One thing we haven’t discussed in this column is the concept of public teams and the Public Team Tax. Public teams are teams with national followings and fans that like to bet on them. We’re talking about the likes of Dallas, Green Bay, New England, and Pittsburgh. As we’ve discussed previously, the books aren’t trying to predict a spread. They’re trying to get equal money on either side. Since they know they will get money from the fans of public teams, they will frequently add a Public Team Tax to the line of these public teams as an early hedge on that money coming in.
I think we’re seeing an example of this in the Dallas/Minnesota game this week. The Cowboys are playing their second straight road game against a team with a chance at a home-field advantage and is coming off probably the best win of the year. Yet, somehow they’re road favorites. There are reasons to think Dallas could win this game, but it’s a stretch to have them as favorites. That’s the Public Team Tax in action and one of the many spreads we’ll be discussing for Week 11.
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I’m going to euphemistically refer to Week 10 as a consolidation week. After a couple of hot weeks, we gave back a lot of our gains. ELO stayed hot with a 5 – 2. Brutal week for the Best Bets.
Last week: My picks, 3 – 4; Analytics, 5 – 2; Best Bets, 1 – 4
Houston at New York Giants – “they should be closer to a touchdown favorite coming off the bye.”
And they won by a touchdown, off to a good start.
Seattle at Tampa Bay (at Germany) – “Tampa hasn’t shown they deserve to be favorites over a team with a winning record.”
I’ll own this one. I didn’t think the three-time zone difference in travel time for Seattle would make that big a difference for what’s already a ~10-hour flight time, but the Seahawks’ very slow start in this game makes me think it was.
Jacksonville at Kansas City – “we’re going to trust the KC’s not a good cover team process.”
Missed the cover by a point. Would have been an ideal candidate to tease this line through 10.
Cleveland at Miami – “Miami’s a sneaky home Under team. … I think the Browns keep this one close.”
Miami almost took care of the Over by themselves. Just a bad call all around.
New Orleans at Pittsburgh – “This line makes so little sense to me that it feels inevitable, but I’ll take the bait.”
Correctly called a game that Vegas had the wrong favorite on. Always an accomplishment. Pittsburgh Money Line was the only Best Bet that hit.
Dallas at Green Bay – “The only thing the Packers have going for them this week is the Aaron Rodgers revenge narrative against Mike McCarthy….”
…and the Christian Watson breakout game. Which also killed the Best Bet Under.
Arizona at Los Angeles Rams – “Luckily, this falls under the two bad teams template. Take the points.”
I still have no idea how a game with two backup QBs goes over, but we did cover the line.
Other Best Bets: Las Vegas (-4) – “Seriously, if you can’t whip a team led by Head Coach Jeff Saturday and Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, you’re beyond hope, and it’s time to pack it in.”
To be fair, we didn’t know it wouldn’t be Sam Ehlinger until game time, but still. So it’s goodnight time for the team from Sin City.
Season: My picks, 26 – 36 – 2; Analytics 31 – 31 – 1; Best Bets, 11 – 15 – 1
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NFL Week 11 Lines
(Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games are those with a multiple-point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines.)
Game of the Week
Philadelphia at Indianapolis – Analytic Line: IND (+1.5), Vegas Line: IND (+7), PL: IND (+6.5)
This week’s biggest variance between Vegas & ELO is a whopping 5.5 for the Eagles and Colts. It is a short week road game for Philly, but I’m not seeing how ELO has this as a 1.5-point spread. Congrats to Jeff Saturday for winning his debut, but they don’t get to play the Raiders this week. This is a Dick Fosbury-level high jump-up in class. Six of Philly’s eight wins have been by more than seven, so I’m comfortable laying the touchdown.
Pick: Philadelphia (-7)
Make It A Parlay
Cleveland at Buffalo (at Detroit) – Analytic Line: BUF (-11), Vegas Line: BUF (-7.5), PL: BUF (-9.5)
They’re moving this game to Detroit because of the Buffalo blizzard. Late word is the Bills haven’t even traveled yet and don’t know how they’re going to get the players from their homes to the airport. They certainly couldn’t practice this week, so it’s almost like a travel Thursday game, just with extra rest. Bottom line: this is a chaotic game, and there’s no way I’m actually laying money on it, but in the interest of this column, I’m treating it like a “Two Bad Teams” game – take the points.
Pick: Cleveland (+7.5)
Chicago at Atlanta – Analytic Line: Pick ‘Em, Vegas Line: ATL (-3), PL: ATL (-2.5)
Line-wise, I’m taking the points in this game. These are most definitely Two Bad Teams. I’m interested in the total, though. Since the Monday Night New England QB debacle, the Bears D has given up 115 points in their last three games.
Pick: Chicago (+3); Best Bet: Over (49.5)
Detroit at New York Giants – Analytic Line: NYG (-6), Vegas Line: NYG (-3), PL: NYG (-6)
Hard as it is to believe, Detroit’s won two in a row, which is probably why this line feels so short. However, I’m not buying it. Those two wins were against bad teams, and this is back-to-back road games for the Lions.
Pick: New York Giants (-3)
Carolina at Baltimore – Analytic Line: BAL (-10.5), Vegas Line: BAL (-13), PL: BAL (-11)
If there’s anything we need to have learned from this year, it’s to run far away from double-digit favorites. I don’t like backing Baker Mayfield any more than anyone else does, but trends are trends.
Pick: Carolina (+13)
Dallas at Minnesota – Analytic Line: MIN (-1), Vegas Line: MIN (+1.5), PL: MIN (-2.5)
Dallas Public Team Tax or Minnesota Let Down Game? Those are the only two explanations for the Cowboys being favored here. This is back-to-back road games for Dallas, and, at this point, I’m comfortable taking Kevin O’Connell over Mike McCarthy, so the fundamentals say Minnesota.
Pick: Minnesota (+1.5)
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh – Analytic Line: PIT (+5.5), Vegas Line: PIT (+3.5), PL: PIT (+4.5)
A rematch of the Week 1 game where Joe Burrow threw forty-six interceptions (hyperbole alert) en route to a Steelers upset win. I’m betting against that happening again with the Bengals coming off a bye.
Pick: Cincinnati (-3.5)
San Francisco at Arizona – Analytic Line: ARI (+5.5), Vegas Line: ARI (+8), PL: ARI (+7.5)
I can’t tell you how much I despise taking a Kliff Kingsbury team, potentially with Colt McCoy at QB, but it’s a Monday Night home dog and a division game. I can’t go against that. Plus, it’s Jimmy G. laying 8. Taking that is just as ugly as backing the Cards. I’m actively holding my nose, but…
Pick: Arizona (+8)
Other Best Bets: Denver Money Line (-145)
One of Vegas’ two wins is against Denver. But, unfortunately, they’re not good enough to A.) sweep anyone or B.) win at altitude.