Sometimes, the smart bet is no bet at all.
Some spreads are likely to be influenced by emotion after a team performs exceedingly well or poorly. The Denver Broncos are currently decisive road favorites over the New York Giants after Peyton Manning's epic Week 1 performance.
But does that have anything to do with how well the Broncos match up against the Giants? Not in the slightest.
Below, we'll take a look at why you should avoid betting on that matchup as well as a couple of others.
St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons (-7)
The St. Louis pass defense didn't look as stout as it was thought to be during the team’s Week 1 win over the Arizona Cardinals. If Carson Palmer and Co. gave the Rams trouble, Matt Ryan and his talented receivers could be mighty problematic for the visiting team.
But if Julio Jones and Roddy White aren't 100 percent, their ability to exploit matchups may take a hit this weekend. Both standout receivers missed practice Wednesday, per the team's website. If they don’t play against the Rams, the chances of the Falcons winning at all, let alone by a touchdown, will significantly decrease.
Jeff Fisher's tough front seven will make it hard for Ryan’s struggling offensive line to give Ryan enough time to find his receivers, especially if they're still feeling the effects of their injuries on game day.
Considering the Rams' injury situation and the offense's unpredictable youth, it's hard to decide whether the Rams will play the Falcons close or whether this will be an easy bounce-back win for the Falcons.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (-6)
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders were both supposed to be pretty poor teams in 2013. Both are young with uncertain quarterback situations and many new faces. While the Jags lived down to those expectations, the Raiders somehow gave the Indianapolis Colts a pretty challenging fight in their season opener.
Your first impulse may be to place your bets on the Raiders. After all, they played almost well enough to beat a playoff contender. The Jags, on the other hand, played as poorly as many believed they would this season, if not worse.
The truth is, though, neither team is very good. When two bad teams play against each other, anything can happen.
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor was impressive with his feet in Week 1, but if the Jags find a way to contain him, there’s no telling how he'll perform in the pocket. Plus, the Jags might make the switch from Blaine Gabbert to Chad Henne, and we've seen them respond well to that change in the past.
This is one game—perhaps well above the others—you should absolutely stay away from. There are way too many unknowns to place wagers with any sort of confidence.
Denver Broncos (-4.5) at New York Giants
So, Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes against the Baltimore Ravens last week. He’s going to do it again against the New York Giants in Week 2!
Back up for a second and take a deep breath. That was a once-in-a-lifetime performance, not something you're going to see out of him each week, no matter how many offensive weapons he has around him.
Likewise, Eli Manning's poor performance against the Dallas Cowboys is not indicative of the type of quarterback he really is. He has struggled against the Cowboys' new Tampa 2 defense throughout his career, and those struggles were on display in the opener. But Eli has plenty of weapons of his own to go blow for blow with his brother at MetLife Stadium.
It might very well end up being Peyton who emerges and improves to 3-0 against his younger sibling, but he’s not going to get the win without a fight. Ultimately, New York’s inability to run the football will make it hard to contend. But after trailing by multiple scores in the second half, Eli will take advantage of a softer Broncos defense to get his team close in the fourth quarter.
Look for a very tight game decided by a field goal or less.