Last week in this space, I talked about Bills was the smart play.or longer won outright (1995), and explained while that wouldn't happen in Week 3's Bills-Vikings matchup, taking the points with the
So consider my advice half-right.
This week, I wanted to reiterate some adviceabout home underdogs.
Home underdogs have a .500 record against the spread not just last year, but over the past five years combined. And the 10-year record actually favors road favorites, though at such a small percentage that you can consider it even as well. Note that leaning toward a team just because they're a home underdog isn't backed up by the numbers, nor is there value in taking the other side of that equation.
It typically takes a really good team facing a really bad team to see a team as three-point underdogs or higher. If you calculate three points of home-field advantage for both teams, a road favorite of three points would be a home favorite of nine points in the same matchup. So when thinking about whether you want to take a home 'dog, add six to the line and consider whether you'd take it if they were on the road. If not, it probably deserves to be a stayaway for you.
This is the perfect time to consider home 'dog strategy, as four games feature home 'dogs of at least three points:
On one hand, the Seahawks haven't played nearly well enough to be nine-point favorites at home against anyone. The Bills are 9.5-point 'dogs in Green Bay this week, and if you think the Cardinals and Bills are just about even, that means the Packers and Seahawks should be just about even. But I think there's a noticeable gap between those two teams while Aaron Rodgers is on the field, as hobbled as he may be.
On the other hand, this is Josh Rosen's first start, and he didn't really show anything in his brief appearance last week that would make you think he was the missing piece for this offense to get going. It's tough to feel comfortable taking either side in this matchup.
This implies the line would be Saints -9.5 in New Orleans. Does that check out with you knowing what we do about how bad the New Orleans defense has played this year? They were similar favorites the first two weeks of the season, losing outright to the Bucs and barely beating the Browns. The Giants have a better offense than that Browns team, even if it's not at the level of the Bucs.
That's one reason to go against the Saints here, but the fact that this game is outdoors isn't one. The Saints are 9-3 ATS in outdoors games over the last two years, and they scored at least 20 points in all six outdoors games last year. So don't consider them an autofade in this situation just because the game is outdoors.
The Eagles offense isn't exactly humming on all cylinders, though getting Alshon Jeffery back this week, which is expected to happen, will help. Would you feel comfortable laying 10 points with this team at home right now, even against a stagnant Titans offense?
The Titans defense is also capable of keeping them in this matchup, as they've shown by giving up just four offensive touchdowns in their first three games. In my view, you either have to play the home 'dog or stay away here.
Finally, we come to the NFL's unstoppable offense, headed by Patrick Mahomes, who has thrown 13 TDs and no interceptions in his first three games. The Broncos have one of the best home-field advantages in football, so this is a massive line to ask the Chiefs to cover.
But if there's one team capable, maybe it's them. In the same ATS trends piece I wrote this preseason about home 'dogs, I noted the Chiefs had an NFL-best 27-16 ATS record on the road in the previous five seasons. And they added two more wins to that total in the first two weeks of this year.
You know the public will be on the Chiefs offense to keep rolling. Where will you stand?
If you want to know which sides I like this week, you can find that info at the SportsLine link below, where all my rated plays appear during the season along with my five SuperContest picks each week and plenty of great analysis from a fantastic collection of experts. You can also check out where all our CBS Sports staff lands on each game each week right here.
Each week in this space, I'm going to go behind the lines and picks to bring you a bit of a deeper dive into what you should know before locking in your plays. That includes which lines are on the move, which home-field advantages aren't getting enough credit, which injuries you should be monitoring, my top teaser play of the week and plenty more.
Let's get to it.
Over at SportsLine, I have a pick live for the Thursday night game between the Vikings and Rams as well as six more for the weekend, and I'll have several more for you by Friday night. Join now and use promo code WHITE for $1 on your first month and you can get mine and every SportsLine expert's picks throughout the year, as well as my SuperContest picks each Saturday.
However, you can get one free pick with my teaser of the week at the end of this article. Enjoy!
Biggest line moves
The Packers were 14-point favorites against the Bills on the lookahead line, but that was before Buffalo went to Minnesota () and came out with an improbable win. That caused the game to re-open at Packers -10.5, and it was quickly bet down to Packers -10 before moving to Packers -9.5 by Wednesday night. Do the Bills have another shocking performance in them? If Aaron Rodgers plays 60 minutes, I doubt it.
The public was not impressed with the Jaguars' showing against the Titans last week, dropping them from 9.5-point favorites on the lookahead line to Jaguars -9 on Sunday night to Jaguars -7.5 by Monday afternoon. Will Jacksonville have similar trouble against a rookie QB in Sam Darnold who has faded after an excellent debut on Monday night in Week 1?
The Raiders were three-point favorites on the lookahead line, but the expectation of Baker Mayfield being under center and the Browns coming off a win caused the books to re-open the line as a pick 'em. The sharps didn't agree with the massive move, quickly betting the Raiders up to two-point favorites before the line settled around Raiders -2.5 on Monday.
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Home-field edges to know
Bills at Packers -9.5
Chiefs -5 at Broncos
The Packers are one of the teams that get a four-point home-field advantage in my calculations, and combined with the line re-opening at a greatly reduced price, this implies that there is a 5.5-point gap between these teams on a neutral field. I actually have the Bills rated as six points worse than an average team this week after having them at negative-7 a week ago. So if you think the Packers are an average team or better, they make for a fine value play, even laying all those points.
The Broncos also own a four-point home-field advantage, though I'm not sure they have that good of a team this year. Will they be able to hang with a strong road team in the Chiefs that appears to be able to score at will? If you made this line nine points on a neutral field, which is what this implies, I'd have a hard time fading the Chiefs.
I have the Cowboys with the worst home-field advantage in football thanks to their performance at home versus on the road in recent years. They were able to defy that trend in Week 2 with a relatively easy win over the Giants. Will they have similar success this week? You have to figure the Lions are spent emotionally after getting a massive win over the Patriots for their new head coach, so it's not exactly a great play-on spot for them either.
Injuries to watch
If Marcus Peters can't go on Thursday night, which seems likely despite being listed as questionable, the Rams will be down their top two corners against a team with two elite receivers that figures to be on a rampage after getting embarrassed by the Bills last week. That's not an enviable spot to be in. Expect late action on the Vikings in that matchup.
A.J. Green managed a limited practice on Wednesday while dealing with a pelvis injury, and his presence would be another reason to take Cincinnati against a depleted Falcons defense. If the team can get Joe Mixon and Billy Price back in time for this game, even better.
Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery has been cleared for contact and practiced in full on Wednesday, and his return would give a jolt to an ailing receivers room in Philadelphia. For their part, the Titans could have right tackle Jack Conklin on the field for the first time this year as well.
The Seahawks have a chance to have top target Doug Baldwin back this week as well after he managed a limited practice on Friday. Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald was held out of practice on Wednesday. Both play critical roles for their teams, so the availability of both is a big deal in this matchup with the line sitting on three.
Fading the public
Bengals at Falcons -5.5
Browns at Raiders -2.5
If 80 percent of the action or more is on one side of a line, you want to be thinking about taking the other side, a practice commonly known as fading the public. If the consensus thinks it has a game figured out, that should be flashing warning signs for you. (All betting trends data from BetOnline via Vegas Insider.)
The public is all over the Bengals at the large number, with 86 percent of the tickets on the road team as of Wednesday night. I imagine that's in large part to the Falcons' injury issues on defense. However, note that this is the Bengals' second straight road game, while the Falcons are playing a third straight at home. Maybe the large travel imbalance is playing a part in the oddsmakers' line.
The winless Raiders are right on the line, getting 80 percent of the tickets in their matchup with the not-winless Browns. That matches with the massive line move we've seen in this game as mentioned above. It feels like the sharps are going to love playing back the Browns if they can get them at +3 or better.
Lines I'd move
Vikings at Rams -7
Texans at Colts -1
Chiefs -5 at Broncos
The Rams have looked unstoppable against some questionable competition, but even though they have to go on the road for a Thursday game, the Vikings have a great spot in this matchup and should bring their A-game after a humiliating loss. With the Rams dealing with corner injuries, I think a line of Rams -4 is more fair.
The Colts have looked pretty good over the first three weeks and aren't that far away from being 3-0. The Texans have looked terrible, most recently getting trounced at home by a bad Giants team. I see no reason this shouldn't be Colts -3, other than the fact that Indy doesn't have that strong of a home-field advantage. That doesn't mean I necessarily think the Colts are the right side -- Houston can't be this bad, can they?
As for the Chiefs, I'm willing to give them a slight bump for their outstanding offense, but even with that I don't think the line should be more than Chiefs -3 in Denver. If I was booking the line, I'd be happy keeping it at Chiefs -4 and letting the public load up on the road team, since I think there's already good value with Denver at that number.
Teaser of the Week
Patriots -0.5 vs. Dolphins
Packers -3.5 vs. Bills
The Dolphins are better than people realize, but if we can get the Patriots to just win when they've lost their last two games and should be treating this game as a must-win in this division, we have to take it. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick roll at home after two straight losses on the road.
When teasing, I typically want to go through three when bringing down a big favorite, but there's just too much value on the Packers here to pass this up. I can't see the Bills competing a second straight week, and with the Packers having a better than average home-field advantage, our teaser number just needs them to be better than the Bills on a neutral field. No question they are.
If you're scared of either of these legs of the teaser, I also like taking the Jaguars down to -1.5 at home against a rookie QB, the Browns up to +8.5 against a Raiders team that can't close, and the Giants up to +9.5 against a Saints team that can't stop anyone.