A lot of people call this the best time of the year.
There are holiday parties, good tidings, and lots of friends and family.
While I certainly appreciate all of that, however, this time of year is special for another couple of equally important reasons: statistically significant conclusions and limited future outcomes.
Yes, now that we have hit Week 14 of the NFL season, we have about as much data as we can hope for with these teams while still having runway to use it on. By week 16 we will have to start thinking about players resting and team’s motivation levels, but in this week we have about the same amount of data without those concerns.
And that yields a lot of strong, logical conclusions as well as the opportunity to have a little fun with the permutations of the future. Case in point: Washington.
This weekend, WORMS (and maybe me, you’ll have to read to see) loves Washington +13.5 against Green Bay. Even though this might be contrary to our basic notions, about these two teams, we have been watching Washington grow over the past couple of weeks through improving Deltas. The amount of statistical information available to us can give us the confidence to make an ugly pick without doubting ourselves.
But like I said, this isn’t all logic and efficiency, we can also have some fun. With four games left, Washington is not statistically eliminated from winning their division. With Dallas’ loss on Thursday night there is a path for Washington to win the division at 7-9 if they were able to win out and get the right results elsewhere. Because I saw this Dallas loss coming, I bet Washington to win the NFC at +15000. The actual bet was $8.07 to win $1,210.50 which isn’t anything crazy but certainly gives me a path to a nice payday with little lost value.
Will it hit? Almost definitely no. Will I get at least one week of enjoyment out of imagining the bet hitting? You bet.
The larger point of this is that in looking at the last four weeks of the season, there are narrowing possibilities, and although everyone thinks the future is locked in, we still have some wiggle room. The Bills could win the AFC East; the Chiefs could be a one seed; the Steelers could win the AFC North; the Titans, Colts, or Texans could win the AFC South; the Bears, Packers, or Vikings could all win the NFC North. This offers itself as a great time to make a stand on something unexpected happening. We have a ton of data and we grow more confident each week, but something will happen that we don’t expect. Finding that result is at the heart of gambling - picking a lane and putting your chips down.
And so that’s where we are. The sweet spot in the year where almost anything is still possible but also where we can have a good handle on what we think will happen. It is a time of possibility as well as inevitability.
Socrates once said a great ending must be “surprising, yet inevitable”. Week 14 and 15 in the NFL certainly abide by this philosophy so let’s enjoy the ending to this year.
Here are the Week 14 Best Bets:
TEN -3 @ OAK 4.5 Hoots WORMS Delta: 18.5 for TEN
I made a decision this week. I will not try as hard to fight my biases in this article given that WORMS is doing such a good job cold-heartedly executing picks for you. There will be less numbers and more analysis to balance out my robotic counterpart.
My advice is to take WORMS as the gospel and me as the preacher interpreting the word of God in a catchy Sunday sermon that gets you to come back each week.
And so, in this case, let me stand at the pulpit and read from the glorious book of the Tennessee Titans.
Currently they are playing like a team possessed and I don’t think I’m going to be getting off the train anytime soon. Derrick Henry has been a monster over his last sixteen games and is putting the league on notice that he is an overlooked resource in this league. Ryan Tannehill is reminding us on the dangers of assessing a quarterback after playing in one location and showing athleticism, confidence, and poise. Mike Vrabel has the defense playing aggressively and well enough to make a difference.
This week, the team rolls into Oakland where the Raiders are reeling. The team has its star running back questionable, just lost their #2 receiver, and have a quarterback who is afraid to throw the ball downfield.
You want numbers to back up the distance between these two teams?
Over the last three games Tennessee has the third largest point differential at 13 points per game (behind Buffalo and Baltimore in case you needed more excitement for that game); Oakland has the second worst at -18.3 per game. In their last two games the Raiders have been outscored 74-12.
It is true that those games were on the road and that Oakland is 5-1 at home, but their last three home wins came against the Lions, Chargers, and Bengals - three teams allergic to winning.
I can’t tell you that I am not blinded by the beauty of betting on the Titans for the last three weeks, but I can tell you that it’s not just me. WORMS, the numbers, logic, justice, momentum, and context all favor Tennessee.
Sermons are all about faith and I’m putting my faith in the hottest team in the league.
MIA +5 @ NYJ 3.5 Hoots WORMS Delta: 6 for MIA
If the Dolphins win this game, these two teams will be tied in the standings.
That is true and is also a way to remind you that these are not wildly different teams. Your perception may want them to be, but the reality is that this game is about as likely to go one way as it is the other. So betting the five points is almost unavoidable.
It is always hard how much stock to put in an injury because when a backup plays their is a higher volatility in the outcome of their performance. Trying to predict a player performance with less data is difficult, and then trying to project that performance in a one off situation is even more difficult. Having not seen backups play and knowing little about them, how can we know the likely hood they will seize the opportunity to start?
I don’t know, but I do know that the Jets have injuries to pieces that are legitimately irreplaceable. Jamal Adams is one of the best safties in the league and Brian Poole is a solid starting secondary player - both will be out Sunday.
This means that the weakness of the Jets just got weaker. New York can stop the run all day but has been burned by the pass equally as often. Miami can’t run the ball but is eager to wind up and make plays downfield.
On top of this, the Jets might also be without Le’Veon Bell. Although he is having a bad season living in Adam Gase purgatory, he still represents a player who makes a difference for this team.
So even though injuries usually make games less predictable rather than more predictable, this game seems like one that is being misrepresented as a mismatch BEFORE we downgrade the Jets prospects.
I’ll take Miami and the points with some inclination towards the Miami moneyline and the over, if for no other reason that to see the headlines after these two teams are tied in the standings.
NO -2 vs SF 3.5 Hoots WORMS Delta: .5 for SF
This is not a game WORMS is on at all, but it is a game I cannot get myself away from, especially the more I look into it.
To begin with, one of my major concerns is how San Francisco will perform. They are coming off a punishing game in the rain IN Baltimore, flew 3,000 miles to the West Coast, then flew 2,000 miles back to New Orleans to take on a Saints team that played 400 miles down the road ten days ago.
The point being it wouldn’t be surprising if the Niners come in deflated off of a tough loss to Baltimore while New Orleans has been regrouping after a blow out win and with extra time to prepare.
In fact, in that win, the Saints hardly needed to use Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas while Drew Brees was essentially untouched the whole game. That triumvirate should be ready to cook against a team that limits deep balls but is susceptible to the intermediate passing game.
Extend that even further, and the last four for the Saints has been Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Atlanta again - certainly nothing that has strained them. Meanwhile the Niners last four have been the Seahawks, Cardinals, Packers, and Ravens. One of these teams has been bouncing around the South playing cupcakes, the other has been all over the country playing monsters.
I realize that this is a relatively intangible argument, but you have WORMS to give you the numbers side of things, which is a razor thin margin. When you take a step back and look at context, however, one of these teams has been set up to ramp up for the playoffs while the other has been extending itself for the better part of a month now.
It does concern me that the Saints are missing two linebackers in this game, but given they are at home and giving less than a field goal, it feels like a time not to overthink things.
New Orleans, rested, at home = money.
WAS +13.5 @ GB 3 Hoots WORMS Delta: 8 for WAS
Alright. This is by far the least comfortable I have been with a Best Bet pick in a while.
But with WORMS and some of the research I’ve been doing, this feels like a spread that is just too high.
Over their past four games, Green Bay has laid two eggs, narrowly beat a clearly bad Carolina team, and beaten the Jets. Over this past four games Washington has beaten those same Panthers as well as the Lions and lost games against the Jets and Bills that were competitive for the most part.
In other words, both of these teams are 2-2 and Green Bay’s losses look worse.
In addition to this, Washington’s style of play does not lend itself to a blowout, even if they do lose this game.
Ever since Bill Callahan has taken over as their coach, this team has run the ball and played low scoring competitive games. Seven of their last eight have been 41 or fewer total points. If that holds true in this game, it would take an extremely lopsided game to make this +13.5 miss. Given that both of these teams are being outscored by less than three points a game this past month, that also feels unlikely.
So, in predicting this game script, we would think that Washington is going to run from the start, and that they should find success early and often. Over their last three games, Washington is the seventh best rushing attack in the league at 129.3 yards per game. On the season, Green Bay is the 25th best rushing defense allowing 123 yards per game.
Despite the fact that these two teams are carrying very different reputations around the league these days, they have had a fairly similar month of play, they align to be a lower scoring close matchup, and we are getting tons of value at +13.5.
You don’t have to like them, but Washington deserves our bet here. Plus, we need this win for them to take the division.
TB -3 vs IND 3 Hoots WORMS Delta: 1 for TB
This is a very difficult game to fully explain my feelings on, but rest assured that they are strong.
Over the course of the season, the Bucs have been overlooked as a secretly good team. Their 5-7 record could easily be 7-5 or even 8-4 with a few different bounces. They play explosively on offense and can take away the run game on defense. They usually have the best receivers in a game and always have a shot at having the best quarterback as well.
Indy, on the other hand, has gotten where they are by having a greater sum of their parts than being better than opposing teams. This is starting to crumble, however. Indy has lost three of their last four, all without TY Hilton and with Jacoby Brissett injured.
In that span the defense has shown a propensity to give up big passing game plays. They get Marlon Mack back this game, but he will be running into the Bucs #1 run defense.
All in all, I think this is an opportunity because Tampa Bay is the better team but are being treated like the Colts equal. Let’s make money off of that misconception.
Other Best Bets
I don’t have the gusto to write up each of these games fully, but here are a few extra picks for the week:
NE -3 vs KC 2.5 Hoots WORMS Delta: 22 for KC
As Owl Eats Football fan Devon pointed out, betting against New England would be blasphemous and I’m no sinner.
LAC -3 @ JAX 2.5 Hoots WORMS Delta: 1.5 for LAC
Jacksonville has been horrendous these past few weeks, but in this game they return to Minshew and face a Chargers team that is losing in historically improbable ways. Most likely a stay away, but hard not to like the Chargers.
BAL -6.5 @ BUF 2 Hoots WORMS Delta: 9 for BAL
I know what’s going to happen after this game.
Whoever wins will be declared as a team that we “didn’t realize was as good as it was”. If Baltimore blows the doors off the Bills, then we will all say that the Ravens should be considered strong favorites always and forever. If Buffalo wins, we will shout about how we slept on a team that is playing as well as anyone.
With that being said, I like the Ravens team that just beat a better Niners team.
The Big Money Makers
So we came VERY close to a big Thanksgiving day if the Lions had been able to pull out the win. The good news is we still got our spread bets individually, but there was a parlay juicer than a turkey looking good for most of that game.
This week, we take a couple of bites of the apple by combining some of our favorite bets in different ways.
As always, these are not reliable income streams, but can provide profit floods.
Here are the Big Money Makers for Week 14:
PARLAY 1 - The 3 Hooter
MIA +5 (-110)
TEN -3 (-115)
BAL -6.5 (-115)
$36 to win $204.22
PARLAY 2 - The WORMS
BAL to win (-270)
CLE to win (-330)
TEN to win (-155)
KC +3 (-110)
WAS +13.5 (-115)
$24 to win $227.64
PARLAY 3 - The I don’t give a Hoot
NO -2.5 (-105)
WAS +13.5 (-105)
BAL -6.5 (-105)
TEN -3 (-115)
TB -3 (-115)
LAR PK (+100)
LAC -3 (-120)
NE -3 (-110)
$25 to win $4527.11