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NFL Week 13 teasers: Prime cases for teasing up and teasing down

Scott Taetsch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

"Teasers haven't been very good this year" is probably something you've heard in the NFL betting content space. That was true early in the season, mainly because highly-rated teams like the Buccaneers, Packers, Rams, Broncos, and Colts disappointed, losing as favorites of a touchdown or more and burning those teasing them down under a field goal.

Abandoning teasers because they've struggled to be profitable early in the campaign is exactly what not to do. The whole point of culling value via teasers is that it'll work out mathematically in the long run. We're not playing teams in teasers for any other reason. The larger the sample size, the better the chance for profitability if you have an edge.

Sure enough, teasers have started hitting at a higher rate recently. Last week's bucket went 5-0 after a 4-0 Week 11 and 6-1 Week 10. Why? We know the teams better, the original point spreads are more accurate, and the final scores reflect those lines more closely. Teasers should always fare better later in the season.

Some games don't have a teaser-worthy point spread. For example, Week 13's Monday nighter has the Buccaneers as 3.5-point favorites at home to the Saints. Teasing Tampa would bring the spread through zero, wasting valuable price points around an improbable tie.

Teasing New Orleans to +9.5 gets the key numbers through a touchdown, but you're already winning on a 3-point margin at a -110 price. Getting +6, +7, or +8 over a long sample size isn't worth the price hike to -270, especially since you're not even getting +10.

Let's use the Broncos - a teaser staple - and their trip to Baltimore to exemplify the value of teasing a favorite down.

Ravens -7.5 -125
Ravens -6.5 -150
Ravens -5.5 -185
Ravens -4.5 -200
Ravens -3.5 -225
Ravens -2.5 -350

The pricing significantly jumps once you move across the key number of -3, showing the importance of capturing that number in NFL betting. More importantly, the Ravens' alternative spread (-2.5) is priced at -350. That's much higher than getting the team at -2.5 with a teaser leg at -270.

To get an incredible deal on Ravens -2.5, we must pair them with another bet and win both to cash the ticket. Fortunately, we can choose that other leg from our weekly "teaser basket" using what we know about key numbers.

Teaser basket

Let's look at the mathematically optimal plays available for Week 13:

Browns -7 -1
Ravens -8.5 -2.5
Giants +2.5 +8.5
Seahawks -7.5 -1.5
Bengals +2.5 +8.5
Raiders +2 +8

There are three options to tease up and three to tease down. The most reliable tease down would be a home team facing a squad that's lost seven of its last eight with an offense that makes scoring look incredibly painful. Take the Ravens down under a field against the Broncos and feel good about it.

In the tease-up department, the "Jekyll and Hyde" Raiders don't have the reputation of being trusted to play to an expected level. Even after beating the Seahawks in overtime, would it be surprising if the Chargers handily beat Las Vegas?

Meanwhile, teasing away from the Chiefs is just asking for trouble. If Kansas City brings its A-game and executes, especially in a high-focus spot on the schedule, 8.5 points might not be enough for even a really good Bengals team.

That leaves the Giants getting 8.5 points at home against the Commanders. It might surprise you that Washington is favored in that game. However, that's a fair price based on the market ratings of each team leading up to this contest. That said, when it comes to a familiar matchup, with a total in the low 40s, taking either club up over one score is a valuable play. In this case, it's the home team as the underdog.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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