Written By Billy Attridge
The fact we’re 13 weeks into the NFL season is astonishing. With teams gearing up for playoff pushes, we’ll peak at three games where the line could be on the move. Is there any possible way Carolina could drop a 4th straight game in an NFC showdown against the improving Buccaneers? Can Mayfeild and company disrupt a Houston team who has won 8 straight? Finally, in the flexed prime-time game Sunday, is Pittsburgh being slightly undervalued after two average road performances? Before investing this weekend, see why and where these numbers will move! We also head to Vegas and reveal the Week 14 look-ahead lines, as well.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay +3.5 (-115):
BetOnline.ag opened Carolina -4.5, and since we’ve seen a slow and steady move down, with books adjusting to the current price. Before we dive into this specific game, let’s look back at Week 9, when Tampa went into Carolina. The Bucs closed 6-point underdogs after taking professional money at +7. Now, four weeks later, with an improved and healthier Tampa defensive front (9th in adjusted line yards and 8th in adjusted sack rate), and two teams trending in opposite directions, we only have a 2.5-point adjustment despite the game taking place in Tampa. Carolina has dropped three straight, and while normally that may create a little value in the market, this line still has some inflation in it. Since that Week 9 loss, Tampa has won the net yards per play battle in each of their last three games (+2.3, +0.7, +0.2), and has an excellent shot at taking advantage of this Carolina secondary that isn’t good to begin with, and is now plagued by the injury bug. On the other side of the ball, two of Carolina’s top targets (Funchess-back and Samuel-hamstring) have missed practice time this week, so you’ll need to monitor that situation. If both are out, this number should continue to drop.
Cleveland +6 (-110) @ Houston:
When Cleveland travels to Texas, we get to see one of the underrated matchups this week as Baker Mayfield and Deshaun Watson battle. Let’s start with the Browns, this is a classic example of when taking season long metrics and incorporating them into your handicap will most likely not yield the most optimal results. Cleveland is a different team under head coach Gregg Williams and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, and have now had the benefit of their bye to get healthy and more familiar with the change in offensive scheme. The Browns have played a spread them out, quicker tempo under Kitchens, which should be beneficial this week against the likes of Watt, Clowney and Mercilus. Houston had a monster Monday night football win against a division rival, and arguably their biggest game of the year is on deck against the Colts, which likely determines the AFC South champion. This line opened 6.5, and has since dropped to 5.5 after professional money grabbed +6 Friday morning once limits increased. I envision this line will continue dropping towards the Sunday opener (4.5) BEFORE the Monday night game had actually been played.
LA Chargers @ Pittsburgh -3 (-120):
We’re in for a treat Sunday night when the Chargers head east to take on the Steelers. This number bounced around all week between a soft 3.5 and a juiced 3, while the look-ahead line on this game was Pittsburgh -4.5. Both teams have the tools to make a deep playoff run, but one of these clubs continues to be devastated with injuries. In the past three weeks, the Chargers have lost defensive tackle Corey Liuget, stud linebacker Denzel Perryman (both for the year), and on the other side of the ball their bell-cow running back Melvin Gordon is dealing with an MCL sprain. Sure, the Chargers have gone 2-1 during this stretch, but the wins came against Arizona and Oakland. This Pittsburgh Steelers team at home is a far different beast on bot sides of the ball. Los Angeles is 0-3 versus teams ranked Top 10 in offensive efficiency, and even though they rank high in defensive efficiency, the Chargers have faced the 7th easiest schedule of opposing offenses. On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh is #1 in offensive sack percentage, which could help nullify two outstanding pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Pittsburgh at home has performed well under Mike Tomlin (17-4 straight up) in prime-time games. This number will trend closer to -4 than it will to -2.5.
NFL Week 14 Vegas Look-Ahead Lines:
Tennessee -6 vs. Jacksonville
Kansas City -9.5 vs. Baltimore
Houston -3 (-120) vs. Indianapolis
Cleveland -1 vs. Carolina
Green Bay -7.5 vs. Atlanta
New Orleans -10.5 at Tampa Bay
Buffalo -3.5 vs. New York Jets
New England -9.5 at Miami
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 at Chicago
Washington -3 (+100) vs. New York Giants
Denver -4.5 at San Francisco
Los Angeles Chargers -15.5 vs. Cincinnati
Detroit -3 (-120) at Arizona
Dallas -3.5 (+100) vs. Philadelphia
Pittsburgh -12.5 at Oakland