Ok, so last week was a barren one, to say the least, but we should not get deterred by all three of the Week 14 underdog picks coming up short. Persistence pays off, and there are plenty of spreads on this slate to indicate that will happen in Week 15.
It is a set of games that features four double-digit point spreads and a further three of a touchdown or more. Having so many heavy favorites in a week suggests that underdogs worthy of the faith of bettors are thin on the ground.
But that is not the case, and there are even some smaller point spreads worth sweating out this weekend. We have once again identified three underdogs deserving of your trust as the regular season draws closer to its conclusion.
*Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Houston Texans (+3.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
There's reason to expect the Jaguars will receive a boost from the firing of Urban Meyer, which did not come a minute too soon. It also helps that Jaguars that the quarterback matchup from a sheer talent standpoint certainly favors Jacksonville.
However, are those factors enough to justify the Jags' being near four-point favorites? In a word, no. They are 4-9 against the spread this season, and the only game in which they have been favored was the season opener against the Texans, which ended in a 37-21 Houston victory.
This is a matchup between a Texans team ranked 28th in yards per play allowed and a Jaguars squad 23rd by the same metric.
In other words, both offenses should have great success moving the ball, with the Jags' struggles on defense likely to mitigate Trevor Lawrence's potential superiority over Davis Mills at quarterback.
Meyer's exit may get Jacksonville back in the win column, but that victory should come via a close game rather than a blowout. The Jaguars will win, but Houston will cover the spread, which is all we care about.
New England Patriots (+2) @ Indianapolis Colts
Fading the Patriots has rarely been a good idea, with last season's down year looking more and more like an anomaly.
New England is 3-1 against the spread as an underdog this campaign, and the Patriots' strengths on defense makes them a particularly tough matchup for the Colts.
Indeed, the Patriots are second in Football Outsiders DVOA on defense, ranking third against the pass and sixth versus the run. Should their proficiency in stopping opposing rushing attacks manifest versus Indianapolis, then New England will take away what the Colts do best, which is getting Jonathan Taylor involved.
Such a scenario would place the pressure on Carson Wentz to deliver for the Colts. History suggests that will not go well for Indianapolis, especially against a defense as well-rounded as that of New England.
It may be an offense-first league, but this is a game to trust the Patriots' defense to ensure they not only cover, but win outright.
New Orleans Saints (+11) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There's absolutely no question the Buccaneers are the better team and should theoretically have little difficulty seeing off a banged-up Saints team on the fringes of the playoff picture.
Yet since Tom Brady's arrival, the Bucs have never beaten the Saints in the regular season, with New Orleans again able to overcome Tampa Bay in Week 8 despite Jameis Winston's injury forcing Trevor Siemian into action at quarterback.
New Orleans repeating the feat with Taysom Hill under center appears unlikely, but so does the prospect of a Sean Payton-coached team that is 4-3 against the spread as an underdog allowing themselves to be blown out in a massive game for their postseason hopes.
Payton's positive test for COVID-19 means he will not be on the sideline on Sunday, yet Brady will still be going against a defensive coordinator in Dennis Allen who has had his number when these teams have done battle.
Even with Payton removed from the gameday equation, the Saints will have had the preparation and should have the defensive game plan to keep this within 10 points.
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