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BETTING: Straight Up Money Line – Week 1

Welcome to STRAIGHT UP MONEY LINE. Your weekly column for betting games against the money line each week. Betting the money line is a simple and fun way to introduce yourself to the world of gambling in the NFL. Here is an example of how to bet the money line.

Let’s say the game you are interested in betting is Pittsburgh vs. New England. The line in the Sportsbook would look something like this:

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots (-200)

You want to train yourself to think of betting everything in terms of $100. When you see the negative symbol next to a team, that symbol is representing that team as the favorite. So, since the Patriots are the perceived favorites in this example you would have to bet $200 in order to win $100. It’s the reverse if you wanted to bet on the perceived underdog, Pittsburgh. Taking that same $100, you would stand to win $200 on a bet of only $100 by choosing the underdog. Pretty simple right?

Now, since I’m such a nice guy, not only do I give you all of my crème de la crème picks for each week, I also throw in a bonus gift called the STONE COLD LOCK. This is the team that I feel has the best chance to win each week for all of you that participate in Last Man Standing and Survivor pools.

This game is played with a single entry buy-in. We will use $50 as the example here. Most of these pools require you to choose one team to win each week. If you do win you move onto the next week and the cycle then repeats. The catch is you can’t pick the same team you already won with again. The more weeks you win the less teams you have at your disposal to choose from each week.

What makes this style of gambling fun is you are playing against a large number of people. Many pools like this can have as little as 10 players or be as big as 10,000 players. Using our $50 buy-in example, if you’re in a pool with 100 entries the pot size is a whopping $5,000 dollars ($50 x 100 entries) with all the money going to, you guessed it, the last man standing or the survivor. Again, pretty simple right?

There are lots of great games on tap for Week 1. So, let’s not waste any more time, let’s start betting the 2019 season.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Money Line: Chicago -170 | Green Bay +150

Last season gave rise once again to the famous Monsters of the Midway defense in the windy city. Reigniting the Black and Blue division and the long storied rivalry between these two historic franchises. In 2018, the two teams split their season series, with each holding serve on their home fields. I see no reason to believe this will be any different in 2019. I expect this game will come down to the wire and be decided by one or two big plays in the fourth quarter. I’ll take the Bears offense to score just enough, while putting the game on the backs of the defense to stifle Aaron Rodgers and the potent Packers offense.

Chicago 20 – Green Bay 17. Bet the favorite; take Chicago -170.

Los Angeles Rams (-150) at Carolina Panthers

Money Line: Los Angeles -145 | Carolina +125

Last year’s NFC Champions (L.A. Rams) take a trip across the country to tango with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The Rams lost a few players along the offensive line this offseason but still employ one of the greatest offensive minds in the game in head coach Sean McVay. Carolina counters the Rams with maybe the greatest offensive duel threat quarterback and running back in Newton and Christian McCaffery. I have a feeling this game is going to be really close. In close games I tend to lean towards the home team, so I won’t budge from that philosophy here. This game will most assuredly come down to the final drive, but that doesn’t scare me. However, I’ll take the underdog Panthers and the extra coin in a tightly contested battle.

Carolina 29 – L.A. Rams 27. Bet the dog; take Carolina +125.

Atlanta Falcons  at Minnesota Vikings

Money Line: Minnesota -200 | Atlanta +170

Two teams that I firmly expect to be playoff contenders when the regular season finishes, go head-to-head in a tasty Week 1 matchup. Both offenses have firepower all over the field including quarterbacks who could by vying for league MVP honors when the dust settles. However, in games that feature such extraordinary offensive talent, I often look to differentiate who is going to win based on who has the upper hand on defense, because usually the game swings in favor of the better defensive team in the second half. In this case, it’s the Vikings who seem to have the decided edge in that department. For that reason, I’ll take the favored Vikings on the backs of the crazy crowd noise and the better defense in this one.

Minnesota 24 – Atlanta 17. Bet the favorite; take Minnesota -200.


Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns

Money Line: Cleveland -245 | Tennessee +185

Don’t look now, but the Browns are ready to shock the world this season. When picking a winner, a lot of times it’s as simple as choosing the best quarterback on the field and this matchup just happens to be one of those times. Baker Mayfield is a budding star in this league and he has intentions to be even more than that. Factoring into this equation is that the Titans are without Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan for the first four weeks of the year. If the preseason has shown us anything up until this point, it’s that the Titans are having trouble protecting quarterback Marcus Mariota. Expect the defensive front four of the Browns led by Myles Garrett to get the ball back to Mayfield a few extra times in this one. I know that the -245 line is a bit rich to put on Cleveland, but like I said, they’re here to shock the world in 2019. They’ll make short work of the Titans in their home opener.

Cleveland 30 – Tennessee 17. Bet the favorite; take Cleveland -245.


Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins


Money Line: Baltimore -235 | Miami +195

Miami is looking to mail it in this season. Miami is a team that will essentially be going through the motions all year long. Normally, I reserve my STONE COLD LOCK for teams playing at home, but in this case I’m making this exception against my own rule. In all actuality, I will probably be picking against the Miami Dolphins a lot more this year for Survivor purposes. This game is fairly simple to call. Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore defense will be just too much for the team from South Beach to handle. The Ravens will win this one going away on the road. Put up the extra coin for a solid return.

Baltimore 26 – Miami 6. Bet the favorite; take Baltimore -235.

About Justin Smithey

The common man with uncommon fantasy takes. California raised, Texas approved. Avid reader, golfer, gambler, and father.