Underdogs acquitted themselves admirably in Week 13, running off a 9-7 record against the spread complete with seven outright victories. How will they fare against the NFL Week 14 odds?
The Arizona Cardinals (3-9) did the heaviest lifting as road dogs last week, overcoming a (+13.5) number to shock the reeling Green Bay Packers (4-7-1) in a 20-17 upset at Lambeau. Not to be outdone, the Dallas Cowboys (7-5) continued their late season resurgence as (+7.5) home dogs, balling up the New Orleans Saints (10-2) in a 13-10 throwback to the days when defense matters.
Dogs are now covering and/or pushing at a 53.6 percent clip (97-84-8) on the year, slightly better than the historical average of 52.8 percent. Accordingly, bettors have every reason to expect regression to the mean, putting the focus squarely on favorites over the regular season’s final four weeks.
Online sportsbook Bovada has posted its early NFL Week 14 odds, with several high-profile favorites laying less than a touchdown.
The Kansas City Chiefs (10-2) are a perfect 5-0 in the comfortable confines of Arrowhead Stadium, a venue which is decidedly uncomfortable for inexperienced quarterbacks.
Enter the Baltimore Ravens (7-5), a team riding a three-game win streak largely on the strength of rookie signal-caller Lamar Jackson’s legs. Showing off the same running ability that had him hoisting the Heisman Trophy in 2016, Jackson has put up 265 yards on the ground since replacing an injured Joe Flacco.
And while Flacco is said to be nearing full health, head coach Jim Harbaugh would be hard-pressed to remove Jackson while the Ravens are running roughshod over the AFC Wild Card field.
That means Jackson will likely get the nod at Arrowhead, and in just his second road start ever, he’ll need Baltimore’s league-leading defense to do their part – and then some.
The Ravens allow just 281.7 yards per game and 17.8 points per game, both best in all of football. But that stout defense has feasted on offensively challenged squads like Cincinnati, Oakland, and Tennessee in recent weeks, teams that can’t come close to what the Chiefs do with the ball in their hands.
Powered by second-year QB phenom Pat Mahomes and his absurd 41 touchdown passes, the Kansas City offense leads the league in scoring at 37.0 points per game, while amassing 437.2 yards per game (third overall).
They say a great defense can neutralize a great offense, but that may not apply in 2018 and beyond given the rulebook’s aversion to tight coverage. Accordingly, the Chiefs enjoy a healthy edge as (-7) home faves on the NFL Week 14 odds in a game where a win clinches Kansas City a playoff berth.
This time of year, fortunate football fans can be found eagerly scanning their favorite team’s playoff clinching scenarios.
Bettors can rely on postseason aspirations to motivate the favorites too, and Week 14 offers no shortage of potential playoff intrigue.
The New England Patriots (9-3) can clinch their 10th consecutive AFC East title with a win over the Miami Dolphins (6-6), currently sitting in seventh place in the conference pecking order. Miami typically plays New England tough at home, going 4-1 in the last five matchups, but they’ll be big (+8) home dogs here.
The Houston Texans (9-3) have rebounded from an 0-3 hole to reel off nine straight wins. One more over the Indianapolis Colts (6-6) – coupled with a Titans loss – would secure the Texans’ third AFC South title in the last four seasons. Indy didn’t score a single point last week against the Jags, and they’ll get (+5) as road dogs in this one.
The New Orleans Saints (10-2) were cooled down last Thursday in Dallas, but while their 10-game winning streak is over, picking up where they left off would clinch the NFC South. To do so, New Orleans must beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) as big time (-9) road favorites.
To get the week started, two AFC South rivals tangle when the Tennessee Titans (6-6) host the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8).
The Jags just shut the Colts out in a 6-0 snoozer last Sunday, and lost a 9-6 field goal fest to Tennessee earlier in the year, so the bookmakers expect another low-scoring affair on Thursday night. With both teams averaging under 19 points per game on offense, and less than 21 points per on defense, the Over / Under for this one is set extremely low at (37.5) on the NFL Week 14 odds.
As for the spread, Tennessee is laying (-5) to a struggling Jacksonville team caught midstream in a switch at QB from Blake Bortles to Cody Kessler.