Ravens vs. Cardinals NFL Picks: Angles Support Betting 'Under' 49.5

Jason Lake

Saturday, October 24, 2015 10:43 PM GMT

Public bettors have made Monday night's total the biggest on the Week 7 NFL odds board. But can the struggling Baltimore Ravens keep up with the Arizona Cardinals?

Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 24: 22-15 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 14-24 Total

In this day and age, a good computer algorithm is your best tool for betting on totals. In theory, at least. The NFL odds that get published at the open aren't too far off from the computer projections that get cranked out (for a small fee) at the leading websites. And these projections get a bit more savvy every year. If you're looking for a profit margin in this market, you'd better have an algorithm that's well ahead of the curve.

Or you can let the betting public do your work for you. Take the case of Monday night's matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) between the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals. This total opened as low as 48 points, and the early consensus was about two-thirds on the OVER. Then Saturday rolled around, and people kept putting the OVER in their Week 7 NFL picks, lifting the total as high as 49.5 points at press time. Maybe they'll reach 50 before kick-off (Note: They already have). There's your profit margin right there.

 

Quantify This
It might not be the most profitable way to bet on totals, but you could do worse than simply time your bets to get the best prices on the board. A couple of years ago, many sharps were auto-betting the OVER right at the open. In this case, we have an opportunity to bet the UNDER just before game-time, at a higher total than what was on the board earlier this week. Wizard of Odds says the difference between 48 and 49.5 is worth about 14 cents in vigorish. Can your algorithm do that for you?

Maybe. In an ideal world, your handicapping is based on a solid platform that includes both data and market analysis. You might have a personal preference or facility for one over the other. But neither should be brushed off. This isn't some kind of Moneyball war going on here between quants and scouts. That's so 2003.

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A Home in the Projects
So we took a moment here at the ranch to look at some of the computer projections for Monday's score. We prefer to use freely-available information in our articles, which we can cite and you can refer to at home. But this time, we dipped into our pockets to discover that Monday's score is projected to land in the 47-49 point range. Hmm, just where the total first opened. Go figure.

We could further support our UNDER selection by pointing at the injuries to the No. 16-ranked Baltimore offense (as per Football Outsiders), and the way the Cardinals lost 25-13 to the Pittsburgh Steelers (UNDER 45) last week. But there are plenty of angles that support betting the OVER, as well. We're satisfied with making an old-school contrarian UNDER pick this time, with some help from the quants thrown in for good measure.

NFL Pick: Take UNDER 49.5 at Bovada

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