Welcome to our Wednesday column in which we give our “takes” on the full NFL Week 14 schedule.
Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s card (even if I don't have a Best Bet on a game, I'll still give my "pool play" strategy, especially for those in contests where you have to pick every game), and then after the Monday nighter we’ll run an abbreviated version of our daily recaps along with a Best Bet for Wednesday.
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of early Wednesday morning unless otherwise noted. Check out VSIN.com's live NFL odds page for current odds.
Las Vegas Raiders (-6) at Los Angeles Rams
Hmm, a home underdog on Thursday Night Football sure is tempting. Home dogs have been killing it all season at 40-29-4 ATS (58%), but they’re just 2-3 ATS on TNF (including the Rams +2 failing to cover in a 31-10 loss on opening night when everyone was healthy). That’s the problem as the Rams have been battling injuries all season and are without starting QB Matthew Stafford. John Wolford nearly pulled off an upset of the Seahawks on Sunday, though he was only 14-for-26 for just 178 yards and threw two INTS as L.A. dropped its sixth straight game. Even though they covered as 6.5-point home dogs vs. the Seahawks, I just don’t trust them to do that in two straight games against a Raiders offense that’s just started hitting its stride in its three-game winning streak.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Raiders in all my rare SU and ATS contests that use Thursday games).
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-2.5)
This is the most surprising line move of the week as the Vikings (10-2) opened as short road favorites, but the line has flipped to the Lions being favored. Regular readers of this column know that the Lions have been one of my preferred teams to back the past two seasons (they were 11-6 ATS last year despite a 3-13-1 SU record and are 8-4 ATS this year, including five covers in a row. While the Lions did cover as short 1-point faves in their 40-14 rout of the Jaguars on Sunday, the last time they were favored (and the only other time this season) was as 3-point chalk vs. the Seahawks in Week 4 as they lost 48-45. This is a clear case of where we love to fade a team in the unfamiliar favorite’s role; however, we feel more confident in just using the Vikings in 2-team, 6-point teasers and count on the Vikings to play another one-score game (they are 9-0 in one-score games so far this season, so we still might take the regular spread or on the money line).
Best Bet: Vikings +8.5 in teasers (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-9.5)
We gave this out as Jets +10 on our regular appearance on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT Sunday night) and in the Monday version of this column. I’ve been encouraging regular readers to turn in each Sunday night as my plays on that show going 27-12 ATS (69.2%) since the start of the football season and 14-3 ATS (82.4%) since the start of November (the latter have all been early NFL picks for the following week). Double-digit dogs are 11-7 ATS (61.1%) this season, but we also faded these same Bills when they were 9.5-point faves at the Lions on Thanksgiving and covered as the Lions only lost 28-25. We also cashed with the Jets +10.5 in the first meeting between these two teams this season in the Bills’ 20-17 win in Week 9 and the Packers +10.5 the week before as the Bills only won 27-17. The Bills have been letting teams stick around all season as they’re only 5-6-1 ATS. The Jets failed to cover as 3-point dogs in their 27-22 loss at the Vikings last week, but they had their chances and we expect another one-score game here as the Vikings also went toe-to-toe with the Bills in their classic 33-30 battle in Week 10.
Best Bet: Jets +9.5 or better (pool play: Jets 67/33 in ATS contests, but Bills still 70/30 in SU pools).
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)
This is the time of year when a lot of quarterbacks start falling by the wayside as the hits keep piling. Lamar Jackson is expected to miss this start for the Ravens (8-4), who are tied with the Bengals atop the AFC North. Tyler Huntley stepped in for Jackson and Sunday and rallied the Ravens to a 10-9 win vs. the Broncos, though they failed to cover as 8.5-point faves. The Ravens were -4.5 on the advance line for this game last week, but it’s flipped to the Steelers being small chalk with the falloff from Jackson to Huntley. The Steelers (5-7) have won two straight games (at the Colts and Falcons) as they try to avoid coach Mike Tomlin having his first losing season. We still give the edge to the Ravens, but not enough to win outright as the safer play is to tease them up through the key numbers of 3 and 7.
Best Bet: Ravens +8.5 in teasers (pool play: Ravens 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).
Philadelphia Eagles (-7) at New York Giants
The Eagles (11-1) still have the NFL’s best record and the inside track on the NFC’s No. 1 seed/first-round bye with a one-game lead over the Vikings (plus the tiebreaker for beating them in Week 2). However, the NFC East still isn’t secured as they only have a two-game lead over the Cowboys (and a rematch coming up in Week 15), plus this is the first of two games vs. the Giants (7-4-1). The Eagles have the No. 3 offense and No. 2 defense in yard gained and yards allowed per game, while the Giants have done it with errors as the offense ranked No. 22 and the defense is No. 23. Despite their lofty record, the Eagles were only 5-5 ATS before back-to-back covers in their 40-33 win vs. the Packers as 6.5-point home favorites and 35-10 rout of the Titans as 4.5-point home faves to improve to 7-5 ATS. But now they’re on the road where they’re only 1-4 ATS. The Giants have been exceeding expectations all season and are 9-3 ATS (5-2 ATS at home) after covering as 2.5-point home underdogs in their 20-20 tie vs. the Commanders on Sunday. This line has risen to Eagles -7, making the Giants a live home dog. NFL teams in that role are 40-29-4 ATS (58%), including 7-1 ATS when getting 7 points or more.
Best Bet: Giants +7 (pool play: Giants 67/55 in ATS contests – less if offered only +6.5 – but Eagles still 70/30 in SU pools).
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)
Deshaun Watson’s season debut was anticlimactic as he was 12-for-22 for just 131 yards and an INT for a QBR of 28.5 and didn’t lead the offense to a score until a FG early in the fourth quarter. The Browns’ only TDs in their 27-14 win over the lowly Texans were on a punt return and two defensive TDs. We expect an improved performance from Watson along with RB Nick Chubb, who is second in the NFL with 1,119 rushing yards. Even with Jacoby Brissett starting the first 12 games of the season, the Browns are No. 6 in average yards per game (just behind the Bengals at No. 5), so the potential is there. Meanwhile, the Bengals (8-4) have survived the “Super Bowl loser hangover” for the part as they’re tied for the AFC North lead with the Ravens, but could be due for a letdown after beating the Chiefs 27-24 on Sunday. Marc Lawrence of playbook.com (and a contestant in the Circa Friday Invitational on VSiN on Friday nights) also shares a system that teams like the Bengals that went from worst to first in their division the prior season are 42-66-3 ATS, including 11-29 ATS as division hosts. Fade away.
Best Bet: Browns +6 (pool play: Browns 60/40 in ATS contests but Bengals still 70/30 in SU pools).
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Despite getting blown out 35-10 by the Eagles, the Titans (7-5) still hold a three-game lead in the AFC South over the Colts (4-8-1) and these Jaguars (4-8), which they face twice in the final five weeks. That was the second straight loss for the Titans, who started the season 0-2 but went 7-1 (and 8-0 ATS) in-between. Tennessee’s offense ranks just No. 29 in yards per game as it relies a lot on RB Derrick Henry, who is third in the league with 1,078 rushing yards. QB Ryan Tannehill has mostly succeeded in the game-manager role, but he was sacked six times by the Eagles and wasn’t able to rally the Titans when they fell behind, which is a concern. The Jaguars have looked much-improved at times this season – including upsets of the Colts, Chargers, Raiders and Ravens – but they’ve still lacked consistency with a middle-of-the-road No. 17 scoring offense (behind second-year QB Trevor Lawrence) and a No. 25 defense. The Titans still aren’t receiving much respect from oddsmakers and the public, so this line is too short for me to take the dog, though I like the Under 41.5 points as I don’t expect either offense to put up a lot of points in what looks like a 17-13 game or something similar.
Best Bet: Under 41.5 (pool play: Titans 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys (-17)
Regular readers know we love double-digit NFL dogs (and mentioned above that they’ve justified that love this season at 11-7 ATS), but there are times where I still don’t think I’m getting enough points and this is one of those. The Texans did cover for us earlier this season as DD dogs vs. the Broncos and Eagles, but two weeks ago they failed to cover as 14-point dogs in their 30-15 loss at the Dolphins and then this past Sunday they also came up short as 7.5-point home dogs in a 27-14 loss vs. the Browns even though Deshaun Watson was rusty in his first start. Now, they have to face a Cowboys offense that has put up 49, 28, 40, 28 and 54 points in its last five games and a defense that has allowed an average of just 14 points in their last three games. No thanks.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but Cowboys in all SU pools).
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
VSiN colleague Matt Youmans and I have been saying for years to fade the Chargers as favorites but back the a underdogs. The Chargers are actually 0-4 SU as dogs this season, but 3-1 ATS, though the lone non-cover was in their 27-20 loss at the Raiders this past Sunday after closing as 2.5-point road dogs. But that setback is part of the reason I can’t pull the trigger on them this week as the defense has allowed 27, 24 and 27 points the last three weeks and now is being asked to slow down a Miami offense that had scored 30 or more points in four straight games before being held to just 17 by the 49ers on Sunday. I don’t expect the Chargers defense to pull off that feat.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Dolphins 55/45 in AT contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)
The Seahawks (7-5) rallied to beat the Rams 27-23 in Week 13 to stay one game behind the 49ers in the NFC West and in the thick of the wild-card race with the teams in the NFC East. Geno Smith continues to shine after inheriting the QB job from Russell Wilson and leads the league’s No. 9 offense in yards per game (No. 5 in scoring), though we’re waiting to see if RB Kenneth Walker III’s ankle sprain responds throughout the week. Seattle doesn’t have a Legion of Doom defense anymore, ranking No. 30 in yards allowed per game, so that’s part of the reason they’re only 6-point favorites in this matchup with the Panthers (4-8). Carolina is coming out of its bye week and interim coach Steve Wilks has decided to stay with Sam Darnold at QB after he led the team to a 23-10 win vs. the Broncos. The Panthers also rely on RB D’Onta Foreman, who has four 100-yard games in his last six starts since replacing the departed Christian McCaffrey. Despite splitting those games 3-3 SU, the Panthers are actually on a 5-1 ATS run as they have been more competitive than expected as they’ve upset the Buccaneers, Falcons and Broncos while also covering in SU losses to Falcons and Ravens. I’m a little leery of this as the number feels a little short, but gimme the points.
Best Bet: Panthers +4.5 (pool play: Panthers 60/40 in ATS contests but Seahawks still 70/30 in SU pools).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
The Buccaneers continue to struggle on offense at No. 17 in yards per game, and I’ve been happy to fade them several times this season, including with the Saints +6 early and +3.5 late this past Monday night. Tom Brady ended up rallying the Bucs to a 17-16 win but still didn’t cover. But now you’re telling me I can get Brady vs. Brock Purdy – and 3.5 points? Thank you very much. According to Lawrence again at playbook.com, Brady is 41-17-1 ATS (70.7%) as a dog in his career, including 17-5 ATS (77.3%) when coming off an ATS loss. The 49ers have the better overall team at this point, but I wouldn’t trust them in the favorite role with Purdy – and you know Brady is going to do his best to keep his team in the game like he did again Monday night.
Best Bet: Buccaneers +3.5 (pool play: Buccaneers 60/40 in ATS contest, but 49ers still 55/45 in SU pools).
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Denver Broncos
We cashed with the Broncos 8.5 at the Ravens this Sunday as one of our early NFL picks that have been so hot, and we’ll count on their No. 3 defense to keep them close enough and then have Russell Wilson and the struggling Denver offense do just enough to get the point-spread cover like they did in the 10-9 loss on Sunday. That improved them to 4-3 ATS in the underdog role. We don’t expect this to be as low-scoring defense with the Chiefs’ high-powered No. 1 offense, but the Chiefs (9-3) do tend to let teams stick around as they’re 4-8 ATS on the season, including 3-7 ATS as chalk.
Best Bet: Broncos +9.5 (pool play: Broncos 60/40 in ATS contests, though Chiefs still 75/25 in SU pools).
New England Patriots (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals
These have been two tough teams to figure out this season. The Cardinals are coming off their bye and have played better since the return of WR DeAndre Hopkins, though they’re still only 2-4 SU and ATS since then, so we’re unable to take the short number here, but certainly willing to tease them up over a TD with some teasers on Sunday or starting new teasers for the week on Monday. Check our daily updates through the weekend as I finalize how I’m going to play these.
Best Bet: Cardinals +7.5 in teasers (pool play: Patriots 60/40 in SU and ATS contests).
Here’s the abbreviated version of our daily recaps – we lost our top play Tuesday on the Hurricanes -1.5 EVEN vs. the Ducks, but still came out ahead with the Canadiens +180 in their 4-2 win at the Kraken (as well as a recommended play on +1.5 -130 – and then take a look into Contest Corner, plus a Best Bet for Wednesday:
NBA: Underdogs went 2-1 ATS Tuesday with outright upsets by the Pistons (+7.5 in 116-96 win at Heat) and Mavericks (+4.5 in 116-115 win at Nuggets). The Cavaliers (-6) covered in 116-102 win vs. Lakers. Road teams went 2-1 SU and ATS. Unders led 2-1.
More NBA: On the season, faves still lead 233-123 SU with 6 games closing pick-’em, but dogs improved slim lead to 174-169-13 ATS (50.7%). Home teams lead 220-142 SU and 185-164-13 ATS (53%). Overs' slim lead in totals wagering dipped to 179-178-5 (50.1%).
CBB: No. 15 Duke beat Iowa 74-62 and covered as short 1-point favorite in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden (game stayed Under 148.5). Earlier, No. 17 Illinois upset No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT as 3.5-point underdog (went Over 142.5 thanks to overtime).
NHL: Underdogs went 7-2 Tuesday with biggest upsets by the Ducks (+245 in 4-3 OT win vs. Hurricanes), Canadiens (+222 in 4-2 win at Kraken) and Red Wings (+210 in 4-2 win at Lightning). Road teams led 5-4. Over/Unders split 4-4-1 with the push in MON-SEA game with a betting total of 6 goals. On the season, faves lead 235-165 with 10 PKs. Home teams lead 210-196 with 4 neutral-site games. Overs’ slim lead dipped to 198-197-15.
Circa Sports Million had a three-way tie for the top record its “3rd Quarter” contest as BRADSHAW-3, MACHINE-3 and PANZER-1 all went 17-3 in NFL Weeks 10-13 to win $83,333 apiece (note: first place was $150,000, but the trio split the top three prizes). There was a five-way tie for fourth place. BETTING SOCIOPATH-2 went 2-16-2 to win the “3rd Quarter Booby Prize.” As we mentioned in Tuesday’s column, overall leader TAIL PARTY-2 went 4-1 to improve to 45-17-3 (46.5 points with 1 point per win and 0.5 per push) and a 1.5-point lead over Enut34-1, Look Ma No Hands-1 and THE LAND-1 with 45 points.
ICYMI: Circa Survivor is down to 70 live entries after only 1 was eliminated Sunday on the Jaguars. The rest of the final 70 vying for the $6.133 million prize pool used the Browns (36), Seahawks (26), Cowboys (5), Ravens (2) and Vikings (1).
Wednesday Best Bet
Wild +135 at Flames: Let’s return to the ice after coming out ahead on Tuesday. The Wild are a value play as they’re on a four-game win streak. Marc-Andre Fleury is having a tough season, but the defense in front of him limits the times he gets exposed and the Wild is good at penalty-killing while converting 25.6% of their own chances. The Flames aren’t in bad form themselves with two straight wins, but basically this comes down to the fact this line should be closer to pick-’em.