Missed field goals, dropped passes and one less first down cost me an over. One point in a 10-9 game broke the leg of a teaser we have hit nearly every week this season. A barrage of points in a tight game on Sunday night killed another best bet.
Yes, boys and girls, it certainly was THAT kind of week. Forget that the Saints broke the hearts of all Who Dats in WhoDatville with their shenanigans Monday night. (OK, some of us won’t forget that one for a while.)
Meanwhile, we got an overwhelming majority of the picks that were not involved in best bets correctly, going 9-6 against the spread overall.
It happens. So what do you do? The same thing you do every week: Keep analyzing the week’s slate and find the best values. We told you 70 percent was not sustainable. However, 61 percent most certainly is, and we are determined not to drop below that throughout the remainder of what’s left.
With that, it’s hard to believe it is Week 14, but that is exactly where we are. Let’s jump back on the winning train.
Any comments, questions, gratitude or hate mail is welcome at [email protected].
NOTES: All spreads, money lines and over/under totals (as of Wednesday morning) are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. We started the season with a mythical bankroll of $1,000. Our totals for the past week and the season are at the bottom of this column.
THE WEEK 14 BEST BETS
HOME TEAM in CAPS
Byes: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Washington.
1 / 6½-point teaser, Minnesota +9 over DETROIT and Baltimore +9 over PITTSBURGH
WHEN: Both games Sunday at 1 p.m. THE BET: $52 to win $40.
Teaser explanation: At most books, a bettor can parlay two teams in a “teaser” and get 6 points of cushion for each bet. However, it costs -120 to play and – like a parlay – both legs must hit to cash the ticket. Here, a 6½-point teaser costs -130.
I know the sharps absolutely abhor Minnesota, and I have heard from sharps I respect, “The Vikings are the worst 10-2 team in the history of football.” But this might be the weirdest spread I have seen all season. I understand power ratings do this and power ratings do that, but who in the hell has power ratings where these teams would be even on a neutral field?!?
Anyone who has followed this column throughout the past eight seasons knows when I see a spread I don’t understand, I often jump on the side that makes no sense, because it makes no sense for a reason. I just can’t do it here. I get the Lions have played very well the past month or so, especially since they overcame some key injuries on offense, but can someone tell me which Lion is going to stop Dalvin Cook? How about Justin Jefferson? And I don’t care this game was close in Minnesota in Week 3.
Here’s your trivia question for the week: When is the last time the Lions have been favored against a team with 10 wins when they played them? The answer is New Year’s Day 2012 against Green Bay when the Packers had wrapped up the NFC North and the No. 1 seed (and Matt Flynn went on to pass for 480 yards and six TDs). The time before that? Try December of 1969 against the Los Angeles Rams when they had already clinched the COASTAL Division. (Yeah, I don’t remember that division, either.)
That’s it! Twice! And NEVER before this week against a team that hadn’t clinched anything as of yet – EVER – in the history of this franchise dating back to when spreads began to be notated in 1952. (And in case you were wondering, it has only happened two other times in the postseason – in 1995 and 1970.) That is incredibly insane.
One last thing: The Lions have never covered IN FRANCHISE HISTORY when favored over a team that had 10 wins or more at the time of the game.
So while I don’t feel comfortable simply taking the points in best bets, this could be the top teaser leg of the season.
SCORE PREDICTION: Vikings (+2.5) 33, Lions 27. (Over 53.)
Let’s now look at the Ravens. Of course, Lamar Jackson is out, but one thing we know about Coach John Harbaugh is he knows how to rally the troops. This seems like team bonding time if there ever was one.
Even with Jackson out, this line seems to be a little weird and skewed toward a Steelers team that has sort of overperformed the past few weeks. And against teams with mobile quarterbacks this season – Josh Allen and the Bills and Jalen Hurts of Philadelphia – Pittsburgh lost both by a combined score of 73-16. Tyler Huntley is no Lamar Jackson, but he should be able to move around and run when he needs to, and he proved he can be effective throwing the ball at times.
Even when the Steelers were going through their run with Big Ben in there, they have won by more than a touchdown in this series only once in the past 15 games (on Oct. 1, 2017) and only three times since Harbaugh became coach in 2008, which is 30 games, including the postseason.
I don’t love the score prediction I have here, but I would be very surprised if it isn’t close, especially with a cold forecast of possible rain and/or snow.
SCORE PREDICTION: Ravens (+2.5) 19, Steelers 17. (Under 37.)
2 / New England -1 over ARIZONA
WHEN: Monday at 8:15 p.m. THE BET: $22.
Well, the Patriots find themselves in a predicament, and Bill Belichick – even if he isn’t listening – has to endure the “see, it was all Tom Brady” talk three years after his departure. This game most certainly presents a crossing road, as the only potential road to a second consecutive playoff berth continues on with a victory in this game, as the Pats likely can only afford one more loss to get in.
The final four games after this one? At Las Vegas, home for Cincinnati and Miami and a finish at Buffalo, who very well could need that one to win the AFC East.
In other words, this is must win. For Arizona, their immediate future includes – most likely – a huge shakeup in the coaching staff and a high first-round draft pick.
Coming off back-to-back losses this season and last, New England has defeated the Jets in October by five, Jacksonville by 20 at the end of last season and a 41-point victory over the Jets in October 2021.
The Cardinals have lost three of their past four games off a bye week, and one can’t imagine they will have much to bring here against one of the better defensive units in the NFL.
SCORE PREDICTION: Patriots 23, Cardinals 17. (Under 44.5.)
3 / TENNESSEE -3.5 over Jacksonville
WHEN: Sunday at 1 p.m. THE BET: $22.
First off, taking favorites in best bets with a -3½-point spread is sort of like drinking a gallon of that chalky white stuff before having a scope. You don’t want to do it, but every so often you just have to. There honestly is nothing tougher than betting teams favored by -3½ or -7½, so when I do it (very rare occasions – do you want to have a scope done?) I must be darned sure.
This pick is as much about Coach Mike Vrabel as it is anything else, but the weather favors Tennessee in a big way, as it appears they’ll be playing this one in Nashville with cold rain coming down. So who do you think will fare better in that sort of weather – Derrick Henry or Trevor Lawrence?
I’ll take Henry all day every Sunday in that scenario.
Vrabel is 7-1 against the Jaguars in his career and has won five in a row. The Titans have won the past three games in the series by a combined score of 88-29 and five of the past seven by at least 18 or more in each. Also, he hasn’t lost three games in a row since his rookie coaching season in 2018.
He and the Titans win big here, as the Jags (4-8) clinch yet another losing season.
SCORE PREDICTION: Titans 26, Jaguars 17. (Over 41.5.)
4 / NY GIANTS +7 over Philadelphia
WHEN: Sunday at 1 p.m. THE BET: $11.
I didn’t completely stray from the Golden Rule (of never betting against a home dog in a division game), but I probably need to change the name of it to the Silver Rule. Or maybe the Copper Rule.
The fact is, home field just doesn’t mean what it used to, but other than a loss a few weeks ago to Detroit (which doesn’t look nearly as bad now), the G-Men have been pretty good at home.
For the average bettor, this seems like an automatic pick in favor of the Eagles, but they have been all over the map the past month, and last week’s blowout of Tennessee can be attributed to all sorts of factors (I wish I would have the foresight to see), including wide receiver AJ Brown’s revenge factor.
Since their bye week in late October, the Eagles have mostly been an average team with a great record and lost their only divisional game at home against Washington in Week 10.
The past two seasons against their archrival, who were bad then with a bad coach, Philly is 2-2 with only one convincing win – last December when the Giants had all but packed it in on the way to a 4-13 finish. I think the Eagles win, but it will be tight until the very end.
SCORE PREDICTION: Eagles 24, Giants 21. (Under 45.5.)
5 / Kansas City at DENVER under 43
WHEN: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. THE BET: $11.
The weather won’t be a factor at Mile High on Sunday, but the ineffective Broncos offense certainly will be. Even if the Chiefs find a way to score 31 against this really tough Denver defense, do we think Russell Wilson will put up more than 11?
Here’s a strong enough fact for me to take the under: The Broncos have scored more than 11 points just five times all season – and more than 16 only once – and those five games came against Seattle (30th-ranked defense), Houston (28th), Las Vegas twice (27th) and the LA Chargers (26th). The Chiefs have the 16th-ranked defense in the NFL.
I almost took Kansas City -9, but this being the second of three straight road games was enough for me to think Patrick Mahomes could be a bit off, and it wouldn’t be a shocker if the Chiefs had a lackluster offensive performance.
SCORE PREDICTION: Chiefs (-9) 24, Broncos 11.
(No bets for the following)
Thursday at 8:20 p.m.
Las Vegas 26, LA RAMS (+6) 22: There’s no question both of these teams’ seasons will come to an end after the second Sunday in January, and there’s also no question these are two teams moving in different directions.
The Rams are enduring one of the worst – if not the worst – seasons in NFL history for a defending league champion, and they’re on the way to (most likely) seeing serious changes in the offseason. But they seem to have regained their fight, as we saw the defense fired up last week in a tight loss to Seattle.
It also appears as if the Raiders are a bit rejuvenated in winning three in a row, but what do bad teams do after a winning streak? Yeah, that’s right, they show you why they stink. The Rams aren’t good enough for me to pick outright here, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they do, as they should get John Wolford back at quarterback (which makes a difference) and possibly Aaron Donald. (Over 44.5.)
Sunday at 1 p.m.
Cleveland (+6) 22, CINCINNATI 21: “Aunt Mabel? Yeah, I got your fruitcakes. I thought you were going to save them for me until Christmas. … Yeah, yeah, I like to pretend we have ice on the ground outside and use them as hockey pucks. OK, I’ll feed them to the squirrels. Thanks.
“What’s that? Who do I like in the Bengals-Browns game? I think I am going to take Cleveland, because … Wait. … Hold on. … Well, you don’t have to call me those kinds of names. You do realize you’re going to have to go to confession before church Sunday morning, right? Why do you ask me if you don’t want to hear my analysis?
“Yes, I get Joe Burrow looks like he’s on a mission. Yesss, I know Ja’Marr Chase is back. Yes, yes, I understand everyone at the bar thinks Cincy is going to win the Super Bowl. Uh-huh, I saw Cleveland couldn’t do anything on offense against Houston with Deshaun Watson back and that they aren’t going to the playoffs. … OK, calling me an idiot isn’t going to get you anywhere. You do realize the Browns have won five in a row straight up in the series and eight of the past nine? I think they just have the Bengals’ number.
“Stats are not for losers, Aunt Mabel. You can’t deny those kinds of trends – or at least you can’t bet against them. Why don’t you just lay off this one if you think the Browns are trash? Now, wait, that’s not very nice. (Click. Sigh.)” (Under 47.)
DALLAS (-16.5) 41, Houston 17: My regulars will know how much I hate laying double digits (hence why this isn’t in my best bets), but how can anyone in their right mind take the Texans right now? They have lost by 12 or more in four of their past five games, and haven’t really been in any games this season against teams likely to go to the playoffs except in a 17-10 loss to division-foe Tennessee in late October.
Meanwhile, Dallas is on a mission, and one can only hope they aren’t letting all this “they could be the best team in the NFC” talk get to their heads. This is the first time they have been double-digit favorites in three straight games since late 2007 when they finished 13-3, and since 2019 when they are favored by 10 or more, they have covered in six of eight. Make it seven of nine. (Over 45.5.)
BUFFALO (-9.5) 27, NY Jets 13: It was around this time last season when the Bills flipped the light switch back on after a brief funk in which they lost four of six games. Now, of course, they went back to choking against Kansas City in the playoffs, and that very well could happen again this year.
However, in a revenge spot here following simply mediocre play since their bye week in late October, one has to think there is no higher-motivation spot than this against a division rival that beat them just five weeks ago.
Oh, and there is a good chance this will be a snow game, and I’ll take Josh Allen to beat the tar out of Mike White, who could throw four interceptions if that’s the case. (Under 44.)
Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
Carolina (+3.5) 19, SEATTLE 17: Well, Baker Mayfield has been exiled, and the Panthers are actually playing decent football, as they are winners of two of their past three and three of six. And although they have not won a road game this season, this could be the one against a Seattle team that is turning back into the one we thought they would be way back in September.
The key for success is an obvious one for Carolina: In their four victories, not only have they turned the ball over a combined one time, but they have forced six takeaways. And the Seahawks cough it up almost as much as anyone, including at least one in every game this season.
The public sees this one as an easy victory for the 12th Man, which is enough for me to not only take Carolina to cover but win outright. This just missed being in my best bets. (Under 44.)
SAN FRANCISCO 26, Tampa Bay (+3) 23: I keep wondering how bad Tom Brady must have had it in his past lives where he has received the benefit of maybe the greatest life this go-round for any human being since the invention of an oval football. Last week was a perfect example, as the New Orleans Saints obviously decided to give him a Christmas present a few weeks early.
Will that be the victory that recharges him and the Bucs? Who the hell knows? I mean if I had the choice of betting this with $100 of free money or putting a $20 bill in my pocket, I’d take Andrew Jackson.
Do I really want to bet on Brock Purdy? No, but I don’t want to bet against this defense, either, which is facing the toughest remaining team on their schedule in their third consecutive home game. I think I’ll just leave it alone. (Over 37.5.)
Sunday at 8:20 p.m.
Miami 33, LA CHARGERS (+3.5 at -115 on alt line) 30: While it’s super tough to bet on the Bolts right now, it’s even tougher to take a Dolphins team in the middle of a three-game road swing with a trip to Buffalo coming next week after spending two weeks on the West Coast.
In other words, similar to the Niners-Bucs game, no way I am touching this, except maybe to play the over in a game between two really bad defenses. Tua is a little banged up, but Tyreek Hill plays some of his best football against the Chargers. At least it should be high-flying and fun.
If you must play anything because you’re a degenerate (like me) and you can’t help but play something in a primetime game, then bet the over. (And do it now, because this is only gonna go up.) (Over 52.)
HOW WE DOIN’?
Note: TIES ARE NOT COUNTED IN MY RECORD, which could result in a different total of games in the “straight up” and “against the spread” categories, as well as with totals.
AGAINST THE SPREAD
Week 13 best bets: 1-4 (-70). Season best bets: 39-25 (.609; +$156.50 on season). Week 13 all picks against the spread: 9-6. Season all picks ATS: 103-85 (.548)
STRAIGHT UP (no spread)
Week 13: 7-7. Season: 111-81 (.578).
Week 13: 6-9. Season: 103-90 (.534).
(click on week to view)
Week 13: 1-4 best bets (-$70); 9-6 ATS; 7-7 straight up; 6-9 over/unders.
Week 12: 3-2 best bets (+37); 11-4 ATS; 12-3 straight up; 8-7 over/unders.
Week 11: 1-3 best bets (-$81); 5-7 ATS; 9-5 straight up; 7-7 over/unders.
Week 10: 2-3 best bets (+$16); 7-7 ATS; 6-8 straight up; 6-8 over/unders.
Week 9: 4-1 best bets (+52.40); 9-2 ATS; 9-4 straight up; 5-8 over/unders.
Week 8: 4-1 best bets (+$69); 9-6 ATS; 13-2 straight up; 6-9 over/unders.
Week 7: 3-2 best bets (-$5); 5-9 ATS; 6-8 straight up; 9-5 over/unders.
Week 6: 4-1 best bets (+$62.60); 9-5 ATS; 8-6 straight up; 6-8 over/unders.
Week 5: 3-2 best bets (+$2); 10-5 ATS; 9-7 straight up; 10-6 over/unders.
Week 4: 4-1 best bets (+$37); 9-6 ATS; 9-7 straight up; 10-6 over/unders.
Week 3: 3-2 best bets (-$5); 5-11 ATS; 8-8 straight up; 8-7 over/unders.
Week 2: 4-1 best bets (+$57); 7-9 ATS; 9-7 straight up; 12-4 over/unders.
Week 1: 3-2 best bets (-$15); 8-8 ATS; 6-9 straight up; 10-6 over/unders.\
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Upstate Action