Sharps and squares, dogs and chalk, overs and unders and middles. The terminology overheard in a sportsbook can intimidate a novice, but it doesn't have to. Like a craps table, much of the jargon is just for show and better off ignored, with a few keywords worth understanding and putting to good use.
"Teaser" is one such term. A teaser is a wager on two or more teams in which the point spread on each team is adjusted in the player's favor; to make it worthwhile for the book, all selections must be correct in order to win. With some basic strategy, teasers can be the most beatable options on the board.
Putting this into practice, the pick of the week is what may go down as the most alluring teaser all season. First, as usual, a couple of conventional point-spread tickets are in play as well.
Tampa Bay +3.5 at Washington
Bad teams off bye weeks often come out rejuvenated, jumping at the opportunity to show marked improvement in game action after ample time to work on their many flaws in practice. On the other hand, teams heading into bye weeks tend to come out flat, with one foot out the door in anticipation of a coveted in-season mini-vacation. With the Bucs fresh off their Week 6 interlude and Washington approaching its Week 8 respite, both of these elements apply to this matchup.
Speaking of the matchup, Jameis Winston will amazingly take the field as the higher-rated QB by virtue of his No. 30 ranking, as Kirk Cousins has managed to check in behind him in the 32-team league. With perhaps the lesser of two liabilities leading its offense, Tampa Bay should excel in the passing game by exploiting injuries to both of Washington's starting cornerbacks, leaving undersized backups to line up against the Bucs' skilled and big-bodied receivers.
If Cousins can't counter Tampa Bay's presumptive passing success, he'll be in danger of losing his starting spot to Robert Griffin III coming out of the bye week. After his team gave up more than twice as many yards per play as it gained both passing and rushing last week, Cousins apologist Jay Gruden may be on his way out as head coach as well.
A win for Washington won't be easy to come by, and for a couple of key cogs, a poor effort could spell a long walk home.
Kansas City -2.5 vs. Pittsburgh
This is largely a play against Landry Jones, whose impressive stats from last week don't reflect his true ability. There's a reason he sat behind Mike Vick on the depth chart and still doesn't inspire confidence in many astute Steelers fans.
Aside from injury woes at the most important position in sports, Pittsburgh has been a juggernaut. This week, though, finds them in a big-time lookahead spot. The Steelers are 2-15 against the spread in their last 17 games the week before playing the AFC North rival Bengals. With Pittsburgh's shot at a division championship riding on next week's showdown with Cincinnati and Big Ben's return adding to the anticipation, the temptation to overlook the lowly Chiefs looms large.
Kansas City, meanwhile, won't be overlooking anybody, as its season is already over for all intents and purposes. Thanks to a typically strong Midwest fan base that can be loyal to a fault, however, a team that would play in front of boos and empty seats in many markets can instead be expected to maintain its full home-field advantage.
With a raucous crowd doing its best to will the 1-5 Chiefs to their first home win of the season, the time may be now or never for a Gatorade shower to hit Arrowhead Stadium in 2015.
Pick of the Week: Teaser - New England -2.5 vs. New York Jets, Arizona -1.5 vs. Baltimore
The Patriots are absolutely the better team and worthy favorites at home. But with the Jets' ability to match up against New England's strengths and consistently keep their head-to-head contests close, taking the Patriots to win by a field goal is much easier to stomach than rolling the dice on a landslide.
A nice companion to complete the teaser is the game that projects to be the biggest blowout of the week, which comes on Monday Night Football. In a battle of the birds, the high-flying Cardinals should feast on Baltimore's beleaguered defense, while the 1-5 Ravens will have a hard time if forced to play from behind with only one pass-catching threat on the active roster in the form of ageless wonder Steve Smith Sr.
In almost any scenario, outright wins by New England and Arizona mean this ticket cashes and we get a brief moment to channel our inner Gronk.
Week 7 Record: 3-0
Season Record: 13-10
Picks of the Week: 5-0