NFL Week 14 teasers: The sour spot
The main idea of teasing a team from a point spread of over a touchdown down to under a field goal is that even the most hotly-contested NFL games are won by three points. The rarity of a one- or two-point game should offset the advantage of capturing the key numbers of -7 and -8.
Then come the Ravens and a first-quarter injury to Lamar Jackson. The Ravens did what they were supposed to do on defense - holding Russell Wilson and the Broncos to just nine points. Whether you had Baltimore against the spread or in a tease, you were planning on them at least flirting with 20 points. Unfortunately, their needs didn't match ours, as they pulled off a forgettable 10-9 game that fell in the dangerous sour spot of just enough for a win but without covering a 6-point tease.
Some games don't have a teaser-worthy point spread. For example, Week 14's Thursday nighter seems like it would be teaser-worthy as the Raiders are six-point favorites, but Las Vegas's moneyline is available anywhere from -260 to -240, which is a better price than the -270 to -275 price a teaser leg goes for these days.
Teasing the Rams to +12 gets the key numbers through a touchdown, but there's value lost in capturing potential winning margins of nine, 11, and a push on 12 since they aren't common enough results.
Let's look at a team that's won 11 of 12 games this season - the Eagles and their trip to MetLife Stadium - to exemplify the value of teasing a favorite down.
As always, the pricing significantly jumps once you move across the key number of -3. In this case, a full dollar shows the importance of capturing that number in NFL betting. More importantly, the Eagles' alternative spread (-1) is priced at -305. That's much higher than getting the team at -1 with a teaser leg at -270 or betting the moneyline at -310.
To get a good deal on the Eagles -1, 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.
Let's look at the mathematically optimal plays available for Week 14:
Options are limited this week.
The Ravens would be roughly field-goal favorites if Jackson were to play, but this line has flipped with the probability of Tyler Huntley getting the start on Sunday. That comes with some uncertainty that doesn't usually support a highly-priced teaser leg. However, Huntley played five games last season, and every game was decided by a field goal or less.
The Vikings have won one fewer game than Philadelphia this season but are 2.5-point underdogs at the Lions. That begs the question about Minnesota: Can you be overrated if no one rates you highly? Moreover, are the Lions in the category of the Eagles and Cowboys, which are the two teams to not only beat Minnesota but do so handily?
Finally, the Cardinals are available to be teased on Monday Night Football, but is finishing your week with the walking variables of Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray something you're really all that interested in?
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.