Wagering against a West Coast team playing an early game on the East Coast has been a winning formula over the years.
Bettors have three chances to employ that strategy in 10 a.m. games Sunday: Tampa Bay as a 3-point favorite over San Francisco, Carolina as a 3½-point favorite over Seattle and Baltimore as a 10½-point favorite over Oakland.
We’ll pass on the Ravens laying double digits in quarterback Lamar Jackson’s second career start. But we’ll back the Buccaneers and Panthers to cover small spreads at home.
The 49ers have been especially bad after traveling across the country. They’ve lost their last 11 games in the Eastern Time Zone while going 3-8 against the spread. San Francisco also is 0-5 on the road this season.
Tampa Bay and the Niners have two of the NFL’s worst defenses but the Bucs have a big edge on offense. They lead the league in total offense (458.5 yards per game) and are eighth in scoring (26.7 points per game).
Jameis Winston replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick and promptly guided Tampa Bay to four consecutive touchdown drives in last week’s 38-35 loss to the New York Giants. But if Winston struggles, look for Fitzpatrick to turn back into Fitzmagic and lead the Bucs to the win and cover.
The Seahawks have played well on the road, covering their last three games. But Carolina has been better at home, winning 10 straight while going 8-2 ATS. The Panthers are 5-0 at home this season and 4-1 ATS.
Cam Newton missed an open receiver on a late 2-point conversion try in Sunday’s 20-19 loss at Detroit. But Newton has completed a career-high 68 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns and six interceptions and his passer rating has surpassed 100 in a franchise-record five straight games. Carolina also is 19-8-1 ATS in its last 28 games against the NFC West.
Three more plays (home team in CAPS):
COLTS (-8) over Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill returns for Miami but Indianapolis still has a huge edge at QB with the resurgent Andrew Luck, who is second in the NFL in TD passes (29) to Patrick Mahomes. Luck has thrown for at least three TDs in seven straight games and the Colts have averaged 36.5 ppg during a four-game win streak (3-0-1 ATS). The Dolphins have covered only one of their last 10 road games.
Patriots (-10) over JETS: We’ll take Tom Brady (41) over Josh McCown (39) in the second-oldest quarterback matchup in NFL history. New England has had two weeks to stew over its 34-10 loss at Tennessee before its bye. The Patriots are on a 30-8 cover run on the road following a straight up loss. The reeling Jets have scored only 43 points during a four-game losing streak while going 0-4 ATS. Brady should have plenty of time to throw against a weak pass rush (22 sacks) to a receiving corps expected to include Rob Gronkowski.
VIKINGS (-3½) over Packers: Neither team has lived up to expectations this season. But we’ll side with the home team laying a short price as Green Bay has lost its last seven road games while going 1-5-1 ATS. Minnesota has won and covered the last two meetings at home. The teams played to a 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field in Week 2, when Vikings rookie kicker Daniel Carlson missed three field attempts, including two in overtime.
Last week: 4-1 against the spread.