It's always prudent to check betting trends before laying down the cash. Keeping that in mind, there's some disturbing trends in the NFL spread game that should make you think twice about betting on your favorite line this weekend.
Week 9 features plenty of conference battles, and plenty of cross-conference teams trying to make a statement down the proverbial back nine of the NFL season.
From Dallas and Atlanta facing off in the NFC and Pittsburgh and the New York Giants both fighting to prove they are still Super Bowl candidates, there's more than enough at stake this weekend to make it tough on the lines.
Here's a look at three games you should stay away from this weekend at all costs. From past history, trends and the otherwise gut feeling effect, there's plenty of evidence to suggest these games won't turn out the way many expect.
Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins (-3.5), 1:00 p.m. ET
Coming off a loss to the Steelers in which they were dominated in key areas, the Redskins are the favorite to rebound against the Panthers. This year's Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, gets to take on the real Cam, amidst one of the worst losing stretches this franchise has boasted in recent memory.
While conventional wisdom suggests the Skins are the obvious choice to cover here, guess again.
Washington is 1-4-1 against the spread in its last four games at home. That bodes well for a Carolina team that has had a chance to win games against Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta—three teams that figure to be in the playoff picture at the end of the season.
Still, Carolina is 1-4 against the spread when playing Washington in the past five games. In a contest that could quickly turn into a shootout with these two QBs, stay away from anything but the over.
Miami Dolphins (-1) at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m. ET
Miami is the early favorite, but Indianapolis is 3-1 at home this season, highlighted by late Andrew Luck drives to seal the game against the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
Tannehill might be a little bit limited in the pocket, but he does have a stellar running game with Reggie Bush to help ease some of the tension. However, the Colts are getting back Donald Brown and appear to have a steal in RB Vick Ballard, so their offense is clicking all cylinders as well.
This one looks like a toss-up. Luck has been good at home, so it's hard to bet against the Colts. But Miami just has that "it" factor this year, and the winner of this game has a chance to be in the wild-card mix. I'll give the edge to the Miami coaching staff, though the sight of Chuck Pagano might be just the boost Indy needs.
The spread is tight, so that's a final warning to stay away.
Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5), 8:20 p.m. ET
Start the season unbeaten, get beat by the 'Boys, win a Super Bowl. That's one of the billings for this week's Sunday Night Football matchup, and the stats don't lie.
The Cowboys have beaten three formerly undefeated teams since 1991, and all three have gone on to win the big game in the new year. Washington in 1991, Indianapolis in 2006 and New Orleans in 2009 all suffered first losses at the hands of Dallas, and all recovered to win the ultimate prize.
If that wasn't enough, there might not be two teams more sporadic than these two. Atlanta has had close wins over Oakland and Carolina that didn't exactly make line-makers happy. They're only 3-4 against the spread, while Dallas is 4-3.
Blowout losses to Seattle and Chicago show that Dallas isn't exactly consistent either. The loss to the New York Giants would have been a blowout, but Dallas somehow managed to get into position to win the game late, despite six turnovers.
Add all those variables together, and you've got a troubling situation at the Georgia dome. Don't walk, run away from this matchup. Although it has potential to be the best of the weekend, it's also the one that could be the least like the prediction originally stated.
Ethan Grant is a member of Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team, and a featured columnist for the NBA and Dallas Mavericks.