10 best early value NFL bets

Insider's NFL handicapper examines value bets for Weeks 2-16

Updated: May 20, 2014, 6:04 PM ET
By Dave Tuley | ESPN Insider

Las Vegas, The Strip, CityCenter, Aria ResortGetty ImagesThe full slate of 2014 NFL games outside of Week 17 can now be bet on in Las Vegas.

All of the odds and lines for the upcoming NFL season are now posted in Las Vegas' sports books. Over/under win totals have been up since early March, and with the April 23 release of the NFL schedule, the Week 1 lines came out that same night. On May 4, the Las Vegas Hotel posted its "Games of the Year" with all the prime-time games and other marquee matchups, and then this past Friday, May 16, CG Technologies (the sports books formerly known as Cantor Gaming) completed the releasing of odds with all of the point spreads for Week 2 through Week 16.

OK, so not all the lines are posted, as Week 17 isn't out due to the inherent volatility.

For kicks, I did some research in my ViewFromVegas.com Forums to see when NFL lines were posted just five years ago in 2009. The schedule came out on April 14 and the LVH posted its Week 1 openers a day later on Tax Day, but the "Games of the Year" didn't come out until June 16 and Cantor (preceding its first season after the M opened that spring) took until July 21 to put up Weeks 2 through 16.

When betting games this far out, of course it's important to ultimately have the winning side, but it's just as important to find games where you're getting a better number than will be available the week of the matchup (otherwise, what's the point of tying up your money for so long). If you can get ahead of the line moves, it gives you options later to either shoot for a middle if the line moves enough (especially if it crossed a key number) or to just let it ride if you still like the side. The key is to also find lines where if you end up holding a bad number, it doesn't stand to hurt you too badly.

We did this same exercise on ESPN Insider when the Week 1 lines were first posted. I gave out Saints plus-2 at Falcons (it's now 1.5 at most books), Steelers minus-5 versus Browns (it's up to 5.5) and Panthers minus-2.5 at Buccaneers (it's down to 2 at most books, but I'm not losing much value).

Without further ado, here are my 10 best bets from the rest of the NFL schedule from the lines at CG Technologies:

Week 2

New Orleans Saints (minus-2.5) at Cleveland Browns: The key to betting these is getting on the right side of key numbers (primarily three and seven in the NFL), and this is a great example.

Dave Tuley has covered the Las Vegas race and sports book scene since 1998 and runs his own website, ViewFromVegas.com.