Monday night's NFL matchup is why the point spread exists.
You won't find anyone who will pick the 4-5 Washington Commanders to beat the 8-0 Philadelphia Eagles straight up. The Eagles have been great this season. The Commanders haven't been that bad, but going on the road to beat the Eagles is a lot to ask.
But when you attach an 11-point spread to Commanders-Eagles? That evens it out a bit.
The Commanders are 11-point underdogs at BetMGM against Philadelphia. That gives it some suspense. And, in the NFL this season, being a big favorite doesn't guarantee much.
Underdogs are doing quite well against the spread this season, and anyone who joined a survival league can tell you that a lot of teams we thought were easy picks have lost straight up. That doesn't mean the Commanders will win, but nothing should surprise us anymore.
The Eagles showed in Week 9 that nothing is guaranteed. They got a scare from the Houston Texans, the worst team in the NFL. The Texans covered the massive 14-point spread, and that was never really in doubt. The Eagles are good, but it's not college. You can't usually name your score against fellow professionals.
The Commanders are a flawed team, but they're not among the few worst in the NFL either. Their defense is decent. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke is up and down, but that means there are some ups. They're a respectable 4-4-1 against the spread this season.
When in doubt, take the double-digit NFL underdog. The league is built for parity. No team is that much better than the other, even if that's the common perception. It probably won't be a great Monday night game. But the point spread should make it more interesting.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
College hoops has 9 ranked teams in action
There still haven't been many great college basketball matchups other than Michigan State-Gonzaga, but Tuesday's Champions Classic (Kentucky vs. Michigan State, Duke vs. Kansas) will help fix that. On Monday there are nine top-25 teams on the schedule, though none of them have a marquee matchup. Only two of those top-25 teams are favored by fewer than 19.5 points.
The game with the lowest spread among top-25 teams is Texas Tech as a 12.5-point favorite over Louisiana Tech. There aren't even many good mid-major matchups, which we saw a few times last week. The college hoops season will start to get more interesting starting Tuesday.
NBA with 7 games
The NBA is in action, as usual, with a couple good matchups. The best game is either the Phoenix Suns at the Miami Heat or the Atlanta Hawks at the Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns are 8-4 at the 6-7 Heat, and the Heat are 1.5-point favorites. That's curious, and I'd side with the better Suns team. Giannis Antetokounmpo has missed a couple games for the Bucks but is probable to return against the Hawks on Monday night. Milwaukee is a 4.5-point favorite.
NHL with 4 contests
It's a light night on the ice. One matchup that could be interesting is the Los Angeles Kings at the Calgary Flames. The Flames are a bit disappointing at 6-6-2, and I'd take the Kings at +135 as a decent road favorite. They've won four in a row.
What's the best bet?
Betting a big underdog comes with the risk of feeling dumb by the end of the first quarter, but I'll still take the Commanders.