This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which football experts and handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season.
In our Week 13 edition of Best Bets, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Mike Golic Jr. of DraftKings share their opinions on four games that will be played over the weekend and one that will be played on Monday night, including the the 49ers heading to Philadelphia for a rematch of the NFC Championship with the Eagles.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.
Lions (-4, O/U 47) at Saints
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Lions listed as a 3-point road favorite. Currently, 84% of bets are backing Detroit, which has caused the Lions to move from -3 to -4 or even -4.5. The Saints are in a desperate spot having lost three straight. Meanwhile, the Lions haven’t played very well over the past couple of weeks. I’ll go contrarian and bank on a desperate New Orleans team to keep it close. I’ll shop around for Saints +4.5.
Gable’s Guess: Both of these teams are coming off losses that may carry repercussions for them. The Lions may be out of running for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the Saints are in a battle for the NFC South division title with the Falcons. I think you can forgive the Lions for coming out flat on Thanksgiving because they played three games in 12 days. Maybe the extra rest going into this one will be good. The Saints have had a good defense all season, but they are extremely inefficient in the red zone and that’s not a surprise as that’s always seemed to be Derek Carr’s MO. I’m going to lay the points with the Lions.
Golic’s Gamble: The Saints absolutely have the necessary tools to make this sticky for a recently turnover-prone Lions team. Jared Goff has six in turnovers in two games and is facing a Saints’ defense that is 2nd in the league with 14 picks. I worry about a banged up Saints’ WR group’s ability to take advantage of the Lion back end, though they should hopefully get Chris Olave back out of concussion protocol. Former Saints assistant Dan Campbell comes home and gets his old squad…Laying the points.
IH Best Bet: If the Lions are any good, this is a bounce-back spot. Laying the points with Detroit.
Broncos (+3.5, O/U 47.5) at Texans
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Texans listed as a 3-point home favorite. We’ve seen the Texans move from -3 to -3.5, signaling some respected money laying the points with Houston. However, now that the hook is available, it creates value to buy low on the Broncos, who have won five straight. Russell Wilson is 34-17 ATS (67%) in his career as a dog. I’ll back the veteran coach/QB over the rookie coach/QB. Give me the Broncos plus the hook.
Gable’s Guess: These two teams have been pleasant surprises this year. Everyone wrote off the Broncos after they gave up the 70 points to Miami early in the season, but now they’ve won five games in a row. It’s been fueled by the defense as they’ve forced 16 turnovers in the last five weeks. Is it sustainable? Either way, now they’re in the playoff hunt, which was inconceivable a couple of weeks ago. They aren’t asking Russell Wilson to do too much and the offense is doing just what it needs to do to win games. The Texans are also in the playoff hunt. I think this will be an entertaining game between two teams that are trending upward. I’m going to take the Broncos with the hook.
Golic’s Gamble: I think Denver’s five-game win streak likely comes to an end this week, but there’s no denying their status as a good football team now. The defense has put the 70 point outing behind them. I’m excited to watch Pat Surtain II match up with these young Texans pass-catchers. The Denver offense is designed to keep things close to the vest and I think they do just that. I’m taking the under.
IH Best Bet: It’s very basic, but Houston isn’t so bad and Denver isn’t so good. Laying the points.
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49ers (-3, O/U 47) at Eagles
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened at roughly a pick’em. The public is riding with the Eagles at home, who are receiving 55% of bets. However, we’ve seen this line shoot up in favor of the 49ers. This indicates a sharp reverse line move on San Francisco. The 49ers enjoy a rest advantage as they last played on Thanksgiving, while the Eagles played a tough overtime game last Sunday. The Eagles have won four straight games after trailing at the half. This week it will catch up to them. I’ll fade the trendy dog, follow the sharp move and take the 49ers to win on the moneyline -155.
Gable’s Guess: This is a very difficult spot in the schedule for Philly. They had an emotional win on Monday Night Football against the Chiefs and then they had a draining overtime win against the Bills in very poor weather conditions. How much do they have left in the tank? It’s also a very important spot because the Eagles have the No. 1 seed in the NFC. But, let’s face it: the Niners are the best team in the NFL when they’re playing at their best. I think the Eagles’ defense has to be exhausted. They’ve been on the field so much the last two games and, situationally, this just isn’t setting up to be a good spot for them. Anything less than 3, I’ll lay with the Niners.
Golic’s Gamble: The now-healthy 49ers roll into Philadelphia to face an Eagle team that has made a living winning close games (7-1 in one-score games so far). After the acquisition of Chase Young at the trade deadline, the 49er defense is super-charged, averaging five sacks per game in the last three games. The health of Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson will go a long way in determining the outcome here. I think the Brock Purdy-Brandon Aiyuk connection will continue to blossom against this Eagles’ secondary. I’ll lay the points.
IH Best Bet: Sounds like a broken record, but laying the points.
Chiefs (-6, O/U 42.5) at Packers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Chiefs listed as a 7-point road favorite. The public is pounding the Chiefs. However, despite 79% of bets laying the points, we’ve seen the Chiefs fall from -7 to -6. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the Packers plus the points. Green Bay is contrarian in a heavily bet primetime game, receiving only 21% of bets. The Packers also enjoy a rest advantage as they last played on Thanksgiving while the Chiefs played on Sunday. I’ll take Green Bay with the points.
Gable’s Guess: I think this game will go a long way to showing if the Packers have truly found some footing to make a serious playoff push or if they revert back to what we thought that they were. Green Bay has won three of four. Jordan Love has thrown eight touchdowns and two interceptions in the last four games. Kansas City’s defense has been a big reason why the Chiefs are what they are and I expect them to get plenty of pressure on Love. He needs to prove me wrong as I think he won’t have an easy time moving the ball against Kansas City. I’m taking the under.
Golic’s Gamble: While the Chiefs are 7-4 against the spread so far this year, I think giving 6 points on the road against a Packers team hitting their stride offensively is too much. This will be by far the toughest test for Jordan Love so far this season, but I think he and his young wide receiver corps are up to the task. Packers with the points.
IH Best Bet: Not sure about the side, so will side with the under.
Bengals (+9, O/U 38.5) at Jaguars
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Jags listed as a 7-point home favorite. Currently, 74% of bets are laying the points with the Jags. This lopsided support has steamed Jacksonville up from -7 to -9. I’ll focus on the total instead. It opened at 41 and has fallen to 39, signaling sharp under money. Primetime under are 29-9 (76%) this season. When the total falls at least half of a point, the under is 67-41 (62%). Cincinnati ranks 27th in pace of play and I don’t expect much offense out of Jake Browning. Give me the under.
Gable’s Guess: I think this game is going to come down to Jake Browning. The Bengals have a hard time running the ball, only 75.8 yards per game, which is last in the league. So, we’ll see if Browning can pull off some magic here. Aside from getting really beat up by the Niners after their bye week, the Jaguars have looked like a playoff team. Their offensive line has been playing well and they’ve given Trevor Lawrence plenty of time to make decisions. This is the start of a series of games for them against the AFC North and those defenses will be a stiff test. This total’s already fallen, but I’ll still take the under.
Golic’s Gamble: No Joe Burrow, lots of problems. The Jags roll in hot on both sides of the ball with pass rusher Josh Allen now sitting at 12 sacks on the season, while Trevor Lawrence and the offense turned things up a notch vs. Houston last week. Walker Little is back to filling in at left tackle for a now injured Cam Robinson, which is somewhat of a concern, but ultimately not enough for me to think the Bengals struggling defense can slow Jacksonville down enough to cover. Laying the points with Jacksonville.
IH Best Bet: Browning = under.
Last Week: 1-3; This Season: 29-28-2
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Double-check the odds before betting.