Let’s just keep it simple this week. Over the last few months, I have littered my intros with movie references, clever jokes, and anecdotes. I’m not sure if they are hitting home with any of you, because the comments section has been a bit quiet these days. Perhaps some of you simply pop by to check out the picks against the spread – and that’s ok. It has been a good year in that department, after all. That includes last week’s 4-1 mark. So again, let’s keep this week simple. Here are my Week 14 Best Bets, all from the NFL considering the College Football season has sadly shifted to its postseason.
Well, mostly. At least we have Army-Navy on TV today. That’s a can’t miss event each year.
As for the Week 14 NFL slate, it was definitely on the trickier side. There are numerous questionable tags and significant COVID absences in play. When December rolls around, it is also very smart to keep an eye on the weather, which I do weekly at NFLWeather.com. Fortunately, there does not seem to be any meteorological impacts like what we saw last Monday night in Buffalo. It is more so the questionable injuries and lines that make this week so challenging.
The Wife Hates SportsChump Rolls On
As a reminder, Chris Humpherys (the SportsChump) – a good friend of mine through years and years of blogging – has a pick ‘em contest rolling with me for the football season. We pick our top five games by confidence (against the spread – ATS). Top selections can be from either the NFL or College Football slate. We invite a special guest each week to challenge us.
Here are our Week 14 Best Bets for the week (all ATS for the NFL slate). The list is ranked in order of confidence, from $50 down to $10 (in fictional dollars, as the SportsChump prefers).
Week 14 Best Bets: The Wife Hates SportsChump – The Simple Edition
DraftKings Sportsbook: Week 14 NFL Lines
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50 NFL: New Orleans Saints (-5.5) at New York Jets
Taysom Hill didn’t exactly light up the football field last week, throwing four picks against the Cowboys. Still, his unique talents were on display. Despite a finger injury, Hill is active and starting this week. Joining him is Alvin Kamara, who returns from a four-game absence. The talented duo will create plenty of headaches for a Jets defense that ranks 29th against the run (133.4 ypg allowed). To add to that stat, the Jets are -16 in turnover ratio, which is the worst in the NFL. New York has just nine takeaways on the season! Because of these facts, give me the Saints to cover on the road.
$40 NFL: Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
It’s difficult to get a read on the Bills. This team was once a clear Super Bowl contender. Then, November came around. Buffalo lost to the Jags and suffered an embarrassing loss to the Colts. The other two November games were blowout wins over the Jets and Saints. Last Monday night, it was blustery conditions and a loss at home to the Patriots… a game where Mac Jones threw the ball three times. Following that is a short week and a road date with Tom Brady and the Bucs. Meanwhile, the Bucs are 5-0 at home, outscoring opponents 192-84 in those five games. Tampa Bay covers at home.
$30 NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team (+4.5)
The NFC East was once considered a lock for Dallas. Now, these bitter rivals sit two games apart with five to play. Washington is riding a four-game win streak where Taylor Heinicke is playing well and the WFT defense appears rejuvenated. Mike McCarthy ran his mouth this week, guaranteeing a win over the Football Team. Dak backed it. Sure, what else would he say? Ron Rivera brushed it off, saying it will not impact his players. In a series once owned by the Cowboys, Washington dominated in a sweep last year. I expect a close game and therefore, give me Washington and the points.
$20 NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-12.5)
Did Aaron Rodgers rattle the Bears when he screamed “I own you!” to the Chicago fans back on October 17th? That was a ten-point win. This line is 12 1/2 points. Yes, that’s a tad steep for an intense rivalry game. Although, let’s check the Packers-Bears rivalry history. It’s ugly. REAL UGLY. Seriously, Rodgers wasn’t kidding. Green Bay has won five straight and ten of eleven. Dating back to 2011, the Bears are just 3-20 against the Packers. Justin Fields returns following a two-game absence. The rookie could be rusty and this game is at Lambeau. That’s why I’m taking the Packers in a blowout.
$10 NFL: Baltimore Ravens (+3) at Cleveland Browns
This is a critical game for both teams. Checking the Ravens-Browns rivalry history, Baltimore has won four straight. As for this game, Cleveland’s talented pass rush should cause headaches for a Ravens team that has allowed a league-high 43 sacks. That came as a surprise considering Lamar Jackson’s mobility. There’s also the injury bug, which has hit both teams. Baltimore recently lost Marlon Humphrey and has a severely depleted secondary. The Ravens do however rank first in the NFL against the run (84.3 ypg allowed). If the Browns attack Baltimore’s secondary, it’ll be with an offense that averages just 207 ypg through the air (24th). Overall, it comes down to coaching and QB play. Therefore, give me the Ravens.
Let’s check in on the SportsChump…
Let me have $50 on Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (-2 ½)
The Ravens lead the league in one dangerous category that no playoff team wants to lead the league in. Cornerbacks placed on injured reserve. The Ravens have, count ‘em, seven cornerbacks that are either questionable or out. This is a bad week for that to happen as they’re traveling to Cleveland to play a feisty Browns team that’s vying for the playoffs. A win in Cleveland puts the Browns a full game closer to the Ravens.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers dying on the vine, the Brownies sure can help themselves out with a win here. I still believe this team is talented enough to do so, especially against a Ravens team whose injuries are finally starting to catch up to them. Look for Baker Mayfield to have a big game passing, which will open up a running game the Ravens won’t be able to stop. I’m only having to lay two-and-a-half here and I’m getting the healthier, more desperate team so I’ll take it. Give me the Browns to cover the 2 ½.
I’ll also take $40 on San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals (+1 ½)
The Bengals are a tough team to figure out. The moment you think this team is ready for prime time, they get blown out by a quality opponent. Seriously, they beat the Vikings only to lose to the Bears the following week. They beat the mighty Ravens and subsequently lose to the lowly Jets. Last week, they got embarrassed by the Chargers. They went down 24-0, only to make it close 24-22 to excitement of all those live wagering on the Bengals, only to not score another point and lose 41-22. Despite all their talent, this is not a team the screams consistency and playoffs. The moment you believe in them, they show their stripes. They’re not healthy this week either with both Joes, Burrow and Mixon, licking their wounds.
Equally difficult to figure out are the San Francisco 49ers, who lost four straight games, won four of their next five only to travel to Seattle and lose another. With both of these two teams, you might as well flip a coin. At 49, you have the second highest over/under of the week which means Vegas is expecting a shoot-out. In a high-scoring game, I trust the Bengals offense more than I do San Francisco’s. The Niners are a slight favorite here which means I’m getting the home team and the points. San Fran is solid on the road but I can’t help but think Cincy is the more talented team top to bottom. That should be enough to get them past San Fran this Sunday. I’ll take the Bengals plus the 1 ½.
Allow me to bet $30 on New Orleans Saints at New York Jets (+5 ½)
Saints-Jets will probably be the least watchable game of the weekend. Even Saints and Jets fans will probably pass on this one for a better option. The Saints’ season spiraled downhill as soon as Jameis Winston went down with an ACL injury, but then again, it’s never a good sign when you’re pinning your playoff hopes on a quarterback who’s never been there. In fact, one could conceivably make the argument that their season was shot as soon as Drew Brees retired and the Michael Thomas decided to postpone foot surgery. It looks like New Orleans voodoo has once again struck their own damn team. Meanwhile, the Jets are who we thought they were. They always are. But if I were to tell you back in September that this late in the season, the Jets would only have two fewer losses than the Saints, you’d think I was on some sort of voodoo myself. Well, it’s true.
What we have are two teams going in dramatically different directions, which is partially unfair because the Saints had nowhere to go but down and the Jets, as always, had nowhere to go but up. The Saints have lost five straight. The Jets aren’t great but at least they have something to play for. The Saints look like they’ve quit trying. They have no quarterback, no back-up quarterback and locked up their situational quarterback to a contract while rumors swirl about them landing a fourth quarterback named Russell Wilson in the off-season. The last thing the Saints want to do at this point is put the entire workload on Alvin Kamara, only to have him get hurt yet again. Even though the Saints are not yet eliminated from playoff contention, I think they’ve cashed it in. They’re on the road this week laying five-and-a-half points against a Jets team that looks like a JV team trying to make varsity. At the worst, they’ll keep it close enough to cover the spread. Give me the Jets plus the five-and-a-half in a game I’ll only be watching to make sure I cover the spread.
I’ll also take $20 on Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
I get it. The Buffalo Bills just lost on Monday night to a team that only passed the football three times. It was the first time in their history that the Patriots passed for that few times and won the game. In other words, the Buffalo Bills knew all game long that Bill Belichick would only run the football and they still couldn’t stop them. This week, Buffalo comes into town to face another team that is favored to reach the Super Bowl, as Buffalo once was.
The Buccaneers for some reason are only laying three points. While this game is much more of a must win for Buffalo, who’s on the outside of the playoffs looking in, it’s not as if the Bucs are going to roll over. They still have playoff positioning to play for. That plus it’s Tom Brady against the Bills, a team he’s beaten handily for the last two decades. I immediately assumed this spread would be larger so I have to jump on it at only three despite Buffalo’s desperation. I’ll take the Bucs to cover the three.
And finally, $10 on Las Vegas Raiders (+10) at Kansas City Chiefs
I won’t lie, this is a tough week to pick games. The NFC still has a slew of teams that are technically vying for playoff positioning. The AFC not so much but we have some good teams that are on the verge of missing out entirely. The Raiders are one of those teams. Just when we had all counted out the Chiefs, they’re suddenly atop the AFC West on a five-game win streak. They’re playing better football but they’re still not blowing out their opponents. With the exception of their blowout win against the Raiders a months ago, four of those five wins were only by a total of 32 points. In other words, the Chiefs are still working out some kinks.
This week, they host divisional rival Raiders, another team that’s desperate for a win and looking to make amends for what happened a month ago. Both these teams are incredibly difficult to figure out. But I’m getting ten points and a team that’s hungry to exact some revenge in a divisional rivalry. After the season, the Raiders have too much pride, and talent, to get blown out again. Raiders keep this one close. Give me Vegas and the ten.
Season Standings (KP: The Wife Hates Sports | SportsChump | Guests)
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