NFL Power Rankings Week 14
As we come down the stretch of the NFL regular season, all of the attention shifts to the high-intensity battles for postseason positioning. Whether it is divisional races, battles for the No. 1 seed in each conference, or the desperate scramble of teams for that final Wild Card position, the best teams in pro football will be front and center over the final four weeks of the NFL season.
However, gamblers shouldn't just be focusing on these top-tier teams. And, in fact, a more lucrative angle is to target squads on the opposite end of the pro football hierarchy. We aren't quite into "tank season" just yet. But we're pretty close. That's the time of the year when coaches and players start mailing it in for the holidays, giving lackluster effort after lackluster effort rather than face the harrowing reality of their lost season.
Ben McAdoo became the latest example of The Peter Principal in action when the slick-haired pud was unceremoniously canned this week. McAdoo's firing was the result of a variety of reasons, all having to do with his sheer incompetence. But before he was canned you could see that the Giants had already quit on him, losing five of their last six games while scuffling to a 2-4 mark against the spread.
Now, in Week 17 all bets are off. The final week of the regular season is a debacle. Some teams embrace the role of spoiler and play above their station. Others pack their bags at halftime and could care less about the 30-point beating they are sleepwalking through. But in the next three weeks it is crucial to target the teams that are essentially out of effort for the season.
A good example is the Chicago Bears. John Fox is all but gone at the end of the season. Chicago is 3-9 and dealing with a litany of injuries. After spending the first two months of the season being more competitive than anyone realized, this team finally ran out of gas and is coming off a loss to the previously 1-10 49ers. The Bears, with three of their last four games on the road and the prospect of an offseason housecleaning, are prime candidates to simply roll over and die for the rest of this season.
Sportsbooks know that big games draw big handles. Games pitting playoff hopefuls in must-win scenarios offer heightened appeal and entertainment for gamblers that might be numb to football betting drama at this point in the season. But I'm not into entertainment; I'm into money. And rather than following the crowd to the window to get money down on This Week's Big Game I am here to remind you that finding teams that are quitting on the season can be a much more lucrative path through the end of the regular season.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings for Week 14:
1. New England Patriots (10-2) - Here's how good the Patriots are: they won't even miss Rob Gronkowski this week. There is no other team in the NFL where you could take away a multiple-Pro Bowl player and the team's best receiver and have them still be just fine. That is their greatness.
2. Minnesota Vikings (10-2) - The Vikings have covered the spread in seven straight games, and they held two of the best offenses in football (Falcons and Rams) to a combined 16 points. Minnesota is 40-15 ATS in their last 55 games and 36-17 ATS in their last 53 conference games. There is no reason not to bet on this team every week.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) - The cloak of invincibility surrounding this Eagles team has been ripped. But they are still 8-1 ATS in their last nine games.
4. New Orleans Saints (9-3) - The Saints are now 12-2 ATS in their last 14 divisional games and are an exceptional 13-3 ATS in their last 16 road games. New Orleans is also an outstanding 42-18 ATS in their last 60 games against teams above .500.
5. Los Angeles Rams (9-3) - The Rams were outgained by the Cardinals but won by 16. The Eagles outgained the Seahawks but lost by 14. Anybody else think those things are going to even out this week?
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2) - I simply had to drop the Steelers. I can only watch so much stupidity, general sloppiness, and poor decision making from this talented team. There's just no discipline here. That said, watching LeVeon Bell truck guys the entire second half was one of the highlights of the week.
7. Carolina Panthers (8-4) - I really don't think that the Panthers are this good. But I really don't know what to do with them. The Panthers lost 22-10 at home against the Vikings last year, and Carolina is just 2-5 ATS in this series.
8. Atlanta Falcons (7-5) - This Thursday's game is essentially a must-win for the Falcons, who currently have a 44 percent change of making the postseason but have three of their final four games against New Orleans and Carolina.
9. Seattle Seahawks (8-4) - This is about as horrible of a situational disadvantage as a team can have. The Seahawks won an emotional upset on national television last Sunday. Now they have to travel across the country and face a completely unfamiliar foe. At least Seattle doesn't have to play at 10 a.m. PST as the Jaguars game is slated for 4 p.m.
10. Tennessee Titans (8-4) - Before we get too excited about the Titans, consider that just three of their last 10 opponents currently have a record over .500. And despite those layups they are just 4-6 ATS in their last 10 despite winning seven games outright.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) - This week is probably the biggest December home game in Jacksonville in at least a decade. And it is stunning to see the Jags favored over the Seahawks this late in the year. Especially considering Jacksonville is just 3-14 ATS in their last 17 games against NFC opponents.
12. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) - Shout out to Casey Hayward, who was able to deal with the death of his brother and come back to play another brilliant game for the Chargers last Sunday. Here is to wishing him all the best moving forward.
13. Detroit Lions (6-6) - It is impossible to handicap the Lions-Bucs game without knowing Matt Stafford's status. But I can say that I will be surprised if he isn't good to go.
14. Kansas City Chiefs (6-6) - Last week was the second time this year that Kansas City lost a game due to a smorgasbord of defensive penalties giving the opponent seemingly unlimited opportunities on the final drive. The other time it happened: the first meeting with Oakland in a game the Chiefs absolutely should've won.
15. Oakland Raiders (6-6) - Marshawn Lynch has averaged at least four yards per carry in five of his last six games. But he has still had just one rush of over 25 yards this season and isn't providing a proper foil to the Raiders passing game.
16. Dallas Cowboys (6-6) - I know he was good last Thursday, but I still don't trust Dak Prescott right now. He's not playing well. And I certainly don't trust him on the road playing in 38-degree weather in New York next Sunday.
17. Baltimore Ravens (7-5) - I'm sorry, but I am not jumping on the bandwagon with this team. They have beaten up some really bad teams and a bunch of backup quarterbacks the last month-plus. The Ravens are 4-1 ATS in their last five against the Steelers and they have won six of the last nine matchups outright.
18. Washington Redskins (5-7) - The Redskins have now gone 'over' in seven of their last nine games basically because their defense has fallen apart. Washington has allowed opponents to score 33 or more points in five of their last seven games
19. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) - I know that this isn't the politically correct stance to take, but I have to say: I absolutely loved the hitting in the Steelers-Bengals game on Monday night. I don't wish anyone ill will. But this is football. Let's not pretend this isn't a violent game. And I loved watching the old-school wildness and ferocity of that game and the hitting that accompanied it. I read several screeds about how games like that are, "bad for the sport". But the drama queens making those claims have forgotten that those hits and that raw violence is what drove a lot of people to the sport in the first place.
20. Buffalo Bills (6-6) - Is anyone else excited for The Nate Peterman Experience, Part Deux? Tyrod Taylor has a bruised knee. And while the Bills don't care about Taylor's long-term health since they are going to dump him after the season, I don't know that they'll have a choice in the matter this week.
21. Green Bay Packers (6-6) - Call me crazy, but am I the only one that thinks that the Packers could lose on the road in Cleveland this week? They are coming off an emotional OT win over a bad Tampa Bay team. And they are already looking ahead to Aaron Rodgers' potential return next week. Smack in the middle is a game they could be looking past.
22. New York Jets (5-7) - If it seems like the Jets have played at home for about two straight months that's because they kind of have. Four of their past five and seven of their last 10 games have been in the Meadowlarks. I'm interested to see how a change in venue will impact a team that's outgained four straight opponents.
23. Arizona Cardinals (5-7) - The final score doesn't really show it, but I felt like the two biggest plays in last week's game were the two blocked kicks. That lack of attention to detail, among other things, has killed this team all year, and it is why they are on the negative part of the curve in terms of offensive and defensive yards per point.
24. Houston Texans (5-7) - At this point Tom Savage's turnover issues are almost comical. But at the same time, why the hell are you having this loser drop back 50 times a game? What did you think was going to happen?
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8) - The Bucs and the Lions are two of sports' biggest loser franchises. Both teams enter Sunday off back-to-back losses, and the underdog in this series is 7-3 ATS. Tampa Bay is just 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games overall.
26. Miami Dolphins (5-7) - The home team is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings between the Dolphins and Patriots, and Miami is 4-1 ATS in their last five games hosting the Pats. However, the Dolphins are 0-8 ATS in their last eight games on Monday Night Football.
27. Indianapolis Colts (3-9) - The Colts are a solid 32-13 ATS in their last 45 games after a loss. But they are just 3-3 ATS in that spot this season.
28. Denver Broncos (3-9) - Here is where the Broncos are at: Justin Simmons had a 65-yard pick in the third quarter to give Denver some life and cut the score to 19-9. That should've been a huge momentum play. But Simmons got a 15-yard penalty for taunting, Denver foolishly went for two and failed, then the Broncos screwed up a ridiculous onside kick, and then they allowed Miami to score a touchdown less than two minutes later. I've don't know that I've ever seen anything like that sequence.
29. Chicago Bears (3-9) - This tells you all you need to know about how much confidence the Bears have in Mitchy Trubisky right now: John Fox said Trubisky had his "best game" on Sunday (he barely threw for 100 yards) and Fox said he didn't let the 49ers score in the final two minutes because he thought the Bears had a better chance blocking a 21-yard field goal than he did Trubisky leading a game-winning drive.
30. San Francisco 49ers (2-10) - No one is buying the 49ers after their rare win last week. The spread on their game with the Texans jumped from 1.5 to 3.0, and over 70 percent of the action is coming in on the Texans, even though the NFC has dominated the AFC in recent months.
31. New York Giants (2-10) - I know Eli Manning is going to take the field to enormous, loving cheers on Sunday. I can't wait to see what the fan response is when he reverts back to playing like the decrepit waste-case that he's been the past three years.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-12) - The Browns' third down play calling was horrendous last week. And this team is shockingly conservative on fourth down for a team that is winless on the season and 1-27 in its last 28 games. If I were the Browns I'd be running fake punts, flea-flickers, and going for it on most fourth downs. Because why not?
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