Week 14 of the 2013 NFL season begins on Thursday night, with a prime-time affair between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.
While the two teams involved may not be the most intriguing, one of the surest bets on the board is available to take. We’ll get to what exactly that is in a minute and much more.
Let’s take a look at the spreads for every game on the slate, my predictions for the winner of each, plus a closer peek at a couple of stone-cold locks.
|Away Team||Home Team||Spread||Prediction (ATS)|
|Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||HOU -3.5||JAX|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Washington Redskins||KC -3||KC|
|Minnesota Vikings||Baltimore Ravens||BAL -6.5||BAL|
|Cleveland Browns||New England Patriots||NE -10||CLE|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||NYJ -2.5||NYJ|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -6||CIN|
|Atlanta Falcons||Green Bay Packers||N/A||N/A|
|Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI -2.5||PHI|
|Miami Dolphins||Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT -3||PIT|
|Buffalo Bills||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB -2.5||TB|
|Tennessee Titans||Denver Broncos||DEN -12||TEN|
|St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||ARI -6||STL|
|New York Giants||San Diego Chargers||SD -3||NYG|
|Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers||SF -2.5||SEA|
|New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers||NO -3||NO|
|Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||CHI -1||DAL|
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) over Houston Texans
The Jags are simply the better side here and getting points only makes this bet sweeter ahead of Thursday Night Football.
You are able to wager on a red-hot squad playing at home against an opponent that it beat convincingly on the road just two weeks ago. Jacksonville has won two in a row and three of its last four, finally turning a corner under head coach Gus Bradley.
Which team will cover?
The Texans can’t say the same with Gary Kubiak in charge, as this downtrodden franchise has lost 10 straight games, including an embarrassing 13-6 showing against the Jags in Week 12.
Even Houston's star players are criticizing this group—as wideout Andre Johnson flat-out stated “We suck” in reference to his offense. Veteran safety Ed Reed was also cut from the team for his comments a few weeks ago.
Take the points and watch as the Jags parlay their momentum into another solid performance. They should easily cover the spread and are well worth playing on the moneyline for increased value.
New Orleans Saints (-3) over Carolina Panthers
Forget the short rest, the Saints are dominant in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and will not be stopped by a vulnerable Carolina squad.
After being humbled on Monday Night Football by the Seattle Seahawks, this Saints team is heading back to the Big Easy to prepare for their NFC South rival. It just happens to be another prime-time showdown, this one coming during Week 14’s edition of Sunday Night Football.
Anyone who hasn’t been backing New Orleans inside the Superdome is downright crazy this year, as the home-field advantage rivals even Seattle’s.
The Saints are 6-0 this year and have put together some amazing performances in their building, including a 49-17 drubbing of the Dallas Cowboys and a gutsy 23-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
While the Panthers have won eight straight, they have not looked unbeatable in that span. They let games against the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins go right down to the wire and easily could have dropped one or both contests.
Cam Newton hasn’t proven himself as an elite quarterback on the road yet, and it is hard to see him trading blows with Drew Brees. On the road Newton’s performance has waned: his completion percentage drops over seven points, his touchdown to interception ratio is significantly worse and he’s taken 15 more sacks in his road contests than at home.
In a noisy Superdome against a hungry Saints team with a wild crowd behind them, Newton is just not going to make the plays required to get this one done. Back the home team and get paid after this rivalry matchup.