NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Why Experts Are Betting Chargers To Cover vs. Bengals & Laying Points With Giants
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Chargers QB Justin Herbert
- Week 13 of the NFL season is underway and our experts are ready to lay the points with the Chargers and Giants.
- Our experts' favorite bets for Sunday's early NFL games? A pair of underdogs.
Giants at Dolphins
|1 p.m. ET|
Chris Raybon: This line opened at Giants +3 and has been bet all the way up to +6.5 with the news that Mike Glennon will start for Daniel Jones — but in what world is Daniel Jones worth 3.5 points over replacement-level?!
Jones is 26th in passer rating (84.8) and QBR (41.0) this season. He’s 12-25 as a starter in his career and has thrown 21 touchdowns in his past 25 starts. The career passer ratings of Jones (84.3) and Glennon (83.0) are nearly identical.
The Giants have beat the Saints, Panthers, Raiders and Eagles as underdogs while losing to the WFT by one and Falcons by three. The Giants’ last four losses were to top-shelf teams: The Cowboys, Rams, Chiefs and Bucs.
Even against a surging Dolphins team, this is too many points — especially in a game with a low total (39.5) that should be a rock fight between two well-schemed defenses.
Under second-year head coach Joe Judge, the Giants are 6-8 (43%) against the spread (ATS) at home but 9-4 (69%) ATS on the road, per our Action Labs data.
I would bet this to +4.
Chargers at Bengals
|1 p.m. ET|
Sean Koerner: I like the idea of locking in Chargers +3 now that LG Matt Feiler is expected to play. However, the Bengals still have two offensive linemen who are questionable in Trey Hopkins and Riley Reiff. Neither is worth anything to the spread, but if both are ruled out, it would become a cluster injury that could prompt the market to move this spread down to +2.5.
Justin Herbert has the skills to be a top-five NFL quarterback, but he’s been too inconsistent of late to value him there. One factor that has been predictive of when we will see “good” Herbert is how much a team blitzes — Herbert ranks third in Expected Points Added per play (EPA/play) against four or fewer pass rushers, but 13th out of 36 when teams blitz. The Bengals blitz only 20.8% of the time (sixth-lowest rate), so Herbert should be able to take advantage here.
Raheem Palmer: This is a great spot to buy low on the Chargers and sell high on the Bengals, who are coming off a 41-16 win over the Steelers.
The lookahead line on this game was Bengals -1.5. Now, after beating the Steelers — whose number the Bengals had all season — we’ve seen this line adjust to -3. I’m not buying it.
The Bengals are 16th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA despite playing the 27th-ranked schedule of opposing offenses. This is a team that gave up 34 points to the Jets and 41 points to the Browns before blowout wins over the Raiders and Steelers. We see how recency bias has influenced this number.
Both of the Jets and Browns have struggled offensively for much of the season, so it’s more than reasonable to expect that the Chargers will find some success offensively. Justin Hebert struggled against the Broncos, whose blitz-heavy attack is not something the Bengals will employ, making this a favorable matchup.
This is simply too many points, so I’ll back the Chargers to bounce back, though I wouldn’t bet them past +3.
Brandon Anderson: Like Raheem said, this line feels like a massive overreaction to last week.
The Bengals blew the doors off the Steelers, while the Chargers went to Denver and got thoroughly dominated by the Broncos. Neither game felt close at any point, and suddenly Cincinnati is more than a field goal favorite because of it.
I don’t buy it. These teams are relative equals by most statistical measures.
Los Angeles ranks higher in DVOA, 16th vs. 18th, and it’s actually the Chargers who have been far better offensively. If someone told you an LA team ranked second in offensive DVOA, would you believe it was these Chargers and not the Rams? Last week was a miss, but the Chargers have been much better on early downs over the past month and are still quite good on late downs, thanks to Herbert.
The Bengals’ defense looked ferocious last week, but these Chargers are not the Steelers. LA’s offensive line has been much improved, especially against the pass, and Herbert is far more mobile with infinite more arm strength than Ben Roethlisberger at this point. The Bengals’ pass defense has been vulnerable against big throwers, so Herbert should be able to get going here while the Chargers pass defense could hold Joe Burrow in check.
The path to a Cincinnati victory is a dominant run game with Joe Mixon, which is certainly in play. But this line feels like an overreaction to two extremes last week. I still feel like the Chargers have been the slightly better team on the balance of the season, and the same Bengals team that has looked so good the last two weeks was pretty rough the couple games before that.
Don’t fall victim to recency bias. This should be a pick ’em at best, so we have to take advantage of the points the books are giving us. Short road dogs have been killing it this season at 53–22 (71%) ATS when the line is seven or shorter.
I like the Chargers down to +2.