By John Kaufman
NFL Betting Analyst
Man, week 11 ended up being one of the weirder weeks in this already bonkers NFL season for a multitude of shocking reasons. It seems that the Atlanta Falcons were just messing with us all year by pretending they couldn’t play a lick of defense. Until now, though, because… reasons. (Your guess is as good as mine as to how and why they’re suddenly good on defense). For the first time in his NFL career, Deshaun Watson lost a game by more than one score. (That is easily one of the most insane stats I’ve ever heard of.) The Vikings came back to beat Denver by a score of 27-23 after being down 20-0 at the half, a feat that had not been accomplished in the NFL in the past five years. (Look, I don’t know what to tell you, Denver fans. The future looks… bleak. That’s as pleasant as I could put that – sorry.)
But by far the moment that takes the bizarro cake was in the Thursday night game between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. With only eight seconds left in that contest, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett decided to rip Mason Rudolph’s helmet off and then attempted to split the Pittsburgh quarterback’s head open with said helmet. The Browns won the game 21-7, and the postgame conversations should have been focused on Cleveland’s first two-game winning streak in nearly 365 days. Or perhaps people could have been discussing how the Browns had now defeated both Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same season for the first time since America was invented. That’s not a joke – Cleveland had never beaten both the Steelers and Ravens in the same season before. That fact should surprise exactly no one, and yet somehow it is still astonishing to read, isn’t it?
Admittedly, the Browns did defeat a banged-up Pittsburgh squad. Regardless, Cleveland’s win was a huge one that should have had people talking about a playoff push and other exciting topics. Instead, all anyone could talk about was Garrett’s attempted assault, and Rudolph’s lack of any real punishment, and everything that has nothing to do with X’s and O’s or wins and losses. As a sportswriter, that incident swallowed up the spotlight and made us all focus on a fight at the end of the game instead of the game itself. There were tons of intriguing aspects that occurred on the field last Thursday night, but none of them were dissected because all hell broke loose at the end of that game.
But speaking as a Browns fan, the phrase “we can’t win for losing” comes to mind. What Myles Garrett did has been discussed and debated ad nauseum. I am not going to pass judgment on him here. No good can come of that. Besides, I’m absolutely certain that you’ve already made up your mind about his guilt or innocence, and whether his punishment was justified or way too harsh, and everything else about this incident. I realize that how I feel about it makes little to no difference to you.
What I will say is this: Browns fans have had to endure a lot since our beloved team was returned to us in 1999. And this incident is just another frustrating blemish in a long line of infuriating mistakes, all of which have sapped the enjoyment we should be feeling when watching our team. I would love to have spent this past week talking to other Browns fans about winning streaks, and monumental victories over division rivals, and our collective excitement about a possible playoff berth – the first since 2002 – because our team has the NFL’s easiest schedule for the rest of 2019. Instead I had to talk about suspensions, the collective bargaining agreement, the precedents of prior instances of two players fighting in-game, and other nuggets of nonsense. As a Browns fan, I am dying to watch my team win because I just want to enjoy the feeling that comes along with winning. That’s it. That’s all I want, and this incident robbed me of that. That is the message that I’m trying to convey to you here: that since 1999, being a Browns fan has meant that opportunities to enjoy wins have been unbelievably sparse. Now, it seems, I can’t even enjoy the wins.
However, let's put that mess behind us and move on to the recap of week 11, and then we'll go over week 12’s Best Bets. This week’s card is one about which I am very excited. There is a lot of value on the board in week 12 which we’re going to exploit.
Last, I wanted to point out that it is really important to pair up this article each week with the latest episode of the Across the Board Best Bets/DFS podcast because sometimes the information changes in between the pod dropping and this article being posted. On last week’s pod, Chandler Adams and I talked about the Chicago Bears being a good bet at +6 against the L.A. Rams. But after digging into the game a little further, I decided that the Bears probably wouldn’t cover that spread, so I didn’t give it out in last week’s article. That’s why it’s important to check both sources of info, so you don’t miss a thing.
Week 11 Postmortem Results: 2-3 2019 Record: 15-20-1 2019 Teaser Record: 4-5 Overall win rate: 43%
Clearly a 2-3 record is not a positive one. And you know me and how I’m always focused on the process over the results. Last week was bad because of both the process and the results. I don’t think I got unlucky. I think my decision-making was just flat out poor. Let’s look back and see what went wrong.
CAR -4 (-110) vs ATL Result: LOSS (ATL 29-CAR 3)
I thought that Atlanta’s win in New Orleans the week prior was a mirage. Turns out, it wasn’t at all. The Falcons’ defense has basically done a 180 and has been a brick wall for the past two weeks. Carolina couldn’t do anything on offense, except of course to give the ball to Christian McCaffrey a thousand times and then hoping for the best. As crazy as it seems, that isn’t the best strategy. Weird, I know. To make matters worse, Kyle Allen was awful again this week. When he first replaced Cam Newton, he was playing very well. That trend has come to an end though. I should have looked more closely at Allen’s play and seen that he is capable of playing very poorly. This bet was about my bad process, nothing more.
MIA +6.5 (-110) vs BUF Result: LOSS (BUF 37-MIA 20)
I’m done underestimating Josh Allen, that’s for sure. He played incredibly well last week against Miami, and because of that this bet was never even close to covering. One aspect that I believe to be an important factor in Allen’s improved play is that last week against Miami, Buffalo’s Offensive Coordinator, Brian Daboll, moved up to the booth – as opposed to standing on the sidelines – for the first time all season. After the game, Daboll mentioned that it helped him and Allen because he was able to diagnose Miami’s defense better from the booth and in turn, he was able to communicate that to Allen. Of course, one game is the smallest of sample sizes, but there’s no denying that Allen played the best game of his short career last week. If Daboll remains in the booth for the rest of the year, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t, we can expect Allen to play better, especially against suspect defenses.
HOU +4.5 (-110) at BAL Result: LOSS (BAL 41-HOU 7)
There isn’t much to discuss here. Baltimore just whipped Houston, plain and simple. Deshaun Watson played horribly, throwing awful passes that were incredibly uncharacteristic for him. This one got out of control very quickly and the Texans were never really in this game. I don’t know that there is much to learn from this one other than Baltimore is not to be underestimated. Houston isn’t a team for us to avoid or anything. Watson will bounce back simply because he just can’t play any worse than he did last week. Like I said, Houston just got their asses handed to them.
KC -4 (-110) at LAC Result: WIN (KC 24-LAC 17)
This line moved all the way up to KC -6 by kickoff, so this is a lesson in betting good numbers. Now, whether you had KC at -4 or -6, your ticket still cashed. But giving up two points of value is not the way to bet on the NFL. Being anticipatory and staying ahead of the market is key.
As far as this game went, it was a bit tighter than I thought it would be. I really expected Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to just destroy the Chargers, but Los Angeles hung in there all game long, and even had a chance to tie the game near the end. The takeaway from this game is that the Chiefs’ defense is atrocious, and that fact needs to be considered very heavily any time we’re going to lay points with them. Sure, they can put up points on just about any team. But perhaps they aren’t really capable of blowing anyone out because of how bad their defense is. We need to keep that in mind moving forward. Six Point Teaser of The Week: + 6 points, -110 Result: WIN NYJ +8.5 at WAS – Result: WIN (NYJ 34-WAS 17) PHI +10 vs NE – Result: WIN (NE 17-PHI 10)
The Jets blew out the Redskins which helped us win this bet, but a bet on the Jets moneyline would have been much better of course. Still, a win is a win. But if I’m grading myself on this one, I need to be harsh. Liking the Jets was the right call. But I should have bet them solo either with the points or on the moneyline.
This game went exactly like I thought it would. The Patriots struggled mightily on offense, but so did the Eagles. Both teams’ defense showed up big time in this one, as this was a physical, tough matchup. I loved getting 10 points with the Eagles because I knew that Philly would hang tough in this game and keep it close. That’s exactly what happened, so this bet was never in doubt. That’s about the best feeling you can have when betting on the NFL.
NFL Week 12 – Best Bets
We have 13 games of NFL action still ahead of us this week. The Houston Texans edged out the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 20-17 this past Thursday night. We have four teams on bye this week. The Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings are all off this week.
Alrighty then. It’s time for week 12 Best Bets. I’ll be very brief since I’m posting this a bit later than I would have liked.
Let’s make some money, y’all. Here we go.
NYJ +3 (-120) vs OAK – 1:00 PM
According to Football Outsiders, Oakland has the #23 pass defense by DVOA. They give up the 7th-most passing yards per game and the 3rd-most passing touchdowns per game. The Jets, on the other hand, have the #3 overall defense and the #2 rush defense by DVOA. If the Raiders can’t run the ball like they want to and it’s up to Derek Carr to win the game with his arm, I’ll gladly take the points with the home team in this one.
PIT at CIN 1st Half Under 19.5 (-110) – 1:00 PM
This game will hilariously feature Mason Rudolph vs Ryan Finley. Who’s going to score points in this game? Exactly.
BAL -3 (-120) at LAR – 8:15 PM on MNF
Earlier I talked about not underestimating Baltimore anymore. Well, here’s where we put that into action. The Rams are dealing with health issues on their offensive line and until they fix that, they’re a team to fade. Baltimore is going to win this game by more than a field goal. Lay the points in this one. Six Point Teasers of the Week: +6 points, -110
TB +9.5 at ATL – 1:00 PM
DAL +11.5 at NE – 4:25 PM
– AND –
GB +9 at SF – 8:20 PM on SNF
SEA +6 at PHI – 1:00 PM
(There is a teaser bet explanation below if you need it.)
There were too many good spots to tease this week, so that’s why I have two for you.
Tampa Bay can be a tough team to back, no doubt. And we’ve seen Atlanta play lights out these past two weeks. But division games are always tougher, so I expect this one to be close.
I don’t want to underestimate New England, but man is that offense really struggling lately. I don’t think they’re going to be able to move the ball much against the Cowboys, and I think that Ezekiel Elliott is going to have himself a game against a Patriots rush defense that has been very leaky lately. I believe that Dallas can win this game, but I’m playing it safe by sticking them in this teaser. Even if they lose, I just can’t see how they’d get blown out.
Getting nearly 10 points with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers is great value. San Francisco is a very good team, of course. But this game is going to be tight the whole way through. Just like in the Dallas-New England game, even if Green Bay loses, they’re not getting run off the field in this one.
Taking six points with Russell Wilson is a no-brainer in this one. Philadelphia is a mediocre team with major issues in their secondary. Wilson might throw for 400 in this game. I love the Seahawks getting six here.
Alright y’all, that’s it for week 12. Good luck to us all this weekend!! Let’s cash some tickets!!
(TEASER BET EXPLANATION: In case you’re not familiar with a teaser, it’s a bet in which you get six points to manipulate the point spread and/or game total in a favorable direction. For example, in week two this year Denver was underdog against Chicago, as the Broncos were getting +2 points. In a teaser, you get to add six points to Denver’s line and increase it from +2 to +8. Or instead, if you liked Chicago in that game you could have taken the six points and teased their line from -2 to +4. Teasers are great ways to manipulate lines so that they’re more favorable to you. Last, just like a parlay, teasers must include two bets or more, and you must win all the legs in the teaser to win the bet. If you lose one leg of the teaser your whole bet is busted.)
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