Week 14 has left us with quite a few difficult matchups to dig into, with playoff implications and seeding on the line as the season is winding down. There are a couple spots to play on this week's slate however, let’s start by looking at the futures market relative to the marquee matchups.
During this part of the season, we might be able to find more equitable positions out of our single game opinions by looking broader than the Sunday slate.
The Bills and Chiefs show another good example of when to check the futures market. If you like the Bills in this one, you should look to bet them on the moneyline. Although their chances to make the playoffs vastly improve should they beat the Chiefs, they still need too much to happen given their position with tiebreaks to make the current market numbers worth it.
You’re better off rolling over their moneyline to win out the rest of the season. However, if you’d like to back the Chiefs in this one, take a look at the Chiefs to get the #1 seed at +300 at DraftKings. After this game against Buffalo the Chiefs play @NE, vs. Vegas, vs. Bengals (no Burrow) and @ Chargers (out of the playoff picture).
The Chiefs have the tiebreak over both Miami and Baltimore due to head to head record and conference record. Rather than lay around -125 for the Chiefs, consider taking the #1 Seed bet at a bigger number
We get a big rematch here between two of the NFC’s best. Currently, the Cowboys are laying -3.5 in this one against the Eagles which is probably fair given how these two teams are playing at the moment.
Rather than lay the points in this matchup against the Eagles, I’d rather play the 49ers to get the #1 seed in the NFC at +165. The Niners are currently 11-point favorites against Seattle and really only have Baltimore to contend with down the stretch.
The Niners hold the tiebreak over Philly so should Philly lose to the Cowboys they will be #2. I like the Niners bet as a more interesting angle than simply betting the Cowboys to win by margin.
Back to regularly scheduled programming in this one as the Jacksonville Jaguars head to Cleveland to take on the Joe Flacco led Browns. The big story here is the health of Trevor Lawrence and his game time decision tag for this one. Lawrence sprained his ankle during the Jags loss to the Bengals on MNF, but it seems like the injury looked worse than it was.
Doug Peterson categorized it as a high ankle sprain, which generally takes more time to heal and some are speculating if that was a mis-categorization of the injury as Lawrence has been participating in practice on a limited basis. Christian Kirk also went on IR with what they are officially calling a “core muscle” injury. I’ll let you google that one for yourselves…
Needless to say, whether Trevor Lawrence is able to go or not, this could be a hapless Jaguars offense against the Cleveland Browns defense that has been other-worldy at home in 2023. The Jaguars are starting a third stringer at left tackle, and I don’t see how anyone feels good about that matchup with Myles Garrett and Za’Darious Smith.
The total is currently sitting at 33.5, ticking back up after re-opening at about 30 following Monday Night Football. The Jaguars press releases have been pretty optimistic about Lawrence, but I just don’t see how it makes sense for him to go up against this pass rush.
The suspected rain will likely pass by kickoff, but we can still expect some 15+ mph winds in Cleveland this Sunday. I think the Browns are built for this type of game where Joe Flacco and company will lead run-heavy, methodical drives to kill clock and the defense should terrorize the Jags in the pass rush.
Cleveland also gets back star Safety Denzel Ward for this one. If it’s Beathard, expect the total to drop even further and the Browns to be bet past the -3 in this one. If it’s Lawrence, I still think the Jaguars will have a difficult time and may look to pull him early to protect their franchise QB.
Here’s a hold your nose play…The Jets host the Texans at Metlife and are indeed going back to Zach Wilson at the helm after releasing Tim Boyle. Reports were leaked that Wilson was “hesitant” to retake the starting job and I’m calling BS.
For all the comments the media has made about Zach Wilson and his ability to play QB, there hasn’t been anything derogatory about his character. I’m not sure what Quarterback in Zach’s position would be “hesitant” to take a starting role no matter what forced him there in the first place.
The line opened at -5.5 for Houston and has been pushed down to 3.5 on the Wilson news and rightfully so. Tim Boyle is not a starting caliber QB in this league and it showed in his two starts.
Looking at Houston, they’ll be without rookie standout Tank Dell after suffering a broken leg on a questionable run block in Week 13. This will be CJ Stroud’s biggest test against a Jets team that has remained in the top three in defensive DVOA all season. There are also weather concerns in this game as it will be a rainy and windy day in northern New Jersey this week.
The Texans haven’t been able to get anything going in the run game and will be forced to throw right into an elite Jets pass coverage unit, without one of their top receivers. CJ Stroud has answered many questions about his ability as a rookie, but I still think -3.5 is too much for a game with other competing factors.
With Zach Wilson at the helm, I think the Jets can do just enough on offense to remain competitive and hope that their defense is able to continue to hold up as they have in 2023. It’s never fun to back the New York Jets but I think it’s a good sell high point on the Texans who are much better than expected but still not at an elite level.
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