The NFL schedule makers got one right in Week 14 of the season, headlining the slate with a showdown between the top two Super Bowl favorites.
The Houston Texans, priced at +450 to win the Super Bowl, visit the New England Patriots (+350 to win Super Bowl XLVII) on Monday Night Football.
Oddsmakers opened the Patriots as high as 5-point home favorites, however, that spread has since been bet down to as low as -4 at some online books.
“Someone is taking the lead on this and thinks it’s too high,” Jimmy Vaccaro, veteran oddsmaker with William Hill sportsbooks in Nevada, told Covers. “But they may not keep it, and there could be buyback by the time this one kicks off.”
New England has won six straight contests to improve to 9-3 SU (7-5 ATS) and sits behind Houston in the AFC playoff picture. The Texans, at 11-1 SU (8-4 ATS), are in the driver’s seat in the conference and trying to hold on to home-field advantage in the final four weeks of the season.
These teams seem destined to play each other in the postseason and Monday’s game will be a good primer for a potential playoff encounter. Vaccaro doesn’t expect either side to hold anything back or worry about tipping their hand before the postseason.
“I don’t know what these two teams don’t know about each other at this point with the scouting world today,” he says. “Chances are the people in Houston weren’t watching the Texans play. They were watching the New England game on Sunday.”
Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins (Pick, 47)
After losing to the Steelers and third-string QB Charlie Batch Sunday, oddsmakers are washing their hands of the Ravens heading into Week 14.
Baltimore is set as a pick’em heading into Washington and Vaccaro could see this spread moving in favor of the Redskins, no matter what happens between them and the Giants Monday.
“I don’t really consider them an elite team,” Vaccaro says of Baltimore. “You saw Batch, who is as old as me, carve up their defense. You can only imagine that Robert Griffin will get his share.”
Vaccaro says this could move to Washington -2.5 if the Redskins defeat New York on Monday Night Football. If they lose, he still expects Washington to go off as a slight home favorite by Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns (-4.5, 37.5)
The Chiefs came away with an emotional win over Carolina Sunday, just a day after LB Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend then shot himself at Arrowhead Stadium in front of coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli.
Vaccaro says that while the tragedy has a huge impact on Kansas City and its players, this line would have been similar if the Chiefs and Browns played before the incident.
“There really isn’t an incentive to move this game,” he says. “It’s not like a push past six or a move to a field goal. It’s the right number and will likely stay put.”
San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers (N/A)
Books are waiting on the status of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has missed the past three games with a shoulder injury to his throwing arm and a dislocated rib. Third-string QB Charlie Batch led Pittsburgh to a 23-20 win over Baltimore Sunday, passing for 276 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Vaccaro, who believes Roethlisberger will sit out again, says the Steelers should be around a 3.5-point home favorite with Batch under center. That spread would jump to Steelers -8 with Roethlisberger’s return.
“I think Batch can handle it. San Diego, as far as towel tossers go, is right at the top of the list,” he says. “San Diego gives away these games in the fourth quarter and now has to get on a plane and fly east to take a Pittsburgh team that is all juiced up.”