Thursday night provided some good news for those looking to finish the NFL season strong by jumping on Week 14 lines.
In short, the Tennessee Titans opened as favorites by less than a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars and cruised to a 30-9 victory. The Jaguars fading and Thursday games on a short week were a few of the must-know trends reinforced there.
Those trends in part help oddsmakers come up with lines they are comfortable with in terms of sending to the public. But they also help experts and would-be bettors spot opportunities to exploit.
And with Week 14 featuring mostly big lines, there are plenty of chances to rebuild or continue solidifying a strong season-long bankroll.
Week 14 NFL Odds
Atlanta at Green Bay (-4.5) | O/U 48.5
Baltimore at Kansas City (-7) | O/U 53
Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland | O/U 47.5
Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5) | O/U 48.5
New England (-8) at Miami | O/U 47
New Orleans (-10) at Tampa Bay | O/U 56
N.Y. Giants (3.5) at Washington | O/U 41
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo (-4) | O/U 38
Cincinnati at L.A. Chargers (-14) | O/U 48.5
Denver (-4) at San Francisco | O/U 43.5
Pittsburgh (-10) at Oakland | O/U 51.5
Detroit (-3) at Arizona | O/U 40.5
Philadelphia at Dallas (-3.5) | O/U 44.5
L.A. Rams (-3) at Chicago | O/U 52.5
Minnesota at Seattle (-3) | O/U 45
Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5)
Andrew Luck is amazing—but he's also not enough to throttle an elite Houston Texans team.
Luck has silenced any doubters and continued to progress through most of the season as the offense opened up around his recovering arm. Entering Week 14, he's completing 67.9 percent of his passes with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Yet—as always—the Colts are struggling despite Luck. A strong five-win streak from earlier in the season is an afterthought after an odd 6-0 loss to those Jaguars in Week 13—which sent the Colts to 6-6. And it makes it easier to look back on that big streak and realize the Colts were picking up wins against questionable teams like Buffalo, Oakland, Miami and the New York Jets.
Houston's resume, on the other hand, holds up quite well. AFC South leaders at 9-3, the Texans have clutch wins over Dallas, Denver and these Colts, not to mention coming up just seven points shy in New England.
Deshaun Watson is quietly in prime form, completing 66.5 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns against nine interceptions, and he's making some personal history along the way:
A defense allowing just 19.6 points per game flanks Watson and has only allowed more than 20 points twice over its last eight games, the high just 23.
There is a familiarity factor to consider here, especially after the first meeting was a 37-34 Houston win in overtime. But the season is long and Houston continues to improve, whereas the Colts aren't even assured to have a playmaker like T.Y. Hilton on the field.
The Texans defense should harass Luck enough for Watson to pull away at home in the second half.
Prediction: Texans 27, Colts 20
N.Y. Giants (3.5) at Washington
Look what Mark Sanchez can do.
Kidding aside, this line opened with the Washington Redskins as favorites but didn't take long to shift over to the New York Giants.
It probably isn't done changing, either.
The Redskins have to start Sanchez under center after losing backup Colt McCoy for the season, which means starting a career 56.7-percent passer who boasts 86 touchdowns and 87 interceptions. In spot duty during a loss a week ago, he went 13-of-21 for 100 yards with a pick.
This means the bulk of the offense will center on 33-year-old Adrian Peterson, who impressed with a big run last time out but otherwise made some miserable history:
There isn't much to say about the New York Giants, which is something of a good thing. They are a bad team but have squeezed out three of four wins as of late, picking off poor San Francisco and Tampa Bay teams before pouncing on a Chicago Bears team without a starting quarterback, stealing one in overtime, 30-27.
With Eli Manning throwing one touchdown and interception, the win over the Bears was again the Saquon Barkley show as he drummed up 125 yards on 24 carries, getting him to 954 and eight scores on a 4.9 per-carry average.
If the Bears couldn't stop Barkley, the Redskins aren't after starting to collapse on the defensive side of the ball with allowances of 28 or more points in two consecutive games. Sprinkle in Sanchez trying to learn the offense on a short week in the cold and the Giants should end up forcing a split of the season series.
Prediction: Giants 30, Redskins 17
Pittsburgh (-10) at Oakland
This game couldn't have come at a better time for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers are in a freefall of sorts, having lost two in a row after escaping the Jaguars by only four points. At the least, the losses made sense, as one came on the road in Denver and the other was a loss at the hands of an elite Los Angeles Chargers team.
Coughing up 18 fourth-quarter points against the Chargers was a terrible look, but getting a chance to right some wrongs against an awful Oakland Raiders team as a warm-up for a season-ending stretch is luck itself smiling right on the franchise.
The Raiders' only two wins this year have come against Cleveland and Arizona. Since a Week 7 bye, they have lost five of six, with the losses coming in 42-28, 34-3, 20-6, 34-17 and 40-33 fashion.
Derek Carr has only thrown 16 touchdowns all season, the front office has traded droves of talent away and the defense ranks 31st by coughing up 30.6 points per game.
As with any bad team down the stretch, the Raiders' injury report is long, too:
Paul Gutierrez @PGutierrezESPN
RB Doug Martin has been a full participant all week but is listed as QUESTIONABLE to play against the Steelers. "We have C.J. Anderson," said Raiders coach Jon Gruden. "We're giving him a crash course on our protections and our... https://t.co/54FGyr0HTh https://t.co/GT3Abkk8EM
By comparison in all facets, the Steelers look great, even if they will have to go without running back James Conner. Ben Roethlisberger has a strong cast of weapons in the passing game still, and despite some recent struggles against strong competitionl, he boasts 26 touchdowns and just 13 picks.
Pittsburgh's defense is now up to 41 sacks and still only allows 23.5 points per game, so shuttering an Oakland attack lacking talent shouldn't be too much of a problem. Free of a rough two-game stretch, the Steelers should get back on track without having problems winning via a blowout.
Prediction: Steelers 30, Raiders 13
Odds via OddsShark