NFL Line Watch Week 14: Each week during the pro football season, Art Aronson looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Game to bet now
Chicago at Detroit (-8)
How good is it to be the Lions these days? Four straight wins – including a dominating 15-point victory at New Orleans last week – has Detroit in prime position in the NFC North at 8-4. Eight years after their groundbreaking 0-16 season, the Lions look like they’re ready to finally break the Green Bay/Minnesota stranglehold on the division. Detroit fans still have nightmares about the bad calls which cost them in a wild card playoff loss to the Cowboys two years ago, but this Lions team looks more than capable of making amends. QB Matthew Stafford actually looks better with Calvin Johnson and is the 5th-rated QB in the league. And on top of everything, they get the Bears this week. At home. If you like the line, jump now because there could be some volatility here.
Game to wait on
Baltimore at New England (-7) (Monday)
This line has already moved from NE -8 to -7, possibly on the news that the Patriots have suffered yet another injury to a receiver (Danny Amendola, out for the rest of the regular season). And the Ravens seem to be one of the few teams that is not intimidated when they play the Patriots in Foxboro. They took apart NE in a playoff game in 2013, and two years after that had the Patriots on the ropes but dropped a TD pass in the end zone and also missed a chip-shot field goal (two weeks before NE defeated Seattle in the Super Bowl). The Ravens are coming off quality home wins over Miami and Cincinnati, but haven’t beaten a decent team on the road. Game is Monday night, so there is plenty of time to see if weekend betting moves the line a half-point either way.
Total to watch
Dallas at New York Giants (47.5)
Under players betting only these two teams all season would have cashed two games out of every three, and with the number in the high 40s this week, you might think that more of the same is on the way. But there are plenty of moving parts here, not the least of which is the Cowboys’ vulnerability (31st in the league) against the pass. Eli Manning is who he is at this point, but he does play well late in the season. Interestingly, this game does not mean all that much – Dallas looks like the No. 1 NFC playoff seed, and the Giants can afford a loss and still be the top wild card team heading into the final three weeks.