I have been betting money on the NFL for many, many years. It is one of the great joys in life—it is also impossible to gamble on the NFL and be good at it.
Before you assume this is a sour grapes expose, let me assure you Weeks 1 and 2 have both treated my ledger kindly. I know this will end soon—presumably starting with the Steelers-Browns feces-fight on Thursday—so now seems a reasonable time to examine what separates a good gambler from bad, using some Week 2 games as case studies.
- Chargers (+4) at Chiefs: a game that the Chargers seemed to be controlling suddenly swings on a pick-six because Gerald Everett is too tired to properly run his goalline route. Things climax (for gamblers) on LA’s final drive as Justin Herbert, down 10 and playing with torn rib cartilage, throws a fourth-down missile to extend the drive and another fourth-down toss to Josh Palmer for the most backdoor of touchdowns. The onside kick attempt is not successful but if you bet the Chiefs spread, you are a bad, bad gambler.
- Cardinals (+6) at Raiders: Arizona storms back from a 20-0 deficit behind Kyler Murray’s roadrunner routine, converts a two-point conversion that literally takes 21 seconds, converts another two-pointer on a throw-of-the-season candidate from Murray to AJ Green, survives the sabotage of its own head coach on multiple occasions, and returns a Hunter Renfrow overtime fumble for the game-winning touchdown with the Raiders on the cusp of field goal range. If you bet the Raiders spread or moneyline, you are a bad, bad gambler.
- Dolphins (+3.5) at Ravens: Baltimore blows a 21-point fourth quarter lead, forgets to cover Tyreek Hill on multiple occasions, jumpstarts the narrative about Tua possibly being good, and wastes one of the great performances of Lamar Jackson’s career. If you bet the Ravens spread or moneyline, you are a bad, bad gambler.
- Jets (+6.5) at Browns: the Jets win a game in regulation that they trailed by 13 with under two minutes left and no timeouts, that would’ve ended if Nick Chubb just fell down instead of running into the end zone for the Browns final touchdown, that featured an onside kick recovery and Joe Flacco channeling his Super Bowl-winning past, a game that according to win expectancy models the Browns had a 99.9% chance of winning. If you bet the Browns spread or moneyline, you are a bad, bad gambler.
- Falcons (+11) at Rams: a game that was never competitive suddenly becomes so after the Falcons score a touchdown in garbage time, block a punt and return it for another touchdown, and somehow get the ball back for a potential game-winning score. A Jalen Ramsey interception saves the Rams from Mariota-based humiliation—despite this, if you bet the Rams spread, you are a bad, bad gambler.
- Bengals at Cowboys (+7.5): Dallas is quarterbacked by Cooper Rush to a victory over the defending Super Bowl runner-ups, who have forgotten how to block. This game, more than any other, proves my NFL chaos gambling theory correct: if you cannot come up with a reason to bet a team, you should bet that exact team. The Cowboys qualified, won and covered despite everyone and their dog taking Cincy, and if you bet the Bengals, you are a bad, bad gambler.
To conclude this scientific study—which doesn’t even examine Nathaniel Hackett’s clock-management buffoonery, the Steelers offensive offense, or Jameis Winston’s reversion to form—I would like to state unequivocally, on the record, that the NFL is impossible to gamble upon. The margins are too small. Betting on football brings me great joy some weeks and great consternation others, it is ALWAYS incredible entertainment, but there is one thing you will never hear me say about the best sport on earth: I am good at gambling on the NFL.