Week 14 picks from a "dog or pass" point of view"
Our “roller coaster” of an NFL season continued on its downward segment of track in the Tuley’s Takes home office in unlucky Week 13.
The really frustrating part for yours truly is this is usually the time of year when we make bank as the conventional wisdom out there is that there is a bigger gap between the haves and have-nots, so that usually leads to favorites being overinflated and underdogs being underrated and getting far too many points. But it hasn’t worked out that way the past two weekends.
After favorites dominated 12-4 SU and ATS in Week 12 (which included Thanksgiving) and we went 2-4 ATS with our supposed Best Bets, faves went 10-3 SU & ATS in Week 13, but I fared even worse at 1-4 ATS.
We took a goose egg on Sunday at 0-4 ATS with the Saints +4 vs. the Lions, Commanders +9.5 vs. Dolphins, Broncos +3.5 at Texans and Browns +3.5 at Rams all failing to cover the spread. The Saints and Broncos had their chances, but the Commanders and Browns weren’t close.
At least we cut some of our losses with the Bengals +8.5 at the Jaguars as they pulled the 34-31 outright upset in OT on Monday Night Football (Bengals closed +10, so tons of value for late bettors, plus we grabbed +400 on the moneyline to further cut our losses).
Let’s move on to the full Week 14 card with 15 games as the Cardinals and Commanders are the last teams to get their bye weeks – and hopefully, more of our underdog plays are live like the Bengals and not like the others.
For newcomers to this column, I’m a “dog-or-pass bettor,” and my breakdown of each game will usually be from that point of view as we try to determine if the dog is getting enough points to make them a play – or if I recommend passing on the game, which is a very valid and valuable betting decision when trying to come out ahead against the books! Even if I don’t have an official Best Bet, I’ll still at least give my recommended “pool play strategy” for those who are in contests where you have to pick every game.
This Thursday nighter with the Patriots (2-10) visiting the Steelers (-7-5) wasn’t circled by too many people as must-see TV, though Mike Tomlin has Pittsburgh heading toward another winning season and in the thick of the AFC wild-card race. My first thought would be to take Bill Belichick off a loss, but it’s actually been five straight losses since the Pats’ 29-25 upset of the Bills in Week 7. Regular readers know I like Bailey Zappe, but New England’s points scored in those five games are 17, 17, 6, 6, 0. I can’t take them at less than a TD, even in a game with an incredibly low Over/Under at 30 points (and I won’t be touching the total either)!
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in my rare ATS contests that use the Thursday night game and all SU pools).
This is a pretty important game in the AFC playoff race with the Jaguars (8-4 and trying to hold on in the AFC South with a lead down to one game) visiting the Browns (7-5 and in the wild-card hunt). The advance line for this game last week was Jaguars -3, but has flipped with the high ankle sprain suffered by Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence. But we feel that’s an overadjustment as Lawrence still hasn’t been declared out; besides, backup CJ Beathard went 9-for-10 and led the tying FG drive late in regulation vs. the Bengals on Monday Night Football, though was unable to get the win in OT. I actually like Jacksonville’s QB options better than Cleveland’s. FYI: DraftKings offering Jaguars +3.5 -115 as of early Wednesday night, so as always shop around.
Best Bet: Jaguars +3 or better (pool play: Jaguars 60/40 in ATS contests – higher at +3.5 – but Browns still 55/45 in SU pools).
The Ravens (9-3) have a two-game lead in the AFC North and are trying to secure the conference’s No. 1 seed. We obviously agree they should be favored here, especially coming off their bye with a spread-covering 20-10 win at the Chargers and 34-20 vs. the Bengals in their two prior games. However, don’t forget they lost to the Browns 33-31 in Week 10 as 6-point home faves and also failed to cover as 9.5-point road faves in a 31-24 win at the lowly Cardinals in Week 8, so they can’t always be trusted to win by more than a TD.
Besides, the Rams are playing their best football of the season with three straight wins: a narrow 17-16 win vs. the Seahawks and then comfortable wins, 37-14 at the Cardinals and 36-19 vs. the Browns (and if you love “common opponents” as much as I do, you have to be encouraged by the fact the Ravens failed to cover at the Cardinals and lost outright vs. the Browns).
Best Bet: Rams +7 (pool play: Rams 65/35 in ATS contests, but Ravens still 67/33 in SU pools).
The Panthers (whose No. 1 pick is held by the Bears) is another team we’re still not willing to back even though they did cover Sunday in their 21-18 loss at the Buccaneers after being +5.5 earlier in the week and closing +3.5 (kudos to those who jumped on the Panthers, but I’m not willing to do it).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
The last time we saw the Bears, they were upsetting the Vikings 12-10 as 3-point road underdogs on Monday Night Football in Week 12 before their bye week. And, prior to that, they were covering vs. these same Lions in a 31-26 Week 11 loss in Detroit. However, I still can’t pull the trigger with them getting just +3.5 at home in Sunday’s rematch. After that Lions’ non-cover vs. the Bears, they certainly stubbed their collective toe even worse with their 29-22 loss vs. the Packers on Thanksgiving, but they bounced back to win and cover in a 33-28 win at the Saints on Sunday. We don’t trust the Bears to stay as close again.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Lions 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
A lot of people are ignoring the NFC South with three mediocre teams as the Falcons are in first place at 6-6 with the Buccaneers tied with the Saints a game back at 5-7 (and the Panthers with the league’s worst record at 1-11), but this is an important game with division lead on the line. I’m not willing to bet the Buccaneers +1.5 after they lost 16-13 at home in the first meeting on Younghoe Koo’s 51-yard field goal as time expired, but we’ll certainly count on them to stay within one score by leading off our 2-point, 6-point teaser with Buccaneers +7.5 with our other top teaser option on the Bills +8.5 at the Chiefs. We also like the Broncos teased up to +8,5, and enough though we’re on the Rams +7 as one of our Best Bets for the week, we still wouldn’t talk anyone out of teasing the Ravens down from -7 to -1 and using with one or both of these dogs.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser with Buccaneers +7.5/Bills +8.5 and others (pool play: Falcons 55/45 in all SU & ATS contests).
Speaking of teasers, I’m sure a lot of people are thinking of teasing the Bengals up to +7 (at least as of this writing early Wednesday night), and I was tempted as well. However, it’s not technically in the “teaser zone” as you only get the push at +7 (unless you pay extra juice to +7.5 which we don’t feel is worth it in the long run), plus it looks like this line is more likely to go to pick-’em instead of to +1.5 to make it a more appealing teaser option.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts 55/45 in all SU & ATS contests).
Most of the time, I would be looking to fade the Texans (a team usually an underdog that’s thrust into the role of favorite), especially as road chalk. However, the Jets are on a five-game losing streak and in disarray with Zach Wilson (who lost three of those games) reluctantly taking back the starting QB job after the failed two-game experiment with Tim Boyle. The Jets were playable earlier in the season but certainly not now (unless we get them as double-digit dogs, then we’ll talk).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
The 49ers made the much-hyped Week 13 game at the Eagles into a laughing stock with a 42-19 road rout. They hit a rough patch before their bye week but have hit their stride since; however, I have to take the Seahawks with the inflated points there. Seattle has been up and down all year at 6-6 – and did fail to cover at home in a 31-13 loss vs. the 49ers just two weeks ago on Thanksgiving Night as 7-point dogs – but they were able to go toe-to-toe with the Cowboys last Thursday in a 41-35 loss to cover as 9-point dogs and can do the same thing here as double-digit divisional dogs.
Best Bet: Seahawks +10.5 (pool play: Seahawks 65/35 in ATS contests, but 49ers still 75/25 in SU pools).
I want to trust the local Vegas boys as they have been playing better since interim coach Antonio Pierce took over for Josh McDaniels, but this number is too short even though the Vikings have hit the proverbial wall after clawing their way back into the NFC playoff race before back-to-back losses at the Broncos and then the even more embarrassing 12-10 loss vs. the Bears in the Week 12 Monday Night Football game before their bye.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in ATS contests and 65/35 in SU pools).
I was considering the Broncos as one of my Best Bets when the line was looking like it would hold at +3, but during the course of Wednesday, most books lowered the line to 2.5 (as of deadline, BetMGM and Resorts Worlds were the only Vegas books still offering +3 -120) and put it in prime teaser territory. Despite letting us down on Sunday vs, the Texans, the Broncos are certainly a much-improved team from earlier in the season and should be able to stay within one score of the still overrated Chargers. We mentioned the Bucs +7.5 at the Falcons as our top teaser play in Sunday’s early games, but if you miss that, our top recommendation for the 4:25 p.m. kickoffs is this game with the Bills.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser with Broncos +8.5/Bills +8.5 among others (pool play: Broncos 55/45 in ATS contests, though Chargers still 60/40 in SU pools).
We’ve written often about how we haven’t been afraid to fade these two teams as they usually seem to play close games, so it’s just natural that we’ll tease the underdog Bills up from +2.5 through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to +8.5. These teams certainly know each other well even though they’re not divisional rivals, so that’s another reason why this is a prime teaser option, plus the fact the Bills have won three of the last five head-to-head battles and have outscored the Chiefs 136-122 in those games (average of 27.2-24.4).
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser with Bills +8.5/Buccaneers +7.5 earlier or Broncos +8.5 in afternoon games (pool play: Bills 55/45 in ATS contests, but Chiefs 55/45 in SU pools because they do tend to pull out close games like this).
Dallas coach Mike McCarthy experienced abdominal pain Wednesday morning and had surgery while we wrote this column. But that’s not why I’m fading the Cowboys here (as regular readers know, I don’t overreact to bad news as I expect teams to adjust to things like this – “next man up, “ etc. – plus, McCarthy is expected to be on the sidelines and calling plays on Sunday night).
The advance line on this game was Cowboys -2.5, but after the Eagles were rolled 42-19 by the 49ers, it crossed the key number of 3 so we now get the hook. We’ll take it as we expect the Eagles to be in this game the whole way – and don’t forget they beat these Cowboys 28-23 in the first meeting of the season. Besides, the Cowboys didn’t cover vs. the Seahawks last Thursday night, and the Eagles are a much better team, so there’s a decent chance the spread comes into play in a game decided by a FG.
Best Bet: Eagles +3.5 (pool play: Eagles 60/40 in ATS contests, but the Cowboys still 60/40 in SU pools).
We get a Monday Night Football doubleheader this week. Neither game is particularly appealing unless you have money on them. And we will, especially with the Titans as double-digit road underdogs. They’ve certainly been struggling at 4-8, including losing three of their last four games, but the fact is that they’ve only lost three of their games by more than this spread, so still a better-than-average chance that they stay within two TDs.
The Dolphins are obviously becoming more and more of a public team with their high-powered offense and easily covered their last two games in a 34-13 win at the Jets on Black Friday and a 45-15 at the Commanders this past Sunday, but just go back to Week 11 when they were -14 vs. the Raiders, and they only won 20-13, so the Titans can do that as well.
Best Bet: Titans +13.5 (pool play: Titans 65/35 in ATS contest, but Dolphins still 75/25 in SU pools).
I would usually love a home underdog on MNF, but no thank you on the Giants with Tommy Devito even though they’re on a two-game winning streak with uninspiring wins over the Commanders and Patriots before their bye week. Besides, the Packers are playing even better with more impressive upsets of the Lions on Thanksgiving and the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Packers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).