Friday was a long sports betting day, which was a little surprising as we thought we would be suffering from some withdrawals with no college football plus MLB a distant memory, but it started early with the Croatia-Brazil World Cup match.
And what a thrilling day of soccer it was with Croatia’s upset and then Argentina’s win vs. the Netherlands (see betting recaps below for more detail). I was kicking myself for not posting a play on Croatia +1.5 as I bet it after seeing so many people touting Brazil -1.5 as a sure thing – and with nearly 90% of the bets and money at DraftKings on the favorite (note: one of the great resources at VSiN.com is the Betting Splits Pages
, especially if you’re looking to fade the public). I was going to post it in Friday morning’s column, but I already had two plays of the day and I was also afraid most readers wouldn’t see it in time with the game so early.
Anyway, at least I won my posted Best Bet of the day on the Magic +8.5 vs. the Raptors as they not only covered as a swagger play (after snapping 9-game losing streak in their previous game to get some swagger back) but pulled the 113-109 outright upset.
That ended a bit of a slump this week, but we’re still 26-16-1 ATS (61.9%) since Oct. 27 with our top daily play. We did, however, lose our second pick on the Ducks +105 vs. the Sharks in a 6-1 loss.
Let’s recap the rest of Friday’s betting action before getting to our Best Bets for Saturday. Then, as has become our custom here, we’ll update our “takes” on the full NFL Week 14 schedule.
Soccer: Croatia upset Brazil on penalty kicks in the World Cup quarterfinals. The ViewFromVegas is that Croatia was a 1.5-goal underdog (-130) as it seemed like the whole chalk-loving world was on Brazil -1.5 (87% of bets and 90% of money). Croatia was also +675 in 2-way betting to advance. The 3-way betting for 90 minutes paid +375 for the Draw. Under 2.5 also cashed. In the other quarterfinal played Friday, Argentina beat Netherlands on penalty kicks as the 90-minute Draw paid +210.
NBA: Faves went 5-4 SU Friday with Timberwolves-Jazz closing pick'-em, but dogs led 5-3-1 ATS with Grizzlies (-11) pushing in 114-103 win vs. Pistons. The upsets were by the Magic (+8.5 vs. Raptors), Kings (+3.5 at Cavaliers), Pelicans (+1.5 vs. Suns) and Bucks (+1 at Mavericks). Hawks (+7) covered in 120-116 loss at Nets. Home teams went 6-4 SU, but road teams led 5-4-1 ATS. Unders 7-3.
More NBA: On the season, faves lead 249-130 SU with 7 games closing pick-’em, but dogs improved slim lead to 188-177-14 ATS (51.5%). Home teams lead 238-148 SU and 197-175-14 ATS (53%). Unders retook slim lead in totals wagering at 192-189-5 (50.4%).
CBB: No. 18 Gonzaga beat Washington 77-60 Friday night in the only game involving a Top 25 team and barely covered as a 16.5-point home favorite (stayed Under 148.5).
NHL: Favorites went 7-3 on Friday (18-4 last 3 days). The upsets were by the Coyotes (+275 vs. Bruins), Blue Jackets (+220 vs. Flames) and Islanders (+185 at Devils). Home/road teams split 5-5. Over/Unders also split 5-5. On the season, faves lead 253-169 with 10 PKs. Home teams lead 221-207 with 4 neutral-site games. Overs lead 210-206-16.
Saturday Best Bets
Spurs +12 at Heat: After cashing with the Magic on Friday, this is another swagger play as the Spurs snapped an 11-game losing streak on Thursday night with a 118-109 win vs. the Rockets. The Spurs are a woeful 7-18 (28%) on the season, but should have some confidence restored (aka swagger) with that victory, Meanwhile, the Heat are fadeable at only 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS in their last 3 games as a favorite, including a non-covering 110-105 win vs. the Clippers on Thursday.
Army-Navy Under 32.5: I didn’t make this my Best Bet of the day because the total has been set so low, but the Under has hit 16 straight in this classic rivalry and we’ve cashed in probably three-quarters of those, so we’re playing with house money from winning so much on this bet over the years that we don’t mind if we lose 1 unit (but would kick ourselves if it’s another 17-13 score like last year or something like that).
And here's the rerun of this week's breakdown of NFL Week 14:
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). Thursday update: the line is up to 6.5 at most books, but we're still passing on the underdog Rams; we did, however, add Over 43.5 in the VSiN Best Bet story for Thursday Night Football on the website as well as our play of the day above. Friday update: LOSER...but we turn our attention to Sunday's card.
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). Friday update: line is down to Lions -2 and even -1.5 at some books, but Vikings still teasable up to +7.5 or better. Saturday update: in the VSiN Best Bets column at VSiN.com, I included this as a play at Vikings +8/Ravens +8.
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). Friday update: Jets went back to +10 at most books on Thursday and still widely available as of early Saturday.
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). Friday update: just like Vikings-Lions game, line mostly down to Steelers -2 but Ravens still in "teaser zone."
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). Friday update: BetMGM and some other books up to 7.5, so let's wait to see where the line peaks.
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). Friday update: line down to Bengals -5.5, but we'll see if it bounces back.
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). Thursday update: we were on the right side of the line move as the total is down to 41 at most books; I wouldn't take the Under at anything less.
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). Friday update: line up to 17.5 but we're still passing (probably...check back on Sunday).
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). Thursday update: again, we hope readers grabbed the better number as it's down to 3.5 at most books.
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). Thursday update: in this case, the +3.5 is still widely available but a lot of books have gone to +3.5 -120.
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). Saturday update: most books down to +9, but I'd still play it at +8.5 or higher.
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).