NFL Tipsheet Week 14: Broncos can start defining the end of their season at San Fran

Case Keenum
The Denver Broncos are 6-6 and still in with a playoff chance...
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Mike Carlson returns to give his tips throughout this Sunday's games and he hopes this week's best bet is more successful than the last time round.

"Denver are not that good, but they are currently 6-6 and are looking at three very winnable games before a season-defining finale against the Chargers at home."

Every time I think I'm getting really smart regarding wagers, I remind myself to get a reality check. Or more realistically, the NFL reminds me.

My best bet last week I thought was a slick one, the Vikings to score more than ten in the first half against the notoriously slow-starting (this year) Patriots. Well, the Pats started off slow, but the Vikes remained stuck in snail mode for the whole game, losing 24-10, as Bill Belichick used what one commentator called a 'Jedi mind trick' to keep them from giving Dalvin Cook the ball more than nine times (84 yards rushing on those nine carries).

The Chargers beating the Steelers was more predictable, especially when they got one TD off a non-called false start that had half the Pittsburgh team stopped and looking for the flag; a punt return TD where a block in the back went un-called, and a TD where Joe Haden's interception was disrupted by a collision with teammate Sean Davis, and the ball popped up for Keenan Allen to catch. Then there was the Steelers' Xeno's Paradox finish: if you keep taking penalties half the distance to the goal, the other team gains half each time but never actually gets there.

At least the Bucs came through for me. You don't know how awkward and dangerous writing a sentence like that makes me feel.

Back the Broncos at struggling San Fran

Best Bet: Denver (-4 at 21/20) at San Francisco

Denver are not that good, but they are currently 6-6 and are looking at three very winnable games before a season-defining finale against the Chargers at home; a game the Chargers may not even need to win if they've locked into the number 5 seed. So this one should be a huge effort against a Niner team that has lost Matt Breida, their last remaining offensive threat not named George Kittle. This ought to be music to Denver's defensive ears.

Bills play the D

Value Bet: Buffalo (-3.5 at 21/20) vs New York Jets

The Bills are not very good but they can play defence. Josh Allen, for all his limitations, has been able to make a couple of big runs and maybe one big pass each game. The Jest, as I call them, played well (for them) against the Titans last week but tried desperately to give Tennessee the game, which the Titans finally took.

Buffalo fought hard against the Dolphins but two Xavien Howard picks and a couple of big Ryan Tannehill passes beat them. Syndrome Sam Darnold should make his return as the Jest QB this week, which could test the Bills' D more than Josh McCown would, but even so Buffalo ought to be a TD better in this one.

Defending champions to lose out on the division?

Outside Bet: Dallas (-3.5 at 21/20) vs Philadelphia

This could just as easily be the best bet, but with the Eagles having their backs to the playoff wall (a loss would pretty much hand Dallas the division, and Philly has a tough run in to get to a wild card) I think it's a little less likely a win, though if it is a win it's much more likely to beat the spread.

Dallas is playing well on both sides of the ball: changing their O line coach and bringing in Amari Cooper have both worked, while rookie Leighton Vander Esch at linebacker, Byron Jones moved back to corner, and unhearalded ex-Titan Antwaun Woods have been factors in solidifying a suddenly tough D. They won in Philly a few weeks ago and should be tougher to beat at home.

If you want to be more daring, try Under 50 pts at evens on Green Bay v Atlanta.

On paper, this has all the makings of a shootout, but Atlanta are awful on the road, the Pack will be reeling offensively after firing Mike McCarthy, and the weather may conspire to help slow things down. If that seems to risky for you, try Under 45 pts at evens on Minnesota at Seattle, where the King Dome may help slow down the Vikes' offense and the Seahawks' D could have something to say. As well as the Vikes' pass rush, which could force Seattle into some passing mistakes.

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