NFL best bets for Week 14 from Steve Makinen


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NFL Week 14 Best Bets

Had another solid result this past weekend in the NFL, going 5-3 to up my season-long Best Bets record to 54-36-1 ATS, and back up to 60%. The crazy thing is that I felt it could have been even better as two highly disappointing losses in the early games took some of the shine off the overall performance.

Denver had a first-and-goal in the final 30 seconds at Houston and couldn’t punch it in after a great drive put them in scoring position. New England couldn’t even muster up the 3-points it would have taken to get the ATS win versus the Chargers, only to go on to light up Pittsburgh for 21 first-half points on Thursday night. Oh well, a 60% NFL season is something I would NEVER complain about!

We move on to Week 14, and I have dug deep into this week’s VSiN NFL Analytics Report to come up with some more plays for Sunday and Monday.

Detroit at Chicago

Seems hard to believe that Chicago is on a 3-0-1 ATS run currently, having won two of its last three outright as well. I don’t think it can be said that the Bears are playing well as they’ve averaged just 17.8 PPG during the ATS streak.

Typically, about this time of year, is when this team has unusually completely unraveled, as they face second time around games against divisional foes. Chicago has been one of the worst rematch teams in the NFL. Take a look at some of the numbers: Chicago 2-12 ATS in the last 14, 1-11 SU and 3-9 ATS in the last 12 as rematch host, 4-18 SU and 6-15-1 ATS in the last 22 revenge tries. This is unfortunately a revenge game because the Bears yielded a big lead to the Lions in Detroit in losing 31-26 three weeks ago.

Meanwhile, head coach Dan Campbell’s team was able to quickly shake off the Thanksgiving Day loss to Green Bay with a big road win at New Orleans. This team remains focused and is clicking offensively, having scored 30.6 PPG over the last five contests. That is the type of production I look for in a road favorite. Plus, the Lions have been one of the league’s better rematch teams, going 12-2 ATS in the last 14.

Let’s lay the -3.5 with Detroit (+/-1)

Carolina at New Orleans

If anyone can figure out this New Orleans team, congratulations because I am stumped. The Saints seem to have a plethora of offensive talent, yet when it seemed it was finally coming together on that side of the ball for them about a month ago, they then went on to lose three straight games and control of the NFC South Division.

Now they will be hosting a Carolina team that was competitive in its first game under new head coach Chris Tabor, not an uncommon thing, as teams get renewed energy it seems from huge in-season coaching changes.

The Saints are 5-point favorites, and an interesting streak system applies because of their recent struggles: NFL teams that have lost at least their last three games outright have gone 49-32 SU but 30-48-3 ATS (38.5%) when favored by 3-points or more since 2013. In other words, you don’t want to lay bigger numbers with struggling teams. Makes sense right? The Panthers haven’t been great, but QB Bryce Young seems to be making strides, and the offense was as productive and balanced as it has been all season long last week. Plus, Carolina is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 trips to New Orleans.

Let’s take the 5-points (+/- 1) with Carolina

Houston at NY Jets

There are certain games on an NFL team’s schedule that fans point to and project wins because they are against so-called weaker opponents, and those games turn out to be more than that team bargained for. This game at New York has that feel to me for the young emerging Texans, who find themselves in the thick of the playoff race with their stud rookie QB CJ Stroud leading the way.

How could the Jets possibly put up a fight here? After all, they’ve lost five games in a row both SU and ATS. Well, this is what makes handicapping NFL games tough for a lot of novice bettors. Just look at what happened in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, where the seemingly dead-in-the-water Patriots pulled the upset with a backup QB.

In this particular game, underdogs are on a 5-0-1 ATS run in the HOU-NYJ series. The Jets losing skid also brings up an intriguing system: NFL teams that have lost the last five ATS while being outscored by 50 points or more in that stretch are 22-50 SU but 45-26-1 ATS (63.4%) since 2007. Don’t be surprised to see New York put up a nice fight here on the young and possibly naïve Texans.

Let’s go Jets +3.5 (+/- 0.5) with a little ML sprinkle as well

Minnesota at Las Vegas

It seems the league caught up to what was going on with Josh Dobbs in Minnesota after a couple of surprising wins, as the Vikings lost their two games before their bye week. That’s what some goof film on a new player can do, as defensive coordinators get a better feel on how to beat a guy. It was evident when Chicago held Minnesota 10 points and just 242 yards of offense.

I think the bye gave head coach Kevin O”Connell’s team a great chance to reset. In addition to getting Dobbs more caught up to the offense, as well as finally getting WR Justin Jefferson back in the lineup, Minnesota will benefit from a few key post-bye week systems we’ve been riding all year as they play as 3-point favorites in Las Vegas. First, road favorites coming out of their bye week are 106-44 SU and 90-57-3 ATS since ’99. Against nonconference opponents, they are 33-15-2 ATS since 2000.

As a franchise, the Vikings are on runs of 6-1 SU as well as 4-1 ATS in post-bye week games vs. AFC foes. Of course, the Raiders are also coming out of their bye week and are on an ugly 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS skid in their last six post-bye-week games vs. NFC foes, outscored by 15.7 PPG. There’s a reason Minnesota is a comfy favorite here.

Let’s lay the 3-points (+/- 0.5) with Minnesota


Denver at LA Chargers

Despite the tight loss at Houston for Denver, and the ugly win for the Chargers at New England last week, I still have to like the current position of the Broncos better in the grand scheme of things. As such, I think it’s yet another good opportunity to back head coach Sean Payton’s hot team in the underdog role at LA.

In all reality, my recent True Home Field Advantage study showed that the Chargers enjoy virtually no edge when playing at home. In fact, their True HF Edge in that analysis turned out to be exactly zero. Taking that into account, the line for this game is essentially indicating that the Chargers are a 2.5-point better team right now than Denver. No way. Public bettors seem to agree with me too, as 62% of the handle and 64% of the bets as of this writing were backing the Broncos.

Normally I am all against that type of backing, but it has been proven in my DK Betting Splits Systems for the NFL that it is actually advantageous when the betting public goes against the grain and backs the road underdogs. With underdogs overall on a 10-4-1 ATS in this head-to-head series, I’m convinced this is a good spot to take some points.

Let’s go Denver +2.5 (+3 better) but with some ML action too

Philadelphia at Dallas

I apologize to any of my loyal followers for not getting behind the Over when Dallas hosted Seattle a couple of weeks ago on Thursday night. Because I was reluctant to back Dallas as the rather large favorite, and because of the rash of primetime Unders hitting, I held off. You could say I outsmarted myself. I will be going back to the Over in this huge SNF tilt between the Eagles and Cowboys.

Prior to that Seattle game, I had been effusive in my praise for Dallas’ ability to score points in Arlington. In fact, the Cowboys have put up 41 PPG in their six home games this season after scoring 35.5 PPG in their final seven home contests last season. Why would it stop here against a team they gained 406 yards on a month ago?

If you recall, last year’s game between these rivals in Dallas was a 40-34 shootout. That game was part of a stretch that has seen Dallas go Over the total in 15 straight home rematch games. Both of these teams know they are going to have to score to win, and I expect big plays on both sides.

Let’s go Dallas-Philadelphia OVER 52 (+/-1)

Tennessee at Miami

There have been a few games this season in which I felt like all or most of the analytics were favoring one side in a game. I can’t recall losing when I’ve felt that way, and I’ve written about those games each time. This game has a similar feel, and it’s going to take some guts to bet as it means going against the high-octane Miami offense.

If you recall last week’s MNF game, however, the seemingly overmatched, but big-game experienced Bengals, did what it took to upset heavily-favored Jacksonville on the road. I’m not saying an outright upset is coming this week in South Beach, but under head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans have always been a gritty team that gets up for better teams, and I expect them to be competitive.

Now, let’s look at a few of the tidbits of info attracting me: First, Miami is on a stretch of nine straight Unders in primetime games. For whatever reason, the offense malfunctions under the lights. If the Dolphins can’t score 30+ here, it makes it very tough to cover 13 points.

Next, this system takes into account Miami’s huge outburst at Washington last week: Teams that scored 45 or more points in their prior game have gone 20-13 SU but 11-22 ATS (33.3%) when favored at home by 3 or more points since 2012. Third, laying 7-points or more has for long not been a good strategy on MNF, as favorites of 7 points or more are 43-13 SU but just 19-35-2 ATS (35.2%) since 2012. With 90%+ handle and 80%+ bets on Miami, this one could be tough for public bettors.

Let’s take the 13-points with Tennessee (+/-1)

For more system matches and key trends, check out the Week 14 NFL Analytics Report.

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As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.