Free NFL Bets Week 14
It’s hard to believe I’m writing the 14th edition of the Weekly Free Bets article. It may be harder to believe we’ve stayed profitable wire-to-wire this season, but here we are, with a chance to clinch a winning season with three weeks to spare. But first, of course, the weekly betting trends:
- Underdogs are 20-12 (62.5%) in games played on any day other than Sunday, and unders are 17-15 (53.1%) in those games.
- Games played between cross-conference opponents are averaging 53.1 points per game, while same-conference matchups are averaging just 48.3 points per game.
- Weeks 1 and 9 are still the only weeks where more favorites than underdogs covered (56.3% and 64.3%, respectively). In the last two weeks, 20 underdogs have covered (64.5%), the most in a two-week span this season.
The teaser streak was snapped last week, but we hit our first team total of the year, as Darrell Bevell unleashed the Lions offense in their first game without Matt Patricia, just as predicted. As I mentioned earlier, we can clinch a profitable 2020 season with a clean sweep of our picks this week. Let’s improve on our 15-11 (57.7%) mark with an over and the weekly teaser:
Colts/Raiders Over 50.5
According to the latest NFL Odds, there are still some sportsbooks that have this total at 52, but it’s been steamed down a bit to 50.5, so I’ll gladly take the extra point-and-a-half. Nine of the Raiders 12 games this season (75.0%) have gone over this total; so have six of the Colts last eight games. I like those trends to continue this week.
The Colts defense is one of the better units in the league, so it probably sounds a bit strange to take an over here, but they’ve regressed since the start of the season. Through four weeks, Indianapolis was allowing just 14.0 points per game. In the eight games since, they’re allowing 27.1 per game.
The Raiders defense has just been bad from day one, but they’ve also been especially bad of late. They’re ranked 28th in scoring defense, allowing 28.9 points per game, and have allowed 35.3 per game over their last three. Granted, one of those three contests was against the Chiefs, but the other two were against the Falcons and Jets.
Both offenses are in the top third of the league, so I expect a back-and-forth game with both teams going shot-for-shot, which is great for the over, obviously. Indianapolis and Las Vegas are 10th and 11th in scoring offense, respectively, combining for 54.2 points per game.
I also the recent trends for both teams, and think they lend themselves very well towards the over. The weapons on the Colts offense are finally all healthy at the same time; they’ll have the luxury of using all three tight ends and all three running backs, so they’ll be a lot fresher than the Las Vegas defense as this game ticks into the later stages. Perhaps most importantly, their receivers are becoming matchup nightmares and should have a field day with the Raiders lackluster secondary. Michael Pittman Jr. has emerged as a legitimate target for Philip Rivers, and because of that, T.Y. Hilton is suddenly T.Y. Hilton again.
The Raiders expect Josh Jacobs to play, even if it’s in a limited capacity. I’ve got a hunch that this is part of the reason the total has fallen a bit, as this could cause Las Vegas to run the ball more – a negative game script for an over. However, as of Thursday, Jacobs had only practiced in a limited capacity, so even if he plays, I can’t imagine his workload being close to its usual level. We should still see a pass-heavy attack from Derek Carr, and we should see a much looser and more hyped-up Raiders squad after their miraculous walk-off win against the Jets. Look for them to come out of the gate firing on the momentum carry-over from last week.
Saints (-0.5) / Titans (-1) Six-Point Teaser
The upset-of-the-season ruined our teaser win-streak when the Giants and Colt McCoy took down the Seahawks in Seattle last week. Who saw that coming? Anyway, I really like this week’s teaser to get us back on track.
I faded the Eagles last week, and I’m happy to do so again this week. I was actually a bit concerned about a flat spot for the Saints here, but then two things went our way. The first was the Eagles deciding to start Jalen Hurts. He provided a spark off the bench last week, but he fizzled out on the last few drives, and now he’s about to make his first career start in possibly the most daunting matchup he could ask for.
The Saints defense is absolutely outstanding. They’re second in defensive DVOA, and they’ve allowed a hard-to-believe 8.8 points per game over their last five. Granted, one of those games was against the quarterback-less Broncos, but the other four were against Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Atlanta, twice. In today’s high-flying NFL, that’s one of the more impressive feats you’ll see from a defense. The Eagles just have nothing going for them at all on offense, and New Orleans should be able to give Hurts all kinds of fits.
The second break we caught was the Saints holding Drew Brees out one more week. That’s right: it’s beneficial to us that Taysom Hill is starting at quarterback instead of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Why? The Saints have been absolutely steamrolling defenses with their run-heavy attack under Hill. It’s working. They’re moving the ball, they’re controlling the time of possession, and they’re keeping their defense rested. Had Brees gotten the nod, there would be a transition period before the offense got rolling again.
The Saints defense is also second in DVOA, while Philadelphia’s offense is 29th, making it the most lopsided matchup for a defense this week. All New Orleans has to do here is what they’ve done 10 times already this season: win. And, they’re built to win in the windy, potentially damp conditions forecasted in Philly on Sunday.
The Titans are also in a great spot this week. I was actually tempted to take their team total over, but this is the safer play because of how run-heavy they can become. Like the Saints, we’re basically just looking for the Titans to beat the 11-loss, Mike Glennon-led Jaguars. The Titans have been a bit of a roller coaster this season, but it’s hard to imagine Mike Vrabel letting the division slip away because of a loss to Jacksonville.
I mentioned the division race – Tennessee is going to be highly motivated this week. They’re battling the Colts for the AFC South crown, and they got absolutely embarrassed by Cleveland last week. That’s not going to happen again this week; Vrabel won’t let them come out flat twice in a row. He clearly woke them up at halftime last week, as they dominated the second half against the Browns, outscoring them 28-3. I expect them to carry that momentum over to this week. The Jaguars, on the other hand, are probably not all that motivated. Sure, they’ve played hard these past few weeks, and have a few covers to show for it. But players always play hard, despite what you may read on Twitter. They’ve got nothing to play for except for pride, and it’s a whole lot more motivating to play for a division title than it is for pride.
The more I look into this game, the less I see the Jaguars finding a consistent way to slow down the Titans offense. They’re 31st in defensive DVOA, while Tennessee’s offense is 3rd in DVOA, making it the second-most lopsided matchup of the week.
Other good matchups, per #DVOA:
— Mike Wagenman (@mjwags23) December 9, 2020
Jacksonville could sell out to stop Derrick Henry, but the Titans pass offense is still third in DVOA, so they should have no problem moving the ball through the air. Should the Jags gear more towards stopping the pass, Tennessee can just turn around and hand the ball to Henry 30+ times and coast to a victory.