Every week it happens to me—I scroll through NFL spreads, my eyes light up over a couple of games and I suddenly become obsessed with a few lines that seem too good to be true.
"They're only laying a few points at home?" I might ask myself. "They're actually getting a few points against that team?" I might ponder.
But then the doubt creeps in. Why does such a tasty line exist other than to woo me into a state of comfort before leading me into peril, like a Siren's song for a NFL fan? Can I really trust such a tantalizing line, or am I being lured into a trap without considering every factor.
So this week, I've decided to take a look at a few of these appealing lines and determine if they're actually safe to play or if you should stay far, far away.
(All lines via Bovada.)
Denver Broncos (-4.5) at Carolina Panthers
When I first look at that line, I immediately want to lay those points and cackle like an evil villain afterwards. Peyton Manning and this offense laying just 4.5 points against the 2-6 Panthers?
There are causes for concern in this game, though. Carolina is at home for one, and two of the Broncos three losses have happened on the road. Five of the Panthers six losses have been by six points or fewer, so they've been competitive in nearly every game.
And they actually have been pretty good against the pass this season.
Still, I really like this line for the Broncos. They've won three games in a row and have scored 30 or more points in four of the past five games. I hereby award this tantalizing line for the Broncos a worthwhile play.
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-11.5)
Obviously, this is a tantalizing line if you're considering taking the points with the St. Louis Rams, a team good enough to warrant consideration when staring a double-digit spread in the face.
But is such a huge line between division rivals really all that appealing for the Rams? Let's consider what they've done against elite teams this season:
- Week 3: Lost to Chicago Bears, 23-6
- Week 7: Lost to Green Bay Packers, 30-10
- Week 8: Lost to New England Patriots, 45-7
The Rams also lost to the 49ers twice last year and only covered this line in one of those games. At first glance, I loved this line, but I suspect it's riskier than it appears. I hereby declare this once tantalizing line a risky play.
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-9)
Believe it or not, I could see people look at either side of this line as tantalizing, but I really liked this one for the Raiders.
Consider that the Ravens have only won by more than nine points twice this year, or that the Raiders have scored at least 20 points in the past four games and have pushed or covered this line all but twice this season.
There is risk here, of course, as Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times notes:
Running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson not at practice for second straight day.— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) November 8, 2012
If you bet this game, you should take the points with the Raiders. But given the team's best player is injured, I would feel irresponsible if I didn't deem this once tantalizing line as a risky play.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets aren't afraid to get emotional after a big win.