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SLIPS: Rams & Steelers Remain Reliable Bets in NFL Week 14

Josh Katzenstein for Bookies.com

Josh Katzenstein  | 8 mins

SLIPS: Rams & Steelers Remain Reliable Bets in NFL Week 14

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Veteran sports reporter Josh Katzenstein, who has covered both the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints, takes a deep dive into the weekend’s NFL betting slips, including where the money went, the bad beats, amazing covers, stunning parlays and more.

With three games remaining in the regular season, NFL betting regulars have just a few more opportunities to increase their bankroll.

Entering the final stretch of the season, people should take note of the teams that have been the safest throughout the year, because a few of them might not be who you would expect.

Through NFL Week 14, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers are both 9-4 against the spread. Sportsbooks continue to create spreads on which bettors should find value on both teams, but bettors aren’t hammering either team for myriad reasons.

The Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-12 on Sunday night, but most of the betting public preferred Seattle at pick ‘em. At William Hill, 79% of spread tickets and 65% of the handle were on the Seahawks. The splits were similar at Sugar House with 81% of moneyline bets on Seattle as well as 74% of the spread.

The Rams, 8-5 straight up, are clearly a flawed team that does not have the same high-powered offense as the previous two seasons. However, bettors should trust the data more than their eyes, and the data shows the Rams have been a reliable bet, especially with covers in five of their past seven games.

Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill, said the Rams’ two ugliest losses — 55-40 at home against Tampa Bay in Week 4 and 45-6 at home against Baltimore in Week 12 — are still impacting the public perception of Los Angeles.

“I think that scared some people away from the Rams even though, if you take those two games out, they’ve been OK,” he said, noting that playing in the tough NFC West has made bettors nervous, too.

The Rams’ final three games are at Dallas, at San Francisco and home against Arizona. Amazingly, they’re 2.5-point underdogs against the Cowboys, so the Rams should be easy money for bettors again next week.

Meanwhile, bettors did back the Steelers -2 in their road game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but not by a significant margin. William Hill saw 71% of spread tickets and 60% of the handle on Pittsburgh. Draft Kings took more action on the Steelers — 73% of tickets and 72% of handle — but it still wasn’t a huge decision.

RELATED: NFL Week 14 Betting Takeaways: Stay Away From Home Teams

Like the Rams, the Steelers don’t feel like a safe bet. They are using third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges, top wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has missed the past three games and starting running back James Conner has missed five of the past six. Bogdanovich said the Steelers have been “getting it done ugly,” and such wins don’t often translate to confidence for bettors.

“Pittsburgh is a public team, and if you tell me a public team has that kind of record, you’d think you’d get hurt by them,” Bogdanovich said. “But that’s not the case just because of all those factors.”

Thanks largely to the NFL’s sixth-ranked scoring defense, Pittsburgh is 3-0 SU and ATS when Hodges starts, and the Steelers have covered in five of their past six games.

The Steelers close the season at home against the Bills, then are on the road for the last two, at the Jets and the Ravens. Those won’t be easy covers, but bettors should still lean Pittsburgh based on the current hot streak.

Some of the best total bets this season were good on Sunday, too. The over has now hit in 10 of 13 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after they won a 38-35 shootout over the Colts. The over has been reliable in Carolina Panthers games, too, as its hit in nine of 13 game after a 40-20 loss to the Falcons.

Some of the best under bets of the season hit on Sunday, too. The under has now paid in 10 of 13 games for Pittsburgh and Buffalo as well as nine of 13 for the Rams and Patriots. The Bengals went over on Sunday, but the under has still be good in nine of 13 games.

Remember, the NFL should be easier to bet as the season wears on because there is more data. Sometimes the analytics can help, but don’t forget the most basic stats that show which teams to trust.

Good Day For Bettors

Bogdanovich described Sunday’s slate as a “small loser” for William Hill as the day saw the preferred team on the handle go 8-5-1 ATS. He said the covers by the Ravens, 49ers, Chargers, Chiefs and Titans were “really bad” for the book.

“The public had a pretty good day at the ticket booth,” he said.

Still, thanks to the Rams and Broncos winning, the book didn’t have to pay out many big parlays or teasers. William Hill had “a ton of liability” on the Seahawks, Bogdanovich said.

Odd Statistic

Two of the most popular games for bettors on Sunday featured a young quarterback upsetting a future Hall of Famer. The San Francisco 49ers +1.5 beat the Saints in New Orleans as both Jimmy Garappolo and Drew Brees had monster days. The Kansas City Chiefs +3 won in New England, and Patrick Mahomes made a few more plays than Tom Brady.

Bettors were on the underdog in both games with 62% of spread tickets at 72% of the handle on the 49ers at William Hill as well as 62% and 58%, respectively, for the Chiefs. Neither was a huge decision for the books, but there were still plenty of happy bettors as the 49ers-Saints was the second-most bet game at William Hill on Sunday and the Chiefs-Patriots was fourth.

Somehow, in two careers spanning two decades, this was just the third time Brees and Brady lost at home on the same day.

Sharps vs. Squares

Three games featured a different team supported on the total number of tickets compared to the money bet on Sunday at William Hill.

The public liked the Browns -7 with 60% of the tickets on Cleveland, but the pros liked the Bengals with 76% of the handle. The Browns covered to pay the squares, but Cincinnati squandered several opportunities to cover in a 27-19 finish.

The Vikings-Lions game had a slight disparity with 55% of tickets on Minnesota -12.5 while 58% of the handle was on the Lion. Minnesota covered in a 20-7 win as the squares picked this one right, too.

The sharps nailed the Chargers game, which was the biggest blowout of the week. While 54% of spread tickets were on the Jaguars, 60% of the handle was on the Chargers, who won 45-10 in Jacksonville.

Notable Bets

  • The two biggest straight bets to hit at William Hill on Sunday were from the same bettor, who won $150,000 on the Rams and $80,000 on the Chargers moneyline.
  • A nine-leg parlay hit for a Draft Kings bettor on Sunday as a $10 wager paid out more than $3,000. The bettor had nine spread bets, and they all hit.
  • A bettor at Draft Kings turned $7 into $1,617 thanks to a four-leg parlay on touchdown scorers. The bettor picked Emmanuel Sanders, Robby Anderson, Adrian Peterson and any other Browns player to score, the latter of which hit when Cleveland scored a defensive touchdown.

About the Author

Josh Katzenstein for Bookies.com
Josh Katzenstein
Josh Katzenstein is a former NFL beat writer. He spent the past three years covering the New Orleans Saints for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. His work can also be found at Bleacher Report.