Week 14 of the NFL season shapes up to be an interesting one. With the playoffs only a month away, each game is of the utmost importance to each team, and oddsmakers must take a variety of factors into account when setting lines late in the year.
Situational trends, motivation, and injuries all play a factor, and oddsmakers surely had their work cut out for them this week.
The week kicks off with an intriguing matchup on Thursday Night Football as the Vikings look to rebound from an embarrassing performance against the Seahawks when they visit Arizona. Minnesota is a perfect 4–0 straight up in their last four games after a loss, but they’ve been installed as eight-point betting underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots, who have lost two in a row but are 22–4 straight up in their last 26 games in December, look to get back on track when they visit Houston.
New England is 3.5-point road chalk, and it remains to be seen whether or not they can overcome the injury to tight end Rob Gronkowski. In the final primetime game of the week, the Dolphins are a pick’em at home to the Giants on Monday Night Football.
Oddsmakers expect Carolina’s perfect season to stay intact as they are laying a whopping 8.5 points at home to their sputtering division rival, Atlanta. The Falcons are 0–8 against the spread in their last eight games according to the OddsShark NFL Database, so some may think that they’re due for a cover.
Cincinnati is a field goal favorite at home to the Steelers, and while Cincinnati is the home team here, Pittsburgh owns a stellar 9-2 against the spread mark in their last 11 road games against the Bengals.
In some other matchups with playoff implications, the Eagles find themselves as a pick’em at home to the Bills, the Raiders are eight-point road dogs in Denver, and the Jets look to improve their playoff seeding as eight-point home chalk against the Titans.
Some other games on this week’s card have less appeal, but could still provide good wagering opportunities: Johnny Manziel is expected to start at quarterback for the Browns as they’re a pick’em at home against the resurgent 49ers.