For all the legitimate criticism the NFL gets (ranging from its handling of domestic violence issues to concussions to the Colin Kaepernick situation), there’s one thing you can’t ever rip the NFL for: being dull and boring.
The Tennessee Titans further muddied an already-complicated playoff picture in the AFC Thursday with their blowout of Jacksonville, moving to 7-6 and within half a game of the Ravens for the second wild card. Miami, Indianapolis and Denver all lurk half a game back of the Titans, making it possible that we have a five-way tie for the # 6 seed in the AFC after this weekend. Meanwhile, the NFC has 6 teams who have either 7 or 6 wins going into this weekend’s action. Heck, you can’t even quite stick a fork in the 5-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although Tampa’s certainly got its hands full Sunday when it plays host to the New Orleans Saints.
With all of that excitement across the league with a month to go, we almost don’t even need betting to make the games more enjoyable. Almost. If you’re like me and still need to get your gambling fix, check out these 4 NFL predictions for Week 14 that won’t just make the games more interesting but could also line your wallet with a bit of extra cash as well.
All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from 5Dimes.eu at 9 a.m. eastern on December 7 , 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.
1. New York Jets +3 (+105) at Buffalo Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. eastern)
I know New York’s mired in a six-game losing streak, has yet to win on the road this year and has a dead man walking at coach in Todd Bowles. And I know the Bills have been surprisingly competitive this year, winning two straight before coming within a whisker of an upset victory last week in Miami. But this is just too many points for the Bills to be laying against a division rival.
In fact, this is the first time Buffalo’s been favored over anybody all year. The shortest lines the Bills have faced this season have come in the last 2 weeks, when they were 3-point dogs at home to Jacksonville and then 3.5-point pups last week in Miami. Buffalo’s been plucky when catching points, but everything changes when you’re actually expected to win.
The Jets are in revenge mode from a demoralizing 41-10 loss to the Bills a month ago at home, when Buffalo started Matt Barkley at QB. And underdogs have held the upper hand in this AFC East rivalry over the last few years, not only going 6-1 against the spread in the last 7 meetings but also posting 6 outright wins. In what should be a tight defensive battle between in-state rivals, I’ll grab the points with the J-E-T-S.
2. Green Bay Packers -5 (-110) over Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 1 p.m. eastern)
Do midseason coaching changes really accomplish much in the NFL? I don’t think they do much to help a team make the playoffs, since the season’s so short that once a coach gets canned, that team is usually out of postseason contention anyway. And the Packers’ chances at a wild card in the NFC set sail last week when they lost at home as 2-touchdown favorites against Arizona.
But Green Bay’s decision to hand Mike McCarthy his walking papers immediately after the game should have an immediate impact on the Pack. Management made it clear that a loss like that at Lambeau Field simply isn’t acceptable, sending a pretty strong message to a Packers team that has drastically underachieved – particularly offensively. Right in the middle of the crosshairs is Aaron Rodgers, who will start feeling a lot more heat if the Pack attack continues to struggle now that McCarthy is gone. With some feeling like Rodgers won the power struggle against his conservative coach, I expect A-Rod to come out in this one with something to prove.
On the other side of the field, I don’t see the Falcons putting up much resistance. This is a team that looks like it can’t wait for a disappointing season to end, not only losing its last 4 games but also dropping 3 of them by double digits. Even the vaunted Falcons offense looks like a shadow of its former self, failing to rack the 20-point plateau in 4 straight outings. The motivated home team laying a short price against a disinterested visitor from the South, playing in cold weather? I’ll sign up for that all day.
3. Indianapolis Colts +4.5 (-110) at Houston Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. eastern)
Buy low, sell high. It’s not just a winning motto in the stock market, it’s also a great way to profit in NFL betting. And by taking the Colts in this matchup, we’re buying Indy stock at a lower-than-anticipated price while also fading Houston when the Texans’ perceived value couldn’t be higher.
Well, the result looked ugly on the scoreboard, at least. In reality, the Colts didn’t play THAT bad last week in Jacksonville, collecting 19 first downs while allowing only 11. What won’t show up in the boxscore was Indy’s drive deep into Jacksonville territory in the first half, when the Colts took a field goal off the board after a Jags’ defensive penalty, then twice turned the ball over on downs near the goalline. Considering that Indy had averaged more than 30 points per game in its previous 6 outings, I’m not so sure that the Colts’ offense has suddenly lost its ability to score.
Houston’s rolling right now, winning 9 straight. But let’s consider the caliber of teams the Texans have played during that stretch: Cleveland, Tennessee, Washington, Denver, Miami, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Dallas and Indianapolis. It’s entirely possible that none of those teams end up making the playoffs (although the Cowboys’ chances look pretty good), and the Texans only beat 5 of those 9 teams by more points than this spread (4.5). Last time these teams met, they went into OT in Indianapolis before Colts coach Frank Reich gifted the Texans a win with a poor decision to go for it on fourth down in his territory. Indy’s also not intimidated by traveling to Texans, winning 3 of its last 4 visits and going 3-0-1 against the spread in the process. With so much on the line in this divisional affair, I think it goes down to the wire and the Colts stay within this number.
4. Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 (-115) over Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 1 p.m. eastern)
For as great as the Chiefs have been this season, the oddsmakers haven’t really given them that much point spread respect. It took until a Week 8 home date against the Denver Broncos that the bookies favored K.C. by more than a touchdown, despite the fact that the Chiefs were 7-0 against the number through their first 7 games. Once K.C. started having to lay more than a touchdown, however, the Chiefs stopped covering point spreads. They’re 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games, and they were favored by 14 points or more in 2 of them.
Maybe that explains why the early action in this game has been on the Ravens, dropping this line from an opener of +8.5 down through the key number of 7. Other than the mantra that a ‘good defense beats a good offense’, there’s no other reason I can think of that K.C. shouldn’t be laying at least a touchdown in this matchup at Arrowhead.
Baltimore did score 26 points last week against Atlanta, but 1 of the Ravens’ 2 touchdowns was a defensive score. 2 weeks ago against the Raiders, 14 of Baltimore’s 31 points came on a defensive touchdown and a special teams score. Other than that, the Ravens’ offense really isn’t doing much, often settling for field goals whenever they do move the ball into the red zone. You don’t make friends with salad, and you don’t beat the Chiefs by kicking field goals.
Baltimore badly needs a victory as it battles for a wild card spot in the AFC, if not the AFC North title. But don’t sell the Chiefs’ motivation short here either. Not only does K.C. have the Chargers breathing down its neck in the AFC West (LA is only 1 game behind the 10-2 Chiefs), but Kansas City is also coming off a less-than-impressive defensive effort at Oakland a week ago. In their first home game since releasing Hunt, the Chiefs make a statement here with a dominant effort.