It's easy to overthink picking against point spreads. Through the first month of the season there's been a lot of focus here on teams in seemingly good situations, but perhaps not enough consideration of the simple quality and reliability of the players involved.
This week it's back to the basics, with an emphasis on what could be called sports betting's holy trinity: getting teams that are good enough, in spots that are good enough, at prices that are good enough.
Patriots/Browns Over 46.5
The wrath of Tom Brady is about to be unleashed on the NFL. The hapless Browns can do little to stop it, and in this spot the Patriots can be expected to keep the pedal to the metal for all 60 minutes. It's hard not to see New England scoring more than 30 points.
While Cleveland comes in winless, the offense isn't the culprit. With offensive guru Hue Jackson at the helm the Browns have scored 20+ points three weeks in a row, and they don't necessarily have to get there this Sunday for the game to go over the total.
The Patriots may or may not cover the double-digit point spread, but winning the game and getting the offense rolling on the day Brady returns will be enough to bring peace of mind to New England.
Teaser: Steelers -1.5 vs. Jets, Bills +8 at Rams
With Le'Veon Bell back in the fold as both a rushing and pass-catching threat, the Steelers are well equipped to exploit the glaring weakness that is New York's secondary. But they don't have to completely ground the Jets. Teasing the superior team at home down through the key numbers of 7 and 3 is essentially just asking them to win outright.
In the second leg of the teaser, a low total in L.A. and two teams content to play ugly makes for a low-variance game between the Bills and Rams. While predicting the winner is a toss-up, the odds are long of either team separating itself by much of a margin.
With the teams, situations, and price points involved here, it's time to get to work.
Pick of the Week: Lions +3.5 vs. Eagles
As much as Carson Wentz and the Eagles have done to prove their legitimacy, this game all boils down to line value. The Lions are too good at home to be getting this many points from Philadelphia.
For comparison's sake, in Week 1 the Eagles were 4-point favorites vs. the Browns. Accounting for home-field advantage, that implies Cleveland is better than Detroit.
Using a common opponent, Philadelphia was a 3-point underdog at Chicago in Week 2. This implies the Bears are almost a touchdown better than the Lions, despite the fact Detroit was favored by a field goal at Chicago just last week.
Lastly, last week's look-ahead line had the Lions favored in this contest. The outcomes of the aforementioned games are absolutely meaningful and help to explain the market support for the Eagles, but also meaningful are the lines that had been set by some of the sharpest minds in the world.
In a make-or-break home game for Detroit, it's fair to anticipate high fives all around for the Lions.
Last week: 0-3
Picks of the Week: 1-3