Stuckey’s Week 14 NFL Teaser Guide: Bears, Giants Highlight Best Options
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mitchell Trubisky.
As we get later in the season of most leagues, lines become more efficient as the market gets more data points on teams. That’s no different in the NFL.
For example, as of this moment, I project 10 of the 16 games in Week 14 with a point of the current spread. And all but one are within two points. Therefore, this slate doesn’t have a ton of value from a side perspective, per my power ratings.
However, looking at the spreads, this card is loaded with potential ideal teaser pieces, which become even more valuable as the market increases in efficiency as the season progresses. I can’t remember a week that featured more viable teaser options.
Before we get to those games, let’s revisit my basic teaser rules for those unfamiliar or for those that just need a quick refresher.
And what is a teaser? You’re essentially paying to move a point spread by six points or more. A two-team, six-point teaser will pay about the same or slightly more than a regular NFL point spread bet.
Rule 1: Cross Key Numbers
I personally consider 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 14 key teaser numbers. Those are the six most common margins of victory in the NFL. However, 3 and 7 are kings since games end on those two numbers at a significantly higher clip than the rest. Those are the two you almost always want to cross.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, you can give yourself an edge without taking anything else into account by simply crossing 3 and 7 with both parts of a teaser at -110. You may hear some bettors refer to doing this as the good ol’ Wong teaser (in reference to Stanford Wong).
In order to break even on a 6-point teaser at -110, you need teams that have a greater than 72.4% chance of covering after being teased. If we look back in our Bet Labs database, all NFL regular season spreads since 2003 covered only 69% (6121-2784) of the time if teased six points. Nice, but not nice enough over that sample set of over 8,000 teams.
The story changes if we filter for all teases that would’ve captured both the 3 and 7.
NFL regular season underdogs between +1.5 and +2.5 covered a 6-point teaser 75% of the time (330-109). And favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 have historically covered at a slightly higher clip of 76% (194-62). That gives us a total of 524-171 or 75.4%, which easily clears the 72.4% hurdle rate. For what it’s worth, these teaser pieces have gone 36-7 (83.7%) this season.
Those results capture the closing lines on all teams in those specific spread ranges. If you consider a few other factors (which I’ll get to later), you can potentially improve that percentage. Again, this analysis only applies to teasing NFL sides.
Rule 2: Don’t Ever Cross Zero
On a related note, don’t even consider teasing teams like the 49ers (-3.5) or Cowboys (-3.5) this week.
I see this way too often. You’re simply giving up too much edge by crossing over a dead range that will only include a maximum of one key number.
This is even crazier in the playoffs since games can’t end in a tie. You’re essentially paying for points that don’t matter. Just don’t do it!
Rule 3: Don’t Tease Totals
NFL totals simply don’t fall on certain numbers or within a specific range enough to justify the math. There are key numbers to be aware of when betting over/unders (example: 43 after the extra-point rule change), but they don’t hit frequently enough for a tease to make any mathematical sense.
The one possible exception: teasing a side and total in the same game that you believe are correlated (usually underdog/under and/or favorite/over). But that’s a conversation for another day.
Rule 4: Price Matters
Make sure you shop around!
Don’t pay -130 for a 6-point teaser (which would significantly increase your long term hurdle rate) when there are still books out there that offer -120. DraftKings and bet365 are two legal U.S. books that offer -120.
Everything I’ve said is predicated on the fact that you have access to a reasonable teaser price (-120 or lower). The break-even point for a 6-point teaser at -130 odds suddenly jumps from 72.4% to 75.2% — which is right at the breakeven rate I illustrated above. Paying anything greater than -130 heavily tilts the edge in the book’s favor.
Price focus shouldn’t just be the case for teasers, but for all types of betting. You need to hit 52.4% just to break even at average odds of -110, but that threshold jumps to 54.6% at -120.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with your book’s teaser rules and payouts, as they can vary significantly.
I recommend only using 6-point teasers, as each additional half-point teased away from the original spread becomes marginally less valuable to the bettor. I’d only ever consider a 7-point teaser if you’re teasing a 9.5-point favorite down to 2.5 in order to cross the almighty 3 and 7. The same logic applies for 6.5-point teasers for 9-point favorites.
Also, some books have a “ties win” option, which means you can pay a little extra to win if one part of your teaser pushes. So, why tease a team 6.5 points from +1 to +7.5 for -120 when you can tease that same team 6 points to +7 and pay -115 (instead of -110) for ties win? Make sure you know which options your book has and bet accordingly.
Five or 10-cent differences might not seem like much to a recreational bettor, but they add up. Every cent and half-point matters if you want to take this seriously.
Here are five other factors (some minor) that I at least think about before finalizing an NFL teaser:
- Lower-scoring games: Naturally, teasing an underdog with a low total is inherently more valuable than doing so when the total is high over the long run.
- “Backdoorability”: How will the opposing defense play late and/or how much do you trust your quarterback to drive down the field late in the game for a “meaningless” touchdown?
- Coaching: Do you have a competent coach who will understand kicking down 10 with under two minutes to go is smarter than trying to score a touchdown in the final seconds?
- Special teams: Do you have a special teams edge overall and, more importantly, a kicker you trust? This becomes even more important with the recent extra-point rule changes.
- Parlay payout: If you’re teasing two favorites down to around a pick’em, check the payout for a moneyline parlay. It could pay out more for essentially the same bet.
Check out our new NFL PRO Report, where we highlight key factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.
My Best Week 14 Teaser Options
As of this moment, there are eight potential ideal teaser pieces that you can cross through the 3 and 7 with. Additionally, I don’t mind teasing the Bucs here even though they’re not above 7 since I project the spread slightly over a touchdown. Tampa is coming off a bye and matches up fairly well with Minnesota since it can take away Dalvin Cook as well as any team in the NFL.
Also, keep your eye on the Steelers-Bills spread as that seems to be bouncing all over the place around 1. Either team could fit the bill depending on your line. When the Browns-Ravens line opens up everywhere after Baltimore’s Tuesday night game, that could become another possible teaser piece.
Here are the eight options for Week 14 ranked based on my personal criteria and discrepancy between the current market line and my projected line:
- Giants +8.5 (from +2.5)
- Chargers +8.5 (from +2.5)
- Raiders +8.5 (from +2.5)
- Bears +7.5 (from +1.5)
- Titans -1.5 (from -7.5)
- Chiefs -1.5 (from -7.5)
- Packers -1.5 (from -7.5)
I’ve mentioned previously that I think getting over 8 is more valuable than ever before as teams are going for two more often in situations they haven’t previously. Specifically, when they score a touchdown trailing by 14 points late in order to increase their win probability in regulation. That puts a game that normally would’ve fallen 7 at either 6 or 8.
I personally played the following two teasers:
- Bears +7.5/Chargers +8.5
- Giants +8.5/Raiders +8.5
I chose these four particular teams since I see value in each of their spreads and can tease up through 3, 4, 6 and 7 on each.
It’s a good time to buy the Bears low here after five straight losses. The Texans have major issues on defense, and they simply do not have the same potent offense without Will Fuller. Plus, 10 of the Bears’ 12 games this season have been decided by one possession. Their defense should keep this within one possession.
I can say the same thing about the Chargers. It’s a good time to buy them low after a 45-0 loss. They’ve been in almost every game this season with the exception of last week against the Patriots. The only thing not to like about this teaser piece is the total is high, and I expect it to be high-scoring. However, since I project it closer to a PK, I’m willing to include Los Angeles as a teaser piece here.
Similarly, the Giants have been competitive in every game but one (49ers) this season. I’m also confident the Raiders can keep it close against Indianapolis and if necessary, Derek Carr and that offense are more than capable of getting a late backdoor if needed.
Follow along in the app to see if I add another later in the week.