If you like home favorites, Sunday is the day for you.
Thirteen of the 14 games on the board feature the home team laying points. This is unusual. We’ve had an average of five home underdogs per week in 2013, but in Week 14, we have only three. Thursday night, Houston was favored at Jacksonville, Kansas City is favored at Washington on Sunday, and on Monday night, Dallas is a slight favorite in Chicago.
This is the season’s lowest number of home teams catching points. The high was eight, in Week 5 (Week 4 had seven). So with 93 percent of Sunday’s contests involving a home favorite, it’s worth noting that home teams laying points are 65-55-3 against the spread.
At the moment, there are just a handful of teams you could refer to as Super Bowl contenders, and Week 14’s lines reflect that sentiment: They’re mostly tight.
This week’s picks (home team in caps):
SAN DIEGO (-3) over New York Giants: The Giants have won five of six and are pretending to be on the fringe of contending for the NFC East title. Don’t be fooled; they’re not a good team. San Diego has been typically inconsistent, but its rousing win in Kansas City two games ago was no fluke. The Chargers are capable, particularly against an indifferent, mistake-prone Giants squad that has yet to travel farther than the Midwest. Risking $165 to win $150.
St. Louis (+6½) over ARIZONA: The Rams’ record (5-7) does not tell the whole story, because they have acquitted themselves well in the NFL’s toughest division. Most recently, St. Louis could not cover in San Francisco, but the Rams may have if it weren’t for a few mind-bending decisions by their offensive brain trust. Arizona is a decent squad but it turns the ball over too often to be favored by nearly a touchdown against any team that is still playing hard this late in the season. Risking $165 to win $150.
NEW ORLEANS (-3) over Carolina: I’m bucking a trend here, as the Panthers have won eight straight and have covered in seven of those wins. But facing the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is certainly Carolina’s toughest game to date, and New Orleans is 5-1 against the number at home. Risking $165 to win $150.
Last week: 2-2, minus $30. Season: 19-27-1, minus $1,225