Call it a hunch. Call it a guess. Call it whatever you want … here are four games where one wise NFL fan might be even wiser if she or he takes this advice.
It’s Week 13, sports fans (and holiday shoppers). Some Week 13 NFL betting lines are spot on, while others, well … let’s just say they’re personal opportunities for you to look smarter than the football odds gurus who get paid well to try to take your money.
So this is one keyboard cowboy’s take (not of the Dallas fan variety) on which NFL odds may be a tad bit off this weekend.
NEW ORLEANS (9-2) AT ATLANTA (4-7)
The line: Saints (-2.5)
The take: Saints cover, and then some
Book it: Fantasy football players who have Michael Thomas at WR and were frustrated last week with Taysom Hill playing QB in injured Saints’ QB Drew Brees’ absence? Lend me your ear. We hear you.
But if you are a Saints fan and just want to see a win, or you’re somebody who wants to see the Saints win and cover the spread this weekend? We think you are in luck this weekend, despite New Orleans being on the road without Brees.
Good things will happen this weekend, as the Saints have only allowed 843 yards rushing in 11 games this season. Isn’t that what Derrick Henry gets in about two or three games? The Saints’ defense is stifling and will hold down the fort. All the Saints need to do on offense is run the ball, chew up the clock, and not screw anything up. On the flip side, the Falcons have certainly played much better of late — but Hill and the Saints’ offense hung 24 on Atlanta just a few weeks ago.
DETROIT (4-7) AT CHICAGO (5-6)
The line: Bears (-3)
The take: Bears cover, and then some
Book it: Yes, the Bears have lost five in a row. Yes, Nick Foles’ hip hurts like hell. But the Bears are playing Top 10 defense (No. 8 at 22.7 points per game given up), and three of those past five losses have been by a touchdown or less. And who have those five losses been to? Brace yourselves for this NFL murderer’s row — the Rams, Saints, Vikings, Packers, and Titans. They are a combined 37-18 in 2020.
Look, I’m not saying Mitch Trubisky suddenly becomes a Hall of Famer in this one, but the Bears starter will do enough, and the defense will clamp down as the Bears easily cover the NFL odds. Agreed, homefield advantage hardly means a thing these days when it comes to fans and noise (thank you, COVID), though the piped-in stuff has been interesting, if not annoying.
But the Bears are clearly better, and their 5-6 record could easily be 7-4. On the flip side, the Lions played musical chairs with their leadership this past week and are 1-4 the past five weeks with just one ugly win over Washington to show for it. A front office change can ignite a flame, certainly, but it can also lead to a few rudderless weeks (months? years? decades?) before some balance returns.
CLEVELAND (8-3) AT TENNESSEE (8-3)
The total: Points (O/U 53.5)
The take: Take U 53.5
Book it: Just have a feeling this one is going to be lower scoring than usual, based on style. The Browns finally have a team that isn’t underachieving and wins in the clutch — something Cleveland fans thought they might have with Johnny Manziel a few years ago (incorrect) and again with Baker Mayfield when he was drafted. The Titans haven’t exactly backed into eight wins either.
True, the Browns have had one of the easiest schedules this year, but the Titans are probably no better than middle of the pack in the same department. One thing is for certain: both run the ball well (cue Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb and their SEC roots). Both do a relatively good job of stopping the run, too (Browns No. 9 at 108 yards per game; Titans No. 17 at 115). Look for these two to chew up the clock and keep it to 53 points or less.
L.A. RAMS (7-4) AT ARIZONA (6-5)
The line: Rams (-2.5)
The take: Cardinals with the points
Book it: With Arizona’s playoff hopes likely on the line here, and the fact these two teams are relatively comparable, look for the Cardinals to pull something off. Arizona can move the ball. Who are we kidding? Getting your hands on Kyler Murray can be like catching a BB in the dark, as a high school coach once told me about a young star they were scheming for.
True, he’s only 5-foot-10, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get a paw on the guy so you can register a textbook tackle. Obviously, it’s not like the Rams have anything locked up for the playoffs either, so they’ll be fighting for their lives also. One way or another, this should be a doozy. The Cardinals are due to win a nailbiter in a matchup like this, unlike a few of the losses they’ve been dealt (three late field goal defeats). They’ve lost some close ones.
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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All American teams, covered the FCS for HERO Sports and wrote for so many newspapers he lost count. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.