Every week there is a shocker in the NFL that leaves sports bettors scrambling to process which upsets are a sign of things to come and which teams are likely to rebound. Last week, I played three teams coming off games in which they failed to cover against opponents that did cover the spread in their last game. The betting angle is to take advantage of the recency bias that shapes the lines each week. This approach went 3-2 overall in Week 11 and is 14-5 over the last three weeks. It should never be the driving force of your decision-making but it can help bettors hold themselves accountable against recency bias. All three teams we targeted covered the spread last week based on the closing line, although the Ravens' early line was -6.5 before Lamar Jackson's illness was reported.
Seven games qualified for Week 12, and here are the three that I identified as showing enough value to warrant a wager. The line moved 2.5 points in Carolina's favor since yesterday, so let's bet it today to ensure we get the best number.
Carolina Panthers (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins
I faded Cam Newton last week because I felt the market overvalued his impact on the Panthers' upset in Arizona. That doesn't mean I can't back him when the odds become more reasonable. The Panthers are a better football team with Newton in the lineup. They entered Sunday ranked 29th in EPA/play but graded out 11th best for the week with Newton at the helm. Admittedly, it's one-game sample against a struggling defense but it's still the best version of the Panthers offense we have seen this season.
After losing seven games in a row, Brian Flores' Dolphins have won three straight and have paid bettors out every step of the way. Covering the last three makes them a perfect candidate to play against, especially considering two of their three wins were against the worst teams in football (Houston Texans and New York Jets). I'm happy to get a team in Carolina with a top-three defense against a bottom-tier offense without having to lay many points.
Tennessee Titans (+5.5) at New England Patriots
I have all the respect in the world for Bill Belichick. Furthermore, I am not surprised how quickly he has rebuilt this Patriots roster into a winner. However, we went from pushing them as a potential playoff team to crowning them Super Bowl champs in about 2-3 weeks. The market has never been higher on New England, which creates value on the other side. Tennessee is coming off a massive letdown loss to the Texans and now has to take on the team that nobody wants to play.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel surely has had this one circled as he takes on his previous coach and mentor. The optics don't look great for Ryan Tannehill coming off a four-interception performance and facing a Patriots defense that has allowed 13 total points in their last three games. The Titans' defense has been improving all season and ranks in the top 10 in defensive success rate. Both coaches should have success in making this a physical, low-scoring game — which makes the 5.5 points more valuable. The Titans are 5-0 ATS as an underdog this season and they have historically played up to their competition under Vrabel. Buy low on the Titans.
Seattle Seahawks (+1) at Washington Football Team
The nightmare season in Seattle hit an all-time low this week as the Seahawks lost as 4.5-point favorites to the Colt McCoy-led Cardinals. Russell Wilson was supposed to fix a broken offense, but the Hawks have only mustered up 13 points in two games since his return.
Washington's defense is the perfect matchup for Russ to jumpstart this Seahawks offense. The Football Team has allowed more touchdowns through the air than any team in the NFL, plus they rank 30th in EPA per dropback. The Seahawks have fallen hard but as an underdog against Washington, there is too much value to turn my back on.