Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 | 2 a.m.
Abiding by Gov. Steve Sisolak’s plea to stay home should be a little easier for local sports bettors.
All it takes is loading up a mobile betting account or two, plopping down on the couch and sweating what’s sure to be a fast and furious four straight days of football between college and the NFL. To make matters even better, there’s plenty of value to be had.
I can’t ever remember more than six plays in this column, but we’re bumping it up this week. I’m going to seven plays including one on both Thanksgiving Day games.
Feast or famine, it should make for a fun way to spend the holiday weekend.
Read below for picks on every Week 12 game, separated into three confidence categories and listed in rough order of confidence. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side. The record for the year stands at 88-70-3 after an 11-3 Week 11 performance.
Indianapolis Colts -3 vs. Tennessee Titans The Colts closed as 1-point favorites over the Titans on the road two weeks ago, and a two-point adjustment for the rematch doesn’t go far enough in capturing how lopsided the game was. Indianapolis outgained Tennessee by 136 yards and 1.5 yards per play, and there’s nothing to indicate any different should be expected this time.
Dallas Cowboys -2.5 vs. Washington Football Team Dallas is a different team under Andy Dalton, who went 22-for-32 passing with 203 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 win over Minnesota in his return last week. With that in mind, the Cowboys’ ratings remain too bogged down from three straight weeks with emergency quarterbacks.
Detroit Lions +3 vs. Houston Texans Detroit is being downgraded for injuries, but Houston is just as beaten up at key positions. This is too big of an overreaction to last week’s games, which saw Detroit play its worst game in a 20-0 loss at Carolina as 3-point favorites while Houston prevailed in a 27-20 coin flip as 2.5-point underdogs hosting New England.
Baltimore Ravens +5.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers It’s scary to take the Ravens with their coronavirus concerns, but they’ve inflated the spread by three points despite no players who would usually merit that big of a move being ruled out. Less than a month ago, Baltimore outgained Pittsburgh by 236 yards and 1.5 yards per play and only lost 28-24 despite a nightmare game in which it had a -3 turnover margin.
New York Jets +7 vs. Miami Dolphins The Jets have been playing better each week, having now lost three of four games by a touchdown or less while being more efficient than their opponents on a per-play basis for two straight weeks. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are playing their third road game in four weeks and allowed the Broncos to outgain them by 3.2 yards per play last week. It’s no fun backing the Jets but the full touchdown makes for a grossly inflated spread.
New Orleans Saints -6 at Denver Broncos Despite losing Drew Brees for the time being, the gap between the Saints and the entire rest of the league is growing, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. And this is a case where the eye test matches the statistics, especially as it pertains to the gulf separating the Saints and the lowly Broncos.
San Francisco 49ers +7 at Los Angeles Rams Give the 49ers a break for their three-game straight-up and against-the-spread losing streak, considering it came against three NFC championship contenders in the Seahawks, Packers and Saints. San Francisco is still beaten up but should be much more well prepared after a bye week, compared with Los Angeles coming off a big Monday Night Football win over Tampa Bay.
Philadelphia Eagles +5.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks The Eagles were a play at +6, but the last few sports books clinging to that number trimmed Wednesday morning. The Eagles’ offense has been terrible, but is due some positive regression after committing an unlucky 20 turnovers. The Seahawks’ defense, which is allowing 6 yards per play, presents an opportunity for many offenses to get right.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs There’s not a matchup tougher for the Chiefs’ offense than the Buccaneers’ defense, which has the speed and playmaking ability to neutralize even the best attacks. Betting against Patrick Mahomes is almost never advisable, but a poor Buccaneers performance in a 27-24 Monday Night Football loss to the Rams as 4-point favorites pushed this spread over 3 to make it a must-take.
Atlanta Falcons +3 vs. Las Vegas Raiders This is a classic sell-high spot after the world watched the Raiders take the Chiefs to the brink in a 35-31 loss as 7.5-point underdogs on Sunday Night Football. Las Vegas went from -1 to -3 after the game, as big a positive jump as you’ll ever see out of a loss. Atlanta had shown major progress for a month before running into a Saints team playing better than anyone in the NFL in a 24-9 loss as 3.5-point underdogs last week.
Minnesota Vikings -4 vs. Carolina Panthers The Vikings — yes, the Vikings — lead the NFL offensively in gaining 6.5 yards per play. The Panthers’ defense has shown some improvement — up to 17th in the NFL in giving up 5.7 yards per play — and shut out Detroit last week but is still too green to match up well with the Vikings.
Cincinnati Bengals +6 vs. New York Giants At as low as 42.5, this over/under looks like one of the shortest for the rest of the NFL season. And it makes sense considering the bad weather forecast. The low-scoring likelihood is enough to set aside rumblings of the Bengals’ discord and the drop-off from Joe Burrow to Ryan Finley, and take a wildly high number in a game between two bad teams.
Los Angeles Chargers +5.5 at Buffalo Bills Buffalo -4.5 would be a fair price here, but paying an extra point of insurance to back the better-coached, less mistake-prone team doesn’t sound excessive. The Chargers’ potential remains higher, however, as they’re going to have a game or two down the stretch when everything comes together and they play to their peak.
Arizona Cardinals -2.5 at New England Patriots With New England mediocre in every area and Arizona beset by poor coaching/strategic decisions on a weekly basis, both of these teams look like bet-against sides. It seems more likely that this spread moves toward the Cardinals, however, and possibly even threatens to go over -3, so I’ll lock in what might be a value number with the better team.
Cleveland Browns -6.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars Betting the over 49 points might be the best way to approach this game, with Cleveland finally out of the blustery conditions that have dogged it at home the past three weeks. This could quickly turn into a shootout, and in a shootout, points on the spread become less valuable.
Green Bay Packers -8.5 vs. Chicago Bears The number is about right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it closed at 10. Chicago would be the pick at double digits, but given its anemic offense, I can’t take anything less than that.