Even though I missed the Thursday game (again), I still finished the week 9-5-2. I forgot to update last week’s post since there wasn’t a line for last week’s Tampa Bay game at the time I wrote the post. I marked it up as a tie, just to keep things on track with past year-to-year win totals.
I missed on a few underdogs with both the Browns and Seahawks performing better than the lines would suggest.
There are a lot of close point spreads this week. There is only one double-digit game and the rest are at or under a touchdown. This could be a difficult week to handicap.
Another speed bump we must navigate is the fact that the lion’s share of the games aren’t division games, so they are first-time meetings.
We pick ever NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (+1.5) – My pick is New Orleans Saints
Thursday game…I’m not scared of you! The Saints have been rolling all season and just had a hiccup against a very talented Rams team two weeks ago. They righted the ship last week with a ten-point win at home against the Panthers. The Falcons are also in the midst of a good stretch of performances. They fell 14-9 to the Vikings last week, but they were on a three-game winning streak before that loss…and a close loss to the Vikings is still a a decent outcome. This came could be close since they are divisional opponents and the Falcons swept last season’s series. The Saints are a much different team with their new potent backfield duo. I don’t like the match-up and fear Atlanta’s front-seven isn’t up to the challenge, so give me the Saints to cover.
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5) – My pick is Detroit Lions
I’m not going to be long-winded in my pick since the Bucs have struggled to defend the pass and now that it is known that Lions QB Matthew Stafford (hand) is going to play, I’m taking the Lions to cover.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-4) – My pick is Kansas City Chiefs
Even though the Chiefs lost last week to the Jets 38-31, I still liked their performance in that game. The Chiefs were able to do stuff on offense that they haven’t been able to do for a month. They have lost four games in a row and 0-4 ATS during the stretch…but QB Alex Smith remembered where his bread is buttered and was able to get WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce involved more last week. The Raiders are coming off two straight wins against cupcake opponents at home. They still didn’t dominate either game, even though, on paper, they were far superior. The Raiders, who has been a strong road team the last two seasons, is 1-3 ATS on the road this season. I have to take the Chiefs due to the way they were able to move on offense last week.
Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns (+3) – My pick is Cleveland Browns
This might be the boldest pick I’ve made this season. I actually think the Browns could win this game outright. The Browns defense is underrated and Green Bay QB Brett Hundley might be overwhelmed (again). The Browns have some very good targets for QB DeShone Kizer. What has hurt the Browns is turnovers and his accuracy. I also believe the addition of WR Josh Gordon made an impact last week and should have an even better week against a poor Packers secondary. This will be Cleveland’s best shot at getting a win this season. If the Browns can stop Packers RB Jamaal WIlliams, they have a shot. I have to go out on a limb and take the Browns to cover (and may throw a few jellybeans on the moneyline).
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (+2.5) – My pick is Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are on an impressive streak both outright and against the spread. They have won eight games in a row and 8-0 against the spread during the streak. Vikings QB Case Keenum is really making the front office think about the future and if Keenum is in it. They have quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, so it may take a deep playoff run to change their minds, at least for one more year. Carolina looks to have turned things around as well, but struggled against the Saints. Carolina needs their defense to step up in order to get the run game going early. I don’t see them running the ball well against Minnesota. I don’t like the match-up. I’m taking the Vikings to cover.
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals (-6) – My pick is Chicago Bears
This one is a little rough. The Bengals were inconsistent up until the month of November. They have won four straight games against the spread. They haven’t been dominate or even impressive during this stretch. They have been barely covering by a little over a point twice. The Bears keep chugging forward and their defense were keeping the Bears in games (except against the Eagles). If the Bears keep it simple again and keep QB Mitchell Trubisky from forcing throws and keep running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen fed. The Bengals won’t keep their streak alive, I’m taking the points.
San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans (-2.5) – My pick is San Francisco 49ers
Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo had a successful first start for his new team. They squeaked by the Bears 15-14, but Garoppolo was able to move the ball and they even got the running game going in the win. They impressed me more than the Texans have since QB Deshaun Watson went down with a season-ending injury. They Texans have lost two in a row and hasn’t been able to stop the run in either game. This could be a big game for Niners running backs Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida. The Texans defense is beat up and are a shell of themselves. I don’t have much faith in Houston, so I’m taking the points.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (-3) – My pick is Buffalo Bills
Buffalo will start QB Nathan Peterman this week. He had a disastrous debut start against the Chargers and was bench the following weeks, but with Tyrod Taylor’s injury and the way their head coach apparently loves Peterman, the young QB is getting the nod. The Bills will setup the offense in a way to make sure Peterman doesn’t fail. Easy passes and rely on the backfield to bail him out. I have to go with my gut and take Buffalo to cover at home.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (+4.5) – My pick is Dallas Cowboys
The Giants fired their head coach Ben McAdoo and reinstated QB Eli Manning as their starter. He doesn’t really have much talent to throw to, so I’m not sure how well he will do against Dallas. The Cowboys were able to score in double-digits for the first time since RB Ezekiel Elliott started to serve his six-game suspension. RB Alfred Morris had his best game of the season against his former team. The Giants defense has been pretty darn good the last few weeks. The problem is that their offense has been so bad that it hasn’t mattered much. The Cowboys know the Giants and should cover the spread against their division opponent, just like they did the first game of the season.
New York Jets at Denver Broncos (pk) – My pick is New York Jets
The Broncos have been the worst NFL team against the spread. They come into this game 2-9-1 ATS on the season. On the flipside, the Jets have outperformed expectations by going 7-4-1 ATS. They are only 5-7 on the season, so they are still a flawed team. The Broncos will be starting QB Trevor Siemian, who completed less than 50% of his passes last week and threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. He has been bad this season and is only getting the start due to Paxton Lynch’s injury and the fact that their other quarterbacks is Brock Osweiler. The Jets are underrated with QB Josh McCown and he has some nice weapons like wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse.
Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals (+3) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
The Cardinals struggle when they can’t stop the run. They usually lose by a large margin if they can’t stack the box and stymie the backfield. They will have their hands full with Titans running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Titans QB Marcus Mariota can also move the ball with his legs. The Cardinals started QB Blaine Gabbert last week after having success the week before against the Jaguars. He did not fare well last week, at all. He threw two interceptions almost immediately and one was returned for a touchdown. They had to dig themselves out of a hole but were shutout in the second-half. The Titans should be able to run at will, so I’m taking the Titans to cover on the road.
Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers (-7) – My pick is Los Angeles Chargers
I wish this line was a little lower, but considering the Chargers is such a strong home team and the Redskins have trouble protecting QB Kirk Cousins, I’m taking the Chargers to cover. They failed to cover a 13.5 point spread against the Browns, but this smaller line is doable. The Redskins are stumbling down the stretch, but they have found two stars to build around next season, WR Josh Doctson and RB Samaje Perine. The Chargers will get to Cousins and cover at home.
Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) – My pick is Jacksonville Jaguars
Both teams come int this game 8-4 on the season. After the recent string of injures in Seattle’s secondary, I’m surprise they have been able to keep winning. The Jags are a team built in Seattle’s shadow, except they have yet to really find their quarterback with Blake Bortles just keeping the seat warm until they can get some with more skill. Seattle has struggled to run the ball this season and they will need to move the ball on the ground if they hope to win. The Jags secondary is arguably the best in the league, so Seattle QB Russell Wilson may run into issues…but he can also make things happen with his legs. This line could be close, but I’ll take the Jags to cover at home.
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams (-1) – My pick is Philadelphia Eagles
Man, there are some really good games on the schedule this week. This game interests me the most since they have both been great against the spread. The Eagles (9-3 ATS) and the Rams (8-4 ATS) will always be tied to each other as long as Carson Wentz and Jared Goff plays for them both. Goff was taken #1 in last year’s NFL Draft with Wentz taken immediately after him. Wentz has had more success than Goff in their young careers, but it’s ridiculously early to call the race. The only games the Rams have lost this season were against teams that outgain them on the ground. Wentz is insanely efficient with the ball and that could be the difference in the game. This game will be close, but I have to take the Eagles.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) – My pick is Baltimore Ravens
The Steelers haven’t been blowing teams out this season, but have been consistent. The Ravens have been hot recently, but they looked completely lost early in the season. Their secondary has made some big plays and turned games around in their favor. The Steelers should be able to run the ball with Le’Veon Bell and avoid a lot of the mess, but they will be without WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (suspension) and starting LB Ryan Shazier (back). I have to go with the hot hand and take the Ravens who are 3-1 ATS on the road.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+12.5) – My pick is New England Patriots
The Patriots beat the Dolphins 35-17 just two weeks ago. Nothing has really changed and this one is an easy call…I’m taking the Pats to cover on Monday Night Football.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob