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Columns - Magazine

The Gambling Solution: Week 14

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff started with a 1,000 unit bankroll as they go head to head all season long.

 

Jeff split his picks last week as he had winners on the Seahawks and over in the Panthers/Saints game.  He came up short on the Falcons and Giants.  Jeff finished the week down 10 units.  Jeremy went 1-3 as he dropped games with the Texans, Panthers and under Patriots/Eagles.  He did nail the Bengals as they blew out the Browns.  Jeremy finished the week minus 50 units.  Jeff extended his lead in the season-long contest by 40 units as he now leads Jeremy by 170 units with only four weeks left in the regular season.  Can Jeremy make a late-season run and overtake Jeff?  Let's get to the picks for Week 14.

 

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Jeff Baldwin

Record: 32-24

Units: 1,300

 

Jeremy Wardwell

Record: 30-26

Units: 1,130

 

Falcons at Panthers (-7.5) - 35 units
The Panthers kept their undefeated season alive as they scored a late touchdown to defeat the Saints 41-38.  The Falcons dropped their fifth straight game as they fell to the Buccaneers.  The Falcons now sit at 6-6 after starting the season off with five straight wins.  I thought the Falcons were in good position last week to snap their losing streak, but they came up with another lackluster performance.  I don't see this team turning things around at any point the rest of the season let alone this week against the Panthers.  This offense clearly struggles from a weapon perspective after WR Julio Jones.  Now the Falcons face a Panthers’ defense that will look to rebound after giving up a ton of points to the Saints.  CB Josh Norman will match up against WR Julio Jones as he'll look to slow down the Falcons’ only wide receiver threat.  The Panthers will also need to focus on limiting RB Devonta Freeman in both the running and passing game.  I'm expecting a big, bounce back effort here by the Panthers’ defense as this is a matchup that feeds right into their strengths.  As for the Panthers on offense, QB Cam Newton has this team clicking on all cylinders as he finished with 331 yards passing and five touchdown passes last week.  Newton should have no problem moving this offense up and down the field on Sunday.  Newton will target his favorite weapon in the passing game in TE Greg Olsen.  RB Jonathan Stewart will look to continue his consistent play running the football after coming off a solid game as he finished with 82 yards rushing and a touchdown.  In the end, I think the Falcons will struggle moving the football against this Panthers’ defense.  The Falcons will not be able to slow down this Panthers offense.  The Falcons are 0-7 ATS off a division game over their last seven games.  The Panthers roll here by double digits. 
Pick: Carolina Panthers -7.5

Saints (+3.5) at Buccaneers - 30 units
In a matchup of old versus young, Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in an NFC South tilt. Winston and the Bucs are coming off a 23-19 win over Atlanta. In that game Winston led a late fourth quarter drive and hit Mike Evans with the game winning touchdown with less than two minutes left. Winston's leadership and confidence have been improving weekly as Tampa Bay has now won three out of their last four and put themselves in wild card contention. The Saints put up a solid fight against the Panthers in New Orleans but ultimately fell 41-38 to bring their losing streak to four games. During that streak, the Saints' defense has allowed 37 points per game and ranks last in the league in points allowed on the year. Look for Tampa Bay to exploit the league's worst run defense with a heavy dose of Doug Martin who is second in the league in rushing. In their last meeting, Martin had 78 yards but that was before he really got going. I expect him to exceed that number with a 100+ yard performance. The Saints' running game took a big hit on Wednesday when RB Mark Ingram was placed on season ending IR with a shoulder injury. His loss will force the Saints to lean on RB C.J. Spiller and even heavier on Drew Brees and their passing game. New Orleans ranks second in passing yards per game with 301 yards per game while the Buccaneers are giving up just over 240. With the Saints’ running game limited, Tampa Bay who have 29 sacks on the year will look to pressure Brees early to minimize the New Orleans air attack. I like Tampa Bay to easily cover at home in this one. They are 6-2 ATS in their last eight and have more to play for than New Orleans who are playing out the string and will struggle in Ingram's absence.
Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)

Saints at Buccaneers (-3.5) - 35 units
The Saints travel to Tampa after almost pulling off an upset at home against the Panthers.  The Saints have now dropped four games in a row as their disappointing season continues.  The Buccaneers scored a late touchdown to overtake the Falcons 23-19.  Tampa has now won three out of their last four games.  The Saints offense hasn't had a good week leading up to this game as RB Mark Ingram was placed on the injured reserve list as he'll need surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder.  WR Brandin Cooks suffered a concussion during practice this week.  His status for Sunday doesn't look good.  There is a very strong chance he misses the game which would have a big impact on the Saints’ passing game.  The Buccaneers have been playing well as they are led by QB Jameis Winston.  Winston has been productive in the passing game as he has two great weapons in WR Vincent Jackson and WR Mike Evans.  The Buccaneers’ passing game has a great matchup here as they face a Saints’ secondary that gives up 287 yards/game through the air which ranks them close to last in the league.  The Saints also struggle stopping the run as they are ranked last in the league giving up 137.8 yards/game on the ground.  RB Doug Martin who has been very productive this season should have plenty of room to run in this contest.  The Buccaneers’ defense has been playing better of late as they face a depleted Saints offense.  The key here will be to get pressure on QB Drew Brees so he doesn't get into any type of rhythm in the passing game.  Tampa has covered four out of the last five games in this series.  Look for that trend to continue as the Buccaneers win this game by a touchdown.
Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
Seahawks (-9.5) at Ravens - 35 units

The 7-5 Seattle Seahawks travel to Baltimore to take on the 4-8 Ravens. Seattle will look to maintain their grip on a wild card spot with a win. They have been hot recently with the offense scoring 148 points in their last four games. Over that time QB Russell Wilson has thrown 12 touchdowns and just one interception. The passing attack has been complemented by a solid running game led by Thomas Rawls. Since Marshawn Lynch was lost to injury, Rawls has averaged 153 total yards and scored four touchdowns. The Seahawks’ offense should have another big day in this one against a mediocre Baltimore defense. Who will start at quarterback for the Ravens is still officially undecided. However, it appears it will be Jimmy Clausen as Matt Schaub missed practice on Thursday dealing with chest and shoulder injuries. Clausen was claimed off of waivers from the Bears and hasn't played since a September 27 loss to the Seahawks. During that game, Clausen completed nine passes for just 63 yards. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, I expect the Seattle defense to shut down a completely undermanned Ravens’ offense. RB Buck Allen had a great game last week against Miami grabbing 12 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown while also gaining 63 yards on the ground. His task will be even more difficult this week as the Seahawks have been stingy against the run lately allowing less than 50 yards per game in their last three. With a red-hot quarterback and plenty of motivation to finish strong playing against a depleted opponent with an eye towards next year, I like the Seahawks to put up more impressive offensive numbers while covering this big spread.  
Pick: Seattle Seahawks -9.5

49ers at Browns (-1.5) - 30 units
The Browns were blown out by the Bengals 37-3 as they have now dropped seven straight games as they have managed only two wins the entire season.  The 49ers had a solid overtime win over the Bears on the road as a long touchdown pass to WR Torrey Smith was the difference.  QB Blaine Gabbert has played well since stepping in as the starting quarterback.  He'll look to guide this team to a third win since he has been under center.  The Browns have decided to go back to QB Johnny Manziel after Josh McCown suffered a season-ending injury and Austin Davis was ineffective in his start last week against the Bengals.  The Browns are hoping Manziel can provide a spark to this offense as they continue to struggle scoring points.  The 49ers have been playing better defense of late and that should continue against this Browns’ offense.  The area where the 49ers’ offense needs to capitalize is running the ball effectively against a Browns’ defense that gives up 136 yards/game on the ground which ranks close to last in the league.  RB Shaun Draughn will need to be productive running the football for the 49ers to have hopes of winning this game.  The success of the running game will open up some plays in the passing game as QB Blaine Gabbert will take some shots down the field.  WR Torrey Smith was held out of the practice on Thursday, but all signs point to him playing.  WR Anquan Boldin will also be needed to make some plays down the field to help this offense put points on the board.  I like the way the 49ers have been competing of late.  The bottom line is I don't trust the Browns giving points to any team.  Look for the 49ers to play solid defense in this matchup, and make enough plays on offense to get the outright win.
Pick: San Francisco 49ers +1.5

Redskins (+3.5) at Bears - 35 units
The Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears meet up at Soldier Field in a matchup of two 5-7 teams. Both teams are coming off frustrating losses with the Redskins losing Monday night to the Cowboys and the Bears falling in overtime to the 49ers. While Chicago is all but eliminated from the playoffs, Washington is still alive in the NFC East. The Redskins have struggled to find any consistency this year on either side of the ball. QB Kirk Cousins has been the poster boy for that inconsistency alternating strong performances with mediocre efforts. The Redskins’ running game has been little help as well. Without a clear lead back, Washington ranks 26th in the league in rushing with 94 yards per game. Chicago has played well defensively as of late. Over their last five games, they are allowing 17 points per game. Offensively, the Bears haven't been putting up huge numbers lately but do have a strong QB/WR tandem in Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery. Despite two down weeks, Cutler has had a solid season and I expect him to take advantage of the Redskins’ vulnerable defense that is allowing 365 yards per game. The Bears found some depth in their running game when Matt Forte missed some time earlier in the year with an injury. During that time, Jeremy Langford stepped up and proved himself a valuable asset in the Bears’ backfield. Forte is still the lead back but he could be more dangerous moving forward as sharing snaps with Langford will leave him fresh. This game has the potential to be a shootout as it features two teams uninterested in playing defense. Regardless of the score, I like the Bears to cover. They are 7-5 ATS this year and Washington has struggled on the road.
Pick: Chicago Bears -3.5

Lions at Rams (Total: 41 points) - 20 units
The Lions suffered a heartbreaking defeat against the Packers last Thursday night.  The Rams couldn't get anything going offensively against the Cardinals as they fell at home 27-3.  This team has really struggled offensively over the last month as they are only averaging 9 points/game.  Before their tough defeat, the Lions were on a three-game winning streak with the defense being the key piece to their success.  The Lions now travel to St. Louis to take on a Rams’ offense that has trouble moving the football and putting points on the board.  This is a great matchup for the Lions’ defense as they should be able to give the Rams’ offense trouble in both the running and passing game.  The Lions will need to key on slowing down RB Todd Gurley as the Rams will look to establish the running game.  The Rams’ defense will be missing some players, but they still should be able to slow down this Lions’ offense.  The Lions don't run the ball very well as they are ranked at the bottom of the league in rushing yards per game.  The Rams’ secondary will need to contain WR Calvin Johnson as they can't afford to allow Johnson to make big plays down the field.  I think this matchup between these two teams will be a defensive contest with points hard to come by.  I think this will be a close, low scoring game with the turnover battle being the difference.  Look for the winner to come away with a 20-13 victory as this game stays under the posted total.
Pick: Under 41
Titans at Jets (Total: 43 points) - 20 units
The New York Jets host the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The Jets have now won two straight after knocking off the Giants last week. In that game, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 390 yards and a couple touchdowns. He has now thrown 22 touchdowns on the year with 18 of those going to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The Jets are averaging 24 points per game with that number jumping to 27 at home. Tennessee comes into this one off a 42-39 shootout win over the Jaguars. During that game, the Titans’ defense allowed five passing touchdowns. They have given up the third-most passing touchdowns in the league and are allowing 24 points per game on the year and 27 PPG in their last five. The Jets are expecting CB Darrelle Revis back after he missed the last two games with a concussion. New York's defense has been stingy at home allowing 19 points per game. Tennessee is scoring 20 points per game and will likely be getting a key offensive player back with the return of Dexter McCluster. Delanie Walker has been Marcus Mariota's favorite target this year as the tight end has 67 catches and four touchdowns. The total for this game has been posted at 43. I'm looking for Fitzpatrick and his receivers to take advantage of the Titans’ secondary. The Titans won't put up many points but even with the return of Revis, should be able to approach their average. Six of the Jets' last eight games have gone over the total and I expect this one to as well.
Pick: Over 43

Editor's note: Both Jeremy and Jeff started with 1,000 units as they go head to head all season long.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4 and Jeremy @jdwardwell5.

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.