You sometimes have to look a football game in the eye and say, "Sorry, but your line scares the hell out of me and I won't bother trying to handicap you."
After that, you put your hands in the air, back away slowly and disappear into the night—or something like that.
Some games are just too risky to bet on, plain and simple. Some teams offer too many performative variables and can't be accurately projected from week to week. Meanwhile, some lines are so perfect, trying to decide which way to lean is simply maddening.
I'm going to go ahead and help you out this week by providing three lines you should avoid. Maybe you're braver than me and you're willing to take a risk on these contests, but not me. I'll be backing away slowly and disappearing into the night, thank you very much.
(Note: All lines via Bovada.)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (-4)
Good luck trying to figure out this game.
One week, Oakland gets blown out by the Miami Dolphins. The next, they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. One week, they get crushed by the Denver Broncos. The next (after a bye, mind you), they nearly upset the Atlanta Falcons.
Trying to figure out which Raiders team you get from week to week is maddening.
Yes, the Raiders are better than the Jaguars, but Jacksonville has been the victim of a pretty tough schedule to start the year. They did beat the Indianapolis Colts, however, and they took the Minnesota Vikings to overtime.
Most people will probably lay the points with the Raiders at home, but this line is too risky for my liking.
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (+2)
The Cowboys and Panthers are similar teams in one regard—both are talented squads that have quarterbacks who are elite at their best and turnover-prone game-killers at their worst.
As such, both teams are highly unpredictable.
While I would lean toward the Cowboys because they have a solid defense, Cam Newton is talented enough to give them problems. Meanwhile, Tony Romo is always a risk to randomly throw four interceptions. I wouldn't touch this game.
Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (-3)
Let's try to figure this one out.
The Titans beat the Detroit Lions in overtime and shocked the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. They've also lost four games this year by at least 20 points.
The Buffalo Bills have generally beaten the teams they should this year, but when they lose, they lose big. The New York Jets crushed them, the New England Patriots scored 45 points against them in one half and the San Francisco 49ers beat them 45-3—45-3!
I think Buffalo is the better team, but I can't really figure out either one of these squads. I'm avoiding this bad boy.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets never need help from the refs on the goal line.