Late-week betting action isn’t the best approach if long-term profitability is the goal. Game spreads and totals become increasingly sharp moving closer to kickoff, which is why betting game lines early in the week is the best approach.
If betting early in the week isn’t an option, then targeting other markets where lines aren’t stale is key. Beating these markets takes a different approach than those focused solely on the game lines. We can take cues from bookmakers pricing the entire portfolio of offerings on a particular matchup. They arrive at the most likely path the game will travel and then use market dynamics to sharpen the number. In some way, game lines feed derivatives, player props and most other offerings under that matchup umbrella.
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We can start by seeing if there are any game lines we disagree with and utilize a couple of different approaches if so.
Mispriced scenarios should have even worse mispricing further downstream as errors compound. If the game line is only subtly off, it's smart to find where its errors are the most drastic.
Week 13 was painful, as the Ravens only needed to win outright to cover one parlay. With that result falling on the wrong side of Baltimore's two-point conversion, this article's picks finished 0-2 on the weekend, moving our season-long record to 9-20.
It’s time to get right using the approaches above, let's get back on track and find the best last-minute NFL bets ahead of Week 14.
DALLAS COWBOYS @ WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Washington enters this matchup with Week 14's highest playoff leverage, as the Football Team's playoff chances swing by 33.8% based on PFF’s NFL simulation. It’s an all-or-nothing NFC East matchup for the Football Team, who need to win outright to keep their division hopes alive. The betting market seems to be buying in, as the lookahead line (+5) slid in Washington’s direction to +4.5. The cash-and-ticket percentages are split on the spread, as most bettors are backing Washington to win outright.
PFF’s betting model finds some value on Washington covering the spread, as the expectation is this game's spread should be closer to +3.5. The main reason is that Washington’s defense — despite significant injuries — is finally living up to its top-10 preseason ranking. The key has been its front seven, as it has been stout against the run and grades well rushing the passer despite generating pressure at a league-average rate. If Dallas runs a lot on early downs, then this game should stay close throughout and finish well short of the 48-point total.
Dallas’s defense has given up big plays all season. Washington lost one of its best pass-catchers for the season in tight end Logan Thomas, but that could lead to an increase in touches for its best playmakers. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin hasn’t made the Year 3 leap most expected, but he has the usage and efficiency to finish as a top-10 wide receiver. If McLaurin pulls off one or two big plays in a high-leverage spot, Washington should be able to keep this matchup within a field goal.
Since the full game spread doesn’t sit on a key number, targeting a parlay is the wise move. Both the under on the point total and Washington +4.5 have value based on Greenline’s projections, making it a positive expected value bet.
Pick: Football Team +4.5 and Under 48 Total Points (+264 Caesars)
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
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