Week 14 round-robin underdog parlay: Steelers vulnerable on Thursday
The Packers' upset of the Chiefs would have been a lot more exciting had the Patriots scored seven points in an NFL football game and if the Broncos' last drive ended in a touchdown instead of an interception last week.
When backing underdogs, we hope these types of 50-50 situations go our way. And when they do, that's how our weekly guilty pleasure has been profitable for the season.
How it works
We parlay five underdogs together - which we also bet against the spread - in 10 different three-team parlays. Using every combination of a three-team parlay is called a round robin, so we'll use a total of 1.1 units to make 11 different bets: 10 three-team parlays and one five-team parlay, each for .1 units. You'll likely double your money if three teams pull off the upset. If four teams win, you're connecting on four separate parlays and will be very pleased with the return. If all five teams win, you'll be diving into a gold doubloon silo like a young Scrooge McDuck.
Who to play
Patriots (+230) over Steelers
If you read our preview of Thursday Night Football, you know there's nothing to be confident about ahead of the Patriots-Steelers, at least for a full-unit bet. However, that uncertainty is a good thing when it comes to underdog moneyline betting. Fewer points should be required to win with such a historically low total, meaning every high-leverage/explosive play or turnover will be much more significant. With wild cards Bailey Zappe and Mitch Trubisky at the helm, each team has roughly the same likelihood of making that game-changing play. Backing the underdog has some value, especially if the risk is less than a full unit.
Jets (+170) over Texans
We may never know why the Jets felt Tim Boyle needed a turn to start at quarterback. But based on his much-publicized stats going back to college, it shouldn't be surprising that Boyle didn't work.
Speaking of high profile, Zach Wilson gets another turn. Luckily, we determined the Jets' estimated market rating was in the mid-to-high 30s on our scale of 100 with Wilson at the helm, so we know how they should be valued relative to an average team.
The Texans are an average team, though their rating has crept above what was thought possible after a 4-1 stretch in games all decided by five points or less. Houston also played four of its last five contests at home since losing to Carolina on the road. Playing to the top of their range will be a challenge for the Texans, especially away from home and with injuries piling up on an offense still generating little on the ground.
If New York plays above the level it's capable of with Boyle and the Texans have a down week, this game should be closer to a pick'em. That makes a bet on the Jets to win worth it at this price.
Rams (+300) over Ravens
The Ravens' game log is littered with contests they probably should have covered but didn't (Browns, Cardinals, Steelers) and likely shouldn't have covered but did (Chargers, Bengals, Titans). The theoretical right side has rarely been the winning side. Even if we could figure out what version of Baltimore we'll see Sunday, that might not equate to a predictable result.
This is a step up in weight class for the Rams in an attempt to extend a three-game winning streak, but that's reflected in the point spread. What if Los Angeles' freshly dominant run game and an underrated defense that allowed 4.6 yards per play in the last three contests (equal to Baltimore) can travel? Missing Mark Andrews might be a big deal for Lamar Jackson, who had just 4.8 yards per pass against the Chargers before the Ravens' bye.
Bears (+150) over Lions
You might be scared away by the Bears' offensive performance against the Vikings before their week off. A more obvious barometer of what they're capable of came a week earlier against these same Lions, who had little answer for Justin Fields' mobility (104 rush yards).
More importantly, if you're trying to predict a sub-standard offensive showing from Jared Goff, outdoors in the cold would be the setting you'd want, especially with how capable Chicago's defense has become since adding Montez Sweat (eighth in YPP).
Broncos (+125) over Chargers
The Broncos let an upset slip through their fingers last week, literally:
With even something close to level turnover luck this week, the Broncos can beat a team they're better than - the Chargers. The Patriots' offense outgained L.A. last week, and the Chargers only won because of their good fortune in high-leverage situations. Denver gets back into playoff contention by putting a much-deserved stake in Los Angeles' heart.
How the odds look this week:
Who are your five underdogs for a football betting lottery ticket?
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.