NFL Week 13 round-robin moneyline parlay: Value analysis with big underdogs
We came close to at least dragging out the sweat last week. The Lions were victims of a last-second field goal around mealtime on Thanksgiving Thursday, and a win there would have made the Browns-Ravens game more interesting four days later. Alas, the RR MLP goes 1-4 for its worst showing of this mega-profitable season.
How it works
We parlay five underdogs together in 10 different three-team parlays. Using every combination of a three-team parlay is called a round robin, so we're going to 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. If three teams pull off the upset like in Week 8, Week 10, and Week 11, you'll likely double your money. If four teams win, as they did in Week 3, you're connecting on four separate parlays and will be very pleased with the return. If all five teams win, as they did in Week 1, then it's back into the pool, swimming in gold doubloons like heirs to the McDuck fortune.
Who to play
Let's start with the best buy-low, sell-high spot of the week. Bettors are back in love with the Bengals and couldn't believe they were able to back them at -2.5 when this opened early in the week.
The number is actually too high. All season, oddmakers have rated the Chargers ahead of the Bengals by more than a negligible margin. Only after the Bengals beat the Raiders and Steelers, while the Chargers beat the Steelers and lost in Denver, now the hierarchy should switch?
Barring a weird sequence that included a punt block and an interception of a helmet, the Chargers were on their way to blowing out Pittsburgh as well. So, a game that should be lined as a pick'em now sees the Chargers paying out at around 3:2. For as much as we try to win all five of these games, this is still an exercise in searching for value each week, and that's what we have here, regardless of the outcome.
Kyler Murray may be back, DeAndre Hopkins could return, and as a result, the line may go up. At which point, even more value will be had on the Bears. In the short term, Andy Dalton gives the Bears a better chance to win. Having the Arizona stars return to a guaranteed chilly and maybe snow-affected game seems like a suboptimal situation for the Cardinals' offense. A low-scoring game gives the Bears a chance for the upset.
Falcons +425, Jaguars +500
Looking at the Rams-Jaguars, the former has now lost three straight games, is missing their most versatile offensive weapon (replacing him with a pedestrian big name), has a quarterback that could use a few weeks off, has no reliable run game, and owns a leaky defense. Why couldn't they lose to anyone? They lost to the 0-13 Jets at home last season.
The Jaguars are better than the 2020 Jets, and right now I'm not sure the Rams - without Robert Woods and Cam Akers, and with Stafford nursing injuries - are any better than they were at this time last season.
It's easier said than done, but if the Jaguars could tighten up lazy routes, slightly inaccurate throws, pre-snap penalties, and limit turnovers, they are capable of moving the football using James Robinson. They can also put up a fight defensively, as they've given up less than the league average yards per play in every game since their bye.
This bet is designed to be a low-investment way to catch lightning in a bottle for a week, not to expect both long shots to hit. If we can get one of these two, we'd be more than happy.
I'm just as surprised the Steelers are here as you are, but their market rating has bottomed out to where they're actually undervalued (for maybe the first time since we cashed with them in Week 1) as 4.5-point home underdogs.
I'm still not sold on the Ravens outside of Lamar Jackson, and there's no reason to believe he's not going to be sloppy with the football.
Like most Steelers games, this hardly comes down to on-the-field metrics and is more about Mike Tomlin's general tendencies with his team. In this case, bringing their best for Baltimore and saving their season with an unexpected win is right in the Pittsburgh playbook.
Here are how the odds look this week:
Who are your five underdogs for a football betting lottery ticket?
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.