Beating the Spread: Week 14 Picks

Our Week 14 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

A tough week overall for our crew as I was the only one to escape with a winning record in Week 13. We probably should have made our Thanksgiving picks count because my best call of the week was taking Buffalo +7 in Dallas. Consider that one of a freebie. Well, I guess this isn’t behind a paywall so they’re all free.

Anyway, we’re nearing the end of the regular season. There are only 20 picks left for each of us as we aim for QB List supremacy and hopefully make some solid football bets along the way.

I was asked recently how I decide on my bets. Usually, I look at the lines and if something jumps out at me, I’ll write it down. Those are the gut instinct picks. If I can’t talk my way out of those, I usually roll with them. The one pick that jumped out last week was taking the Bucs over the Jags.

After that, I look at matchups, injuries, leverage, home/away, etc. Anything to get me an idea of what the game might look like. Sometimes, that can lead to some interesting choices that don’t work out. This is how I picked the Jets last week…

How do you pick your games? Share your tips in the comments!

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.

Week 14 betting lines: (Away Team / Home Team / Line / O-U)

Carolina Atlanta ATL -3 48
Baltimore Buffalo BAL -5.5 43.5
Cincinnati Cleveland CLE -8.5 40.5
Washington Green Bay GB -13 42
Detroit Minnesota MIN -13 42.5
San Francisco New Orleans NO -3 44
Miami NY Jets NYJ -5.5 44
Indianapolis Tampa Bay TB -3 47.5
Denver Houston HOU -9.5 41.5
LA Chargers Jacksonville LAC -3 43
Tennessee Oakland TEN -2.5 47
Kansas City New England NE -3 48.5
Pittsburgh Arizona PIT -2.5 43.5
Seattle LA Rams SEA -2.5 48
NY Giants Philadelphia PHI -8 47


Staff Picks

Analyst Jeff Berckes Erik Smith Tom Schweitzer
Pick #1 SEA -2.5 TEN -2.5 JAX +3
Pick #2 SF +3 IND-TB U47.5 LAC-JAX  U43
Pick #3 TEN -2.5 MIA +5.5 LAR +2.5
Pick #4 TB -3 SEA +2.5 PHI -8
Pick #5 BAL -5.5 DET-MIN O42
2019 Record 42-23 37-27-1 36-29

 

Analysis:

 

Jeff Berckes: I’ve been fading the Rams most of the year and betting on the Seahawks has been fruitful. I see no reason to stop the fun now that we’re in December. The Seahawks can deal a critical blow to the Rams playoff chances here and every game is important to keep pace with San Francisco and hold onto that #1 seed. I’m with Team Danger-Russ (SEA -2.5). Speaking of San Francisco, the game of the week is taking place down in the Big Easy. I’m surprised this game isn’t a pick ’em spread as I’m not sure how you could lay points on either side of two front-running NFC teams. I guess they’re saying that New Orleans gets the home bump, but they haven’t been invincible at home. I like a close game here but I’ll take the points (SF +3). Tennessee is a team I talked up a bit in the preseason because they had really nice betting odds to take the division. They’re a boring team in their construction because they’re not particularly creative. But, they play good defense and can run the ball with authority. I’ll take them on the road against a Raiders team that seems to have come back down to earth in recent weeks (TEN -2.5). This one scares me a little bit, but Tampa Bay hosts Indianapolis this weekend in a game of two teams trending in opposite directions. The Colts are beat up and have lost three of their last four. The Bucs, on the other hand, have won three of their last four and are starting to look like a fun team. The Colts defense can drag you into a low scoring game, and Famous Jameis’ propensity for turning the ball over gives me pause, but I’ll take the hot hand (TB -3). Finally, I really like Buffalo’s defense, but I simply can’t bet against the Ravens right now. The Ravens have the potential to roll teams, beating the Patriots, Texans, Seahawks, and Rams by 2+ scores in the last six games. I like Buffalo, but I like the odds of the Ravens to cover more (BAL -5.5).

 

Erik Smith: With Tennessee traveling to Oakland, I see value here in the road team. Tennessee has fully figured out their identity; a run-first team that slows games down and plays solid defense. This Raiders team wishes that they could play this style, but their defense typically lets them down. Oakland is fading and the Titans are ascending, so don’t overthink it, TEN -2.5 is the way to go. The Colts have a habit of inducing slow-paced, boring games with their style of play. This matchup is especially problematic for the Colts, as Tampa Bay stifles the run, the Colts’ strength. I’m not sure that Indianapolis has the firepower to fully take advantage of the Buccaneers weak secondary, so I see the Colts struggling to score. And I don’t trust Tampa Bay nearly enough to take their side, so give me Under 47.5 as the Colts turn this into a grind it out, low-scoring game. There’s not much analysis here, I can’t back the Jets as any more than a field goal favorite. The Dolphins are playing hard, have some confidence, and seem to be having fun. The Jets are anything but fun, so give me MIA +5.5. The Rams burnt me last week, as I thought the Cardinals could hang in and keep it a close game. I’m going right back at them, however, as I think that performance against the Cardinals is fools-gold. We’ve seen this Cardinals defense rejuvenate an offense before, only for the offense to fall on their face the following week. Seattle has been a better team all year, and with both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny playing well they have the running game humming. With the game on the line, give me Russell Wilson over Jared Goff all day, SEA +2.5 is the pick. Finally, give me Under 48.5 points scored in the Chiefs vs Patriots game. We tend to get cold weather, slow games in New England this time of the year. The Patriots boast arguably the league’s best defense, while their offense has struggled. And the Chiefs pass defense is better than most people think, while their running game is their weakness. The Patriots have shown very little ability to run the ball, so I expect both offenses to look stuck in the mud at times, resulting in a low point total.

 

Tom Schweitzer: I’ll start with an ugly dog, the Jaguars +3 at home. I’ve been a Nick Foles believer since his days with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, but I have to admit he doesn’t fit with the rest of this Jaguars offense. Foles needs to play in the shotgun and use a quick passing game like he did during his Super Bowl run. The Jaguars don’t have the personnel to play that way. They have a bad offensive line, they don’t have a receiver that can operate in the middle of the field, and Leonard Fournette is much more effective as a traditional power running back. Gardner Minshew’s mobility allows him to play under center more often, which makes Fournette more effective and adds the threat of play-action. Minshew provided a spark when he entered the game last week and I think we may see that carry over to this week. Phil Rivers and the Chargers have proven over and over this year that they shouldn’t be road favorites, so I’ll take the points with the home team. My lack of faith in Rivers and the return of Derwin James also has me looking at Under 43. While the Jaguars quarterback change helps their offense, I also think it might slow the game down a bit as they should be able to run the ball and limit turnovers much better than they have in recent weeks. Jared Goff had a huge game out of nowhere last week, a reminder that he’s an effective quarterback when he’s well-protected and playing favorable environments. Seattle’s defense is improving but still gives up way too many big plays, so I think the Rams (+2.5) will avenge their 1 point loss from earlier in the season. I’m going to double down on the Eagles -8 after their loss to Miami. The Eagles are being heavily criticized after the loss, and rightfully so, but I thought Miami played their best game of the year by far. Besides the famous punter to kicker touchdown pass, Ryan Fitzpatrick played his best game since the “Fitzmagic” craze at the beginning of last season. This week’s line has gone up a bit on the news that Eli Manning is likely to start, but it hasn’t gone up enough in my opinion. Daniel Jones has been bad this year, but his mobility has at least given him a chance behind his terrible offensive line. I expect Eli to be under pressure all night and the Giants to struggle to move the ball. I was shocked by how low the total was in the Vikings-Lions game. Detroit’s defense is not particularly good and the Vikings are averaging 29.2 points at home. I would not be surprised to see the Vikings go Over 42 all by themselves. I don’t think David Blough has a future as an NFL starter, but I was impressed with his aggressiveness in his first start on Thanksgiving day. That type of QB play should help bring the point total over, whether he’s completing long passes for his team or turning the ball over.


 

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)

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