Best bets for Week 14 in the NFL and how to play the Army-Navy game

Create: 2020-12-11
Update: 2020-12-11
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Friday, December 11, 2020
Happy Friday, everyone. Your favorite degenerate newsletter scribe has returned. I'd like to thank Tyler Sullivan for filling in for me yesterday while I was at the dentist for an unplanned visit. The good news is I did not die while there. The bad news is I'm going to be making a return trip again next week to get a root canal.
Hooray, me!
Anyway, yeah, I'd prefer to just put that out of my mind for as long as possible. Instead, I'm going to attack this weekend like it's the last weekend before my root canal because it is. I've never had one before, but my dentist assures me that it's nowhere near as bad as its reputation. Of course, my dentist is a dentist, so what else is he supposed to say? Him saying root canals aren't so bad is the same thing as Adam Gase saying he thinks his team looked great in practice.
I'm pretty sure it's going to suck, and even if it doesn't suck, you can be sure I'm going to pretend it sucks to milk all the extra love and attention when I get home. "Oh no, honey, let me get that for y...oooooh ouch! My tooth! No, don't worry, it's no big de...are you sure? OK, well, if you insist I just sit here, that's what I'll do."
OK, so maybe my dentist is right. Maybe root canals aren't so bad after all.
Now, before we get to a loaded newsletter filled with picks to get you through the weekend, let's catch up on today's activities.
  • Tampa Bay DC Todd Bowles isn't going to take just any head coaching job that comes along.
  • Tom Brady plans to be back in Tampa next year, but no matter where he is, it won't be the northeast.
  • Liberty coach Hugh Freeze is the latest coach to contract COVID.
  • What do the Sixers do with Ben Simmons?
  • The Phillies have picked Dave Dombrowski to head baseball operations.
To the picks!
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Nevada at San Jose State, 10 p.m. | TV: CBS Sports Network
The Pick: Nevada (-110)
: While it says this game is at San Jose State, it is not at San Jose State. Due to government restrictions resulting from COVID-19, San Jose State isn't allowed to play home games. Last week its "home" game was in Honolulu. Tonight its home game is in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium. This is unfortunate for San Jose State because it comes into this game undefeated and has been one of the Mountain West's best teams. The problem is, I can't help but believe all of the travel and adverse conditions this team is dealing with are going to catch up to it at some point.
And there's a good chance that point is tonight against a Nevada team that's 6-1 and looking to play its way into the conference title game. When you look at these two teams statistically, you find many similarities on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The spread is as small as it is for a reason. So when trying to figure out which team has the advantage here, there's the travel situation I mentioned with San Jose State that pushes me toward Nevada. The clincher is that the Wolf Pack also have the better quarterback in this matchup, thanks to Carson Strong.
Key Trend: Nevada has covered in 11 of the last 17 meetings.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model is advanced. I'm not even a model, let alone advanced, so maybe you should double-check with its picks for this game.
💰The Picks
Falcons at Chargers, Sunday 4:25 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Falcons Over 24.5 (-110) -- 
Fading Anthony Lynn and the Chargers worked well last week, but I'm not as comfortable doing so with the Falcons as road favorites in this spot. Don't get me wrong, I think the Falcons will cover this spread, but betting on their team total is a safer play. The Chargers have allowed at least 27 points in nine straight games. They've allowed at least 21 points in every game this season but one, and that one was the season-opener against Cincinnati in Joe Burrow's first NFL start (without a preseason). This is an awful defense we're dealing with here. When you combine that awful defense with some of the worst special teams coverage units in the league, you get a team that bleeds points to opponents. So instead of worrying about the spread or total, I'm going to rely on the Falcons scoring points.
Key Trend: The Chargers have allowed at least 27 points in nine straight games.
Saints at Eagles, Sunday 4:25 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Saints -6.5 (-110) -- 
So the Eagles are going from Carson Wentz to Jalen Hurts, and while Wentz has been awful and deserves to be benched, it's not like he's been the Eagles' only problem. This is just a bad Philadelphia team we're dealing with, and one with a lot of injuries. Jalen Hurts isn't going to come in and fix anything on his own. We're talking about a rookie who made a few nice plays against Green Bay, but he still finished with only five completions in 12 pass attempts while playing in mostly garbage-time conditions. Now he's being asked to make his first career start against one of the NFL's best defenses (the Saints rank second in defensive DVOA). Also, did you know that over the last two seasons, the Saints are 8-0 both straight up and against the spread without Drew Brees? You do now!
Key Trend: NFC East teams are only 12-18 ATS outside the division this season.
Steelers at Bills, Sunday 8:20 p.m | TV: NBC
The Pick: Bills -1.5 (-110) -- 
The Steelers blew it against Washington on Monday. They had a 14-3 lead at halftime and should've been able to hold on and remain undefeated, but they didn't. They looked like a tired team in the second half, and for good reason: it was their second game in five days and third in 15. Well, this game will be their third game in 12 days. That's not easy for anybody to deal with, let alone a Steelers team dealing with injuries. That cancels out the fact the Bills are playing on a short week here. Plus, while the Bills have struggled defensively to stop the run this year, that doesn't worry me, considering the Steelers don't even run the ball anymore.
Key Trend: Buffalo is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a home favorite.
🏈 College Football
Navy at Army, Saturday 3 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Under 37.5 (-110) -- 
Since 2005, there have been 46 games played between service academies (Army, Air Force, Navy). In those 46 games, the under has gone 36-9-1. That's just what happens when option teams play one another. There are limited possessions since the clock rarely stops. Now, maybe you think this total is too low and you're scared. I understand, but none of the last six meetings between these two have gone over 38 points. The last time it did was in 2013 when Navy won 34-7. These are low-scoring affairs because the clock never stops and possessions are limited. Plus, while Navy's defense was a tire fire earlier this season, it's improved drastically as of late.
Key Trend: Service academy unders are 36-9-1 since 2005.
Wake Forest at Louisville, Saturday 12 p.m | TV: ACC Network
The Pick: Wake Forest +1 (-110) -- 
Let's recap how the last few weeks have gone for the Cardinals. First of all, they're 3-7 on the season, and their wins have come against Western Kentucky, a Florida State team that's been dying to have the season end for months and a Syracuse team that's been decimated all year long. A couple of weeks ago, the team's star running back, Javian Hawkins, opted out for the rest of the season. This week, the team's leading receiver, Tutu Atwell, followed suit. All of this took place while Scott Satterfield was openly flirting with the South Carolina job. Even after staying at Louisville, he openly admitted that he'd listen if certain other schools called. Now, I'm not going to argue there's anything wrong with it; in fact, I admire Satterfield's honesty, but does Louisville strike you as a team that's in a good place right now? It doesn't to me, and frankly, I think Wake Forest is just a better team. So if you're going to give me points with them, sure.
Key Trend: Wake Forest has covered in five of the last six meetings.
Want more of my college football picks for this weekend? You can find them in The Six Pack.
If soccer is what you're looking for, my three favorite Premier League plays can be found here.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert Zack Cimini, who is 9-1 in his last 10 picks involving Arizona, has released his pick for Friday's game between the Wildcats and Sun Devils.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs -- Have you heard of this guy before? I'm told he's pretty good. I would assume that Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers are going to be the most popular QB plays this weekend, and of the two, I prefer Mahomes, especially on FanDuel, where he's slightly cheaper. If you're on DraftKings, give Rodgers stronger consideration. Whatever their price, I expect Mahomes will finish with more fantasy points, and that's what matters in the end. His matchup against the Dolphins provides a higher floor with a similar ceiling to Rodgers. Plus, you know, he's Patrick Mahomes. It's already fun to watch him play, and it's more fun when it's helping make you money.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Panthers -- There are a lot of touches available in the Carolina offense this weekend. We know D.J. Moore is out, and it's looking like Christian McCaffery won't be returning this weekend, either. The Moore absence means more targets for both Samuel and Robby Anderson, but I like Samuel a little more. First of all, he'll have a lower ownership share than Anderson, and secondly, he's sometimes used as a part of Carolina's run game. Combine all of that with an embattled Denver secondary, and it could be a big day for all Carolina pass-catchers. 
Full lineup advice
SportsLine's team of DFS insiders has you covered for daily fantasy sports. Mike McClure has won almost $2 million playing DFS, and Jacob Gibbs was ranked as one of the nation's most accurate Fantasy experts last year. Plus, use SportsLine's all-new DFS Optimizer to get optimal NFL DFS picks from 10,000 simulations.  
 Sunday Parlay
A four-leg NFL parlay paying +193
  • Chiefs -340
  • Panthers -160
  • Seahawks -800
  • Packers -420
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