The weekly NFL best-bet parlay here at NESNBets has been a season full of close calls that blow up our weekly wagers. In Week 11, though, one pick was so laughably wrong that it was hard to get too upset about another strikeout.
It turns out the under in the Steelers-Bengals game was not the play. We got it at 40.5, which felt like a good number given the possibility of Pittsburgh shutting down the Cincinnati offense paired with a Kenny Pickett-led offense struggling for the Steelers. And then the Bengals went and almost hit the over themselves with a 37-point outburst, while Pittsburgh scored a season-high 30 points, the first time they scored more than 23 in a game all season.
Anyway, we’re committed to the bit, so here’s the Week 12 best-bet parlay.
(-3.5) Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Ravens felt like a sure thing laying a huge number against Carolina. Instead, they laid an egg. In hindsight, that was a bad play in part because of how it overlooked the relative effectiveness of the Panthers’ defense recently. Carolina’s defense ranks 13th in the league by EPA per play allowed since firing Matt Rhule. The Jaguars, on the other hand, rank last. Jacksonville’s defense ranks 26th by DVOA. The metrics hate them, despite the fact they’re 13th in scoring defense. Dig into the schedule, and it makes a little more sense. The Jags have played Indianapolis twice, Houston, Washington (with Carson Wentz) and Denver this season. That’s five games against offenses that rank 27th or worse by DVOA. The Ravens had a week to shake off some rust with returning players and coming off the bye. The NFL’s ninth-ranked scoring offense should be able to run away from a team that has failed to score more than 21 points in five of its last seven games.
Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers UNDER 36
OK, so this is a ridiculously low total. In fact, when the number opened at 35, it tied for the lowest in the last 10 seasons. And while you have to take trends with a grain of salt, this highlight from BetMGM’s John Ewing stood out this week: When the total has been 38 or lower over the past three seasons, the under has hit eight out of 10 times. It’s fitting, too, that weather looks like an issue here. Forecasts are calling for warm temperatures but there’s a very good chance of rain throughout the day with wind gusts nearing 20 mph. Of course, this is all factored into that number. But other than being a contrarian for contrarian’s sake, it’s hard to map out a route to the over here — except for a defensive score or two. We already mentioned the improved Carolina defense, and the Broncos’ unit has been stout all season, coming into this game ranked fifth by DVOA. Something like 20-13 feels like a relative shootout and still gets us home.
Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals OVER 48
There’s a nice little recipe for an over here with two teams that don’t play a ton of defense whose offenses like to get it and go. The Chargers and Cardinals rank second and fourth in overall offensive pace, respectively. The defenses, meanwhile are both in the bottom third of the league in Football Outsider’s defensive drive success rate stat. Kyler Murray looks ready to return for Arizona and despite his inconsistency, his best performances have come against defenses that struggle to generate pressure on the quarterback. LA ranks 28th in quarterback pressure, so they check that box, but it’s also not entirely surprising that upon getting some key pieces back, the Chargers’ offense started to cook again last week.
Payout: 1 unit to win 5.96 units
To date: Down 1.13 units