NFL Saturday, college basketball and soccer, oh my: Best bets for Jan. 7

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambles during an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Saturday, Jan. 7:

TOP PLAY

The play: NFL 6-point teaser, Chiefs-Raiders OVER 46.5/Titans-Jaguars UNDER 46

The odds/bet: -120

The book: Caesars Sportsbook

Time/TV: Chiefs-Raiders, 4:30 p.m.; Titans-Jaguars, 8:15 p.m. (both ABC/ESPN)

Our take: We think you’re going to see two very different kind of games on Saturday as the NFL opens its final weekend of the regular season.

First, Kansas City visits Las Vegas with something on the line for the Chiefs — we’ll call it a share of the AFC’s top seed, even though the NFL has decided to play a potential Bills-Chiefs AFC championship game at a neutral site in the wake of postponing the Bills-Bengals game Monday night when Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. That makes the Chiefs -3 a potential teaser leg, but the truth is, Kansas City has been sleepwalking for a little while, with escapes against Denver (twice) and Houston included in their four-game winning streak.

What’s more, the Raiders looked sharp offensively under Jarrett Stidham last week against the 49ers, and Josh McDaniels and the Vegas coaching staff will want to show again that their faith in Stidham is justified. This one feels like a shootout, and teasing the total down is a better move than messing with the spread.

The same goes for Titans at Jaguars, with the AFC South title on the line in prime time. Tennessee is as healthy as it has been in months, with the exception of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who’s on injured reserve. But the Jaguars are rolling and are at home, making this spread a tough play.

But the total presents an opportunity. First, games with so much at stake tend to be played more conservatively in general, and the Titans’ return to health is as much about the defensive side of the ball as it is the offense, with defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and linebacker Denico Autry both slated to return. That makes it unlikely Jacksonville will be able to put up anything close to the 36 points the Jaguars had last month in Tennessee (that was also aided by four Titans turnovers).

So we’ll tease both totals to around 46, take the over in the first and the under in the second.

SEC BASKETBALL SHOWDOWN

The play: College basketball, Alabama -5½ over Kentucky

The odds/bet: -115

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: What?! This line is way too low. Kentucky has played five games away from home. They have lost four of them, with the only win coming over Michigan in London. In three of the other four, they’ve lost by double digits, including by 16 points to Gonzaga and by 15 points to Missouri in their only true road games.

Now they face the Crimson Tide, which is unbeaten at home and off to an impressive 2-0 start in the SEC, and you’ve only got to lay 5½? College basketball is a fickle creature, so we’re not making this the top bet of the day, but even the matchup seems to point to Bama: The Tide is No. 11 nationally in 3-point defense, and Kentucky needs the long ball to thrive offensively. And if they go inside to Oscar Tshiebwe, Alabama has an answer in terrific freshmen Brandon Miller, who will get paint points on the other end, and Noah Clowney, a 6-foot-10 defensive stopper.

FA CUP UPSET SPECIAL

The play: English FA Cup, Wolverhampton three-way money line at Liverpool

The odds/bet: +850

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

Our take: This long-shot idea comes courtesy of Bayou Bets team member Gabe Henderson, who follows English soccer closely and noticed a line that might be a bit too high here.

Liverpool is expected to win, obviously, playing at home with one of the most talented rosters in the world and a coach in Jürgen Klopp who has had success in the FA Cup before.

But don’t sleep on Wolves, who have come out of the World Cup break with two wins and a draw in four games (even the loss was a tight 1-0 decision to Man United), a break that coincided with Julen Lopetegui taking over as manager. Lopetegui had a successful stint with Sevilla in his home country of Spain and has Wolves playing his tight defensive style.

It’s worth a flier at 8.5-to-1.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Friday’s best bets

NBA: Nets -4 over Pelicans (WON)

NBA: Timberwolves -4.5 over Clippers (WON)

Friday’s profit/loss: 2-0

Total for the week: 8-2

Total for January: 8-4

Total for 2023: 8-4

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, a $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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