NFL Power Rankings Week 14
There is an inherent paranoia that comes with being a professional gambler.
It’s hard not to let it overtake you, actually. There is a feeling of impending doom that comes with every wager. And since I’ve lost bets just about every way imaginable – you wouldn’t believe me if I told you – every week I can’t help but wonder, especially when things are going well, when things are going to fall apart.
This NFL season, more than any I can ever remember, has rewarded paranoia. And I don’t mean that in a good way. Last week was another reminder that no lead is safe in today’s NFL. The Chicago Bears literally had a 99.1 percent chance of winning their game against Detroit with under six minutes to play. They lost, naturally. The Redskins, who opened as 10-point underdogs to the undefeated Steelers, were about to get boat raced on Monday night, falling behind 14-0…only to come back and win 23-17. And I swear if there had been five more minutes in that Tennessee game, I think the Titans would’ve won, having erased a 38-7 deficit to get it to 41-35.
We all know about the insanity of the NFL and betting on professional football. The unpredictability is part of the allure. But no matter what happens, you can’t let wild comebacks and bad beats get you down. It’s part of the package. And betting on NFL football isn’t about one game or one week or even one season. It’s a long-term investment. And the only thing that can turn it into a true nightmare is if you let that paranoia start to influence your decisions.
No matter how bad it gets, don’t let the fear win.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) – That is now four straight-up wins in a row for the Chiefs but four losses against the spread. Pittsburgh’s loss should have re-invigorated this team by opening up the possibility of earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC. However, they will have to avoid looking past Miami this week and ahead to a matchup with the Saints in New Orleans in Week 15.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1) – I know he hasn’t gotten much buzz, but can we talk about Ben Roethlisberger as an MVP candidate? This guy is pretty much singlehandedly running the entire offense. Pittsburgh has basically given up on running the ball, so it is all Roethlisberger and he is playing at one of the highest levels of his career. This team looks like it is running on fumes, though, and their matchup with Buffalo will be their third game in a 12-day period.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-2) – Taysom Hill isn’t an NFL-caliber quarterback. I know that part of the rationale for starting Hill while Drew Brees was on the mend was to see what Hill’s long-term potential was. Ignore his numbers. Anyone that’s watched Hill play should realize pretty clearly that he is Tebow 2.0 and not anything that the Saints should build around moving forward.
4. Los Angeles Rams (8-4) – The Rams have really struggled on short weeks, going just 2-5 ATS in their last seven Thursday games. The Rams are 7-2 ATS as a home favorite and they are 4-1 straight up in their new digs this season.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) – This team looked physically and mentally exhausted in the run up to its bye week. I’m very interested to see how sharp this team is coming out of a week off. Favorites after a bye have been money burners the last several years. We’ll see if Tampa Bay can buck that trend.
6. Tennessee Titans (8-4) – The Titans can never be considered a real threat in the AFC until they get over their nasty habit of playing up and down to their level of competition. That tendency also makes this an extremely frustrating team to bet on or against.
7. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – With all the hype around the resurgence Raiders, I was a bit surprised to see the Colts posted as a road favorite this weekend in Las Vegas. Indy has been solid in this role, though, going 4-0 ATS the last four times that they have been posted as a road chalk.
8. Green Bay Packers (9-3) – The favorite in the Lions series is 20-8 ATS over the last 15 years. However, Green Bay is just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games against the Lions and just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games in Detroit. Green Bay has been tooling on divisional opponents again this year (they are on a 7-4 ATS run in games against NFC North opponents), and they won’t hold back against the Lions this Sunday.
9. Buffalo Bills (9-3) – Whenever I see Josh Allen, all I can picture is a young Big Ben. Now Allen will get a chance to go head-to-head with Roethlisberger this week. The Bills are on a 4-0 ATS run, and they are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Their defense continues to show signs of solidifying, and that opening drive goal line stand last week against San Francisco was another positive step.
10. Seattle Seahawks (8-4) – It is amazing the difference that Jamal Adams and Carlos Dunlap have made for this defense. Seattle has cut its passing yardage nearly in half (370 to 205) over the last six games. They’ve rung up 24 sacks and are allowing just 19.5 points per game during that stretch, and the result has been four straight Seahawks games staying ‘under’ the total.
11. Baltimore Ravens (6-5) – The more I see Lamar Jackson, the less impressed I am with him. He’s basically Michael Vick. Whether you see that as a compliment or a criticism is in the eye of the beholder. I mean it as a pejorative, though, and it is pretty clear that there is a distinct ceiling on this offense’s potential.
12. Miami Dolphins (8-4) – The Dolphins continue to be one of the best bets in the NFL, going 18-6 ATS in their last 24 games overall. Tua Tagovailoa seemed to have more success last week when Miami went up-tempo on offense. However, Miami is going to be playing with fire if they attempt to bait a shootout with the Chiefs this weekend.
13. Las Vegas Raiders (7-5) – A win is a win. But the Raiders can’t feel great about needing a last-second, Gregg Williams-aided miracle to beat the winless Jets last week. Las Vegas is 5-2 ATS after a win and 5-1 ATS in conference games, but you have to wonder how much confidence this team is playing with at the moment.
14. Arizona Cardinals (6-6) – Count me out on the sudden criticism of Kyler Murray and his perceived attitude/leadership problems. He is a second-year player, he’s hurt, and he is frustrated by a lack of help from both his teammates and coaches. He’s a competitor. And I’d rather deal with a quarterback letting his emotions get to him rather than have a stoic, stone-faced dud at the helm. Arizona is 10-5 ATS in its last 15 road games but just 1-5 ATS as a favorite.
15. New England Patriots (6-6) – What does it say about Joe Judge that the Patriots special teams seem better and have made more impactful plays this season than anything I’ve seen out of them over the past five years? New England has won four of five, with that lone loss coming in the final minutes against the Texans, and they are on a solid 4-2 ATS run. I just have very little interest in ever betting against Bill Belichick when his team is getting points.
16. Cleveland Browns (9-3) – I have a superpower. It’s called The Kiss of Life. It is the opposite of the kiss of death (or the announcer’s jinx). The minute I start badmouthing someone or something, that entity immediately starts to overperform. Baker Mayfield’s effort last Sunday against the Titans – one week after his embarrassing effort versus the Jaguars – is just one of 1,000 examples of me breathing life into a worthless player. That said, I am still 100 percent not buying into the Browns. You can. But I know fool’s gold when I see it.
17. San Francisco 49ers (5-7) – The Curse of the Super Bowl Loser has claimed its latest victim.
18. Chicago Bears (5-7) – There were so many pathetic pieces to that epic collapse by Chicago last week. But the first one may have been the worse: with the ball on the Detroit 40 and 7:22 to play, the Bears were facing a 4th-and-4. (This was after an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-4 that stopped the clock.) The Bears absolutely had to go for it there. They could’ve essentially won the game by picking up that first down. And even if they did not, the Lions still had plenty of work to do from their own side of the field. The Bears had a 99.1 percent chance of winning at that point. Every subsequent decision led to one of the worst collapses in a season full of gut-wrenching collapses.
19. Minnesota Vikings (6-6) – Beyond the Browns, there isn’t a bigger fraud team in the NFL. Minnesota continues to win games in the most unconvincing manner possible. They are 2-1 SU but 0-3 ATS in their last three games against the lowly Cowboys, Panthers and Jags. Minnesota’s last three wins have come by a combined 10 points. And between offensive turnovers and defensive miscues, this team is not playing good football at all.
20. Carolina Panthers (4-8) – Is it me, or have bye weeks actually been the worst thing to happen to teams from a coronavirus perspective? I swear, every week it seems like teams coming back from a bye have a half-dozen guys on the COVID list when they get back to practice. Carolina has eight players, including five starters, on their COVID list this week, and we won’t know until Saturday what the outlook for this squad will be.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (3-9) – Goodbye, Anthony Lynn. It was nice knowing you. Hell of a guy. Terrible coach. It is an absolute sin to waste the amount of good, young, team-controlled talent that they have in Los Angeles.
22. Atlanta Falcons (4-8) – Matt Ryan looks like he has aged about 10 years in the past six months. He is no longer good enough to gloss over all the other problems on this roster. In fact, his creaky, indecisive play is quickly becoming another problem. It’s not all on Ryan – it seems like every week his guys drop three easy passes – but Atlanta’s lack of execution on third-and-short and in the red zone is reaching comical levels.
23. Denver Broncos (4-8) – Fortune favors the bold, Vic Fangio. I still can’t believe that he punted on 4th-and-3 from midfield with 6:22 to play. It’s not like the Broncos have anything to play for. And it isn’t like the Chiefs defense is the 2000 Ravens. Fangio has to show more stones than that.
24. Houston Texans (4-8) – It’s going to be interesting to see how Deshaun Watson and the Texans handle playing a cold weather game in the elements in Soldier Field. Right now, the forecast has it at 28 degrees with 12 mile per hour winds at kickoff in Chicago on Sunday. December 2018 was the last time Houston played a game in weather colder than 40 degrees.
25. New York Giants (5-7) – The Giants are a big buzz team right now, and for good reason. They’ve won four straight and are on an outstanding 7-2 ATS run over their last nine games. But the word is out now. Everyone is climbing on the bandwagon, and I think that the value on this team is dropping by the day. Even with their recent run, the Giants are 3-12 ATS as a. home underdog, 8-21 ATS at home and 10-22 ATS in the game after covering a spread.
26. Washington Football Team (5-7) – Hell of an effort by the Redskins to hang in there and deal Pittsburgh its first loss of the year. And what a game for Logan Thomas; that guy was a hero. However, there is still plenty to work on for The Football Team. And the two most glaring areas that need improvement are A) dropped passes and B) missed tackles in the secondary.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1) – The betting market doesn’t have any more faith in Jalen Hurts than it did Carson Wentz. The Eagles line only shifted about a half point when it came out that Hurts would be replacing Wentz. And the Eagles are catching just 25 percent of all the betting action in this week’s home game against the Saints.
28. Detroit Lions (5-7) – Turnabout is fair play. The Lions shouldn’t have choked away that opening week loss to the Bears, and they should not have pulled off that bizarre comeback win in Chicago. The universe finds balance once again. Darrell Bevell’s excitement about being a head coach is palpable. And it may be contagious. This team absolutely would’ve rolled over in the final weeks if Matt Patricia were still at the helm. We will see if they continue to play hard for Bevell.
29. Dallas Cowboys (3-8) – Despite most of the football-loving country watching the Cowboys get their teeth kicked in on Tuesday, Dallas is still a road favorite in Cincinnati this week. Dallas is just 1-7 ATS on the road and 2-5 ATS as a road favorite. The Cowboys are on a 2-10 ATS slide overall.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1) – That is now back-to-back games with the Bengals failing to crack 200 total yards. They’ve gone ‘under’ in three straight and the offense has only mustered 26 points in 10 quarters since Joe Burrow went down with an injury.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11) – The Jaguars are now 4-1 ATS in their last five games, and their offense continues to show signs of life. The skill position players are in place – if they can find the answer at quarterback. The primary issue is the defense. They are in the bottom five in the league in total defense, pass defense, rush defense and points allowed. They can’t even hope to compete until they get things figured on that side of the ball.
32. New York Jets (0-12) – I was hoping the Jets would retain Gregg Williams instead of firing him. It would’ve been fitting if Williams had ended his NFL coaching career as the guy that was defensive coordinator on not one but two 0-16 teams! God that guy is an asshole.
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