After a couple of bad weeks, I was happy to just have a neutral result in this column last week as Erik and I both recorded a tie (KC -3) to push for the week at 2-2-1. I did a little better in real life betting as I had an excellent Thanksgiving day, cashing bets on the Texans to cover, Deshaun Watson to throw for over 306.5 yards, and taking the moneyline on the underdog Washington Football Team.
We’ve got five weeks of the regular season left, which means I’ve got 25 bets left to make to try and get back to even. If anyone ever needed to go on a heater, it’s this column as we slalom through this crazy 2020 schedule. One thing you’ll notice this week is an abundance of heavy favorites. Eight of the fifteen games on the slate have lines of at least a TD spread. That’s a lot of big lines to deal with, which I find can be tricky with late game covers always presenting a risk. As always, we’ll do our best, hit up the comments to let us know what your favorite lines are for the week.
The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.
|Analyst||Jeff Berckes||Erik Smith||Bryan Sweet|
|Pick #1||IND -3||CLE +5.5||TEN/CLE U54|
|Pick #2||GB -9.5||MIA -11.5||ATL +3|
|Pick #3||TEN -5.5||NO -3||IND -3|
|Pick #4||WFT +9.5||SEA -10||WFT +9.5|
|Pick #5||NE Pick||KC -14||BUF -3|
Jeff Berckes: The Colts and Texans will face off twice in the next three weeks starting this Sunday in Houston. The Texans are coming off a big win on Thanksgiving against the Lions that resulted in Matt Patricia losing his job while the Colts got blown out by the rival Titans. If you were just watching last week, you’d be forgiven to believe that this game should be three points in the other direction, but the Colts are the more complete team and the Texans are dealing with a few issues that will weaken their roster – notably losing Will Fuller for the season. IND -3
The Eagles look lost. My pick to win this sad division in the preseason is on shaky ground and may cost this team more than just a lost season if they can’t show some signs of life soon. Carson Wentz looks broken, whether or not it’s actual regression or revealing his true play with lesser weapons around him really doesn’t matter – he’s not playing well enough to believe in the Eagles. On the other side, the Packers are running hot with Rodgers returning to fire-breathing dragon status. GB -9.5
I’m so excited to watch Browns – Titans this weekend. Yes, I just typed those words. The Browns are 8-3! How the heck did that happen? They’re running the ball incredibly well behind one of the best offensive lines in football and getting by with Baker Mayfield. Their defense has a ton of talent including Miles Garrett, who has put himself in the DPOY conversation. But I think the Titans are the better team right now in a hot divisional race with the Colts. TEN -5.5
The undefeated Steelers are a whole lot of fun to watch with incredible defense and a short passing game that continues to work well given they have three WRs that are the envy of every team in the league. They get to play and NFC East team this week so let’s pencil them in for a blowout, right? Not so fast, my friend. Washington is starting to play decent football and might win that sad, strange division. I don’t think they’re a pushover any longer and while I wouldn’t bet the moneyline, I absolutely think they can keep this one within one score. WFT +9.5
The gap between the coaching in the Patriots-Chargers game seems important to discuss. I realize that the excitement level with the Chargers is high with Justin Herbert, but week after week we see Anthony Lynn and his staff make bad game management decisions that have cost his team plenty of opportunities. On the other side, no one gives rookie QBs more issues than Bill Belichick and his in-game management is the best in the game. Belichick’s game planning and ability to exploit issues in flawed teams is what I’m betting on in our first “pick ’em” line of the year. NE Pick
Erik Smith: As a Bengals fan I don’t like taking the Browns here. They aren’t as good as their record indicates and they have a historic track record of letting us down. But five and a half just feels like too many points. The Texans have the third-worst sack percentage in the league, so Baker Mayfield should be relatively comfortable in the pocket (or at least as comfortable as Baker can be in the pocket). And the Browns have one of the few rushing attacks in the league that can go toe-to-toe with the Titans. With Myles Garrett returning to the starting lineup, the Browns should be able to hang around here. CLE +5.5
I picked against the post-Burrow Bengals last week, and they hung around with the Giants long enough for Daniel Jones to get hurt and keep the game in shouting distance. Regardless, they were down 9 in the fourth quarter before they covered, the offense looked lifeless, and the Dolphins are a much better team than the Giants. Plus, RYAN FITZPATRICK REVENGE GAME! Need I say more? MIA -11.5
I would feel better about this one if Julio Jones were out of action, as the Falcons offense starts and stops with Julio and he looks to be trending towards playing this week. But the Saints are the superior team, regardless of what you think about Taysom Hill, and their defense has allowed a combined 28 points the last weeks against the Bucs, 49ers, Falcons, and Broncos. The Saints have won all but two games by three or more points, while they have won three games by exactly three points. Hopefully, we can avoid the push. NO -3
Daniel Jones is doubtful with a hamstring injury, so we are likely looking at Russell Wilson vs Colt McCoy. Russell Wilson vs Colt McCoy, Russell Wilson vs Colt McCoy, Russell Wilson vs Colt McCoy. Do I need to say it any more times than that? It’s a big number against a scrappy Giants team, but New York let the Brandon Allen-led Bengals get the ball back at mid-field with a chance to win the game at the end. Take the superior quarterback here and hope for the best. SEA -10
Here is the list of the teams that the Chiefs have beaten by 14 or more points this year: the Texans, Ravens, Patriots, Broncos, and Jets. That’s almost half of their games while playing a first-place schedule. They beat this Broncos team 43-16 back in Week 7, hopefully Kansas City doesn’t get bored and let them back into the game late as they did with Tampa Bay last week. KC-14
Bryan Sweet: I just can’t believe the highest total on the board is in the game that features the two best rushing offenses in the NFL. I can see a scenario where the clock just continues to run and each team possesses the ball seven or eight times. Each team should be able to stop the other on defense at least once or twice and I just can’t imagine this total getting to 50 points. This means the final will probably be 45-42 or something crazy, but I’m sticking to my gut in this one. TEN/CLE U54
A funny thing happened against Las Vegas last week – the Atlanta Falcons found a defense. In a game all three of us thought the Raiders would cover, the Falcons put a beat down on the visitors. The Falcons are quietly 4-2 since Raheem Morris stepped into the role of interim head coach and Morris is known for helping mold a Tampa Bay defense that was very good during his short tenure there. Atlanta isn’t playing for anything other than hurting a division rival’s chances at securing the #1 seed. Plus Taysom Hill is still piloting the offense which should keep the game at least close. ATL +3
We just saw the Colts get dismantled by the Titans last week but I think that’s more indicative of how good the Titans are as opposed to how bad the Colts are. Houston had a field day against the Lions but their offensive line is atrocious and just lost Will Fuller to a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Houston doesn’t match up well with Indianapolis and I don’t think they will be able to hang after halftime. IND -3
If there was a team that doesn’t look like its record it’s the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite starting out 11-0, it was a struggle to put away a depleted Ravens squad on Wednesday and now they have a shorter turnaround to face a Washington team that isn’t as bad as their 4-7 record. The Steelers lost a key defensive piece in Bud Dupree during that Baltimore game and they can’t run the ball right now. Washington’s defensive line can give Roethlisberger fits and while I think the Steelers win, they’ve played in too many one-score games to be spotting this many points. WFT +9.5
As we head towards the end of the season, I like to look at teams that have something significant to play for regarding the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills are surprisingly in a dogfight with the Miami Dolphins for control of the AFC East and can’t rest on their laurels to cruise to a division title. Buffalo’s only losses this season have come to the playoff-bound Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs and were victimized in Week 10 by the “Hail Murray” against Arizona. This is a classic trap game with the Steelers on tap for Week 14 but I think Buffalo can outlast the 49ers on Monday Night. BUF -3
What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)