Writer's Note: I'm Carl's intern who went 57% ATS on nearly 250 documented NFL plays over 3 years on an independent blog before hopping onto Barstool, and I'm holding to that mark this season.
Last week, we hit the CLE/TEN Over easily and got the cover with the ATL teaser leg, but San Fran was a fucking MISS against the Bills on Monday night. I was sneakily expecting Josh Allen to be hobbled with a knee and ankle after the Bosa hit in the previous week, but nope, he was mobile as ever. Josh Allen and Brian Daboll schlonged me - serves me right for going against one of the best fan bases on the planet.
This late in the season, let's talk about math. Oddsmakers are now armed with the sample size to set the most efficient and accurate lines all year. Assuming a heightened level of accuracy, the 6-point advantage in teaser legs only carries more value. From there, if you're able to tease through key numbers like 3 and 7 with unpopular underdogs in low-scoring games, it's a cumfiesta of value.
With that in mind, I give you the gross-ass teaser of the week.
Pick #1: Giants +8.5 (teased from +2.5) and Bears +7.5 (teased from +1.5)
Cardinals (6-6) @ Giants (5-7); 12pm CT
Action: 29% of bets on the Giants
No one wants to bet the Giants and it makes sense. They're a "blah" team in a disgusting division going up against one of the most dynamic QBs in the league.
But I'm taking the Giants here because they have identity and direction. Wayne Gallman has been a revelation in leading a top-10 ground game, and the defense has rounded into shape by getting to the quarterback with only their front-4 (19th in blitz percentage but 6th in pressure rate). Sitting atop the NFC East, Joe Judge has full buy-in from everyone on his team to control their own destiny by ripping off a few wins to punch their playoff ticket.
The Cardinals have the pieces to be great, but their lack of cohesion is a direct reflection of their head coach. Drawing comparisons to Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, Kliff Kingsbury entered this league as the next young offensive genius. Sure, he's young and offensive-minded, but that doesn't make him a genius. Kliff tends to leave us with a head-scratching moment every week. His team's play is not unlike his physical appearance. He gets the "hot guy" label, but really he just looks like someone tried to draw Ryan Gosling from memory. He's like a La Croix with the essence of intellect, charm, and pamplemousse, but it just isn't all coming together at the NFL level.
The Cardinals removed Kyler Murray from the injury report earlier this week (shoulder), but even if he's 100% physically, I still don't think he is over the mental hurdle of running freely and leaving himself vulnerable to hits. We’ll likely see more of the Murray-lite version that we've seen in recent weeks.
And yes, Daniel Jones drops balls like me when I turned 16 (I was a late bloomer, ok?!?), but the Giants will be able to lean on the run in this lower-scoring affair (total 46.5). Gimme the team with the better coach and clearer identity in a close one.
Texans (4-8) @ Bears (5-7); 12pm CT
Action: 32% of bets on the Bears
As a Bears fan, some things happened last week that we're not gonna talk about.
The Bears are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as part of their 6-game skid, and this comes after a season with a dead-last 4-12 record ATS. It ain't easy picking "buy low" spots for this team, but now is the time.
Aside from Chicago's horrendous run, the majority of bets are falling on Houston because of the simple logic of Watson being better than Mitch. When the rationale of your bet is blatantly obvious to even the most casual of fans, maybe it's not a great bet. I'm going with the less popular side because Houston truly has nothing beyond Watson.
The Texans top-10 passing offense was able to mask their atrocious run game, but then Will Fuller got popped for PEDs (I'd try it too if I were as injury-prone as him) to soften their one-dimensional attack. Defensively, Houston is equally shitty against the run and the pass. Their D-line is trash and they're without their only non-embarrassing cornerback in Bradley Roby (more PEDs). I'm sure J.J. Watt will wag his finger on a 2nd-and-short pass breakup that has absolutely zero impact on the outcome of the game, but that's about it.
Against the current form of the Houston offense, the Bears D will be primed to dominate regardless of a decline in motivation over the past couple weeks. The Chicago offense stinks, but against Houston's olé bullshit they'll actually be able to get the run game going and show that they can move the ball in a game where points will come at a premium (total 45.5).
Grab the Bears this week, then run far, far away.
Alright, time for a teaser that you won't hate…
Pick #2: MIN/TB Over 46.5 (teased from 52.5) and Chiefs -1 (teased from -7)
Vikings (6-6) @ Bucs (7-5); 12pm CT
Action: 69% of bets on the Over, nice
In an unexpected storyline, Bruce Arians has been negging the GOAT all season. Here are some of his quotes on Brady from Weeks 1-12:
- "The receiver read it right but Tom overthrew it."
- "When guys are open we just gotta hit 'em."
- "I can drink that vegetable-eating pussy under the table."
But coming off of a bye following a narrow loss to the Chiefs (we covered with TB +3.5, btw), Bruce Arians has been positive vibes only. This is telling me that Arians and Brady made the most of their extra time to get on the same page. And I mean, they already have a top-10 offense this year despite many disjointed moments, so a harmonious alignment of their minds will only elevate them into "elite" territory.
For Tampa’s offense this week, it's all about embracing Brady's style of play. Instead of inefficient early down runs resulting in 3rd-and-longs that require deep shots in obvious passing scenarios, Brady will find rhythm with quick releases to short routes on early downs to either create manageable 3rd downs or bypass 3rd downs altogether. Against a Minnesota D that can't rush the passer (bottom-10 in pressure rate) and is missing the heartbeat of their defense in LB Eric Kendricks, Brady will have time to sit back and carve them up all day.
I get that you may think Minnesota's run-heavy offense will struggle to score against Tampa's elite run D, but it's quite the contrary. The Vikings know they're defense won't hold, so they'll need to keep pace by coming with an aggressive gameplan that tests Tampa's secondary. And you wouldn't think it, but Minnesota actually has one of the most explosive offenses in the league (#1 in Sharp Football Stats’ explosive play rate). Kirk Cousins stands tall against pressure and doesn't shy from big hits, and that could mean some BIG plays to Justin Jefferson who is the second coming of Odell Beckham without the baggage.
Going quickly back to the Bucs, shoutout to Chris Godwin for playing only 5 days after having 10 pins removed from his index finger. I have plenty of metal in my hand, so I can personally say that's some wild shit. Godwin broke his finger playing professional football, while I broke my hand punching a wall in college because I have a rich history of mental stability. Same thing. Quick PSA for the kids: If you're gonna punch a wall, drink your milk and miss the stud.
Anyways, this'll be a scorefest between two teams desperate to secure a playoff berth in these remaining weeks.
Chiefs (11-1) @ Dolphins (8-4); 12pm CT
Action: 71% of bets on the Chiefs
Mahomes always gets the boners out and poppin', but I'm viewing this as a "buy-low" spot if that's even possible. Against opponents including the Broncos, Raiders, and Panthers, the Chiefs are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 contests with an average win margin of only 3.8 points. Now facing a surging Dolphins team with a widely-respected head coach in Brian Flores, there's enough Miami support to prevent a wild imbalance of action towards KC.
Kudos to the Dolphins for overachieving, but they can't run with the big boys yet. Miami's offense is 19th in DVOA, and Tua has done nothing to lift that ranking. He still appears to be tentative and he has shown very little in terms of explosive passing. On top of that, Miami's bottom-10 run game won't be able to exploit KC's defensive weakness. What's most concerning is that Miami's underwhelming offensive stats have come against one of the softest slates of opposing offenses in the NFL.
The Dolphins D has earned some respect under Flores' leadership, but their success hinges entirely upon their outstanding cornerback duo in Howard and Jones. Those two guys being able to man up on the outside (6th in defensive pass DVOA) allow for some added support of their weak run D (24th in defensive run DVOA). This has been effective in recent weeks against the Bengals and the Jets, but today is a different ballgame. Tyreek Hill can make any CB his bitch and Travis Kelce can scorch the middle so this could spell disaster for Miami's entire scheme.
After Pittsburgh's loss on Monday, KC smells blood in the water for that first round bye. They're not dicking around with Le'Veon Bell this week to "see what they have." It's full steam ahead with Clyde Edwards-Helaire to shred the soft Dolphins run D and build a lead to put the onus on Tua to throw into the teeth of the KC defense. Breaking form from the previous few weeks, the Chiefs win this one easily.
Best of luck out there!