’s not just those column picks sucking either. My bankroll is better
suited for dollar store shopping than making wagers and I’m 37th – the
same birthday I just celebrated – in my 40-man pick’em pool.

But instead of going all Fight Club office scene (“I am Jack’s smirking revenge”)
on my own ass, I reached out to some guys who do this shit for a
living, the Covers Experts, who offered up some tips on how to right the
ship and bust a bad, bad, betting slump.

Here’s what they had to say…

“My
slump buster advice is very simple: Take one day off. Get drunk or
stoned – your intoxicant of choice. Get it all out. Come back the next
day and get back to work. Sometimes, you have to take a break and do
something different for a day.”
– Teddy Covers

“There’s no
doubt that the NFL is the toughest sport to handicap consistently. For
myself, when I delve into a loss ATS it can be as simple as jumping on a
play when there was no true value. Find the value and the wins will
come.”
– Zack Cimini

“My best advice is to cut the
quantity of your plays in half and wait until you re-establish a new
winning rhythm. Like the teams themselves, handicapping goes in cycles.
Once you’re back on track you can start playing again with confidence.
Patience is truly a virtue during cold spells.”
– Marc Lawrence

“Stay
true to what you know. If you have had success in the past then you
will have success again in the future, so do not stray from your normal
techniques. A lot of the time, people abandon their betting strategies
and the next thing you know, they’re digging an even deeper hole. And
don’t chase.”
– Matt Fargo

So in short: Stay true. Cut
quantity. Find value. And, of course, take a day off to get bombed (you
can tell Teddy lives in Vegas. Can I crash on your couch?).

Thanks guys.

Sharps like…

Minnesota. You don’t have to be a wiseguy to see the Vikings are making money. Sharps have moved Minnesota from +1 to -3 at Philadelphia. Also drawing sharp money in Week 7 are Tennessee and Denver, according to Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology.

Biggest move…

Outside of the Patriots-Steelers spread shifting eight points, from Pittsburgh -1 to +7 due to Roethlisberger’s injury, the biggest line move on the Week 7 board was the Eagles opening as 1-point home chalk versus the Vikings, with that spread shifting to Minnesota -3 due to smart action.

Biggest sweat…

Due to that smart money on Minny, books are going to need the Eagles to come through at home to avoid taking a bath.

Banker game…

Texans-Broncos. “We will need to win a few of the early games (Sunday), or the Monday night game will be a big sweat, since both the pros and the public are on the Broncos,” says Simbal.

Injury to watch

Tyler Eifert, TE Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have missed Eifert like Saturday Night Live is going to miss Donald Trump’s presidential campaign come November 9. Cincinnati’s talented TE hasn’t played since undergoing offseason ankle surgery and then injuring his back in training on October 3, and it shows in the Bengals’ red-zone numbers.

Cincy has scored touchdowns in just 42 percent of its trips inside the 20-yard line (fifth lowest in the NFL) compared to a 65 percent TD red-zone rate last season (fifth best) when Eifert hauled in 13 touchdown catches.

Head coach Marvin Lewis gave classic coach speak when it came to Eifert’s status after he was limited in practice this week, telling reporters “I think he feels good about everything and we’ll see how we are with everybody else.”

Sooooo… is he playing or not coach? Keep an eye on Eifert’s status before kickoff.

We know how to pick’em

As we do about this time every week, we take the pick’em game (or the game with the shortest spread) and turn off the handicapping side of our brains in favor of a more primal instinct: bet on the team with the hottest cheerleaders.

There are a few options on the board in Week 7, but Washington at Detroit (-1) gets the nod simply to celebrate the fact that the Lions finally have an official cheerleading squad for the first time since 1972.

Sunday menu

With the London game on the sked, my 11-year-old son will be up and ready to watch football at 9:30 a.m. ET. And he’ll also be asking for breakfast, because he’s 11 and has a pre-teen appetite that would rival Vince Wilfork’s dietary habits. Whether it’s breakfast, brunch or dinner, this should fill anyone’s hollow leg (and it’s from the BBC! Bloody good!).

Easy (money) like Sunday morning

As mentioned above, my Sunday selections have served as the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique” to my bankroll all season, and that’s not a good thing. I’m 1-5 ATS, and hoping to turn that around given all that advice… I was given… Here goes:

I’m taking the Raiders +1.5 over Jacksonville. Yeah, Oakland got roughed up by Kansas City at home in Week 6 and has to travel all the way across the country for a 1 p.m. ET start. But this is Jack Del Rio’s revenge.

The former Jaguars coach was in Jacksonville for nine seasons before getting fired in 2011 and will feel right at home on the sidelines at EverBank Field. He’s made this Raiders team road tough, with a 3-0 SU/ATS mark away from home including a similar West-to-East trip when they beat Baltimore 28-27 as 3.5-point road pups in Week 4. You never want to look bad in front of your ex, so I expect the Silver and Black to give a little extra for their head coach this Sunday.

“It’s going to be exciting for him,” former Jacksonville and current Oakland safety Reggie Nelson told The Mercury News. “I’m pretty sure we’ll put on a show for him.”

Pick: Oakland +1.5

Song for Sunday

My Dallas Cowboys are on a bye week this Sunday, so I can rest comfortably and enjoy seven hours of NFL Red Zone. I don’t want to sound like a commercial, but if you’re a football bettor, fantasy player, DFS dude, or just suffering from NFL FOMO, there’s nothing better than Red Zone simply because you don’t miss a thing. And with that in mind, some guy’s from Boston have this is say…

Follow Covers’ Senior Managing Editor Jason Logan on Twitter @CoversJLo. Check out JLo’s Covers archivefor his latest features and columns.

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