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NFL betting: Who's interested in fading Joe Burrow in Week 14?

Yahoo! Sports logo Yahoo! Sports 12/8/2021 Mark Drumheller

Favorites led the way last week in the NFL by covering in eight of 14 games. It was only the fifth week this season in which they got the upper hand. For the first time this season, the spread was completely irrelevant in every single game. If you picked the winner, your bet cashed. All six underdogs that covered were also moneyline winners.

Underdogs winning outright have been much more common than bettors winning their bets because they took the points. Underdogs are 105-89 ATS on the season. The 105 underdog winners have won the game outright in 78 games. That's an astonishing 78-27 to the moneyline, yielding a 74% hit rate!

The decision to play an underdog on the moneyline should be handicapped on a game-by-game basis. In terms of value, I don't think there is much of an argument that your betting card should feature some underdogs at moneyline prices. Why pay -110 odds for points on every bet if you are only going to need them 26% of the time?

Last week, we capitalized on two road underdogs that brought us home the win at plus-money prices. The two-team moneyline parlay cashed at +405 odds giving us a nice payout. I am targeting two more road underdogs to win this week. The two-team ML parlay odds are currently +330 at BetMGM.

Atlanta (+115) at Carolina

The Sam Darnold reclamation project has put Matt Rhule on the hot seat in Carolina. After watching Panthers quarterbacks combine for a 33% completion percentage in a 23-point loss to Miami, Rhule convinced himself OC coordinator Joe Brady was the problem. The highly regarded Brady was dismissed, and Carolina's head coach publicly pledged to run the football more.


Video: Warner: Why Joe Burrow's pinkie finger injury will be burdensome (NFL)

The Panthers catch one of the worst pass defenses in the league and simply do not have a serviceable quarterback to exploit it. Carolina is 31st in passing DVOA and threw for only 134 yards against Miami. Now the Panthers enter a game under a serious amount of pressure without an offensive coordinator.

I'm much more confident in the Falcons' offense finding success against an opponent that has allowed 60 points over the past two weeks. Atlanta has reeled off the eighth-most explosive run plays this season while Carolina allows the fifth most. Atlanta will get the big plays to win field position. The Carolina defense is also 32nd in defensive efficiency in "late/close" games, according to Football Outsiders. That's exactly the type of game we should see on Sunday.

I can't justify taking the Panthers in this spot, which makes the Falcons a live moneyline dog. Carolina has been one of the most fragile favorites in the NFL. Since Week 4, they are 0-4 as a favorite and lost all four games outright.

San Francisco (+100) at Cincinnati

We played against Cincy as small favorites last week, and we are going right back at them again. Joe Burrow may be able to play through his pinky injury, but it's going to impact his effectiveness. Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 40s, and it will be more challenging for the second-year QB to grip the ball. Turnover margin is the single most predictive metric that determines the winner in NFL games. Burrow has thrown the third-most interceptions this season, and the injury does decrease his ability to protect the football. Zac Taylor will have to lean on Burrow even more without a fully healthy Joe Mixon. I see trouble for a Bengals offense against a 49ers defense that ranks Top 10 in defensive DVOA.

Kyle Shanahan's offense is finally clicking after starting slowly the first half of the year. Since their bye, the 49ers have ranked top five in offensive EPA per play over the last seven weeks. San Francisco is fourth as a team in net yards per play while its offense holds a significant advantage over the Bengals defense in red-zone efficiency (second vs. 26th). In a close game, scoring a touchdown instead of a field goal is the difference between wins and losses. The 49ers are the better team and this is the perfect spot to bet them against the banged-up Bengals.

Stats provided by Sharp football stats, teamrankings.com, rbsdm.com, and Football Outsiders.

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