Week 14 comes with some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it’s the last week with teams on a bye. The bad news is that the Colts, Patriots, Dolphins, and Eagles all have the week off. The bad news is actually good news for the teams involved, but their good news is bad news for gamblers and fantasy owners alike. No Jonathan Taylor to guarantee your win and seal your fantasy playoff bid, no red-hot Pats or Phins to bet on, and no Eagles means Philly fans will have nothing to distract them from those god awful Flyers. If that didn’t twist your tongue too tight, continue on to see what we have to look forward to across the AFC on this Sunday’s slate.
We start in Tennessee, where the Jaguars visit as 8.5 point dogs.
This feels like a freebie for Tennessee to put on the board in their continued pursuit of the AFC’s top seed. After all, they’ve already handled Jacksonville once. They beat them 37-19 back in week 5. However, if the 2021 Titans really want to be remembered, they will screw the pooch on Sunday and complete the hat trick. They are a loss to the Jaguars away from losing to each of the three worst teams in the NFL, making this run they’ve put together the most randomly unpredictable mess of all time.
On a more serious note, the Jags are 2-1 against double-digit spreads, and a feeble 1-6 as single-digit dogs. In other words, the “that’s too many points” logic applies here, but if the number doesn’t jump off the page, betting against Jacksonville with Vegas’ number is pretty safe. The Titans are a measly 2-4 against the spread as favorites this year, and have been covering machines as the underdog. Even more, this is the second highest number they’ve been favored by this season. Second only to the -10 they faced against Houston where they were upset by an outright Texans victory.
It’s Raiders week in Kansas City. Chiefs are 9.5 point favorites. O/U: 47.5
The finale for the the Chiefs and Raiders 2021 addition to —arguably—the greatest rivalry of all time. This one dates back to the ‘60s, when Lamar Hunt had interests in both the Dallas Texans and his greatest creation, the American Football League. The beef between these two began when Mr. Hunt went behind his head coach, 2003 Hall of Fame inductee, Hank Stram’s back and traded their quarterback Cotton Davidson to the Raiders for their first round pick in the ensuing draft. Hunt made the decision to strengthen the perennial last place finishing Raiders in order to raise competition throughout his league. The Chiefs would sign Len Dawson, and continue on to win the AFL Championship that year. The Raiders still ended up in dead last, and forked up the number one pick, with which the Chiefs drafted Buck Buchanan. Another future Hall of Famer. Ouch.
Anywho, Kansas City came out on top in the first matchup of the year with their divisional foe, 41-14. You’ve got to imagine that given the rich history between these two, the Raiders have high hopes to bounce back. Stealing some thunder from the Chiefs, and reinserting themselves in the AFC West race. This is the biggest underdog spread set against the Raiders thus far in 2021, and they are 3-1 against numbers of +5 and higher. The Chiefs, as we already know, are a dangerous bet to cover. 5-7 on the year ATS, but 3-0 in their past three games. Food for thought.
The Jets host the Saints and are 5.5 point dogs. O/U: 43
This is one of a couple stinkers on the Sunday slate. The Saints have been favored by more than four points only three times this season, and are 0-3 ATS in those bouts. The Jets, on the other hand, haven’t been favored once this year, and are 2-5 against spreads of 5.5 or less. Basically, this is a coin toss. You won’t find any answers for this one if you want to base your bet on recent history. Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman both had solid weeks at the running back position for the Jets last Sunday, but the Saints have the fifth ranked defense against the run. Again. Coin toss.
The Ravens and Browns face off Sunday in an AFC North showdown. Browns -2.5 O/U: 43
Baltimore emerged victorious in the first matchup between these two in week 12. Lamar Jackson threw four interceptions in that game, and they still won 16-10. That score seemed to definitively expose the severity of the damage that injury has made on Cleveland’s season. Baker Mayfield is missing a step with every other limb hanging on by a thread, Kareem Hunt has missed five games this year and was limited in their last one, and Nick Chubb, who has battled a tender shoulder all year, has been significantly reduced as a threat. The strength of the Browns is their 1-2 punch in Chubb and Hunt, but their inability to establish a threat in the passing game has all but erased the benefit of having two top-tier backs. The Ravens, on the other hand, remain atop the AFC North and will take a huge step towards solidifying that with a win this week.
Baltimore is 2-0 as dogs this year, and Cleveland is only 2-4 as favorites. Unless Chubb and Hunt can efficiently navigate the top ranked defense in the league against the run, the Browns don’t have a very enthusiastic chance at pulling this one off.
Texans +8.5 at home against the Seahawks. O/U: 41.5
Houston is 4-5 as the underdog against spreads of 8 or more, and this is the largest margin Seattle has been favored by all year. The Seahawks have been hot garbage in the NFC West this year, but can’t hold a stick to the dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans. On one hand, the Texans appear to be a covering machine at times, but have also lost by four or more scores four separate times. If you watched the Seahawks play their resurrection game last week against the surging Niners, you may think that this is a shoe-in. However, their issues on the offensive side of the ball have proven so consistent to this point, that it’s no guarantee they will come out looking sharp in H-town.
This is the lowest points total that either team has faced this year, but these two have only hit the over six times in a combined 24 games.
Denver is a 10 point favorite hosting Detroit. O/U: 42.5
This is a meeting of polar opposites. The Lions are on top of the world after finally finishing out a game with a win in week 13, and the Broncos are licking their wounds after their 12th(!) straight loss to the Chiefs in the most recent installment of Sunday Night Football.
Detroit is 3-1 this season as double-digit dogs, and Denver covered in the only other game that they were favored by 10 or more (-10.5 vs NYJ).
The Broncos defense is actually legit. They are ranked 10th against the run and the pass alike, and the Lions are 20th in rushing and 28th in passing (in terms of yards per game). With that said, the Broncos make plenty of sense ATS, and are a lock on the moneyline. Additionally, these two teams have hit the under all six times that they’ve played in a game where the points total was set at 43 or less.
Giants travel to LA as 9 point dogs to the Chargers. O/U: 43
The G-men are going into their second consecutive game without quarterback Daniel Jones. In his absence last week, veteran back-up Mike Glennon threw the ball 44 times, for 187 yards and an interception. Late in the game he got popped up top and left with concussion concerns. He has cleared protocol and will be under center again on Sunday. There’s not much evidence to suggest a massive improvement from the signal caller this week, so this game falls into the stinker category as well.
Nine points is the greatest margin the Chargers have been favored by, and 43 is the lowest over/under set in one of their matchups this year. They are only 2-5 ATS as favorites, and the Giants are 2-3 ATS as +7 or greater dogs. Betting the spread would seem like a toss up historically, but there is an intangible at play on Sunday. The Chargers are in “must win” territory, and frankly, this one needs to be convincing. They are currently in the playoff picture, but are rapidly losing steam as legitimate contenders. Any hiccups against a badly wounded 4-8 Giants team could spiral them out of consideration entirely.
The Bengals host the 49ers as +1.5 dogs. O/U:48.5
This game feels really important. Cincinnati is currently in second place in the AFC North, right on the heels of the Ravens, and in the driver seat as far as a tie breaker. They are 3-1 in division with a victory over Baltimore, and the Ravens are 1-2 in the North thus far. San Fransisco, on the other hand, currently sits in third place in the NFC West, and occupies the 7-seed in the playoff picture. The Niners are surely playing a bit more recklessly with the fire, but they can cool off the pressure with a road win on Sunday.
Now for the numbers. Cinci is 3-2 as the underdog this year, and SF is 4-6 as the favorite. This is the closest line to a pick-em that either team has faced thus far, so Vegas sees it similarly; this will be a dog fight. As far as the points total, these two have hit the over 5 of 11 times when the number was set at 47 or higher. This is a feel bet for anyone and everyone who chooses to indulge. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”
Bills +3.5 in Tampa Bay. O/U: 53.5
Last, but certainly not least in the AFC Preview for week 14 is the Bills and the Bucs. In case you’re not aware, the Bills *literally* had the football stuffed down their throats last Monday night. The Patriots carried the ball 46 times for 222 yards in Buffalo. It was a spectacle. A scheme straight from the 1950’s to compensate for the crappiest weather day we’ve seen this year. Needless to say, Josh Allen and company have got a little red ass heading into this one. Unfortunately for them, their shot at redemption comes against Tom Brady, who is 32-3 in his career against the Bills… Best of luck, gentlemen.
Both teams are locks for the playoffs at this point, and it would appear as if the Bills have more to prove in this one. If you want to base your bet on emotion, Buffalo is for you. Additionally, the Bucs are only 1-5 ATS as single digit favorites this year, and the Bills won their only other contest as underdogs back in week 5 against Kansas City. Maybe the Bills are for everyone?
p.s. these two teams are 6 of 10 hitting the over against points totals of 50 or more. If Josh Allen comes out chuckin’, you can bet your bottom dollar Tom will be down for a shootout.