Mike Tomlin

USA Today Sports

Week 14 of the NFL season kicks off with the Minnesota Vikings hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Both teams are in win-or-go-home mode, as each franchise is clinging onto a potential postseason appearance. The Steelers are coming off a pivotal upset victory over the Baltimore Ravens whereas the Minnesota Vikings were upset by the Detroit Lions. The Vikings are currently three-point favorites despite the absence of star wide receiver Adam Thielen.

Betting on the NFL makes the game more exciting among fans. Monitoring public betting trends is one of the most pivotal tools used by professional handicappers to find the top wagers in the sports betting marketplace. Public betting trends allow you to track which teams the public is chasing and which teams professional gamblers are high on each and every week. Whether you want to tail or fade the public, knowing the public betting trends (bet percentages and money percentages) is pivotal when determining which teams to back. So without further ado, let’s take a look at who the public likes in Week 13’s Thursday Night Football matchup, and where you should place your wagers.

Note: The lines and public betting trends are always changing so be sure to check out FantasySP for the latest odds and trends.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

The playoff race in each conference has become very tight. Nothing is guaranteed aside from a few teams at the top of their respective conferences. After fending off the Ravens in Week 13, the Steelers are ranked eighth in the AFC. They are behind the Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card race.

Ben Roethlisberger has taken a significant step back in his production this season, partially due to the several injuries and ailments he has had to endure. Big Ben is no longer the master of the deep ball and barely slinging it more than 20 yards. The Steelers are 21st in total offense. They have the 14th ranked passing offense and the 28th ranked run offense despite drafting rookie running back Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

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After losing 29-27 to the winless Lions last week, the Vikings are in major need of a victory tonight, especially if Mike Zimmer wants to keep his job as head coach. Let’s not forget that the Steelers didn’t fare much better against the Lions earlier this season when they had countless opportunities to win, but finished the game with the first and only tie of the season.

The Vikings were missing star running back Dalvin Cook, but Alexander Mattison played well in his absence. Once Thielen went down, Kirk Cousins had no choice but to rely pretty much exclusively on All-Pro wideout Justin Jefferson. Jefferson did his job against the Lions, hauling in a season-high 11 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown. Despite the second-year receiver’s phenomenal outing, it just wasn’t enough for the Vikings to escape Ford Field with a victory. Cousins completed 75% of his pass attempts for 340 yards and two touchdowns. It was the Vikings' defense that really let the team down. Minnesota’s secondary was in far too soft of a coverage formation on the last play of the game that allowed Jared Goff to throw an 11-yard strike to rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown for the game-winning score. Minnesota’s defense will have to improve if they have any shot at defeating the Steelers tonight.

The Vikings have played more one-possession games (11) than anyone in the NFL. All but one of their contests this season have been decided by one score. Minnesota is a bit of an enigma this season, almost impossible to predict. Fortunately for the Vikings, it appears Dalvin Cook will at least try to suit up for tonight’s pivotal matchup. Thielen will be out but Cook’s presence opens things up for the entire offense.

However, it’s difficult to back the Vikings when they are the favorites this season, especially when the spread is so minimal. Minnesota is 1-9 as favorites against the spread in their last 10 games while the Steelers are 7-3 as underdogs against the spread over their last 10 games. The public seems to be backing Minnesota, but this is a situation when I would fade the public. A whopping 68% of the money on spread bets is currently backing the Vikings. That’s why the spread has jumped back up to 3.5 points on some sportsbooks.

The only reason Minnesota is being favored is that they are the home team. Typically, Vegas oddsmakers automatically give the home team a 2.8-point advantage. If this game were to be played on neutral grounds, there probably wouldn’t even be a spread, as this would likely be a coin flip. Both the Steelers and Vikings rank similarly in many key categories.

Despite Cook’s potential return to the lineup, it’s hard to envision him being at full strength after the severity of the shoulder injury he suffered back in Week 12. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t what it used to be, but T.J. Watt has been perhaps the best defensive player in the entire NFL this season. Something tells me that he and the rest of the Steelers’ defense will be ready to shut down Minnesota’s run-heavy approach. That will mean that Kirk Cousins will be forced to beat Pittsburgh’s secondary with Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, and tight end Tyler Conklin. Expect Jefferson to be double-teamed with Thielen out of the lineup. The Steelers are going to force the Vikings to beat them with their least reliable playmakers.

All that said, I think the Vikings will continue to play very close games. Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t anything to write home about either. Big Ben is simply a shell of the quarterback he once was and is unable to hit his receivers on the deep ball, which is what Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson are best at. However, the Vikings have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards this season, which means Pittsburgh will likely rely on Najee Harris to move the chains.

In a game that should be a low-scoring affair and come down to the wire, I like the Steelers on the road. They are flying high after knocking off their AFC North division rival from the top spot in the conference while the Vikings are in survival mode after suffering the worst upset of the season last week.

One of the biggest differences between these two teams is the head coaches that run the show. The Vikings lack synergy and rumors of Mike Zimmer’s potential firing can create a very uncomfortable atmosphere in the locker room. Mike Tomlin, however, runs a very tight ship and has the respect of all his players. The Steelers have never had a losing season in Tomlin’s 14-year tenure as Pittsburgh’s head coach. Many teams would have imploded following Pittsburgh’s tie with the Lions, but Tomlin did an excellent job at getting the Steelers back on track.

The Steelers should win this game because they are more effective on defense and are a bit healthier on offense. Minnesota also has a propensity to play down or up to their opponent’s level. The Vikings are a team that follows the pace of their opponent, rather than setting the tempo. Tomlin will get to determine how this game unfolds, and he will make sure that the game script plays to his roster’s strengths. The Steelers will run the ball a lot and use the play-action pass to move the chains. Pittsburgh will also put as much pressure on Kirk Cousins as he can handle. And while the Vikings are very difficult to predict in terms of how well they will play, their play calling is very easy to predict. Tomlin will make sure his defense dials in on Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook (if he indeed suits up).

Last week, Tomlin bested John Harbaugh, and called the Ravens’ two-point attempt at the very end of the game “predictable.” Something tells me he will have no problem taking advantage of the Vikings’ and Zimmer’s predictable nature as well.

Pick: Steelers (+3)

Prediction: 23-21 Steelers

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Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After three consecutive victories, the Golden State Warriors conceded Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. In Game 5, the Warriors will look to close out Luka Doncic and the Mavs in front of the home crowd. As a team, the Warriors were efficient from the field, converting 48.8% of their shots taken. One of the main reasons Golden State lost was a result of poor free-throw shooting. The Warriors missed nine of their 27 free throws on Tuesday night (65.4 FT%). In comparison, the Mavericks were full-throttle in Game 4 facing elimination. Dallas’ Reggie Bullock (18 PTS) and Dorian Finney Smith (23 PTS) combined for 42 points, adding to Luka’s 30.

Ultimately, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 lead in the playoffs, meaning that the Warriors will almost certainly be heading back to the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look at what the best bets are for tonight’s Game 5.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 2:00 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Bet #1: Dallas Mavericks, +6.5 (-110)

We like Dallas to keep it close. Perhaps Dallas has a 10-point lead going into the third quarter which the Warriors could then overtake in the second half. Regardless of the scenario, the Mavericks won against a Warriors team that still put up 109 points in Game 4 on close to 50% shooting from the field. Dallas shot above 50% from the field in Game 4 and took many shots to get there just like they did in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis against the Phoenix Suns. Even Jalen Brunson said in the post-game interview with the guys from Inside the NBA that his team needs to "take it one game at a time (...) like four Game 7s."

While the Warriors are in it to win it tonight, the Mavericks seem to perform best when facing elimination this 2022 postseason. While they might lose tonight, the Mavericks seem to play well under pressure. As a result, take them +7 tonight as the Warriors will have a bigger challenge on their hands than they anticipate.

Bet #2: Over 215.5 Total Points (-110)

In two of the series’ four games, both teams combined for at least 220 points. In Game 2, 243 points were scored while in Game 4, there were 228 points tallied. The Mavericks shoot more when facing elimination. This has been a trend we have seen throughout the postseason. In Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis, the Mavericks scored 123 points while in Game 4 against the Warriors on Tuesday, Dallas scored 119 points. Not much more needs to be said about the Warriors’ high-power offense that will likely outscore Dallas regardless of how many points they get on the board.

NBA Player Props of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Prop #1: Dorian Finney-Smith Over 11.5 Points

Dorian Finney-Smith erupted for 23 points in Game 4 to help the Mavericks rally past the Warriors. Throughout the 2022 playoffs, he’s averaged 11.6 PPG shooting 46.5% from the field. He’s also seeing 38.2 minutes per contest this postseason. Expect Finney-Smith to score at least 12 points tonight after his 23-points in Game 4.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 18.5 Points

Klay Thompson was held to 12 points scored in Game 4. Despite going 5-of-10 from the field, Klay was limited by Dallas on defense in 28 minutes on the floor on Tuesday night. He should definitely be taking more shots tonight and perform better overall being back home for a Game 5. Thompson should easily hit at least 20+ points tonight, and take a handful more shots from the field in this contest than in Tuesday’s.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Tom Pennington, Getty Images

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

Getty Images

Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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