With Christmas less than three weeks away, your holiday schedule is likely filling up with parties and get-togethers between now and New Year's.
These events range from the “kid-friendly” Christmas party with Santa in attendance, to a Friday final night of Hanukkah to the out-of-hand office shindig that makes for an uncomfortable Monday morning.
All these celebrations have their pros and cons depending on your yuletide temperature and you’ll fill out your calendar accordingly.
It’s a lot like looking at the NFL odds and deciding which underdogs I’ll include in my weekly column. They all have positives and negatives, offering a different party path when taking the points.
Last week: 1-2 ATS
Season: 20-17-2 ATS
NFL Week 14 picks and predictions
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Carolina Panthers (+5.5) at New Orleans Saints pick
This NFC South showdown is shaping up like an “Ugly Sweater Party”. But what else would you expect from this division?
I actually bet on the Carolina Panthers at +6 earlier in the week, and while this spread is slimming (as low as +4.5), there are still Panthers +5.5 spreads out there.
Just like the now popular (and a little overdone if you ask me) “ugly sweater” parties, things aren’t pretty on the surface.
Carolina comes into Week 14 wearing the itchy wool of a 1-11 record with plenty of loose threads and what looks like a coffee stain on the sleeve. Let’s hope that’s coffee.
Most teams in the Panthers’ position would be in full tank mode at this point in the season. But with Carolina’s first-round draft pick bequeathed to the Chicago Bears and the remaining coaching staff trying to salvage their jobs or impress for a new one, there’s motivation hiding under that ugly sweater.
And speaking of ugly.
The New Orleans Saints are sporting a nasty three-game losing skid heading into Week 14, with the defense nowhere to be found and Jameis Winston likely taking over at quarterback for the injured Derek Carr. That’s a roll of the dice.
As bad as the Panthers have been, they’re actually playing some of their better football of the season. Carolina lost outright yet covered at Tampa Bay last week and has suffered three of its last four defeats by one possession.
Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown is leaning into the running game and that could work out well against a Saints stop unit that has allowed 4.8 yards per carry during this three-game slide and will be without top run stopper Malcolm Roach.
The spread is too high for a divisional game where motivations and matchups are mixed. Let's put on that ugly Xmas sweater with the worst team in football and hope nobody tags you in any pics on Instagram.
PICK: Carolina Panthers +5.5 (-111 at Pinnacle)
Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) at Dallas Cowboys pick
The vibe when these NFC East rivals butt heads feels a lot like those awkward family Xmas parties with relatives you only see twice a year.
You just know each other a little too well.
It doesn’t take long for bad blood to come bubbling to the surface, especially when fueled by your grandfather’s infamous “holiday punch”, which sometimes results in one or two being thrown.
These family feuds can have plenty of fireworks and are often uncomfortable to watch, no matter which side of the argument you’re on. And with this spread just sitting on the other side of the field goal, my gambling allegiances lie with the underdog Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia is being discounted for last Sunday’s showing against San Francisco — or not showing up — as well as the Dallas Cowboys enjoying a mini-bye following its flashy win last Thursday.
The Eagles were absolutely rolled for the final 45 minutes of Week 13, but considering their recent run of schedule and the Niners also enjoying a rest edge, you can see why Philly was flat.
Dallas suffered a similar fate against San Francisco in Week 4 and lost at Philadelphia 28-23 as a 3-point pup in Week 9. Stepping up in competition hasn’t been a strength of America’s Team.
Not only are the Eagles one of the toughest defenses that the Cowboys have faced all season, but Jalen Hurts is the best QB this Dallas unit has had to plan for in 2023. The Cowboys' stop unit has puffed up its stats against a weak QB strength of schedule but got burnt for 334 passing yards and 35 points versus Geno Smith and Seattle last week.
If we’ve learned anything from the aftermath of those holiday family fallouts, it’s that we shouldn’t judge anyone — or any team — for their weakest moments.
That’s the reason we’ll all be back together again at the same time next year. And it’s why I’m buying back the move on the Eagles with the half-point hook in Week 14.
PICK: Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 (-117 at Pinnacle)
Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (+6.5) pick
This Monday Night Football game is that wild weekday Xmas party your fun-loving buddy takes you to.
I’ll set the scene…
You’re back in your hometown to visit the folks for the holidays when you get a random text from one of your old high school pals. It’s Monday night. He twists your arm to attend a party at some rando’s place in the shady part of town.
The moment you open the front door you’re hit with a wave of pot smoke, flashing lights, and a sea of sweaty bodies trying their hardest to sing along to “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses. Then everything goes fuzzy.
Betting on the New York Giants brings the same chaos as these crazy "out of the blue" Christmas parties.
Every bone in your body says you should sit this one out, but sometimes betting on the G-Men is fun. In fact, it’s been a blast for anyone ballsy enough to ride with Big Blue in recent weeks.
New York is 4-2-1 against the spread in its last seven games and while most of those profits came against low-tier teams, I’m not overly convinced the Green Bay Packers belong on the higher tier. Yet, Green Bay is being priced like it is.
This spread has ticked up since opening with the Cheeseheads as 5.5-point road chalk, with some books getting to a touchdown before buyback on the Giants slimmed the spread to New York +6.5.
The Packers ride a three-game winning streak into East Rutherford and are ripe for a letdown after stunning the Chiefs as 6-point home underdogs last Sunday night.
The Giants, who have been fighting through injuries on both sides of the ball, are coming off the bye week and will be the healthiest they’ve been in a long time. That includes the potential return of standout nose tackle Dexter Lawrence this Monday.
New York’s aggressive defense has been a difference maker, ranking No. 8 in EPA allowed per play since Week 6 with Wink Martindale’s blitz-happy schemes disrupting opposing passers. That chaos has bred 19 total takeaways, with 12 coming way of interception — tied for most in the NFL.
For column publishing purposes, I have to take New York +6.5. I just missed the Giants +7 this afternoon, but I believe the touchdown spread will come back around before MNF. If you want to inject a little Christmas chaos into your Week 14, wait for that key number to show its face.
Hey, do you hear that? It’s your phone buzzing. It’s Tommy DeVito texting.
“Bro, what are you doing tonight?”
PICK: New York Giants +6.5 (+101 at Pinnacle)
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