For NFL bettors, the holiday spirit hits full swing. Santa Claus is indeed coming to town, bearing gifts in the form of points to home teams.
Ho Ho Ho, the Kansas City Chiefs give nine points to the host Denver Broncos in Week 14, supported by 82% of the early DraftKings spread handle.
The Philadelphia Eagles come riding into Met Life Stadium at -7 against the New York Giants, with 71% spread handle at the sportsbook.
Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins are -3.5 against the host Los Angeles Chargers, with 79% of the DraftKings spread handle so far. Miami’s coming off a blowout loss to Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers with vengeance on their minds.
Even a sub-.500 team can receive some of Santa’s holiday cheer. The Las Vegas Raiders (5-7) — albeit winners of three straight — are favored with a 6-point spread for a Thursday Night Football matchup against the struggling Los Angeles Rams. Derek Carr and Co. have garnered 78% of the early handle.
The 3-9 defending Super Bowl champs signed Baker Mayfield on Tuesday. Mayfield could start on Thursday but that hasn’t moved the betting line much.
That is one betting phenomenon entering Week 14 while the second involves a quirk.
Mr. Irrelevant Gets More Betting Love Than the GOAT
Go figure. Brock Purdy, the 262nd pick in the NFL draft, pilots a team that is favored against the quarterback with the most NFL titles of all time. Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers remain favored by more than a field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady’s seven Super Bowl rings.
Imagine projecting that on draft night. …
Cowboys Feeling the Sportsbook Love
Another eye-opener involves the Dallas Cowboys. They have been established at an NFL season-high -17 points against the visiting Houston Texans on Sunday. The ‘Boys have 58% of the handle at DraftKings.
This is in part a reaction to Dallas’ incredible 33-point fourth-quarter outburst against the Indianapolis Colts last week. That paved the way to a 54-19 shellacking.
Big numbers are not impossible to surpass, however.
The Chiefs managed to cover a 15.5-point spread (as favorites) in a win over the Los Angeles Rams, 26-10, two weeks ago. And the Dolphins, who had spent most of that week at -14 and -14.5, pushed at Sunday’s -15 line with a 30-15 win over the lowly Texans. Most of the bettors cashed in on Miami by wagering early.
More NFL Week 14 Betting Trends
Here are some additional eye-openers.
Steelers Look to Maintain Momentum Against Huntley’s Ravens
The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) are -2.5 against the eight-win Baltimore Ravens — leaders of the AFC North. This reflects a 5-2 cover streak and back-to-back victories for Pittsburgh, while the Ravens haven’t covered the spread in their last three.
Baltimore should start backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, whom one might consider Lamar Jackson Lite. Huntley scrambles well, although few are in Jackson’s class. He has better touch on his passes than Jackson.
The wild card here will be Huntley’s timing with receivers.
Pittsburgh gained two nail-biting victories over Baltimore last year. The first was a one-pointer. The second was an overtime triumph that knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs.
Vikings Listed as Dogs vs. Lions
The Detroit Lions are 5-7 yet favored against the Minnesota Vikings (10-2). The betting majority thinks the -2.5 is too high and supports Minnesota at a 60% handle.
The Vikings have the lowest point differential of any 10-2 team in NFL history, according to SI.com. They are just +10 and the Lions are only -9.
The Lions have covered in five straight.
A Book’s Look at Three Significant Games
Tampa Bay at San Francisco (-3.5)
“We opened up the Bucs-Niners a little higher but it has come down,” Johnny Avello, the Director of Race and Sportsbook Operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “I can see it even coming all the way down to 3. Tampa Bay is in a division it might win by default but when you look at this team, there are still a lot of quality players.
“In a big game like this, they are facing Purdy, who has limited experience. Now Purdy may end up better a quarterback at some point in his career than Tom Brady is now, but I am not sure this is that time. I think the public is going to be all over Tampa Bay in this game.”
Minnesota at Detroit (-2.5)
Avello noted that the Lions have done their best work when getting points. Suddenly, they have expectations.
“You could have gotten the Lions at +3 a couple of weeks ago,” Avello noted. “It has changed and the funny part about this game is that the Lions are playing pretty well now and the Vikings are winning — but struggling.
“I don’t know about this spot for the Lions, though. They perform their best when they are in an underdog role.”
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-2.5)
Avello considers Lamar Jackson a difference to the betting line of perhaps five points. Huntley thus has big shoes to fill.
The Betting Sweet Spot — Week 13 NFL Trends & Stats
It may concern a small minority of gamblers, but somebody always picks the perfect moment for an in-game bet.
That would have meant getting +250 on the Minnesota Vikings just before they waged a goal-line stand to stave off the New York Jets, 27-22.
That would have meant taking the Baltimore Ravens at +750 when they needed a 4th-down conversion in their own territory before slipping past the Denver Broncos, 10-9.
It also would have meant getting +1300 when Tampa Bay trailed the New Orleans Saints, 16-3, and punted the ball away midway through the fourth quarter. They then scored two late touchdowns to steal a 17-16 triumph in classic Tom Brady fashion. The Saints would have iced the game with a first down on either of their last two possessions.
All these bets involved a significant leap of faith and thus, a major payday.
A Hill of A Bet
This one was calculated genius: Taysom Hill to be the first touchdown scorer Monday night.
The New Orleans quarterback/running back/tight end paid a sizzling +1800 to DraftKings bettors who selected him as the first touchdown scorer. That was the top payout at DraftKings for scoring props. Hill also returned +320 as an anytime scorer.
One can understand the whopping odds. Hill is used in short-yardage running situations and a gamble on him can be based upon New Orleans needing a powerful run from somewhere deep in the red zone.
But this time, Hill slipped into the flat and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton. It gave the Saints a 7-3 second-quarter lead.
Patience was also rewarded for bettors of Cade Otton. For the second time this year, the Bucs’ tight end bailed his team out in the late moments of the game.
Tom Brady hit him on a short score to put the Bucs back in the game. Otten thus returned +500 to the bettors.
Juice From a Deuce — DraftKings Parlay of the Week
Look at the fun, frolic, and financial gain available for two bucks.
One DraftKings bettor used the expertise of three different sports to turn $2.60 into $4,319.75 with this +166044 12-leg parlay:
- Saints vs. Buccaneers, Under 40.5
- Bucks vs. Magic, Under 225
- Clippers vs. Hornets, Over 217
- Thunder vs. Hawks, Over 231.5
- Celtics vs. Raptors, Under 227
- Heat vs. Grizzlies, Under 226.5
- 76ers vs. Houston Rockets, Over 220.5
- Pacers vs. Warriors, Under 241.5
- Suns vs. Mavericks, Over 221.5
- Golden Knights (+1.5) vs. Bruins
- Avalanche vs. Flyers, Over 6
- Blues vs. Rangers – Rangers Moneyline
The NFL portion of this ticket was hit easily, but the other sports provided the sweat you’d expect from a multi-legged parlay.
The Flyers-Avalanche needed a goal within the last two minutes to reach the total, which Colorado provided.
And the Celtics-Raptors was the closest of close shaves. The 116-110 Boston triumph was one point below the listed Under total. And the bettor had to survive an open 24-foot shot that was missed, and a defensive rebound with 2.8 seconds left.
Had the score been tighter, the defensive rebound would have led to a foul and a pair of free throws. But because the margin was six, the Raptors didn’t press the issue.
That would have prompted a Thank You if the bettor was watching.
Around the Horn
FanDuel put up a few early ones for Week 14.
Purdy will enjoy a betting moment in the sun, regardless of its length.
The book has a prop for Joe Burrow, Jared Goff, and Purdy to each throw two or more touchdowns. It pays +650.
Burrow is playing the Cleveland Browns and has a good chance. Goff goes against a bend-but-don’t-break Vikings team but has an excellent receiver in Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Purdy goes up against a tough Bucs defense. He has many weapons, including Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield.
Will the red-hot Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and D.K. Metcalf each reach 100 yards receiving? That’s +1400.
Hill faces a middle-of-the-road Chargers defense. Adams opposes a Rams secondary that can be torched. Metcalf goes against a reasonably-efficient Carolina Panthers secondary.
Early BetMGM Considerations
Adams is on fire right now. Suddenly, the Raiders remember why they signed him.
BetMGM has him at +400 to score the first touchdown Thursday night against the Rams. That’s a little low for a first TD but a high mark of respect for the superstar wideout. Josh Jacobs is next at +450 and the Raiders defense would pay +1800 to notch the first score.
How to Get Around a Prohibitive Moneyline Number
The Eagles are -300 against the Giants.
But a bettor could shave that down to plus numbers by taking two margin-of-victory bets.
Philadelphia to win by 1-6 points is +320. And to win by 7-12 points is +375.
Putting $100 on each, for example, would create a return of $420 on the first wager and $475 on the next — IF the Eagles win by anything from 1-12 points.
That may not be exhilarating, but an edge is an edge. The Eagles haven’t blown out teams on the road, but they usually win.
There are other ways to get around the number, of course. Take a moneyline parlay, link an Eagles victory with some other games, and try to get the number down.
But for bettors who follow the team, this is one angle they may look at.
NFL Week 14 Betting Lines
Here are the latest point spreads, totals, and moneylines available at the best sports betting apps.