Every week I’ll dissect various narratives that affect NFL betting lines. This is vital, considering that most bettors digest these same narratives weekly. The betting public is larger than ever. While that’s exciting, it also means sportsbooks can lure and fool action junkies into taking a lousy wager based on repeated narratives purported by the media. My job is to ensure these narratives do not trick you.
We’re off our best week of NFL betting yet, winning over 16 units in Week 11. Typically we thrive the second half of the NFL season, which means the below assertions may hold more credence than usual. Let’s keep it rolling!
The Houston Texans (+7) will treat their Week 13 game against Deshaun Watson as their Super Bowl.
I wouldn’t bet against the Houston Texans this week. Then again, I’m not too eager to bet on the Texans either, but hopefully, you get my point.
Last year we saw the Texans, who were arguably an even less-talented outfit, shock the No. 1-seeded Titans on the road in Week 11. We also watched Houston annihilate the Chargers at home in Week 16. My points? These are professional football teams; even the “worst” squads can upset a big favorite. I’m sure I’m not the first to assert that.
But there are a few reasons to like Houston this week. Firstly, they were just embarrassed by the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Even though Miami went scoreless in the second half, the Dolphins demolished the Texans in the first half in a way I haven’t seen another team achieve this year. At the end of the first 30 minutes, the Texans only tallied 31 total yards. They also punted five times, Kyle Allen threw an interception and Jordan Akins fumbled it on another drive, resulting in a recovery-turned-touchdown for Miami. On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins scored 30 points and gained 284 total yards. That’s the definition of a dominant half.
But the second half must’ve granted Kyle Allen and the Texans’ offense some confidence. Even if Miami was playing more conservatively, it was an opportunity for Allen to lead Houston and prove he can move the ball down the field. And that’s exactly what he did. Allen threw for 215 yards and a touchdown, completing 66.6% of his passes. At one point, the Texans scored on three consecutive drives. Playing from behind, Dameon Pierce and their run game never got in rhythm. But they might have a better opportunity this weekend.
The Cleveland Browns allow more rushing yards per carry than 25 other NFL teams (4.8). They rarely intercept the ball (0.87% of plays, good for 31st) and allow 26 points per game to their opponents (30th). They also allow 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game (30th), something Pierce will try to take advantage of on Sunday. From our purview, Cleveland is the worst defense the Texans have seen all year. So they have a real chance to stay competitive for all four quarters.
Lastly, the elephant in the room– Houston is at home facing their former starting quarterback in his first game back from a two-year layoff. And after an 11-game suspension. Deshaun Watson is an all-world talent; there’s little doubt about that. He looked like a true superstar in his time with a bad Texans team, and he was elected to the Pro Bowl in his last three seasons. He’ll be coming into this game cold, though, and apparently, ten of his accusers will be in attendance. That’s a really tough situation for Watson and a Browns franchise that’s faced a ton of heat for signing Watson amidst the controversy. I could also argue that the Browns don’t deserve to be 7-point favorites against anyone.
Bottom line– I would either avoid this contest or bet on the Texans at home.
The Titans’ loss in Week 12 to the Bengals proves they’re not one of the elite. They should get smoked on Sunday in Philadelphia (-5).
This couldn’t be more untrue.
The Tennessee Titans were due, and it doesn’t surprise me that they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are surging behind a perpetually tenacious Joe Burrow and a defense that’s rounding into form. Cincinnati’s offensive line also played the best game it has all year in Week 12. Burrow was sacked nine times in last season’s divisional playoff game against Tennessee, so he made adjustments. Rewatching the tape, Burrow got rid of the football with lightning precision throughout the contest, giving the aggressive Tennessee defensive line little time to find the third-year quarterback in the backfield. The Bengals’ defense also stifled Derrick Henry and the Titans run game. Give credit to Cincinnati, who looks playoff-ready, but we’re not too worried about Mike Vrabel’s Titans.
Before last Sunday, the Titans had won seven of their previous eight games. They covered every single one of those eight games, too. At 8-3 against the spread (ATS), their line this weekend (+5 at Philadelphia) is a bit disrespectful.
Firstly, we know teams can run on the Philadelphia Eagles. After Derrick “King” Henry was stymied last week at home, I think he’ll have a better game in Week 13. Philly permits 4.7 yards per carry to their opponents (23rd), allowing teams like the Lions, Texans, and Commanders to run for over 150 yards against them this season. I’d consider starting Derrick Henry in your fantasy lineups, and the Titans rushing attack should be able to help them maintain some control over time of possession. That’s something that the Colts, Commanders, and Texans could do better than most teams against Philadelphia. The result for all three of those teams– they covered ATS.
Lastly, the Titans have one of the most formidable defenses in the NFL. Philadelphia’s offensive line is historically elite, but I don’t think they’ll be able to bully Tennessee’s defensive line as they have with most of their opponents.
A few key things to watch for in this week’s injury report: Denico Autry (knee), the Titans’ sack leader, sat out against the Bengals and hasn’t practiced yet this week. It doesn’t look good for him heading into Sunday, but we’ll monitor the situation. In any case, the Titans’ second-best pass rusher and leader in tackles for a loss, Jeffery Simmons, returned last week and played his second-highest snap count against Cincinnati. He’s been limited in practice this week, but he should be ready for this big battle.
Defensive tackle Jordan Davis, the Eagle’s best run-stopper, just returned to practice this week. That could make a big difference if he can play at 100%, but I think that’s an unlikely outcome after sitting out four straight weeks.
In any case, the Titans should be up for the challenge this weekend. I love betting on Mike Vrabel after a heartbreaking loss, and the Titans are the best team the Eagles have faced all season. Get your popcorn ready!
This Sunday’s showdown between the Dolphins and 49ers means more to Mike McDaniel than it does to Kyle Shanahan.
Humor me for a second. Remember the late Kobe Bryant in the 1998 NBA All-Star game? I do. He was only 19 years old, and it was his chance to go up against the greatest basketball player of all time, his idol, Michael Jordan. Michael was at the height of his powers, so of course, he ended up winning the most valuable player award. He scored 23 points, dished out eight assists and snagged six rebounds. But Kobe made the biggest impression.
Still in his teenage years, Kobe Bryant put up 18 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Voluntarily choosing to guard MJ throughout the contest, Kobe and Jordan battled and trash-talked like it was the NBA title game. Although MJ was ultimately the victor, he gained respect for the young stud and couldn’t deny his guts or ability.
I think that’s how Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers will feel about Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins after this Sunday’s big matchup.
In his first year as a head coach, Mike McDaniel, the former 49ers offensive coordinator, created arguably the most explosive offense in the NFL. Three games without Tua Tagovailoa skews some of their offensive statistics and rankings. But they’re still top-10 in some of the most important categories. They’re easily ranked #1 in yards per pass (8.1), which reflects McDaniel’s special relationship with Tagovailoa.
It’s hard not to be impressed by what McDaniel has accomplished in Miami in such a short time. Undoubtedly a team on the rise, the Dolphins are tied with the Buffalo Bills at the top of the AFC East. They would be the #2 seed in the AFC playoffs if the season ended today. The only team with a better record than they do in the AFC? – the Kansas City Chiefs. And interestingly, the Chiefs own a very similar offensive style to the Dolphins: short passing, speed, tempo, and exceptional chemistry. Even more interestingly, the Chiefs had their way with the 49ers in Week 7, dropping 44 points on San Francisco on the 49ers’ home field. Kansas City won by 21 points.
The 49ers defense is elite; it’s hard to deny it at this point. Fresh off a shut-out win against the Saints and ranked #1 in points allowed per game (15.7), yards allowed per game (281.7), points allowed per play (0.262), yards allowed per play (4.7), and yards allowed per rush (3.3), San Francisco probably isn’t intimidated by the high-flying Dolphins. But maybe they should be.
In Weeks 1-3, Mike McDaniel’s first three games as a head coach, Miami outplayed New England, Buffalo, and Baltimore. Against three of the most talented defenses and defensive-minded coaches, they thrived. In Week 13, in a game where Mike McDaniel will be out to prove that he’s just as innovative and effective (if not more so) than his former boss, I imagine we might see the best Miami has to offer.
WATCH: Chris Farley and Tank Williams provide their betting breakdown for Dolphins vs. 49ers.