I went 2-3 in Week 13, and I’m now a disappointing 27-37-1 on the season. I need a 5-0 or 4-1 week at some point to help my chances of getting back to .500 with four weeks left; maybe this is the week I get back on track.
As always, my picks will be separated into five categories. Keep in mind that some game theory could factor into my selections because of the large-field NFL “picks” contest I’m in. For example, I might avoid a game in an attempt to be contrarian if I think a large amount of the field will be on a certain side.
I’m more confident in the games this week than the last few weeks. Here’s what I’m currently thinking for the Week 14 slate.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any injury news that is not factored into the contest line. I will tweet from @natejacobson1 when I have a change in opinion on a game. I will also discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. This week’s show is on Friday at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope or Stadium’s Twitter.
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Patriots (-3) over Chiefs: Patriots on the moneyline might be my favorite bet of the NFL season. This line indicates that Kansas City is slightly better than New England on a neutral field because the Patriots should get more than the default three points for home-field advantage. I like the idea of the Patriots bouncing back off a loss in Houston. Kansas City is coming off a 40-9 win against the Raiders, but they were outgained 332-259 in that game and the Chiefs’ running game continued to struggle. The lack of a reliable rushing attack will make this matchup difficult for Patrick Mahomes against one of the best secondaries in the league. I will personally bet New England just to win the game and I like them at -3 in contests.
Rams (PK) over Seahawks: The line for this game was Seahawks -1 after their Monday night win against the Vikings. It’s now at a pick ’em and I think the Rams should be favored. The Seahawks are 10-2 but only have a point differential of +36. For comparison sake, the 10-2 49ers have a point differential of +166. The Seahawks are a lucky team and the Rams have revenge on their minds after a one-point loss in Seattle earlier this season. Los Angeles also needs this game at home to stay in the playoff race. There’s value on the Rams – they will win this game on Sunday night.
Sides I’ll likely use
Broncos (+9) over Texans: The Texans played as well as they can play against the Patriots in primetime last week. Usually when a team plays their best with everyone watching, I look to fade them the next week. I’m going to do that here – especially since beating New England was such a big deal for Houston, and they visit division-chasing Tennessee next week. The Broncos have a rookie quarterback in Drew Lock making his first road start, but the team isn’t as bad as their 4-8 record indicates. This Denver team was a four-point road underdog in Buffalo just two weeks ago with Brandon Allen at quarterback. So there’s still line value taking Denver and a strong situational fade of Houston.
Picks I’m considering
Bills (+5.5) over Ravens: I was hoping the contest line would come out to +6, but I still want to consider the home underdog at 5.5. I have criticized the Bills all season for not beating a good team, but they impressed me on Thanksgiving by beating the Cowboys. The Ravens have won eight straight games and you have to pay a premium if you want to bet on them. I believe this line should be closer to a field goal, so there’s enough value to consider Buffalo.
Colts (+3) over Buccaneers: The look-ahead line for this game last week was Buccaneers -1. The two-point line move is largely due to the fact that the Colts lost 31-17 to the Titans last week. However, Indianapolis would’ve won that game if they had better field goal kicking. The Colts outgained the Titans 391-292, so that was a misleading final. The Colts need this game in order to stay in the playoff race and Jameis Winston is a very turnover-prone quarterback on the other side.
Cardinals (+2.5) over Steelers: There are two games this week that have very similar handicaps. This is the first one, as the Steelers travel west to face the Cardinals. The Steelers are coming off a huge division win against the Browns and have a Sunday night game against the Bills on deck. The Cardinals are coming off an embarrassing division loss against the Rams. We are getting line value here based on the results from last week, but it’s also a very tricky spot for Pittsburgh and third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges. I would like the Cardinals a lot at +3. If it stays at +2.5 I would bet Arizona in a teaser with the next game.
Raiders (+2.5) over Titans: The second game with a similar handicap is the Titans traveling to face the Raiders. The Titans are coming off a divisional win against the Colts and next week they have a vital home game against the Texans. The Raiders are following back-to-back road losses in which they lost to the Jets and Chiefs by a combined score of 74-12. Line value is created by recent results and the scheduling situation goes against the Titans. It’s another game were I would bet the Raiders if the line was raised to +3. At +2.5, I would have them as a teaser leg that goes to +8.5.
Games I’ll likely avoid
49ers at Saints (-2.5): The line opened Saints -3.5 and money has come in on the road team to bring it under the key number of three. San Francisco lost by a field goal in Baltimore last week, but the 49ers outgained the Ravens 331-283 and covered the spread. I agree with the line move on San Francisco; value is lost in the number so I will probably stay away.
Bengals at Browns (-8.5): The contest line is locked in at 8.5, but it has gone down to 7.5 on Thursday morning. There might be some concern about Baker Mayfield’s apparent injury and the Bengals are a better team with Andy Dalton under center. My initial thought in this game was to tease the Browns down to under a field goal, but will wait to see if Mayfield can play before doing anything with this game.
Panthers at Falcons (-3): Usually I like backing a team in the first game after they fire the coach. Players either rally for the coach or they want to prove it isn’t their fault for the coach being fired. However, firing Ron Rivera feels different with a new owner making the calls so don’t know what kind of motivation we’ll see from Carolina.
Dolphins at Jets (-5.5): Before last week’s results, the Jets were a 7.5-point favorite in this game. The Jets losing to the Bengals and Dolphins upsetting the Eagles led to a two-point line move through the key numbers of seven and six. The line value is gone from the Miami side, but they are the only way I could look.
Giants at Eagles (-9.5): This line was sitting at 8.5 on Wednesday morning and went up a point when news broke that Eli Manning will likely start this game on Monday night. I would lean toward the Eagles after they let down a lot of people last week, but I don’t trust them to win by double digits.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Cowboys (-3) at Bears: Both teams are 6-6, but I think this spread is correct for the Thursday night game. No need to force a play here, so I’m going to sit back and watch without action.
Redskins at Packers (-12.5): The Packers are going to be a good team to fade later in the season and the playoffs, but I can’t take the Redskins at Lambeau Field.
Lions at Vikings (-13): This would probably be a good spot to fade the Vikings coming off a Monday night loss in Seattle. However, the Lions are going back to David Blough at starting quarterback and I don’t know how the undrafted rookie from Purdue will fare in his first road start.
Chargers (-3) at Jaguars: Two teams I want no part of. The Chargers keep losing heartbreaking games. The Jaguars appear to be a team that has quit and they are unbettable the rest of the season.