We're back on track with the Teaser of the Week, which moves to 6-4-1 after the Chiefs and Packers managed to cover their teased lines, and we needed the points in both instances with each team failing to cover its normal spread. Not only did we eek out a win there, but our next two potential teaser legs missed (Falcons, Vikings), so hopefully you just stuck with the top of the rankings last week rather than look for a reason not to take the Chiefs or Packers.
There's one clear option to stick at the top of our rankings, and it's a team that should be in every teaser this week: the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and Co. suffered an overtime loss against a good Colts team last week, and now they square off against a Bears team coming off the bye. Despite having two weeks to prepare for this game, it's unlikely the Bears have found a magic elixir for their mediocre offense, and therefore it seems unlikely they'll be able to keep up with the Packers in this matchup.
I've done the legwork of going through all the lines as of Tuesday night and identifying the best teasing opportunities. Below, I've ranked all the sides I think are in play for teasers this week, considering only the standard six-point teasers. You can take the top two options and put them together for my Teaser of the Week, or you can be bold and try and hit a bigger payout.
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Ranking teaser options
1. Packers -2.5 vs. Bears
The Bears followed up an awful performance against a defense that had been historically bad on third downs at the time (Titans) with an offensive dud for the ages, gaining just 149 yards of offense against the Vikings on primetime. The Packers offense has been shut down exactly one time this season (at Buccaneers) and just handled another good defense last week, scoring 31 against the Colts.
It's almost a coin flip between the Giants and our No. 3 team this week, but the loss of Joe Burrow is likely to wreck the rest of the Bengals' season to the point where I don't know how they get up for this game. Needing a road win from the Giants seems like a not-great position to be in, but this team has markedly improved over the last month-plus and should be able to take care of business here.
The Browns are going to beat the Jaguars, right? I shouldn't be worried about the defense losing Denzel Ward and not having Myles Garrett back, is what you're telling me? Baker Mayfield and the passing offense will be able to throw all over the Jaguars if Jacksonville's defense somehow slows down the Cleveland running game, and we're sure about that? We're not scared that Gardner Minshew comes back for this game and goes off? This is probably safe enough to throw in teasers, but as you can see, I'm not 100 percent sold on the Browns.
Couldn't you see the Rams offense struggling in this matchup against a rested 49ers team six days after the offense blew the doors off a much better Bucs team? Something about this matchup stinks to me, and I could see Kyle Shanahan getting his run game going and pulling out all the stops after having two weeks to stew over a three-game losing streak. Despite all that I think this is a good play, but not a great one.
5. Washington +9 at Cowboys
The teaser move isn't as valuable here with the line already sitting on the key number of 3, but I just don't see the Cowboys defense doing a good enough job for Dallas to beat anyone by more than one score. Their defense didn't play particularly well against the Vikings but benefitted from fumbles and penalties on the Minnesota side. The Washington offense looks like it's starting to get going, and I think they have a pretty solid shot of winning this game.
Will Brinson and R.J. White preview Thursday's Thanksgiving slate in the NFL. The duo looks ahead to handicap every game this Thursday including Texans-Lions, Washington-Cowboys and Ravens-Steelers. From picks to props, we take R.J. White's advice to make some extra gravy on Thanksgiving.
The winless Jets have played better in recent weeks offensively, and the defense gets to face a struggling Miami offense with a quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa that hasn't done a ton since taking over the starting job. It's unlikely the Jets are going to go 0-16, and this seems like as just as likely a win as any other if they can find any sliver of success offensively.
It seems crazy I don't trust the Patriots more than this, facing a Cardinals team on a long road trip playing in Gillette Stadium at the end of November. The Patriots seem like an autoplay in teasers this week, before you remember that you've seen the Patriots play defense this year and it hasn't been great. The Patriots probably deserve to be at least at No. 4 this week, but I'm done expecting them to turn into a different team, so I can tease them against one of the better teams in the NFC.
The Seahawks should have no issue beating an Eagles team that has failed to live up to expectations this year arguably more than anyone. But the Eagles have been getting healthier on offense and the Seahawks defense has been a miracle cure for plenty of teams this season. So this potential teaser play sneaks into the bottom of the rankings rather than features near the top.
Lines to avoid teasing
Panthers at Vikings (-4)
I almost threw the Panthers into our rankings this week, but I don't like taking them in a spot where their stock is high and the Vikings' stock is low after a loss as big favorites against the Cowboys. I expect that Panthers defensive performance was more about the Lions' ineptitude than Carolina taking a massive step forward. Plus the Panthers have yet to have a bye this season and could certainly play sluggish here with their week off around the corner.
Teasing the Chargers is probably fine, but there just isn't a ton of value in going from 5.5 to 11.5 -- if the Bills are good enough to beat the Chargers by six, they're probably good enough to beat them by 12. So if you like the Chargers, just take them to cover the 5.5-point spread. I certainly wouldn't tease the Bills down either -- Justin Herbert is definitely talented enough to walk away with a win.
If you think the Ravens' COVID-19 issues aren't going to impact them in this game, there's plenty of value just taking them +5.5. If you think those issues are going to have a big impact on this game, you're probably taking the Steelers to cover anyway. If you want a Thanksgiving teaser, I don't mind taking the Steelers down and playing whichever 'dog you like in the other game up (my suggestion, as you can see above, would be Washington).
This is a bit similar to the last game: If you think Taysom Hill wasn't a fluke last week, you probably like the Saints to cover this number. If you think his performance isn't repeatable against a much tougher defense, it's probably worth just taking the points with the Broncos.
Titans at Colts (-3.5)
This figures to be a one-score game, so I'm not going to argue if you want to tease the Titans. I just think the Colts are a much better team, and a double-digit win isn't off the table for me if their defense shows up to play.
Chiefs (-3.5) at Buccaneers
The value here is on the 'dog, but it's not hard to imagine Patrick Mahomes carving up a Buccaneers defense that couldn't stop Jared Goff. If that happens, it's on Tom Brady to keep up, and the Tom Brady we saw Monday wouldn't have a chance. Not ruling out the Bucs from competing in and even winning this game, but I don't feel comfortable teasing them either.
Raiders (-3) at Falcons
This line has moved three points off the lookahead line from pick 'em, so it seems like we're getting great value with the Falcons. But I'm hesitant to back them after the offense laid an absolute dud last week. I'm also convinced the Raiders are a good team, and good teams routinely beat bad teams by double-digits.
Texans (-3) at Lions
Again, seems to be value on the home 'dog coming off a terrible performance, but in this case teasing them means fading a Texans team that hasn't looked great this season. Still, I'm just not comfortable backing the Lions with all their injuries.