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Posted by on Dec 9, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 3 comments

NFL Week #14





CURRENT BALANCE:  $11,920. (+$1,920.)

OVERALL W-L RECORD:  48 wins / 36 loses / 2 pushes

Week #1 — 3 wins, 4 losses = net -$250

Week #2 — 1 win, 0 losses = net +$350

Week #3 — 7 wins, 2 losses = net +$1,070

Week #4 — 1 win, 1 loss = net -$20

Week #5 — 7 wins, 3 losses = net +$740

Week #6 — 2 wins, 2 losses = net -$40

Week #7 — 3 wins, 4 losses, 1 push = net -$280

Week #8 — 4 wins, 2 losses = net +$360

Week #9 — 2 wins, 2 losses = net -$270

Week #10 — 9 wins, 6 losses = net +$480

Week #11 — 3 wins, 4 losses = net -$280

Week #12 — 2 wins, 4 losses = net -$480

Week #13 — 4 wins, 2 losses = net +$360



LAST WEEK’S UPDATE:   Last week, I posted 4 wins and 2 losses — for a net win of +$360.  That puts me at +12 games over .500 for the season after 13 weeks.


WINLESS TEAMS UPDATE:   The “bet on all winless teams” angle has crashed and burned.  Last week, Cleveland (the NFL’s only remaining winless team) finally covered after a bad stretch.   But the system is still 7-9 for the season.  This betting system has lost -2.9 units, so far.  For anyone still riding this death train, Cleveland is getting +3 (late move to +2.5) this week hosting Green Bay.  I’m a contrarian, but I can’t imagine shelling out money with a bet on the Browns.



On to this week’s games (lines current as of Saturday afternoon).  I made EIGHT wagers:


Chicago +7 vs. Cincinnati (Buy Half-Point at -120)

This is a “bet against” Cincinnati play.  It’s based on the Bengals likely being badly deflated after a season-ending, emotionally devastating loss at home to rival Pittsburgh on Monday night.  It wasn’t just the loss, it was the way the Bengals lost, blowing a 17-0 lead and then losing late on a last-second field goal.  Cincy looked like an emergency ward afterward; the defense was in shreds.  I fail to see how the betting favorite will be able to regroup on a short week and prepare for a game where focus could be a big problem.  Chicago is a sizable dog for a reason — namely the inept offense which has all but disappeared in recent weeks.  This horrid unit has cracked the 20-point mark just three times this season, so one expects points might be hard to come by.  Weather, expected to be around freezing, probably helps the Bears here since they’ve shown flashes of being able to run the ball.  Also, credit the Bears defense for at least being respectable, allowing just 20 PPG on average.  In what should be a close, low-scoring game, buying an extra-half point has added value.  I recommend buying the “hook” on the +6.5 and taking Chicago at +7, laying -120.


Kansas City -4 vs. Oakland

As many years as I’ve been betting on the NFL, I don’t ever recall using the word — “intuition.”  I’m going to use it now.  My intuition tells me Kansas City is finally going to show up this week and win a game in convincing fashion.  Chiefs have been on a four-game slide, losers of 6 of last 7.  This would seem to be the ideal spot to fade Kansas City and take +4 with the hungry visitor, eyeing first place in the division (OAK, KC, and SDI are all tied at 6-6).  But I think that’s the sucker play.  The public will likely be all over the visitor.  Oakland has looked better the last couple of games, but those were at home against two of the NFL’s worst QBs — Siemian for DEN and Smith for NYG).  Oakland struggled in both games.  Kansas City finally found its offense again last week in the heartbreaking loss to NYJ.  I like how Chiefs moved the ball.  I also believe that will carry over this week and the Chiefs will put up points.  Kansas City is a tough place to play, especially later in the season.  They’ve been in first place all season since the other three rivals all got off to terrible starts.  But this week, playing for their season, I expect Chiefs to finally step up and be the team we saw back in September.  I recommend waiting until game time to see if the public bets this line down to -3.5, which could happen.  There’s no way the line moves up, so wait until kickoff and fire on the Chiefs as a solid contrarian play.


Carolina +3 (-120) vs. Minnesota

I wrote earlier that I never use the word “intuition,” but now I’m going to use it again.  On paper Minnesota is the much better team.  Vikings are steamrolling over the NFC, winners of eight straight.  Meanwhile, Carolina remains a talented but terribly inconsistent team capable of beating anyone one week and losing to bad teams the next (recall Panthers’ two-TD loss to Chicago).  This is the week I think Carolina puts things together.  First, Panthers are in a heated divisional race and watched as rivals ATL-NOR played on Thursday.   To have a realistic shot at the division, this now becomes a “must win” game.  Minnesota poses the toughest test yet and they get the Vikings in the perfect spot for an upset.  Minnesota coming off a tough win last week in Atlanta makes for a second straight tough road game.  But the real key is that this will be the Vikings 5th road contest in their last 6 games.  That’s a brutal stretch for any team.  While Minnesota has the motivation to try and earn NFC’s best record for playoff home-field advantage (they’re currently #1 seed), there’s no longer any question Minnesota will win its division.  Hence, Vikings might not be as hungry here as the Panthers for the win.  This is especially true for Panthers who got beat pretty soundly in New Orleans last week and must turn things around here.  At pick ’em, I would have no interest in a wager.  But getting the full field goal with the hungry home team coming off a loss with more to prove is one of the better situations this week for a wager.  Playing Carolina +3 and laying the extra vig at -120.


Houston -2.5 (-115) vs. San Francisco 

San Francisco getting slightly under a FG on the road at Houston (line is +2.5 to +3 with added vig).  Talk is that traded acquisition QB Garappolo gives the 49ers a new spark, and it’s easy to understand the reason for optimism after winning his debut start last week at Chicago.  But I also like what I’ve seen from a gutsy Texans team the last three weeks — especially the defense.  All but given up for dead, Houston shows up to play and tests every opponent.  Despite being pounded with injuries, Texans are no pushover and play this week against a team that still ranks near the bottom in every statistical category.  Texans are 3-3 at home this season, and are laying a soft number here.  Looking at it from a value perspective, given that home field is worth +3 points, since this game line is slightly less, that means odds suggest San Francisco is actually the better team on a neutral field.  I’m not buying that at all, and thus I’ll take advantage of this value with a wager on the Texans.  Playing Houston -2.5.


Washington / San Diego OVER 46

Redskins played their worst game of the season ten days ago in the loss at rival Dallas, effectively ending their season.  But Washington offense seems to perform their best when the pressure is off, and are now traveling to ideal conditions in a game they aren’t expected to win.  I think they’ll produce some points.  Meanwhile, the defense remains burdened with injuries.  Cowboys steamrolled a bad ‘Skins defensive line last week with the running game.  I expect Chargers, with even more firepower, to do the same.  San Diego (I know, they play in a Los Angeles suburb) looks better each week and is probably the favorite to win the division.  Chargers were sloppy in a lackluster home win against Cleveland last week, so I think they’re primed for a much better effort this week.  Two experienced quarterbacks who like to throw the ball spells a game that I think will fly over the total.  Some concern that Chargers defensive prowess could continue here and Washington could struggle to move the ball, but I’m counting on game plans where both coaches know it will take points to win and a more aggressive game to break out.  Betting OVER 46.


NY Jets -1 vs. Denver

Who could have imagined a scenario where NY Jets would ever be favored at Denver?  That’s the case this week as visiting Jets are laying a point to the horrid Broncos.  Denver’s effort at Miami last week as criminally bad, losing every facet of the game versus one of the league’s worst teams.  That tells me Denver has mailed it in for the season and perhaps have given up on the coaching staff.  Broncos have now lost 7 straight, both straight up and against the spread.  Of course, Denver’s problems start with the quarterbacking, which has been astonishingly awful (Eli Manning, wait for the phone call in January).  Meanwhile, NY Jets have been my bandwagon betting team since Week #1.  This is a gutsy team that fights every week and is competitive in each game.  Jets are 8-4 ATS this season and are clearly a team on the rise after being a punching bag for years.  Some concern that Jets have not played well on the road this season (won just one game, at Cleveland) but now playing pretty good football I’m willing to back them at a very short price.  Denver is in such disarray, they probably should be faded against just about any opponent, especially when priced fairly.  I’d have this line at NYJ -3.  So, it’s an easy play.


LA Rams -1 vs. Philadelphia

Not sure why this line isn’t -3.  Everyone’s in love with Eagles and they’re certainly Top 5 in the league.  But let’s not forget that Philadelphia has yet to beat a team with a winning record.  They’ve run up scores against pigs.  Eagles in a far tough spot here coming off the loss at Seattle last week and get yet another tough road game in a row, versus a much better offense.  Eagles have all but wrapped up the division and only thing to play for is the home field advantage.  Not sure that’s enough to inspire 100 percent in this game.  I want to see if Philadelphia can beat good teams — and we haven’t seen that yet.  Make no mistake, these are two teams that could be dynasties over the next decade if things go right, so that makes for a fun game to watch.  Rams have won 6/7 with only loss at Minnesota.  Team is peaking at just the right time.  With a fragile one-game lead on Seattle at the moment, Rams probably a little extra motive here, and with the home field and laying a small number, this makes them an attractive wager.  Intangible for me is DC Wade Phillips who often seems to rise to the occasion in prepping game plan against good offenses.  Betting LA Rams -1.


Dallas / NY Giants UNDER 41.5

Cowboys shifted their focus last week from a mix of run and pass to run, run, run and that worked very effectively against Redskins.  Look for the same routine this week as Dallas runs the ball 50 times and relies on the offensive line to chew up yardage and the clock.  Meanwhile, Giants QB Smith was mediocre at best in his first start in three years in the previous game.  He has few weapons and will likely continue to struggle.  Steve Pagonulo takes over for fired head coach and former OC this week, which makes offensive scheming more of a challenge.  Giants offense was already bad, and the coaching change likely won’t boost production.  Hard to see how Giants score much in the game.  Weather not expected to be a huge factor, but it won’t be balmy either in the mid-30s.  Total should probably be closer to 39 or so and given we are capturing the 40 and 41 (key numbers in totals betting), that’s enough to make me pull the trigger with an UNDER bet.



Chicago +7 (buy half-point at -120) vs. Cincinnati (Risking $240 to win $200)

Kansas City -4 (line could be lower at game time) vs. Oakland (Risking $240 to win $200)

Carolina +3 (laying -120) vs. Minnesota (Risking $240 to win $200)

Houston -2.5 (laying -115) vs. San Francisco (Risking $230 to win $200)

Washington / San Diego OVER 46 (Risking $220 to win $200)

NY Jets -1 vs. Denver (Risking $220 to win $200)

LA Rams -1 vs. Philadelphia (Risking $220 to win $200)

Dallas / NY Giants UNDER 41.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)



Detroit at Tampa appears to have way too many questions to have a solid opinion.  Lions QB Stafford injury has been the big reason the game has been off the board all week.  Even with him starting, I’m not confident about betting this game.  If Stafford is ready to go, looks like he can throw, and the total is anywhere around the mid-40s, the OVER is probably worth a very strong look.  Bucs averaging 50 PPG the last three outings.  Meanwhile, Tampa has turned into an OVER machine, cracking the total the last five straight — just as much from really bad defense as a good scoring offense.  Anything less than 48 or so combined with a Stafford start likely makes for a good OVER wager in this game.

Indianapolis at Buffalo doesn’t inspire much interest, except among bettors.  The game currently off the board (BUF QB questionable).  Bills are coming off a loss to rival Patriots, which wasn’t even as close as the 23-3 final score indicated.  We have to be concerned about the emotional state of this team following that ass kicking, especially given there’s nothing to play for now.  Meanwhile, Indianapolis’ season was over weeks ago, but somehow this feisty team still shows up and is competitive most games.  Aside from the 30-10 loss at Jacksonville last week, Colts lost by no more than 4 points in any of the previous four games.  On paper, there’s not much to like about Indianapolis.  Yet, they look to be in a really good spot here on the road– either catching a few points if (injured) Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor starts.  If the rookie QB Peterman starts in his place, Colts will probably go off as a small favorite, in which case I’d advise making a play on Indianapolis.  Watch this closely as game time draws nearer.  Weather forecast calls for snow and fairly strong winds, which could be a solid UNDER play, also, assuming the total isn’t too low.  Another major factor is rookie backup Peterman starts for Buffalo — expect a simple run-oriented game plan, helping the UNDER.  Peterman’s debut three weeks ago was perhaps the worst  performance of any QB in history (5 interceptions in the first half!).  No way Bills shatter his confidence with a passing-oriented game.  Intangible:  Some concern about Indy QB Brissett being from Florida and having no experience in cold weather games (Colts home games are indoors).

Seattle traveling cross-country to Jacksonville might not be quite as much a disadvantage to the visitor since the early kickoff was shifted from 1 pm to 4 pm local.  That extra adjustment time should help the visitor Seahawks.  Jacksonville is laying -2.5 here and that number seems to be on the mark.  I’d be tempted to play the Seahawks at +3, but no way this number climbs and gets there.  Jacksonville offensive inconsistencies would lead me to play Seattle if forced to make a wager.  But instead, I’m going to pass on this one.

I don’t see anything to bet in the Green-Bay Cleveland game.  Packers still have faint hopes of making playoffs and can’t take any opponent lightly.  But Browns also know this is probably their last winnable game on the schedule, fearing a winless 0-16 record.  Packers have looked much better the last two weeks, losing a close game at Pittsburgh and beating Tampa Bay by a TD.  Backup QB Hudley has been widely criticized for his play, but he’s clearly made strides the last month and is certainly far better than Browns QB Kizer, who has been horrid.  Browns are on an epic losing streak against the spread.  One might expect that they would be getting just a few more points here, given the futility.  Simply not enough points to bet the Browns at only +3.  But I’m not laying anything with the Packers either.  Pass.

I made a play on Houston laying a small number, but the UNDER in this game may also be worth a look.  Total seems a little high at 45.5 (I’d line is closer to 42-43).  Both teams have gone UNDER the number in 4 out of their last 5.  Can’t understand this total, at all.

Tennessee at Phoenix doesn’t interest me much.  Titans are laying a FG and total looks about right at 43.  Titans play a grind it out style of football that doesn’t inspire enough confidence to lay points on the road.  Meanwhile, I simply can’t bet on the Cardinals at the moment, wondering what mindset they will have after suffering a home loss to Rams.  Hard to predict what’s left in the tank for Phoenix at this point.  One play for the action junkies to consider — when looking at this game I noticed Titans are not particularly good as a first-half team (Arizona ranks AHEAD of Tennessee both in 1H scoring and 1H points allowed).  A slow-starting team is usually a good fade on the road coming off a win, especially laying points.  Titans are laying -1.5 here (in 1H)so Cardinals getting a small number worth a shot if you’re so inclined.

Pittsburgh usually plays to their level of competition so look for a better effort from Steelers at home facing resurgent rival Ravens, who have won 4 of last 5 — all in impressive fashion.  Not at all pleased with the terrible inconsistency of Steelers this season (betting wise) and there’s no way I’m laying points with this team that’s struggled the last two weeks versus dismal Green Bay and Cincinnati.  Given the history of this rivalry and so many 3-point games, one would think there’s value in Baltimore getting +5.  I suppose that’s the play if you have to bet this game.  But I want no part of a Joe Flacco offense.  Key Factor for me in not playing Ravens is the way they were ass kicked in the first game, won convincingly by Steelers 26-9 in Baltimore.  Pittsburgh is a sucker wager at -5.  Baltimore is at best a shakey wager at this number, so I’m passing on the game.

I wish I had enough contrarian guts to bet Miami +11 in the MNF game versus New England.  But I don’t.  TE Gronkowski is listed as out for the game, and that’s a tipping point in favor of taking the Dolphins.  To their credit, Miami played their best offensive game of the season last week.  But I don’t know how anyone can bet against powerhouse New England at this point, which has more to do with a defense that isn’t giving up points.  When Patriots build a lead, they don’t allow backdoor yardage and scoring, so this number is easily within reason to cover.  Probably a divide here between sharps who will take a big home dog versus public in love with Patriots.  Could be a teasable number if you fancy action on the game, taking New England from -11 down to a one-score covering -5.  That’s probably the only play worth considering.  Total at 47.5 is right in line with the last time these teams played, just a few weeks ago.  No action.


Good luck!



  1. Two thoughts and a brag: First, if I thought the Chiefs were going to bounce back, I would have thought two weeks ago hosting the Bills as a 9 point favorite would have been the place to do it. Failing that, I would have thought the following week at NYJ would have been it. Of course, that was an unbelievably wacky game, KC averaged over 10 ypp, over 10 yards per RUSH, and lost, but the Chiefs made many mental errors and, at any rate, it was not the true circle-the-wagons effort you want to see in that spot. I’m hard pressed to come up with a reason why this is the week where KC puts it together. I think you missed the obvious play. I took the Raiders on the money line, since I’m getting +180 on what I think is a 40/60 chance of another Chiefs collapse.

    Second, based on your handicapping, I would think that Carolina ML would also make sense (I see several options at +130.) If you really think this is a last stand spot for them, then I would think the chance that Min would win and not cover would be less likely than usual. It’s a higher variance play, but it would seem to me to be enough higher equity to be worth the risk.

    Third, on Monday afternoon I took BAL +7. I thought this number was too high, and only a PIT blowout of CIN on Monday night (on the road) could possibly raise this number, and that didn’t seem likely to me given that PIT is 6-0-1 to the under this year (according to Don Best closing lines) on the road. I don’t know that I’d play back if it gets to PIT -4, but I certainly would at PIT -3.5.

    Good luck.


      When I first saw the numbers, I had the EXACT same reaction on OAK ML +165ish. I thought to myself — in game that could break any way and there’s certainly compelling evidence that Chiefs’ woes will continue, the ML value is the best on the board this week. I can’t argue with this at all, and forgot to note it in my write-up. I did begin the reasoning with a note about “intuition” which really doesn’t make any statistical sense. It just comes from some suspicion this is the game where Kansas City rights the sinking ship. I would not have made this wager had I not watched and seen how effortlessly KC moved the ball last week. I expect that game plan will be repeated here. Oddly enough, +EV wise your wager on OAK ML makes far more sense. But this is admittedly an outlier pick.

      Also, nice catch in BALT +7. Wow.

      — ND

      • Nolan, aren’t you about due to have one of those weeks where you lose every single bet?

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