You want to win money betting on NFL games, that's why you're here.
The challenge that most casual bettors run into is their late call to action, i.e., betting moments before a game kicks off. Sure, we want to bet the game that we're watching, but at the end of the day, we want to win. Unfortunately, beating closing lines in the NFL is a long-term -EV proposition.
Each week of the season, I'll be providing a first glance at the upcoming NFL slate through the lens of look-ahead lines, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Look-ahead lines are typically released on Thursdays and are often taken down shortly after the current week's Thursday night game kicks off, though FanDuel seems to be leaving them up through Saturday if you have access to that sportsbook. This short look-ahead window provides a peek at how teams are valued prior to the start of the week. It's also an opportunity to act before the games are posted and sharpened on Sunday evening after the previous week's games are complete.
These lines are a true indicator of how bookmakers value each team, without the influence of recency bias after watching eight hours of football earlier in the day. Depending on the bookmaker, and bettor for that matter, you may or may not be able to get the type of action down that you'd like. The key is understanding where the value is on the board in any given week, and that is easier to do once you know what the opening number was.
Here's a look at the Week 14 lines, with the spread listed based on the home team:
CURRENT LINE (12/4)
PRESEASON LOOKAHEAD LINE (5/18)
Patriots @ Rams
Cardinals @ Giants
Cowboys @ Bengals
Broncos @ Panthers
Packers @ Lions
Texans @ Bears
Chiefs @ Dolphins
Vikings @ Buccaneers
Titans @ Jaguars
Colts @ Raiders
Jets @ Seahawks
Falcons @ Chargers
Saints @ Eagles
Washington @ 49ers
Steelers @ Bills
Ravens @ Browns
- When I'm firing at these spots early, it's because I strongly believe that this number is going to beat the closing line, and perhaps, it ends up being the best of the number. Basically, if I'm right in Week 13, I'm going to have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 14.
- The Patriots (+6) are in Los Angeles for the second consecutive week, this time to face the Rams (-6), but they're wisely staying west to eliminate the back-and-forth travel. Over the past six weeks, the Rams defense leads the league in EPA per rush allowed, and by a large margin. They'll need Cam Newton to make plays as a passer if they're going to hang with the Rams in this spot.
- We don't know the severity of Daniel Jones' hamstring injury, so Colt McCoy may be under center here again for the Giants (+3.5). We also don't know the severity of Kyler Murray's shoulder injury, but he clearly didn't look like himself in Week 12's matchup against New England. I'd like to see him push the ball down the field and extend plays with his legs in Week 13's matchup against the Rams before backing the Cardinals (-3.5) in this spot.
- This is back-to-back road games for the Cowboys (-3), this time on a short week after their Tuesday matchup against the Ravens in Week 13. But I'm burying the lead here, this is Andy Dalton Revenge Week! The Red Riffle leads Dallas into Cincinnati (+3) to take on his former club, or whatever is left of them. Laying points on the road with the Cowboys is a tough sell.
- Carolina (-3.5) comes off a late-season bye to host Denver (+3.5), who's on the road for the second straight week. With the Panthers on a bye, there's little that they can do to impact the court of public opinion this week, while the Broncos are likely to get curb-stomped in Arrowhead against the Chiefs.
- I have the Packers (-7.5) and Lions (+7.5) line at 8, but that's with Kenny Golladay in the lineup for Detroit. It'll be difficult for me to take a stance on this one without knowing the injury status of the Lions' best player, but my early lean is on Green Bay.
- Dolphins' (+7.5) coach Brian Flores continues to say that Tua Tagovailoa is his quarterback when 100% healthy, so it seems likely that he'll be back under center for this matchup against the Chiefs (-7.5). You could sell me on Miami here, getting a touchdown and a hook at home, if Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start, but if they go back to Tua I think I'll lay the points. You have to score in bunches to hang with this iteration of the Chiefs, and I'm not confident that Miami can get into the upper 20's without Fitzpatrick's aggressive style of play.
- The Buccaneers (-6), fresh off a late-season bye, are a bit overpriced in this matchup against the Vikings (+6). If you like Minnesota here, this is likely the best of the number, but I'll be staying away for now.
- The Colts (-1.5) find themselves on the road for the second consecutive week, this time traveling to Las Vegas (+1.5). I have the Colts as 2.5-point favorites on a neutral field, so make of that what you'd like. It's incredibly challenging to contextualize home-field advantage this season, but this will be an important game as it relates to the AFC playoff picture.
- The Jets (+15) are getting about 3-4 more points than they should in this matchup against the Seahawks (-15), but it's increasingly difficult to back a team that has no incentive to win.
- The Falcons (-1) have been playing well as of late, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They're 4th in EPA per play allowed over the past five weeks, equally effective against the run and pass. With that said, I'm not sure that they should be road favorites against the Chargers (+1) in this spot. I'm going to wait and see how Week 12 goes before acting, but this is one to watch.
- I think the Saints (-6.5) are going to be cautious with Drew Brees' return, so I anticipate at least one more Taysom Hill start in Week 14 against the Eagles (+6.5). I have New Orleans as a 10.5-point favorite against the Eagles on a neutral field, but playing in Philly with Hill makes me slightly reluctant to jump on this early. If the Saints struggle against Atlanta in Week 12, this could drop to 5.5 or 6. This is also the Saints' third straight road game, which is a big red flag for me.
- This is also Washington's (+4.5) third straight road game, this time traveling to Arizona to face the San Francisco 49ers (-4.5). That's a weird sentence. As you likely know by now, the 49ers have been kicked out of Santa Clara County due to the temporary ban on contact sports.
- Is Buffalo (+2.5) where Pittsburgh's (-2.5) undefeated season goes to die?