Last week in the NFL was a great opportunity for a play on the "under" when it came to betting the total line, with nine of the 15 games staying under BetOnline's closing NFL betting odds. I was once again below .500 with my top three picks on the total line with a 1-2 record on the day after biting on the "over" in the New York Giants at Buffalo game.
Going back to the drawing board after a less than stellar start to the season, I have a newfound confidence in a trio of picks for this Sunday's games that are sure to be the first step towards turning things around. The following is a quick look at my "over/under" picks for Week 5 of the 2015 NFL regular season based on betting odds by BetOnline.
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Sunday, Oct. 11
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tampa Bay (1 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 42
The Jaguars are off to a predictable 1-3 start behind an offense that is ranked 31st in the NFL in scoring with an average of 15.5 points a game, but I was impressed with last week's defensive effort in tight 16-13 loss to Indianapolis. Granted, the Colts were without quarterback Andrew Luck, but Jacksonville still did a good job keeping them out of the end zone. This unit has been especially tough to run against all season long.
Tampa Bay is off to a 1-3 start behind rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, and it is also ranked well down the list in scoring with just 18 points a game. Despite the slow start, there are a few positive takeaways with the Buccaneers' defense as well. They have given up their fair share of points, but this unit has been tough to throw against, and it is ranked ninth the league in total yards allowed (322.2).
The total for this game first opened at 42, and it has held steady on BetOnline's current board. We know that both teams have had major issues putting points on the board. And given the fact that the total has stayed under in five of Tampa Bay's last seven home games, I am going that way again in this matchup.
Game Pick: UNDER
Seattle Seahawks at Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. FOX)
Total Line: 43
The Seahawks continue to turn things around from a surprising 0-2 start, but their last two wins have come on the shoulders of their defense. After shutting out Chicago in Week 3, this unit put the clamps on Detroit in Monday night's 13-10 win. Through four games, Seattle is averaging 21.8 points a game on offense while holding opponents to 17.8 points. A key injury to stay on top of for Sunday is the health of Marshawn Lynch after he missed his last start with a bad hamstring.
The Bengals have vaulted to the top of the AFC North with an impressive 4-0 start. And while the offense has gotten it done with an average of 30.2 points a game, this is another team that has relied heavily on its defense for its early success. Cincinnati has been tough to run against, which helps negate one of Seattle's top strengths, and it has also been tough to score against with a points allowed average of just 19.2 points a game.
When the total for this inter-conference clash was first released it was set at 44.5, but the early money coming in has driven it down to 43. I am going to have to follow the betting public in this one as I still think this number is high enough for a solid play on the under. While these two teams do not face one another all that often, the total has stayed under in four of the last six meetings.
Game Pick: UNDER
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 44
I went with the over on a closing line of 46.5 in Buffalo's 24-10 loss to the New York Giants last Sunday and paid the price, but I cannot see this offense being held in check this week against Tennessee. The Bills were able to score an average of 33.3 points in their first three games against Indianapolis, New England and Miami behind a solid effort by quarterback Tyrod Taylor with both his arm and his legs. Rookie Karlos Williams has also looked good running the ball with 226 yards on 42 carries.
The Titans had a bye last week following a 1-2 start. It was no big surprise that their defense gave up an average of 25.7 points a game during that stretch, but you have to be a bit surprised that Tennessee's offense, with rookie Marcus Mariota at the helm, put up an average of 29.7 points a game . He has shown some flashes of brilliance with 833 passing yards and eight touchdown throws, and Kendall Wright is off to a hot start with 13 receptions for 213 yards and two of those scores.
The opening betting odds for the total in this game were set at 42.5 and have actually come down a bit to 42. I am expecting a fast track this Sunday at LP Field in what I see as a high-scoring affair in the face of two inconsistent defenses. The total has gone over in four of the last five games between these two, and I am banking on it going over again this time around.
Game Pick: OVER
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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