Broadway Best Bets is a weekly NFL betting article selecting the five preferred NFL lines of each week. Note: Sports gambling advice is intended for recreational purposes only. All odds and lines are from William Hill US Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.
It’s playoff season in the NFL, as fantasy football playoffs are mostly kicking off this week while actual playoff seedings will start to solidify over the next few weeks.
Last week was a rough one for us here at the Best Bets column, a shocking 0-4-1. Perhaps consider fading the best bets until we turn things around, which we will of course hope to do this week. Let’s get into our five favorite lines…
Broadway 2020 Season Record: 26-34-6
Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7)
The Vikings travel to Tampa Bay looking to stay in playoff contention, currently holding the new seventh seed. Minnesota needed overtime to beat Jacksonville last weekend, while Tampa Bay is refreshed coming off a bye looking to maintain their own playoff status down the stretch.
Minnesota games are 8-4 to the Over this year, while Tampa Bay games are 7-5. Coming off the break, Tampa Bay’s offense should be firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, the Vikings offense has performed well over recent weeks, with one of the best man-to-man matchpus in Adam Thielen. The Bucs couldn’t hang with the Chiefs’ receivers two weeks ago, and I think they’ll struggle to contain Minnesota’s offense. But Minnesota will struggle to contain them right back. We’ve seen both teams get into shootouts throughout the season, and this feels like another opportunity.
The Pick: Over 52.5
Green Bay Packers (-8.5) at Detroit Lions
It took until late in the fourth quarter for the Lions to find their “fired-head-coach bump,” scoring two touchdowns in the final minutes to pull off the upset in Chicago. While Green Bay’s defense can’t contend with the Bears’, their offense is one of the most well-oiled machines in football and playing at a high level. The Lions’ defense stands no chance to stop Davante Adams, with Aaron Rodgers playing at an MVP level and Allen Lazard getting healthier.
This could emerge as a bit of a shootout if Green Bay struggles to stop Detroit’s rushing attack, with D’Andre Swift expected to return to the lineup. But the Packers’ explosive offense could jump out to a lead and render the Lions’ run game irrelevant. I don’t think Detroit can keep up with Green Bay, and I’m not betting against the Packers. Matt LaFleur’s team enters Week 14 with an 8-4 record ATS, tied for second-best behind Miami at 9-3.
The Pick: Packers -8.5
New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks (-15)
For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks host a New York team as a heavy favorite. Last week, laying 13.5 to the Giants, the Seahawks fell flat and lost to the heavy road underdogs. After the Jets blew a late win last week, they fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for his Cover-0 call on the last play of the game. But despite going winless thus far, the Jets have actually covered four games ATS, all four in the last six weeks.
Seattle is in a funk. Will they snap out of that funk against a terrible Jets team? Possibly. But Seattle’s biggest win this season was Week 1 against the Falcons by just 13 points. Their last win by double digits was a 10-point victory over the Niners in Week 8, when Jimmy Garroppolo left in the second quarter.
Seattle is probably (definitely) going to win, but this is just too many points to lay with a team that doesn’t really blow out their opponents, even when they win convincingly.
The Pick: Jets +15
Update: The line has moved to SEA -16! Maybe wait until right before kickoff to see where it closes?
Washington Football Team at San Francisco 49ers (-3)
Both the Washington Football Team and San Francisco 49ers are coming off a short week after playing in the Monday Night double-header, and both will be playing in an “away” stadium, with the Niners set up in Arizona given the lockdown restrictions in Santa Clara, California.
This doesn’t appear to be a good matchup for the Niners on paper. San Francisco loves to run the ball. The Football Team has one of the best defensive lines and run-stuffing units around. But I think the Niners have an off-the-field edge the Football Team doesn’t in this game, and I’ll explain why.
Last week, the Niners traveled to Glendale, Arizona, to set up shop for the foreseeable future, with the team and staff staying together at the Renaissance Hotel. The players and coaches arrived in the middle of the week and had to scramble to figure out a practice schedule and a new routine. It wasn’t surprising to see them struggle with a good Buffalo squad last Monday, given the circumstances of their situation.
This week, the team is sequestered in the hotel, unable to really leave or do much of anything. That means there are little distractions from the football task at hand. Kyle Shanahan said recently he’s spent the extra free time studying film. So has Richard Sherman and Jimmie Ward. Other guys are bonding via Call of Duty headsets and other virtual means (they can’t gather together in the hotel). But this whole situation gives off a strong vibe of family and togetherness, which helps a team bond, and you think I’m going to bet against Shanahan after he’s spent a bunch of extra time studying film?
I would like Washington under normal circumstances, given the teams’ strengths and weaknesses. But these are not normal circumstances. I’m taking Shanahan and the Niners.
The Pick: San Francisco -3
Lock of the Week
New Orleans Saints (-8) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Saints continue to not only win without Drew Brees, they are covering spreads, up to 7-5 ATS this season but covering in five straight games. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has benched Carson Wentz in favor of second-round pick Jalen Hurts. Hurts looked decent in late-game action last week against Green Bay, but I can’t imagine a worse first matchup for the rookie to make his starting debut.
The Saints defense has been unbelievably stout over the past few weeks, and they appear to be one of the best units now at this point in the season. The Eagles’ offensive line is in shambles; New Orleans should eat this group alive. Meanwhile, the Saints will get Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead back from COVID, which should provide a further boost to an offense that hasn’t really struggled to score with Taysom Hill at quarterback.
There are two ways to bet trends such as this Saints’ cover streak: either you can ride the trend and hope it continues, or you can bet against the trend until it fails. With one of those scenarios, there is the potential for multiple wins that finally ends with a loss. For the other, you could lose multiple times until the trend finally fails and you win.
The line has moved in favor of New Orleans since opening at -6.5, but I don’t think it’s moved nearly enough. I’m backing the line movement and the trend here with Taysom Hill and the Saints.
The Pick: Saints -8
How Betting Lines Work
A quick reminder for anyone unfamiliar with betting lines. “Favorites” are listed next to a negative number, which represents how many points they must win by to “cover the spread.” Titans -2.5, for example, means that Tennessee must beat the Broncos by 3 points or more for bettors to win. Gamblers can also bet on the game’s “total,” betting on whether or not the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a pre-selected number of points.
“ML” or “moneyline” is not against the spread, just picking the winner of the game. Many people refer to the moneyline as “straight up,” but this can be confusing, because if you’re ever at a betting window in Vegas, a “straight bet” means you are betting on the point spread. Instead of saying “straight up,” you’d want to say “moneyline” when you mean to pick the winner of the game regardless of the point spread to avoid any possible confusion.