Week 14: Eagles at Rams
A 40-year-old is four weeks away from becoming the oldest winner in the history of the NFL MVP award, if the odds are to be believed.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady moved to the top of future betting boards after Week 13 at as high as minus-175 (risking $1.75 to win $1) to win the third MVP trophy of his career. He was previously tied with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who plummeted to a plus-200 (risking $1 to win $2) second choice after his team lost 24-10 to the Seahawks as 3.5-point favorites.
The other two primary contenders rounding into the NFL’s final month are also quarterbacks — Seattle’s Russell Wilson at 4-to-1 and New Orleans’ Drew Brees at 14-to-1.
Brady is in position to pad his lead this week, with his team a double-digit favorite against Miami while the other three unofficial candidates are all in tough matchups where the point spread is a field goal or less.
Read below to see which sides Talking Points is picking in every Week 14 game. As always, lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side and picks are separated into three confidence categories. Come back later in the week for picks on Detroit at Tampa Bay and Indianapolis at Buffalo when lines become available. The overall season record stands at 102-86-4 after the blog went 8-8 last week.
Kansas City Chiefs minus-3.5 vs. Oakland Raiders Have no hesitation buying low on the Chiefs, which are mired in a four-game straight-up and against the spread losing streak despite outgaining all four of those opponents on a per-play basis. The line on this game was Kansas City minus-6 before last week, and shouldn’t shift so drastically even with a 38-31 loss to the Jets as 3-point favorites.
Arizona Cardinals plus-3 vs. Tennessee Titans No team has outperformed its expected record more than the Titans, which have a minus-16 point differential on the year. The Cardinals have been a much better team at home, where they’ve outgained every opponent.
Carolina Panthers plus-3 vs. Minnesota Vikings Carolina has been better than Atlanta by any measure this season, and yet Minnesota goes from getting a field goal at the former one week to giving a field goal at the latter the next week. A third straight road game, and fifth in six weeks, is bound to catch up to the Vikings.
Jacksonville Jaguars minus-2.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks Jacksonville poached the Seattle defensive prototype, and this year they’re executing it far better than its progenitors. The Jaguars lead the league in giving up only 4.5 yards per play and should be the antidote to the Seahawks’ recent offensive awakening.
Atlanta Falcons plus-1.5 vs. New Orleans Saints The Falcons’ season is more or less on the line, and they should play accordingly. This will be the first time they’ve ever gotten points at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Philadelphia Eagles plus-2.5 at Los Angeles Rams This has to be the overreaction point spread of the week. The Eagles were a 3-point favorite over the Rams on the look-ahead line last week, meaning the combination of their loss to the Seahawks and the Rams’ 32-16 victory over the Cardinals precipitated a 5.5-point swing.
Washington Redskins plus-6 at Los Angeles Chargers There’s not as much separation between these two teams efficiency-wise as perceived, with the Chargers only 0.1 yards per play better than the Redskins on offense and 0.2 yards per play better on defense. Additionally, the Chargers and Redskins are slotted 16th and 17th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings.
Baltimore Ravens plus-5.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers The Ravens are quietly one of the hottest teams at sports books, with their only non-cover in last seven weeks coming by a half-point in a 23-16 victory over the Texans. The rule in this rivalry remains to back the underdog, which had covered five straight in the series before the Steelers’ 26-9 victory over the Ravens as 3.5-point favorites earlier this year.
San Francisco 49ers plus-3 at Houston Texans The 49ers appear to be a team on the rise with the offense spurred by the arrival of Jimmy Garopollo, while the injury-ravaged Texans are more playing out the string. This line is headed downwards, though, and it’s more difficult to pick San Francisco at less than a field goal.
New England Patriots minus-11 at Miami Dolphins With six straight covers, New England appears to be back to its old ways, like last year when it went 16-3 against the spread. The Patriots have improved immensely on defense, including giving up only 4.6 yards per play since their bye week.
Cincinnati Bengals minus-6.5 vs. Chicago Bears Chicago’s offense has reached new levels of futility the last two weeks in gaining less than 300 total yards and 20 first downs in the two games combined. Despite the Bengals’ troubles, they’re still tied for third in the NFL in giving up 4.9 yards per play.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus-1 vs. Detroit Lions The Lions' defense is in a free fall, giving up 6 yards per play over the last month despite a pathetic overall slate of opponents, and the offense might not be enough to carry them. It's hard to see Detroit's offense clicking on all cylinders with quarterback Matthew Stafford battling through a hand injury.
Indianapolis Colts plus-3.5 at Buffalo Bills The extra half point makes the Colts the preferred side. There's so much uncertainty and ineffectiveness on both sides that anything more than a field goal on the betting line is too much.
Green Bay Packers minus-3 at Cleveland Browns After a one-week respite from oddsmakers inexplicably overpricing the Browns, they’re right back to giving the impotent franchise too much credit. There should hardly ever be any interest in taking the Browns when getting less than a touchdown.
Dallas Cowboys minus-4 at New York Giants Interim coach Steve Spagnuolo shouldn’t give the Giants much hope. He’s gone 10-38 straight-up, 20-27-1 against the spread in his career.
New York Jets minus-1 at Denver Broncos The Jets appear to play as hard as any team in the league despite a talent deficiency; the Broncos may have quit on the season despite a decent overall roster. Denver has fallen to dead-last in the NFL in DVOA.