Our NFL handicapper Tom Newbery gives us his best bets for Week 14 of the regular season and expects a few upsets.
After two weeks off, I’m looking to come back strong for the final few weeks of the year, and take a hot hand into the post season. The playoff race is heating up in both conferences, with a six way tie for the final place in the AFC. The biggest week 14 games with playoff implications are Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati and Baltimore @ Miami, with all four teams in the hunt. Buffalo will have to win in Denver to keep chances alive, while San Diego host New England in a week where the Patriots can all but secure the AFC East for the sixth consecutive time. The AFC is stacked this season, with all but four teams posting a .500 or better record. I actually have leans in all four of these games, I like Cincy, Miami and Buffalo on the handicap, and San Diego for the upset. So check my twitter for any last minute plays posted.
The NFC is also close, with Arizona, Green Bay and Philly top of the tree with impressive 9-3 records. The No.1 seed is still up for grabs though, with a host of teams sitting at 8-4 and even 7-5. Green Bay are currently the form team, but don’t bet against the Detroit Lions to take the NFC North, as they have three winnable games up next, and a 1-0 head to head record vs the Packers. I tipped Aaron Rodgers to win the league MVP before the season at 15/2, he is now odds on, so hope you got on board with that one.
There are no bye weeks left this season, so we have a full slate of games for the final four weeks of the year. A couple of games stand out for me this week, along with some big underdogs that could be worth taking.
San Francisco @ Oakland
No team are ever as good, or as bad as they look in their previous game, and Oakland couldn’t have looked any worse. The Rams were 38 points up at half time, and extended the lead in the second half to run out 52-0 winners. Derek Carr had a terrible game, and backup Matt Schaub came in towards the end. There is no doubt Carr is still the starter, he was just pulled to save risk of injury. I am looking for a big effort from the Raiders to erase some of the embarrassment from week 13. On the other side of the ball, San Francisco are nowhere near the side I was expecting going into the season. I liked them to win their division, and also to be the NFC’s representative I the Superbowl. I was wrong, Colin Kaepernick is a shell of his former self, and the expected great running game also hasn’t materialised. The 49ers have scored over 20 points just once in their last 6 games, and there’s no way I could lay 8 points in this one. Oakland showed in week 12 they can play with the big boys, running out winners vs divisional rival Kansas City. I expect the Raiders to score 17+ points, which will need San Francisco to score in the region of 25-30 points to cover, and I just don’t see this happening. Take Oakland, plus the points, but wait until Sunday to get the best number.
St Louis @ Washington
On the flip of the previous game, I’m going against the St Louis Rams and taking the Washington Redskins in this ugly match up. St Louis are 4-3 in their last 7, but have failed to win back to back games all season. The Rams have some impressive scalps on their resume, beating Denver, Seattle and San Francisco, but I think the Redskins come out on top in week 14. Colt McCoy has looked okay at QB for Washington, and in his second game last week, went 31 of 47 for 392 yards and three TD’s. Washington, despite giving up over 40 points last week, have a pretty decent defence, especially vs the run, where they are ranked 9th in the league. The big challenge for the Redskins will be protecting McCoy, as St Louis have clicked on defence recently, and sacked the QB seven times in last week’s win. All the stats lean to St Louis, but I am nowhere near ready to make them a road favourite of around a field goal. I do use data to make my picks, but I also love looking games from a situational standpoint. As previously mentioned, the stats scream to back the Rams. Add to that the fact that this will be a hugely one sided bet game by the public, all on St Louis, but the number is still at just minus 2.5/3. This looks like a possible trap game to me, so take the ‘Skins on the moneyline, and watch through your fingers.
Carolina @ New Orleans
The Saints are coming off a big win in Pittsburgh after losing three home games in a row. Their strong home field advantage seems non-existent this year and I couldn’t contemplate laying double digits with them in a divisional matchup. New Orleans have struggled to score over 30 points this season, and average just 26 points per game this year. They beat the Panthers 28-10 on the road back in week 9, the line then was New Orleans -3. I know Carolina are bad, but this is a game vs a familiar opponent, and the back door will always be open when you’re getting a 10 point head start. The Panthers total points is set at between 19.5 and 20, so they are expected to score. Take the underdog plus the ten points, for a small bet.
2pts Washington to beat St Louis at 29/20 (Boylesports)
2pts Oakland +8 v San Francisco at 20/21 (Paddy Power)
1pt Carolina +10 @ New Orleans at 20/23 (Ladbrokes)
Record to Date: 66 pts staked; 1.35 pts LOSS
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