Two charts for this week and a preview of the 14 games that currently have a line as of Wednesday afternoon. Check out @SharpestSquares on Twitter for picks I make official.
|Team||After Week 12||After Week 13|
|Game||Look ahead line||Wednesday line||My line|
|Saints at Falcons||Falcons -3||Saints -1.5||Falcons -1.5|
|Lions at Buccaneers||No line||No line||Buccaneers -0.5|
|Bears at Bengals||Bengals -6.5||Bengals -6||Bengals -6|
|Colts at Bills||Bills -7||No line||Bills -6|
|Seahawks at Jaguars||Jaguars -3||Jaguars -2.5||Jaguars -2.5|
|Raiders at Chiefs`||Chiefs -6||Chiefs -4||Chiefs -4|
|Vikings at Panthers||Panthers -2.5||Vikings -3||Vikings -1|
|Packers at Browns||Packers -3.5||Packers -3||Packers -2|
|49ers at Texans||Texans -5.5||Texans -3||Texans -1.5|
|Redskins at Chargers||Chargers -5.5||Chargers -6||Chargers -3|
|Jets at Broncos||Broncos -3||Jets -1.5||Pick ’em|
|Titans at Cardinals||Titans -3||Titans -3||Titans -1|
|Eagles at Rams||Eagles -3||Rams -2.5||Pick ’em|
|Cowboys at Giants||Cowboys -3.5||Cowboys -4||Cowboys -7.5|
|Ravens at Steelers||Steelers -7.5||Steelers -5||Steelers -6|
|Patriots at Dolphins||Patriots -11.5||Patriots -11||Patriots -11.5|
Saints -1.5 at Falcons
We have a 4.5-point line move between the look ahead and current number for a massive NFC South battle between the Saints and Falcons. The Saints crushed the Panthers and the Falcons fell to the Vikings at home in Week 13. Despite the result from the two games I don’t think the drastic line move was warranted. I expected the Saints to play well against an overvalued Panthers team and the Falcons ran into one of the best teams in the NFL. While I think the Saints are also one of the top teams in the NFL, I expect the Falcons to bounce back on the short week at home. I think the wrong team is the favorite here.
Bengals -6 vs Bears
This game is probably the least favorable scheduling spot and situation for the Bengals. It was always going to be a tall task for the Bengals to play well six days after playing their most hated rival in primetime. A Sunday afternoon game against an out of conference opponent would be an expected flat spot. The situation got even worse for the Bengals with how their game played out against the Steelers. Cincinnati squandered a 17-point lead and lost on a last second field goal. The loss pretty much crushed Cincinnati’s playoff chances and it was a very physical game. Unfortunately, it’s hard to confidently fade the Bengals here because of how poorly the Bears have played since their bye week. They have been 0-4 in that stretch and it’s almost a certainty that John Fox won’t be back in Chicago next season. I’m going to pass this game but would take the Bears if I needed to pick a side.
Jaguars -2.5 vs Seahawks
Don’t have much of an opinion on this game. The Seahawks are coming off a huge win on Sunday night to revive their playoff chances. Next week they host the Rams in a game that could get them back in the NFC West race. So this sets up as a “sandwich game” for Seattle but they won’t overlook this opponent in a game they still need to win. I respect the Jaguars defense a lot and their defensive line could dominate the Seahawks porous offensive line. I just don’t like backing them as a favorite so going to pass on this game.
Chiefs -4 vs Raiders
The Chiefs have lost six of their last seven but I think this is a perfect time to buy low on them. There’s some line value based off the look ahead number of -6. The Chiefs lost to the Jets last week but showed some explosiveness on offense that I think will carry over against a bad Raiders defense. Oakland has won their last two games but they were against Paxton Lynch and Geno Smith at home. Before those two games, they were routed by the Patriots off a bye week. I think the Raiders are closer to the team we saw lose in Mexico City than the one who recorded victories in their last two games. Not sure if this line goes down to -3.5 or a field goal so I would take -4.
Vikings -3 at Panthers
Another big change between the look ahead line and current point spread. This one is a 5.5-point difference as the Panthers were 2.5-point favorites before the Week 13 results played out. I understand this line move a little more as the Vikings are rolling and the Panthers have flaws on both sides of the ball. The Vikings should be favorites in this game but a full field goal makes the Panthers the value side. This line means that the Vikings would be more than a touchdown favorite if this game were in Minnesota, which is too high. The Panthers really need this game for Wild Card race so I would lean with the Panthers.
Packers -3 at Browns
If all goes right for the Packers this will be Brett Hundley’s final start of the season. Aaron Rodgers is eligible to return from injured reserve in Week 15, which would lift Green Bay from one of the worst teams in the league to a tier where I have the Panthers and Seahawks. Before a possible return for Rodgers, the Packers need to take care of business and beat the 0-12 Browns. Hundley has showed some good signs but he really struggled in recent games against the Ravens and last week against the Buccaneers. I’m not going to pick the Browns with any confidence but this is likely their best chance to win a game in the final four games. I can see the Packers looking ahead to Rodgers’ return and falling in Cleveland.
Texans -3 vs 49ers
Already a lot of movement in this game between two teams out of playoff contention. The look ahead number was Texans -5.5 before Houston lost a close game at Tennessee and San Francisco won their second game of the season in Chicago. I think the -5.5 was too high in the first place so understand why it dropped. This line got as low as Texans -1.5 early in the week and now looks to have settled at a field goal. The 49ers could be a rejuvenated side with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at quarterback. They completely dominated the Bears in the box score despite not scoring a touchdown. The Texans slim playoff chances were decimated when they lost a tight game to the Titans so I question the motivation of Houston here. This is definitely a game to stay away from as any value on the 49ers as been extracted already.
Chargers -6 vs Redskins
A lot of factors point to the Redskins being the play here. This number is a bit too high if you look at recent games. On Thanksgiving the Chargers closed -1 in Dallas. A week later the Redskins closed -2 in Dallas. So these teams were rated about equal but this line is Chargers -6 and they have the least impactful home field advantage in the league. Line value is definitely with the Redskins. Another factor is the Chargers playing the Chiefs in Week 15 next Saturday. I can see Los Angeles overlooking Washington with a huge game on deck. The factor that is holding me back from taking the Redskins is the injuries on their offensive line. It’s been an issue all season and it continued in the lass to Dallas in Week 13. Going to want to see the injury status of those players before picking the Redskins.
Jets -1.5 at Broncos
Amazingly this isn’t the first time the Jets are favorites on the road this season. The Jets were favorites against the Buccaneers when Ryan Fitzpatrick started for Tampa Bay and New York ended up losing. The Broncos were a three-point favorite on the look ahead. I thought they would play well in Miami last week with Trevor Siemian under center but they continued to slide. Denver has lost eight straight games. It would’ve been hard to imagine them being home underdogs against a team who had a win total of 3.5 but here we are and I have no desire in picking either team.
Titans -3 at Cardinals
The Titans are 8-4 but I have been disappointed by their performance this season. Their recent covers against the Colts and Texans were underwhelming and they have had a soft schedule for most of the season. Marcus Mariota seems to have regressed and they have a below average defense. However, I’m not sure this is the time to pick against the Titans. Hard to put much faith in the Cardinals who have to know their season is over after losing to the Rams. The Cardinals play much better at home so they’ll have a chance to win this game if Blaine Gabbert doesn’t commit too many turnovers.
Rams -2.5 vs Eagles
Another big game between NFC contenders and a big line move to go with it. The Eagles were a three-point favorite on the look ahead against the Rams so there has been a 5.5-point shift. What will be interesting to see is if this line will go up to Rams -3. Regardless of where this line ends up I don’t think the Rams should be a favorite here. It looks like the Eagles are getting downgraded severely for 60 minutes of bad football in Seattle, which is one of the toughest places to play. The Eagles are staying out west this week and I think that is a positive for the team. I like the Eagles here to bounce back as they are now tied with the Vikings for top seed in the NFC playoffs.
Cowboys -4 at Giants
The main handicap for me is how the Giants will respond to the firing of Ben McAdoo. My guess is that they will play well because the players won’t want to be blamed for the disastrous season in New York. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo takes over as head coach but not sure if that is a positive. Spagnuolo’s defense has lacked effort at times this season so not sure to expect there. Sean Lee returns for the Cowboys to help bolster a struggling defense as Dallas tries for a late-season playoff push. Ezekiel Elliott still has two games left on his suspension so think it will be a challenge to cover this number on the road. There are better games to pick this week so I’ll pass on this one.
Steelers -5 vs Ravens
After playing an extremely physical game on Monday against the Bengals, the Steelers are back in primetime to play their most hated rival. I can definitely make a case for both sides in this one. The case for the Steelers is line value. The lookahead number was Steelers -7.5 so dropping this down 2.5 points after both teams won in Week 13 is something worth considering. The Steelers play much better at home and if they built an early lead, the Ravens don’t have the best offense to chase a game. Pittsburgh could win this game by a big margin if they start strong. The case for the Ravens is the physical toll the Steelers took on Monday that included an scary injury to star linebacker Ryan Shazier. It’s a tough spot for the Steelers with less time to prepare against a Ravens team that cruised to a win in Week 13. The other part is the Ravens care about this game more. Baltimore would maintain their Wild Card lead with a win and the Steelers might be thinking ahead to next week when the New England Patriots come to town. The Steelers and Patriots have the same record so whoever wins that game will likely get the top seed in the AFC because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. The games against the Ravens are usually ones the Steelers circle before the season but they might be better off getting healthy to focus on a much more important game against the Patriots.
Patriots -11 at Dolphins
These two teams played in Week 12 so a quick rematch here on Monday night. The Patriots covered a 17-point spread in Foxboro so the line at -11 seems about right. Rob Gronkowski is suspended for this game and that is also factored into the point spread. The Patriots don’t need to play their best to win this game and with the Steelers on deck, I can see the Dolphins scoring late to cover this number at home.