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NFL opening line report: Focus is on the NFC in Week 14 with several key matchups

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Without question, the best Week 14 NFL games are in the NFC, as the playoff picture continues to evolve. Covers checks in on the opening lines for a handful of matchups, with insights from Scott Cooley, odds consultant for offshore sportsbook

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-2)

New Orleans had a one-game hiccup, then got right back to its winning ways and now stands atop the NFC South. The Saints (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) saw their eight-game win streak end in Week 12 at the Los Angeles Rams, but came home Sunday and beat Carolina 31-21 as a 5.5-point chalk.

Defending NFC champion Atlanta is making things tough for itself to even get back to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. The Falcons (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) had a nice little three-game SU and ATS win streak, then had a dismal offensive showing and lost at home to Minnesota 14-9 as a 2-point favorite in Week 13.

“Our team was anywhere from a pick ‘em to -3 for this matchup,” Cooley said. “The deuce felt like a fair number. We can see where the bettors are leaning early and adjust from there. We anticipate Saints money from the public, and this line could head south sooner than later.”

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (+1)

Minnesota just keeps on rolling behind a top-notch defense that ranks No. 2 in the league in scoring, allowing just 17 points per game. On Sunday, the Vikings (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) went to Atlanta as a 2-point underdog and won a defensive slog 14-9.

Carolina (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) won and cashed four straight heading into Sunday’s showdown with New Orleans. But the Panthers couldn’t keep it going, losing 31-21 catching 5.5 points.

“No matter how many wins, the Vikings don’t get any love from the general betting public,” Cooley said. “Sharps were on them again (against the Saints), and likely will be here, but the squares aren’t hopping aboard, so these spreads are kept somewhat at bay. Of course, you have to think Minnesota is going to stumble at some point.”

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams (no line)

Philadelphia has been the class of the NFC this season, but its impressive winning streak of nine games SU and eight games ATS finally ended Sunday night. The Eagles (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) went off as 3.5-point road chalk against Seattle and lost outright, 24-10.

Los Angeles is red-hot of late, going 6-1 SU and ATS in its last seven outings. The NFC West-leading Rams (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) doubled up Arizona 32-16 giving 7.5 points on the road Sunday.

With Philly having played in the Sunday nighter, won’t post the line on this game until Monday.

“Depending on how Sunday night plays out, we could make this anywhere from a pick to L.A. a small ‘dog,” Cooley said. “If the latter happens, the Rams feel like a very live ‘dog at home. Despite the two prolific offenses, I expect to see sharp players on the under.”

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5)

Kansas City started the season 5-0 SU and ATS and was 6-2 SU and ATS through eight weeks. The Chiefs (6-6 SU and ATS) haven’t won since then, dumping four in a row to fall into a three-way logjam atop the AFC West with Oakland and San Diego. On Sunday, K.C. blew a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and ultimately lost to the New York Jets 38-31 as a 4-point road fave.

Oakland has also played far below expectations this season, but has won three of its last four (1-2-1 ATS). In Week 13, the Raiders (6-6 SU, 4-7-1 ATS) held off the New York Giants 24-17 giving 10 points at home.

“Early action from the pros has been on Oakland, which prompted a 1-point move. They really don’t like this K.C. squad right now, and it’s obvious why,” Cooley said of sharp Raiders action forcing Bookmaker down to K.C. -3.5. “That said, you know this losing streak is going to end soon, and this is a season-defining type of game for the Chiefs. Expect their best effort here.”

Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.

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