Finally! Ladies and gentlemen, it only took me roughly thirteen weeks but I finally nailed our first 5-1 performance of the season. I guess the saying is true. Blind squirrels do find a nut every once in a while. I’ve preached the last few weeks that it was make or break time as that season record was looking incredibly ugly (it still does, please don’t look at it) and it was imperative that these picks turned around.
The locks continue to hit like crazy as we hit our eighth one of the season moving that combined total to 8-3 on the year. Again people, continue to fade me please, but those locks I’ve been giving out each week have been money.
Now if we can continue to round out the season with records of 5-1 or better we might actually get that record near .500. Can we do it? Probably not, but I’m going to sure as hell try. Here are your winners for Week 14:
San Francisco 49ers +2.5 vs. New Orleans Saints
I know, I know, this season I have been the biggest San Francisco 49ers hater on the internet. I’ve mentioned multiple times that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a fraud and their defense isn’t as good as everyone gives them credit for. Well, they deserve all the credit in the world and I now look like an absolute fool (although I still don’t want Garoppolo as my QB when the game is on the line).
In an absolute dismantling of the playoff-bound Green Bay Packers and a tough, last-second loss to the Super Bowl favorite Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers have done anything and everything to prove that they are indeed one of the toughest squads of 2019.
Their opponent this week in the New Orleans Saints should also be considered in the upper tier of the NFL as they come into this matchup having already secured the NFC South division with an impressive record of 10-2. Although first place in their division is already locked up, a lot is still riding on this game as a win over the 49ers gives them sole possession of the top seed in the NFC playoff picture, giving them a much-desired home-field advantage throughout the entire postseason up to the Super Bowl.
Although my pick here is going to be the 49ers plus the points, that doesn’t mean I’m riding with the red and gold to win this one, I just think this matchup is going to be an absolute dog fight between two elite defenses. The Saints at home under the dome are always scary, but the 49ers are too good not to keep this game close. I’m taking San Fran +2.5 while also sprinkling some money on the UNDER 44.5.
**The 49ers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as road underdogs. The Saints are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games as the home favorite.
Baltimore Ravens -6 vs. Buffalo Bills
The Baltimore Ravens are for real, there is no question about that. Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh and his coaching staff deserve all of the credit in the world for forming their weekly game plan’s, specifically around quarterback Lamar Jackson, to fit the strengths of each and every key player on this team. In my mind, there is no doubt that the Ravens are the team to beat heading into the 2019 playoffs.
The Buffalo Bills on the other hand also look to be a playoff-bound contender. Unfortunately for them, they don’t boast the kind of star power and proven resume that the Ravens are bringing into their matchup this week. Now I’m not a big stats and trends guy when it comes to handicapping games each week mainly because opponents, personnel, and environments are different every week, but there is one stat I just can’t ignore. The Ravens are beating their opponents by a whopping average of 19 points in their last eight games. Now let's take a look at who they’ve beaten over that eight-game winning streak. The 49ers, Rams, Texans, Patriots, Seahawks, Steelersand the Bengals twice. Everyone within those last eight games except for the Bengals are all currently in the playoff mix, with a majority of them having realistic shots to win the title this year.
I was never a big believer in the Bills and to be honest I’m still not, but their win on the road against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving was impressive. This pick here has nothing to do with the Bills and has everything to do with the Ravens. That being said I’m taking the Ravens to easily cover the -6.
**The Ravens are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games. The Ravens are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 road games. The Ravens have won their last 8 games in a row by an average margin of 19 points.
Tennessee Titans -3 vs. Oakland Raiders
This week’s matchup between the Tennessee Titans and the Oakland Raiders is a real head-scratcher. I could see myself betting both sides of this three-point line and to be honest I’ve flipped back and forth on it a few times now.
If this game was just a few weeks ago, I would have been hammering the Raiders as home dogs as they have actually been a very good home team this season despite the fact they are picking up and moving the Las Vegas in 2020. Also, the Titans were an incredibly inconsistent team throughout the first eight games of the season as the offense was lucky to crack 20 points week in and week out.
However, when we look at the current state of each team, they have virtually flipped. The Titans are on a tear winning five of their last six games and the Raiders have been absolutely demolished in their last two games losing by a combined score of 74-12. Oh, and one of those came against the New York Jets.
I really thought that the Raiders had a real shot at contending for the division midway through the season, but I don’t see them getting back over this large hump. I took the newly energized Titans last week led by the second coming of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and that is exactly what I’m doing again this week. Although I admit this one is a bit of a tossup, I like the Titans to cover the -3.
**The Titans are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games. The Raiders are 0-3 ATS in their last 3 games.
Pittsburgh Steelers -2 vs. Arizona Cardinals (LOCK)
I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this season that once in a while I see a line here and there where my jaw just hits the floor. The Pittsburgh Steelers only being a two-point favorite over a young, dying Arizona Cardinals team is the one that did it to me this week.
Now I know exactly why this line is as modest as it is, even though the Steelers are currently sitting as a playoff team and the Cardinals haven’t won a game in five weeks. That reason is Steelers quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges. I know what Vegas is thinking here, they don’t want to lean too heavily on a young, unproven quarterback on the road. Totally fair, BUT if you ask me Devlin Hodges is exactly what this team needed.
I’m no quarterback coaching expert, but I think Hodges has done an excellent job just managing the game for the Steelers by getting the ball to their big-play receivers, which has allowed them to open up their run game. When Mason Rudolph was the quarterback, I feel like the Steelers felt pressure to spread it out and run their usual offense, which Rudolph was clearly incapable of running. Now with Hodges, their back to the very basics, which works when you have a talented offensive line and a solid batch of skill position players around the limited QB.
Also, there is a shot that JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner come back for this one, which in that case makes me love the Steelers even more. At this point in the season, playing at Arizona isn’t really much of a threat, especially because the Steelers fans travel so well. Although the Cardinals have shown flashes of promise, they’re already at that point in the season where they’re already thinking about next year. If Hodges can limit the turnovers, keep his defense fresh by producing long drives and simply just let the talent around him continue to do the work, I don’t see how the Steelers don’t cover the -2 here.
**The Steelers are 5-1 SU in their last 6 games. The Cardinals are 0-5 SU in their last 5 games.
Kansas City Chiefs +3 vs. New England Patriots
To put it frankly, this week’s game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs is a put up or shut up game for the defending Super Bowl champs. I’ve been on it all season that the Patriots don't have a quality win. The games in which they actually faced a team that is currently over the .500 mark they are 1-2 with that one win coming in the form of a six-point win over the Buffalo Bills.
People continue to talk about how dominant their defense is, but in those two losses to THE ONLY TWO OF THE TEAMS THEY’VE PLAYED WITH WINNING RECORDS, they had given up a combined 65 points, which translates to 32.5 points per game. The Patriots to me look like they’re on their last leg and they are about one week away from truly being exposed.
The Chiefs on the other hand look to be hitting their stride at the exact right time. Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes finally looks to be back in MVP form after fully recovering from lingering injuries that kept him banged up throughout the first half of the season. Although the Chiefs defense has been under performing thus far in 2019 season, you could argue that the Patriots offense has been even worse. When you’re a team that is struggling to score points and you have to go up against Mahomes and all of his weapons, you’re screwed. I really don’t think the Patriots have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Chiefs and again, I don’t think the Patriots defense is good enough to stop an elite offense (i.e. their game against the Baltimore Ravens). Give me the Chiefs and the points here all day and if I were you I would consider them on the ML as well.
**The Chiefs are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 games as an underdog. The Chiefs are 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games.
Seattle Seahawks -1 vs. Los Angeles Rams
Again, and again, and again, and again the Seattle Seahawks get absolutely disrespected by the oddsmakers out in Las Vegas week in and week out. In my opinion, the Los Angeles Rams, on the other hand continue to get too much respect.
I’m not sure when the Seahawks will get the respect they deserve as the best team in the NFC, but it’s pretty clear it won’t be this week as they are only a one-point favorite over their underperforming division foe.
Coming into this season, the Rams were not only known for their dominant defense but also their electric offense, called by their crafty head coach in Sean McVay. However, their offense has been anything but electric this season as the injury bug to their receivers has bitten them pretty hard, while the inconsistent play of their extremely rich franchise quarterback, Jared Goff has been very concerning as well.
The Seahawks defense has been okay this year, but their big moments have come on offense behind the face of their franchise, quarterback Russell Wilson. In my opinion, I think this game is going to be a little bit of a track meet offensively.
Between the big-play ability on offense for both squads, and the opportunities to create turnovers for both the Rams defense (because they’re very good) and the Seahawks defense (because Jared Goff will give simply hand it to them at least a few times) I think there are plenty opportunities for points in this one. Although I like the Rams defense way more than I like the Seahawks, I’m betting on Russell Wilson in primetime over Jared Goff ten times out of ten. Considering the Seahawks are only a one-point favorite, I’m hammering the Seahawks minus the points for another week while also throwing some money on the OVER 47.
**The Seahawks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games. The Seahawks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 road games.
Season record 30-41
Season Locks Record 8-3