|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|01-20-19||Patriots v. Chiefs UNDER 56.5||Top||37-31||Loss||-110||74 h 56 m||Show|
10* Under Patriots/Chiefs (6:40 ET): Kansas City has some distinct advantages getting this game at home. First off, they don't have to play on Foxboro. New England won all nine of its home games this year and did so while averaging 33.8 PPG. On the road, the Pats' scoring average drops to 21.6 PPG. Three of their five non-division road games produced 10-point efforts (losses to Detroit, Tennessee and Pittsburgh). Kansas City's defense has been maligned much of this year, but they actually perform quite well at home where they give up only 17.4 PPG. With the dropoff in scoring New England sees on the road and the increase in defensive prowess from the Chiefs, the Under is an easy call for me this week. Plus, Kansas City actually averages fewer points per game at home than on the road! (Update: it also looks like they're getting Eric Berry this week!).
Last week of course, the Over in the Patriots' game was my *10* Total of the Year. But that was in Foxboro. Everything that could go right for them in the first half did. They took advantage of a terrible Chargers' defensive gameplan and scored 35 points by halftime. The majority of points they gave up came in "garbage time" w/ the result of the game in little to no doubt. The Chargers gained more than two-thirds of their total yardage in the final quarter and a half when the Patriots were already ahead 38-7. Though often labeled as a "bend but don't break" type outfit (even by me!), we probably should give Belichick's defense more credit. There are multiple instances of games like last week's artificially inflating the number of yards they allow. This unit finished tied for 6th in the league in scoring during the regular season, giving up just 20.3 PPG.
Kansas City's defense was able to wrest some of the headlines away from its record-setting offense w/ a truly dominant performance last week against the Colts. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis offense had been on a real roll going into that game, but the Chiefs limited them to basically nothing in the first half. The Colts' lone TD came w/ just over five minutes remaining in the game (scored on a blocked punt in 1st half). They went three-and-out on three of the first four possessions and had just 12 total yds at the end of the first quarter. I should conclude by talking about the weather for this game as it is expected to be downright frigid. Sometimes that's "much ado about nothing," but this O/U line is high. Given the final score of the regular season meeting between the two (43-40 Pats), that's understandable, but I expect a much different results at Arrowhead where games average "only" 49.6 PPG. 10* Under Patriots/Chiefs
|01-13-19||Chargers v. Patriots OVER 45||Top||28-41||Win||100||117 h 31 m||Show|
10* Over Chargers/Patriots (1:05 ET): Points were not plentiful on Wild Card Weekend and that includes the Chargers' 23-17 win over the Ravens. From the Chargers' perspective, that game probably shouldn't have ended up so close as they were gifted a couple early turnovers and had a couple of long returns from the special teams. Yet three different times they started on the Baltimore side of the field and could only manage field goals. Their defense largely dominated Lamar Jackson early, using a creative scheme, but let the Ravens back in late w/ a couple of long 4Q TD drives. I have every reason to believe we're going to get a much higher scoring game this weekend and the Over on Chargers-Patriots is my top Playoff Total of the Year!
It's a much different QB and offense that Los Angeles will have to defend this week as they face Tom Brady and a Patriots team that averages 32.9 PPG at home. Last week, partly due to being short on linebackers, the Chargers went w/ 7 DB's on all but one snap. This clearly confused Lamar Jackson, who really never got going running the ball, and the Chargers' D-line dominated the game. Such an approach probably won't be used against Brady, nor would it be successful. For starters, New England has had an extra week to prepare. Secondly, this is not the run heavy offense that Baltimore employs. That's not to say the Chargers' defense won't find success in this game. It's just that it will have to come in a different way. Plus, like I said earlier, the Pats are averaging 32.9 PPG here in Foxboro.
I played the Over in New England's final regular season game. It ended up coming up just short due to their opponents (Jets) red zone inefficiencies. Twice the Jets had the ball insider the Patriots' 10-yard line and turned it over on downs. That was the difference in the 38-3 final staying Under the 46.5-point total. The Chargers, despite last week's performance, are far less likely to bog down in the red zone. They average an impressive 6.4 yards per play, a number topped only by the offenses of the Chiefs and Rams. New England's defense may be 7th in scoring (20.3 PPG allowed), but that's a little misleading in the sense that they also rank 21st in yards per game (359.1), so it's a real "bend but don't break" unit. Both offenses are in the top six in the league in scoring here and this total is too low. 10* Over Chargers/Patriots
|12-30-18||Cowboys v. Giants OVER 41.5||Top||36-35||Win||100||96 h 24 m||Show|
8* Over Cowboys/Giants (1:00 ET): There's not a lot on the line in these 1 PM ET kickoffs Sunday, so I'm pretty much confined to looking at totals. In the case of this NFC East rivalry, the Over has cashed five times in a row, a stark contrast to the streak of seven straight Overs before that. Dallas has clinched the NFC East and knows it will be the #4 seed (in all likelihood hosting Seattle in the Wild Card Round) so it will probably choose not to play its starters very long, if at all. The Giants are having another playoff year and without one of their top two offensive weapons (Odell Beckham Jr). But they still have Saquon Barkley and this could very well be the last ever home start Eli Manning makes in a Giants uniform. I think he (Eli) in particularly will look to go out w/ a bang.
With the uncertainly over how much Dallas starters will play, this total is low. But HC Jason Garrett has given no indication that he plans on resting his key players, even QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott or WR Amari Cooper. There is an argument that the team would not want to lose any momentum heading into the playoffs after winning six of their last seven games. Two weeks ago, they were shutout in Indianapolis, but last week bounced back w/ a 27-20 win over Tampa Bay. Elliott, in particular, has said he wants to play. I realize that the Cowboys' defense has played exceptionally well this season, but they've also given up at least 20 points each of the L3 weeks.
Manning is going to want to put on a show here, in case it is his last home game as the starting QB of the Giants. Last week, the G-Men put up 27 points on the same Colts defense that shutout Dallas. I had them as big underdogs and they led outright most of the way before giving up the GW TD in the final minute. The Giants have now scored at least 27 pts in regulation in five of the last seven games, three of those coming w/o OBJ. The defense also allowed over 400 total yards last week. With nothing tangible to gain for either side, don't be surprised to see a more "wide open" game here, certainly more so than what we saw in the Week 2 meeting, which was a 20-13 Cowboys victory. 8* Over Cowboys/Giants
|12-30-18||Jets v. Patriots OVER 45||Top||3-38||Loss||-102||96 h 24 m||Show|
8* Over Jets/Patriots (1:00 ET): New England has something to play for here, namely a 1st round bye in the playoffs. They've already clinched the AFC East for a 10th straight year, but an older team like this one would probably relish the opportunity to have next week off. Fortunately for the Patriots, they're at home this week and hosting the Jets. Just how important would a bye be to the Patriots? Well, they're the league's only unbeaten team at home (7-0) and they average an impressive 32.1 PPG in Foxboro. That number is well up from how much they average on the road (21.6 PPG) where they're only 3-5 SU. The last five meetings w/ the Jets have all resulted in Unders, but I feel New England drags this one Over by themselves if they have to.
The Jets are perceived as a "tough out" for the Patriots, but they've only beaten them once since 2013. That was in Week 16 of the 2015 season, Todd Bowles first year as the HC here. Barring something unforeseen happening, this will be Bowles last game coaching the Jets. The team has lost 11+ games in each of the last three seasons and clearly needs new direction w/ Sam Darnold as the QB. Speaking of Darnold, he actually owns the league's highest QBR the L3 weeks. The Jets have gone Over in four straight games, averaging over 27 PPG. Last week, they lost a 44-38 shootout in overtime against Green Bay. I don't see the Jets simply "rolling over" and giving this game to the Patriots. They should have a decent offensive gameplan.
The Under is 7-1 in the Patriots' last eight games, the one exception being that wild loss in Miami where the Dolphins lateraled their way to victory. One of the Under was against these Jets in a 27-13 victory. But I expect New England to top 30 in this one being that they are at home. Last week saw them finish w/ just 24 points against Buffalo, but that was also with a run-heavy approach in the second half simply designed to kill clock. Plus, say what you will about the Bills, but they actually have a very competent defense. The same cannot be said for the Jets, who give up almost 27 PPG and allowed 540 total yds to Aaron Rodgers last week. 8* Over Jets/Patriots
|12-30-18||Lions v. Packers UNDER 45||Top||31-0||Win||100||96 h 23 m||Show|
|12-24-18||Broncos v. Raiders OVER 43||Top||14-27||Loss||-105||34 h 45 m||Show|
10* Over Broncos/Raiders (8:15 ET): Nothing will be on the line Monday night (X-mas Eve) except pride in the AFC West as these two longstanding rivals meet for the second time in 2018. Neither the Broncos nor Raiders made the playoffs LY and both are already out of contention for this season. For Oakland, they've been out of contention for some time as Jon Gruden's first year back at the helm has not gone well, to say the least. The Silver and Black are 3-11 SU and have become a total rebuilding project, although one now has to wonder exactly WHERE that rebuilding might take place. Tonight could be the final NFL game EVER in Oakland as the team's immediate future is in serious turmoil w/ the city suing the team over its decision to bolt for Las Vegas. Spirits could be high in the stadium Monday night and will have little to do w/ the holidays.
Denver at least improved some this season. They, in fact, were even in serious playoff contention up until two weeks ago. But B2B losses to the 49ers and Browns (were favored in both games) have them at 6-8 SU. This is a team that last month beat the Chargers and Steelers in successive games. So it's no surprise that they're favored again this week, especially considering they beat the Raiders all the way back in Week 2, 20-19. That game saw the Broncos rally back from a 12-point deficit. They did not cover though as 5.5-pt chalk. If you're looking for a storyline from the Denver side going into this game - HC Vance Joseph's future is (and should be) very much in doubt.
The Broncos stumbling each of the L2 wks can probably be tied to the fact they lost a key player on both sides of the ball - WR Emmanuel Sanders and CB Chris Harris, Jr. The defense has remained fine, but the offense has scored a grand total of just 30 pts. The Broncos' last six games have all stayed Under as have their L4 meetings w/ the Raiders. Oakland has the 4th lowest scoring offense in the league. But despite all that you've just read, I believe this MNF total is too low and we're going to see more of a shootout between two teams that have little (but pride) to play for. There have been only three Denver games this year w/ a total of 43 pts or less and the Over is 3-0 (Under is 11-0 in all other games!). The Raiders' defense gives up almost 30 PPG and the Over is 2-0 when the total is 43 pts or lower in their games this season. 10* Over Broncos/Raiders
|12-23-18||Bucs v. Cowboys OVER 48||Top||20-27||Loss||-102||15 h 32 m||Show|
10* Over Bucs/Cowboys (1:00 ET): Before the season started, Tampa Bay is a team whose games I projected to be among the highest scoring in the league this year. I saw plenty of potential with the offense - no matter who the QB was - while the defense looked pretty suspect. For the first half of the season, high scoring is precisely how Bucs games played out. The first five games, and seven of the first eight, went Over the total. It didn't matter if it was Jameis Winston or Fitzmagic at QB. But something has changed over the last month. The offense has kind of gone into the toilet and the L4 games have all stayed Under the total. But the defense remains pretty bad, particularly on the road. This week, they're facing an offense that can absolutely exploit them. Take the Over here.
Now, when I say the Bucs are facing an offense that can exploit them, you wouldn't guess the Cowboys based on their performance LW. For the first time since '03, they were shutout as in 23-0 by the Colts. It was a shocking result for a Dallas team that came into that game riding a 5-game SU and ATS win streak. The offense had been pretty much rolling behind QB Dak Prescott, particularly since WR Amari Cooper came on board. RB Ezekiel Elliott (leads NFL in rush yds) was doing his usual damage as well. But the Colts defense held them scoreless to less than 300 total yards. One thing to consider, however, is that the Indy D plays a lot of zone. The Prescott-Cooper combination had largely been excelling against man to man looks.
Definitely look for the Dallas offense to bounce back this week. Tampa Bay allows a frightening 37.0 PPG on the road this season, which is why they're 1-6 SU in such games. They are also still 28th in YPG allowed. This Bucs' defense plays a lot of man to man as well, so we should see more favorable matchups for Cooper in the Cowboys passing game. While a TB offense that has scored just 26 total pts the L2 wks is going up against a tough Dallas defense, they do get back WR Desean Jackson this week. Note that the Over is 13-3 in the Bucs' last 16 road games and 5-1 in the Cowboys' past six home games. 10* Over Bucs/Cowboys
|12-16-18||Titans v. Giants UNDER 44||Top||17-0||Win||100||87 h 42 m||Show|
10* Under Titans/Giants (1:00 ET): Titans' games have generally been low-scoring this year, but the Over is a perfect 3-0 the L3 weeks. Last Thursday, they beat Jacksonville 30-9. That's a low-scoring game, but the total closed at 36.5, which is very low by 2018 standards. In fact, each of the L3 wks have seen low totals for Titans games. Against the Jets, they came from behind to win 26-22 (total was 43.5) and that was a game where they allowed an early defensive TD. Despite the recent rash of Overs, the Titans neither score nor allow 20 PPG. The total is a bit higher this week & I'm on the Under.
The Giants' offense has also come alive recently. They've scored 30 or more in three of the last four games after only topping that threshold once in their previous 42 games! Having RB Saquon Barkley definitely helps, but so too did facing the horrific Bucs defense as well as a Redskins team that has been absolutely besieged by injuries. Eli Manning is still washed up in my opinion (B2B wks w/ less than 200 pass yds) and it's very likely that Odell Beckham Jr doesn't play against this week. Facing a superior defense in the Titans, I look for the Giants to also have a downturn on offense this week.
Tennessee lost its starting TE and a right tackle last week. This is an offense that averages a scant 16.4 PPG on the road. That's the fourth lowest such average in the league, ahead of only the Bills, Raiders and Cardinals. The only other time this year that the Titans scored 30+, they came back the following week and scored only 10 (on the road). They've topped 17 pts only once in the L5 road games. Meanwhile, the G-men actually average fewer PPG at home than they do on the road. The Under is 9-1 in their last 10 tries off a SU win by 14+ points. The Titans allow only 19.5 PPG. 10* Under Titans/Giants
|12-10-18||Vikings v. Seahawks UNDER 46.5||Top||7-21||Win||100||34 h 11 m||Show|
10* Under Vikings/Seahawks (8:15 ET): These teams have not met since the infamous 10-9 Seattle playoff win in 2016 (Blair Walsh game). It should be a "playoff-like atmosphere" Monday night in the Pacific Northwest with both the Vikings and Seahawks looking to get back to the postseason. Seattle is a hot team right now. They've won three straight to get to 7-5 SU and while winning the division is no longer a possibility (Rams have already clinched), the Wild Card is looking more and more like a distinct possibility. Minnesota is in a slightly more precarious position at 6-5-1 SU. This is the second leg of a pretty brutal set of back to back road games. Last week they were in New England, now they have to go cross-country to one of the more challenging venues in the league.
The Over has hit in each of Seattle's last four games. They scored a ton of points last week, but that was a little misleading as the offense gained just 331 total yards. Believe it or not, they were actually outgained (-119) by the 49ers in the 43-16 win. The key was forcing three turnovers, one of them a late "pick-six." Not saying that the result was likely to be any different, but the Seahawks also scored on a number of "short" drives (had a 20-yd TD drive). As good as Russell Wilson is, Seattle's passing attack isn't exactly lighting it up of late. Four of the last five games have seen them finish w/ 205 or less passing yards. Wilson only attempted 17 passes last week, completing 11. This is an offense that likes to run the ball, which means fewer possessions and a running clock.
There's been some hand-wringing over Seattle's secondary recently as they let a backup QB (Nick Mullens) throw for 400+ yards last week. But despite allowing a high completion percentage, they're not giving up "the big play." Considering the loss of the famed "Legion of Boom," I think this group has performed just fine this season. I think tonight's game is going to be emblematic of what we've seen from the Seattle secondary recently. Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins is completing a career-high 71% of his pass attempts this year, but only at 6.7 yds per attempt. Cousins will get his completions in this game, but they'll do minimal damage. The Vikings offense has been held to an average of 18.0 PPG the L3 wks and has not gone over 24 in any of the L5 games. 10* Under Vikings/Seahawks
|12-09-18||Eagles v. Cowboys UNDER 43.5||Top||23-29||Loss||-110||78 h 43 m||Show|
10* Under Eagles/Cowboys (4:25 ET): These NFC East rivals met four weeks ago w/ the Cowboys winning 27-20 as 7.5-pt road dogs. That result signaled a clear change in the direction of the division. Dallas hasn't lost since (4-0 SU/ATS L4 games) and is now in first place at 7-5 SU. The Eagles seemed dead & buried after taking a humiliating 48-7 loss down in New Orleans (worst loss EVER by a reigning SB champ), but they've now bounced back w/ B2B wins and covers. They're just a game back at 6-6 SU, so there's really no downplaying just how important this game really is. I look for a tight, low-scoring affair and am on the Under.
Philly has seen the Under cash in five of its last six games. The exception was vs. the Cowboys, a game where they both gained and allowed 400+ total yards. The team looks a lot better right now, on both sides of the ball, particularly the offense w/ RB Darren Sproles back and WR Golden Tate in the fold. But this will be just the second "true" road game (excludes London) for the Eagles since October 11th. The other one was against the Saints when they were held to just seven points. This is an offense averaging only 21.5 PPG on the year. They're facing one of the top defenses this week, so don't be surprised if Carson Wentz and company really struggle in this one.
The Dallas defense is legit. They allow only 18.6 PPG and just held the high-powered Saints to only 10 in this building last Thursday. The Saints failed to gain even 200 total yards in that TNF upset. At the same time, the Cowboys hardly have the most explosive offense. They scored only 13 pts vs. New Orleans and have been held below 20 in three of the last six games. On average, Cowboys' games are among the lowest scoring in the entire league, seeing just 39.2 points per contest. Only the Titans and Jaguars (who played Thursday night) are involved in lower scoring games, on average. The Under is 15-6 in Dallas' last 21 games overall. 10* Under Eagles/Cowboys
|12-09-18||Colts v. Texans UNDER 49.5||Top||24-21||Win||100||74 h 19 m||Show|
|12-06-18||Jaguars v. Titans UNDER 37.5||Top||9-30||Loss||-105||25 h 15 m||Show|
10* Under Jaguars/Titans (8:20 ET): These AFC South rivals are similar in that both are capable of playing outstanding defense while at the same time being pretty inept offensively. Even in a 26-22 affair last week, the unheralded Titans' defense played well. The Jets were spotted an early 16-0 lead in that one and while it will be Marcus Mariota and the offense that will get the credit, it was really the defense that deserves most of the credit for that come from behind victory. Note the Jets' only TD came from the defense, off a Mariota INT. From there, the Titans allowed only five FG's (one on a negative yardage drive) and 280 total yds. Of course, Jacksonville was involved in the lowest scoring game of this NFL season last week, a 6-0 win over the Colts.
That was quite the defensive performance from the Jags, who were the first team ever to shutout Andrew Luck. Luck and the Colts offense came in red hot too; 4th in the league in scoring while averaging 34.6 PPG during a five-game win streak. Of course, it almost went for naught as the Cody Kessler "led" offense produced very little - just two field goals and 211 total yds. Kessler threw for only 150 yards in earning his first ever win as a NFL starter. Excluding a kneel down at the end of the 1st half, the Jags' other 10 drives resulted in two field goals, seven punts and a fumble. I wouldn't expect much more this week from Kessler, whose only other starting experience as a pro came w/ a Cleveland team that went 1-15 SU in 2016. This is a Jags offense that has been held to single digits four times this year. Even w/ RB Fournette back, they just aren't capable of much.
One of those times was in a 9-6 loss to Tennessee back in Week 3. Looking back, that loss begat the team's eventual 2018 downfall. Last week was just the second win in the L10 games. Considering what went down in the season's first meeting (w/ Blake Bortles starting instead of Kessler), I don't see a Titans defense that permits just 20.4 PPG, having any difficulty stopping Jacksonville again. At home, the Titans are even stingier, giving up just 18.6 PPG. In terms of offense, we're dealing w/ two of the lowest scoring teams in the league here as Tennessee ranks 28th in PPG (18.4) while Jacksonville is 30th (16.9). Neither offense had more than 250 total yds in the first meeting. 10* Under Jaguars/Titans
|12-02-18||Broncos v. Bengals UNDER 44||Top||24-10||Win||100||74 h 4 m||Show|
10* Under Broncos/Bengals (1:00 ET): Something is going to have to give here as Denver has gone Under in four straight games while Cincinnati has gone Over in its last four. While many are ready to "tout" the Broncos as a "sleeper" playoff team, I though last week's 24-17 upset of Pittsburgh (at home) was highly misleading when you consider they were +4 in turnover margin and also gave up 500+ yards. That latter number is concerning, but instead of facing a Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers offense, this week it will be a Bengals offense quarterbacked by backup Jeff Driskell. That's a much better matchup for a defense that has allowed 22 pts or fewer four of the last five games to begin with ... and the only exception in that five-game stretch was Kansas City!
Cincinnati may have the worst defense in the entire league right now. They have given up the most yards and the most points, so the point seems rather inarguable. Last week, they made rookie QB Baker Mayfield look like a multi-time Pro Bowler in giving up 35 points to the Browns in less than 20 minutes. This Bengals defense has been absolutely shredded over the last month or so, but be aware they've had to face some of the league's top offenses: Kansas City, New Orleans and even Tampa Bay (who is #1 in yards per game). The performance last week was terrible, but note they shut the Browns out for almost the entire second half. Since a Week 1 victory over the Seahawks, the Denver offense has gone over 24 pts in only one game and that was against lowly Arizona.
The Bengals get WR A.J. Green back this week, but any positive that would normally bring is mitigated by the fact QB Andy Dalton is out. Like I said earlier, Denver's defense has allowed 22 pts or less in four of its last five games. The Broncos' offense, which as alluded to above isn't that great to begin with, has been held to 16 pts or less in two of its three early (1 PM ET) Sunday games this year. (The team is 0-3 SU in such games). I look for this to be a surprisingly low-scoring game as the Bengals have a backup QB and the Denver offense has failed to top 325 yards in B2B weeks. 10* Under Broncos/Bengals
|11-25-18||Packers v. Vikings UNDER 48||Top||17-24||Win||100||45 h 7 m||Show|
8* Minnesota (8:20 ET): One of these teams is going to lose in primetime for a second straight week. For the Vikings, it would be a second straight Sunday night loss as they fell in this same spot to the Bears last week. Green Bay lost last Thursday up in Seattle, a game they actually led most of the way. Of course, the teams could always tie here like they did in Week 2. Though the final score was 29-29 at Lambeau back in September, I don't think there was any doubt as to which team was better. Minnesota had a 480-351 edge in total yardage and outgained the Pack 7.2 to 5.0 on a per play basis. Yes, Packers fans will argue that the late roughing the passer call on Clay Matthews was bogus (and it was). But the Vikings missed two field goals in overtime and were the better team that day. They've also been the slightly better team all season.
I really haven't been too impressed with the Packers this season. Their only two wins by more than a field came against the Dolphins and Bills, both at home. The other two wins, over Chicago and San Francisco, both required comebacks of the more improbable variety. They have not won a road game this season, now 0-5 SU and giving up 29.8 PPG. They haven't beaten the Vikings in the last two season, though they were w/o Aaron Rodgers for 1.5 games last year. With three tough road losses occurring over the last four weeks, this is a bad spot for a team that doesn't profile as much better than mediocre.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is now 4-12 SU all-time in primetime games after LW's 25-20 loss in Chicago. But as you know, primetime games usually involve top teams. Minnesota's three losses this year have been to the Rams, Saints and Bears, the top three teams in the NFC, all in primetime. Cousins' poor record in these "big games" figures to be the prevailing narrative heading into this one. But Green Bay simply is not at the level of those aforementioned teams. I think that the Vikings should be favored by more than a field goal here as I view them as the better team. Their defense is stronger at home where it yields only 19.8 PPG. Green Bay's offense averages only 21.6 PPG on the road. 8* Minnesota
|11-25-18||Giants v. Eagles UNDER 47.5||Top||22-25||Win||100||38 h 47 m||Show|
10* Under Giants/Eagles (1:00 ET): The Eagles looked positively inept last week in losing 48-7 to the Saints. Sure, they are really beat up in the secondary right now and while there's never a "good time" to face the Saints, turns out that doing so w/o your 3-5 best players on the backend is not ideal. Still, that's no excuse for Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense to manage only 7 points and less than 300 total yards in a building that's certainly seen the visitor score plenty through the years. My guess is that the Eagles' defense is going to be a lot better this week, at home and not facing the Saints. This defense has consistently been better at home since the start of last season. The home vs. road splits are pretty striking as at home they're allowing only 19.8 PPG as opposed to 26.4 on the road.
The Giants scored 38 points last week and that's about as common as a blue moon. But Big Blue was facing one of the worst defenses in the entire league as Tampa Bay is 28th in yards allowed and 32nd (last) in scoring. To sa, there should be a Giants' decline this week, at least offensively, is putting it mildly. It was actually the second time this year that the G-Men scored 31 or more, but they've also been held to 18 pts or fewer in half of their games plus just 20 in one more. QB Eli Manning is over the hill, so it matters little that he had Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley a his disposal. Before scoring 31 in a losing effort at Carolina last month, this Giants offense had gone 37 consecutive games, almost 2 1/2 seasons, without scoring 30 pts.
These teams already played once, in New Jersey obviously, and the Eagles rolled to a 34-13 victory. They jumped on the Giants early w/ two quick touchdowns on short fields, one off a turnover and the other coming on a long punt return. The secondary issue still remains for Philly as they could be without their top FIVE cornerbacks. But Manning has not thrown for many yards his last two games despite a high completion percentage. If the GIANTS' defense can hold Wentz and company in check, then there's no doubt in my mind that this turns into a low-scoring game. The last six meetings have all found a way to go Over the total, but this is the one that bucks the trend. The Under is 4-1 in Eagles home games this year. 10* Under Giants/Eagles
|11-08-18||Panthers v. Steelers UNDER 52||Top||21-52||Loss||-110||33 h 53 m||Show|
10* Under Panthers/Steelers (8:15 ET): Finally, a good Thursday night game! Carolina has won three in a row and five out of six to get to 6-2 SU on the year. Pittsburgh has won and covered four straight to get to 5-2-1 SU. If you're a regular client of mine, then you might recall I had the Over on Carolina's game last week vs. Tampa Bay. That game went Over (a high total) by the third quarter. But it was also at home where the team is a perfect 5-0 SU and averaging 31.6 points per game. On the road, the Panthers have a losing record (1-2 SU) and are averaging just 20.7 PPG. So I don't expect an offensive repeat from them this week in Pittsburgh where they'll find a Steelers team that has not allowed more than 21 points in any game during its own win streak. Take the Under.
Carolina has one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. They've run the ball 31 or more times in five games. Not surprisingly, two of the three exceptions were losses. The problem w/ such an approach here is that Pittsburgh has not allowed 100 yds rushing since Week 2. They've allowed less than 75 yds rushing in five of the past six games. The result of that is the Steelers now rank 6th in the league at stopping the run. Carolina would face even more problems if it's true C Ryan Kalil can't go. This being a short week obviously makes it less likely than Kalil will play.
The Steelers will also be up against a top 10 rush defense and obviously still don't have Le'Veon Bell. Carolina has allowed 101 yds rushing or less in all but two games. Ben Roethlisberger and company have averaged 31.25 PPG during the four-game win streak, but I would be shocked if they hit that benchmark here. They scored just 23 pts last week, granted against Baltimore, but Carolina scored 36 pts on that same defense the week prior. For the record, Pittsburgh is 17-8 Under when off an ATS win. Note that prior to last week, there had not been a total above 50 points for any Carolina game this season. 10* Under Panthers/Steelers
|11-05-18||Titans v. Cowboys OVER 39.5||Top||28-14||Win||100||13 h 2 m||Show|
10* Over Titans/Cowboys (8:15 ET): We've got a really low total here on MNF, probably one of the lowest for any games this NFL season. Judging by the amount of scoring we've seen league-wide in 2018, I think it's far too risky to bet this game Under. Too much can happen in a game, whether it be a defensive or special teams touchdown. Both Tennessee and Dallas are off their bye weeks, so both offenses have had plenty of time to gameplan here. The "hype" for this game will surround WR Amari Cooper making his Cowboys debut (recently traded from the Raiders). While I don't think Cooper's impact will be substantial, his presence can only help a Dallas receiving corps - that on paper - was among the very worst in the league. Meanwhile, a Titans' offense averaging only 15.1 PPG (30th) has to start improving, right? Take the Over.
Even though Dallas is thought to be pretty deficient through the air, I believe this Tennessee defense can be had. Two weeks ago against the Chargers, the Titans surrendered pass plays of 75 and 55 yards. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, not really thought of as a great downfield thrower, does have seven pass plays of 20+ yards already this season. Cooper will draw attention from the Titans' secondary, potentially opening up chances for the other Cowboys' receivers to make plays. You then, of course, have the Dallas run game w/ Ezekiel Elliott. Though held in check on the ground two weeks ago at Washington, the Cowboys have rushed for an average of 176 YPG in their three home games, at 5.2 yards per carry.
The Titans have had two horrid offensive games this year, but those came against two of the better defenses in the league, Jacksonville and Baltimore. While this team has yet to score more than 20 points in regulation this season, I give them an excellent shot at doing so tonight. They did have nearly 400 total yds against the Chargers in London w/ a 23-14 edge in first downs. My one concern from that game, however, was the defense allowing 7.8 yards per play. With the 30th scoring offense, but 3rd best scoring defense, Titans' games are pretty easily the lowest scoring - on average - in the league at just 33.2 PPG. But I'll call for this one to "sneak" Over as I feel the number is just too low. 10* Over Titans/Cowboys
|11-04-18||Bucs v. Panthers OVER 54.5||Top||28-42||Win||100||15 h 23 m||Show|
10* Over Bucs/Panthers (1:00 ET): Tampa Bay has gone Over in all but one game this year (6-1). Ironically, the one Under was a game (vs. Cleveland) that went the distance in overtime! I can't say that I'm surprised by the Bucs being such a strong Over team. I had their offense improving while also calling for the defense to regress. Thus far, that's exactly what has taken place. The offense has gone from 20.9 PPG (18th) last season to 28.7 (7th) in '18. Meanwhile, the defense has gone from allowing 23.9 PPG (t22nd) to 33.3 (last). While the defensive numbers are obviously terrible, the offense - specifically QB - has been the biggest story in Tampa. The QB carousel is back to Ryan Fitzpatrick after he was benched after Week 4. You'll recall Fitzpatrick was only the starter initially b/c Jameis Winston was suspended. Winston went from suspended to "ineffective," so it's back to Fitzmagic we go.
Carolina just hung 36 on the best defense in the league, Baltimore. Sure they were helped out by some turnovers, but only one offense before them was able to even score more than 24 against the Ravens. In their last three home games, the Panthers have scored 31, 33 and 36 points. All three games went Over. I have to say that I'm surprised by Carolina's success this year as I definitely had them regressing from LY's 11-5 record. But w/ them starting 5-2 this year, I may have to eat my words. Consider that all of last season, they outscored opponents by only 36 points. This year, they're already at a +26 point differential. If there is one thing they should be concerned about though, it's a defense allowing 6.0 yards per play.
The only two offenses that TB has held under 30 pts this season are: Cleveland and Philadelphia w/o Carson Wentz. I see no reason why the Panthers can't hit that benchmark this week. At the same time, I expect the Panthers defense to also give up their fair share of yards and points. They've hardly faced a difficult slate of opposing offenses to this point. Tampa Bay is actually averaging 467.9 YPG overall and is - by far and away - the top passing offense in the league at 376 YPG (58 YPG more than the #2 team). Fitzpatrick, while turnover prone, is no more turnover prone than Winston. You'll recall he started the season w/ B2B 400+ yard, 4 TD games before coming back down to Earth and being benched. But he almost led an improbable comeback LW in Cincinnati, throwing two 4Q touchdowns. I think you can tell which way I'm going here. 10* Over Bucs/Panthers
|10-15-18||49ers v. Packers UNDER 46.5||Top||30-33||Loss||-113||23 h 41 m||Show|
10* Under 49ers/Packers (8:15 ET): Both of these teams certainly played well enough to win last week, but neither did. San Francisco outgained Arizona 447-220, but lost 28-18 thanks to a -5 turnover margin. It was a similar story for Green Bay, who was +257 in total yardage (521-264), but lost to Detroit 31-23 due to a combination of a -3 turnover margin and kicker Mason Crosby going an unconscionable 1 for 5 on field goal attempts. So both teams definitely left plenty of points "on the field." That sounds like a reason to possibly lean Over the next time out, but I don't see either team moving the ball as effectively Monday night. Both defenses surprisingly rank in the top 10 in efficiency. I'm on the Under.
Green Bay is just 2-2-1 SU and the big story for them has been Aaron Rodgers' knee. Now Rodgers' knee didn't really seem to be bothering him last week as the Packers offense didn't punt a single time on their 11 possessions. But the former MVP did fumble twice for just the third time in his 14-year career. Protection has been an issue w/ Rodgers getting sacked 16 times and maybe that can be pinned on the knee injury. Yet another issue has been injuries at the receiver position. Both Geronimo Allen and Randall Cobb are listed as questionable and w/ the bye week looming, one has to wonder if it would be the "right move" to hold them out. The Packers have not scored 30 pts in a game this season and average just 23.0 PPG, 18th overall.
San Francisco (1-4) doesn't want to hear about injuries right now as few teams have been hit harder than them in that department. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been lost for the season, leaving the uninspiring CJ Beathard at the helm. The Niners have done a surprising amount of scoring w/ Beathard starting, but look for that to subside. Eight offensive players missed practice time this week, a group that includes three starting linemen, three receivers a tight end and a running back. So it could be a real "skeleton crew" lining up at Lambeau Field Monday night. I don't look for much from the Niners this week and this simply isn't the same Packers' offense as we've been accustomed to seeing through the years. 10* Under 49ers/Packers
|10-11-18||Eagles v. Giants UNDER 44||Top||34-13||Loss||-105||26 h 27 m||Show|
10* Under Eagles/Giants (8:20 ET): The Super Bowl Champion Eagles appear wounded. They've dropped B2B games and already equaled LY's number of losses w/ three. They're lucky to be in a pretty poor division (NFC East), which includes this week's opponent, the Giants. Philadelphia has yet to play a single NFC East game, so they still very much can control their own destiny. So far, all five games they've played have been decided by six points or less. But the reality is that last week's 23-21 loss to the Vikings (NFC Champ Game rematch) was not as close as the final score indicated. They were down 20-3 early in the second half and more than 200 of their 364 total yards came after that point. They were victimized by an early fumble return for touchdown, so their defense didn't play that poorly.
Going back to last year, the Eagles defense has performed significantly better at home than on the road. They are on the road this week, but the Giants hardly have an offense that can take any kind of advantage. The G-Men actually scored 30+ pts last week, but of course still found a way to lose (to Carolina), this time being a Graham Gano 63-yard FG as time expired. This is a team that did not score 30 or more points in a single game last season ... or the year before that (2016) for that matter. In their previous three losses, the Giants scored only 15, 13 and 18 points. QB Eli Manning is washed up and over the hill, which is why WR Odell Beckham Jr is complaining so much. I'm not sure why the Giants have so much invested in the RB/WR positions when the QB play is so bad.
I think that it's a lock the Giants score fewer points this week. Last week snapped a streak of 37 straight games w/o scoring 30 or more. Both games vs. Philadelphia went Over last year as have each of the last five meetings. But this one should be a more low-scoring affair. Though Carson Wentz has good numbers in his first three starts, he's not making as many big plays. The Eagles' offense also just lost RB Jay Ajayi. The Giants' defense, while not great, should be able to keep them in this game. One area the G-men may have to worry about though is special teams as kicker Aldrick Rosas has not practiced this week. 10* Under Eagles/Giants
|10-08-18||Redskins v. Saints UNDER 52.5||Top||19-43||Loss||-110||21 h 28 m||Show|
10* Under Redskins/Saints (8:20 ET): With the world focused on Drew Brees setting a NFL record, the Over is going to be a popular bet Monday night. But the oddsmakers know this and have set a high O/U mark for the Redskins and Saints. Washington should be well-prepared for this game as they are coming off a bye. They're 2-1 and last time we saw them was Week 3 as as home dog vs. Green Bay. I took them and the points in that one and was rewarded w/ a nice 31-17 outright victory. This is a team whose games have generally been low-scoring as they are averaging only 21.3 PPG while allowing only 14.7. Take the Under.
As per usual, the Saints are scoring a lot of points. They average 34.2 points per game and have scored 40 or more twice. Last week was the first time this season that they had to take their act outdoors and they still scored 33 in a win over the Giants. They've now won three straight since that Week 1 head-scratcher against the Bucs where they gave up 48 points. The defense has faced two bad offenses the last three weeks and allowed just 18 pts to both the Browns and Giants. Washington can score more than those two teams, but I wouldn't look for them to get a whole lot more.
Brees is all but assured to set the NFL record for passing yards in this one as he only need 201 yards to pass Peyton Manning. Will Brees be "pressing" to throw the ball and get the record though? That could be a factor. What the Saints should do is lean on the run as Mark Ingram returns from suspension for this game, joining Alvin Kamara for what is an outstanding backfield tandem. The Saints will "get theirs" on offense here, but remember they were held to just 21 pts in their last home game by the Browns. I don't look for them to hit 30 tonight. As for Washington, with Alex Smith at QB, we know they are going to be a conservative offense and I look for them to try and play "keep away" from Brees and the Saints. 10* Under Redskins/Saints
|10-04-18||Colts v. Patriots UNDER 51.5||Top||24-38||Loss||-115||24 h 57 m||Show|
8* Under Colts/Patriots (8:20 ET): As per usual, the demise of the Patriots was greatly exaggerated. In a rare spot off B2B losses, they absolutely tattooed the unbeaten Dolphins last week, winning 38-7 as a 6.5-pt home favorite. All now seems well in Foxboro where the Pats are playing again this week, Thursday night hosting the 1-3 Colts. Indy made it look interesting LW vs. Houston, but the reality was they were down 28-10 in the second half of that game. Andrew Luck was able to force OT, but it was not to be as HC Frank Reich gambled and came up short on a 4th down call, which then set up the game winning field goal for the Texans. Can you believe the last time the Colts beat the Patriots was 2009? That's unlikely to change here, but the large pointspread had dissuaded me from making a play on a side.
The Colts have ruled out seven players for this game. The most notable among them is WR T.Y. Hilton, leaving Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers as the team's starting receivers. Yikes. The offense did put up plenty of points last week and Luck threw for 437 yards (on 62 attempts!), but don't look for that to happen here. The previous two weeks saw the Colts gain just 281 and 209 total yards. Notable is that both of those were road games, just as this one is. The Under is a perfect 6-0 in the Colts' last six road games, not to mention a perfect 5-0 when they enter in off an ATS loss. Bottom line is that I expect very little from the Colts offense here.
Theoretically, Tom Brady should be able to move the ball at will against this Indy defense. But he may not have Rob Gronkowski to throw the ball to. Gronk is listed as questionable here due to an ankle injury after leaving in the third quarter vs. Miami. He has been absent from practice this week, though the injury is not considered that serious. Julian Edelman is expected back from suspension and a possible Gronk-Edelman pairing would be huge for Brady. Still, this offense is only two weeks removed from a disastrous effort in Detroit (209 total yards) and it won't take many points to win this one. I look for the scoring to slow down late and for the Under to come in. The Under is 4-1 in the Patriots' last five Thursday games. 8* Under Colts/Patriots
|09-30-18||Bengals v. Falcons UNDER 52||Top||37-36||Loss||-110||94 h 33 m||Show|
10* Under Bengals/Falcons (1:00 ET): As I expressed last week, the Bengals have really surprised me with their amount of scoring this year. This is an offense I had projected to suffer a decline in scoring from last year when they ranked dead last in the league in yards per game. Yet, they came out and scored 34 pts each of the first two weeks. They did decline some in Week 3, suffering their first loss of the season, 31-21 at Carolina. Ironically though, they gained more total yards in that game (396) than they did in either of their two wins. A -4 turnover margin is what killed them against the Panthers. Now they get set to face another NFC South team on the road, Atlanta, who has its own issues right now, namely injuries. I'm going to roll again w/ the Under on the Bengals.
Admittedly, Atlanta's defense is facing some major issues right now, all because of injuries. Only three weeks are in the books and already three defensive starters have been lost to injury. Linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal went down in Week 1. Now the team's other starting safety, Ricardo Allen, will be joining them on the sidelines after tearing his Achilles in last week's loss to New Orleans. That game w/ the Saints was a real shootout, not decided until overtime, with the final score being 43-37. That has played a significant role in this week's total being so high. I realize there's a risk involved taking the Falcons Under w/ so many injuries on the defensive side of the ball. I took them Over two weeks ago hosting Carolina and that was a winner. But the number was also much lower.
Want some perspective on just how high this total is for a Bengals game? Since 2010, the team has played only ONE game w/ a total north of 50 pts. That was Week 11 of the 2014 season at New Orleans and the game easily stayed Under as it was a 27-10 final (in favor of the Saints). The Bengals have a significant injury of their own that they are monitoring, that being the groin of WR AJ Green. If Green (who did not finish the Carolina game) is out, then that severely limits the Bengals' ability to exploit the Falcons' wounded secondary. Speaking of offensive injuries, Falcons' RB Devonta Freeman's status also remains unclear. I just look at this total as being too high, despite what we've seen from the respective offenses thus far. 10* Under Bengals/Falcons
|09-23-18||Bengals v. Panthers UNDER 44.5||Top||21-31||Loss||-110||98 h 39 m||Show|
10* Under Bengals/Panthers (1:00 ET): Cincinnati has opened the season w/ a pair of wins, scoring a surprising 34 points in both games. I call that number "surprising" because not only is it a lot points - even by modern NFL standards - but this was an offense I thought was set to decline in 2018. That sounds surprising given that they averaged only 18.1 pts per contest, but they were also dead last in total yds. This week, they head to Carolina to face a Panthers' team whose offense I am also quite skeptical of this season. Last year, they averaged a decent 22.7 PPG (12th most), but were slightly below average in terms of total yards (19th). Personnel losses will take their toll here as well. The Panthers' defense wasn't very good last week, but not facing the Falcons in Atlanta again will help. Take the Under.
Cincinnati being one of six teams to average 30 or more points per game through the first two weeks is impressive, but it also has a lot to do w/ who they've played. Indianapolis was their Week 1 opponent and has a horrendous defense, one that allowed the Bengals to gain 6.6 yards per play. Last Thursday vs. Baltimore, the Ravens' offense did a great job setting Cincy's offense up on two short fields (turnovers), which led to 10 points. The Bengals also got a non-offensive TD in the opener. It's not like their yards per game average is anything special; it's only 351. They will enter this game w/o their starting center (Billy Price) and running back (Joe Mixon), which is a problem when you consider this offensive line is already 2nd in sacks allowed and 17th in rushing yards.
Carolina's defense had an "off-week" against Atlanta in the dome. The Falcons usually aren't very good in the red zone, yet converted all four opportunities into TD's. I had the Over in that game and cashed. This week is a much different story. I look for Ron Rivera's defense to be more reminiscent of what we saw in Wk 1 vs. the Cowboys when they produced six sacks and allowed only 8 points and 232 total yds. But on offense, Cam Newton is w/o his favorite target (Greg Olsen) for the rest of the season. Right now, a RB (Christian McCaffery) is the team's leading receiver. Newton is its leading rusher. That's not what you want to see, even as early as Week 3. Look for an ugly slugfest on Sunday. 10* Under Bengals/Panthers
|09-16-18||Giants v. Cowboys OVER 42||Top||13-20||Loss||-115||122 h 54 m||Show|
8* Over Giants/Cowboys (8:20 ET): Two NFC East teams that thought they'd improved for 2018 each got a cold dose of reality in Week 1. The Giants lost at home, 20-15 to Jacksonville, while Dallas lost at Carolina, 16-8. With a couple of low-scoring affairs like that, it's no wonder that we find the O/U line so low Sunday night. Also, Dallas is now 9-1 Under its last 10 regular season games and 4-0 Under against the Giants the last two years. But, I believe the number is too low here. I look for a "surprise" Over here in Week 2 as both teams are desperate to avoid an 0-2 hole.
If you combined the personnel of these two offenses, certainly it would be a desirable end result. The running game would be unreal w/ Ezekiel Elliot and rookie Saquon Barkely. Dallas has one of the top offensive lines in the league. The Giants have a great receiving corps. Dallas has the edge at QB w/ the youthful Dak Prescott over the aging Eli Manning. But both teams are "stuck" with what they've got. Dallas couldn't run for much (just 94 yards) against the Carolina defense, but should find easier sledding here against the Giants, who allowed 137 yds rushing LW to Jacksonville. It would help if their offensive line can get healthier and more productive. I don't think asking for three touchdowns is too much here.
The Giants offense didn't look much better under Pat Shurmur than it did Ben McAdoo. But it too should start to improve. Eli Manning simply has too many weapons around him. You can argue that Barkley was drafted too high given his position, but he still gives the G-Men a running threat they didn't have last season. His presence was felt last week w/ a 68-yard TD run. The receiving corps was decimated by injury a year ago, but now has Odell Beckham Jr and Sterling Shepard back, among others. Beckham had 11 catches for 111 yards last week and remember that was against a Jaguars' pass defense that was the best in the league last season. The Cowboys secondary is nowhere close to as strong. This should be a very different type game for both teams after Week 1 slugfests. Look for more big plays and lots more scoring. 8* Over Giants/Cowboys
|09-16-18||Panthers v. Falcons OVER 44.5||Top||24-31||Win||100||115 h 44 m||Show|
10* Over Panthers/Falcons (1:00 ET): These two teams combined for just 28 total pts in Week 1. Carolina beat Dallas 16-8 while Atlanta lost 18-12 to Philadelphia. With more time to prepare (played Thursday) and at home, I expect the Falcons' offense to resume its high-flying ways that we're accustomed to seeing. This will force the Panthers into a shootout and thus I see this Week 2 matchup exceeding the O/U line by quite a bit. I was a little surprised to find that the Under was 2-0 in this NFC South rivalry last season. I was even more surprised to find that it's cashed 9 of the previous 10 meetings and that Atlanta is on a streak of eight straight Unders dating back to last year's regular season. They averaged just 22.5 PPG at home LY, which seems like a number they'll improve on this year. Take the Over.
Another reason I believe this Falcons' offense is set to improve this year is that they still ranked eighth in total yards. Red zone inefficiency really bogged them down in 2017, which could be attributed to the change at OC from Kyle Shanahan to Steve Sarkisian. That inefficiency again reared its ugly head LW in Philly, but I believe it's something that will be overcome. There were three drives where the Falcons got inside the Eagles' 5-yard line and they only came away w/ three points. Having to settle for a 21-yard field goal was disappointing, but not as bad as Matt Ryan throwing an interception or the final drive ending w/ an incompletion in the end zone. There are too many weapons on this offense for them not to score more. I suspect we'll see some big plays this week.
Now the Falcons' defense is a different story. It took a significant hit w/ the loss of safety Keanu Neal (torn ACL) and LB Deion Jones (foot). Neal is obviously done for the year and Jones is being held out of practice this week. Carolina does not have the most dynamic offense, especially now with TE Greg Olsen out, but Cam Newton is a better QB than Nick Foles. The Falcons' D got a bit of a break facing an Eagles offense that was out of sync and riddled w/ injuries. Of course, the same could be said for Carolina's defense, which faced a one-dimensional Dallas offense that might have the worst passing attack in the entire league. Ryan will test them far more than Dak Prescott did. I look for a relatively high-scoring NFC South affair here as the Panthers are 9-2 Over following a game where they allowed fewer than 250 total yds. 10* Over Panthers/Falcons
|09-09-18||Chiefs v. Chargers OVER 48||Top||38-28||Win||100||121 h 5 m||Show|
10* Over Chiefs/Chargers (4:05 ET): The AFC West is wide open this year. It's a division that's largely been dominated by Kansas City since Andy Reid's arrival, the last two years in particular. Over the last two seasons, the Chiefs are 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS vs. the rest of the division. But they have zero playoff wins to show for it. In fact, the Chiefs still have just ONE playoff win since Joe Montana retired a quarter century ago. That was three years ago against a Houston team that was quarterbacked by Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden. No longer content with going 12-4 and being "one and done" in the playoffs, the Chiefs have made a major move at QB this season, jettisoning Alex Smith in favor of last year's #1 draft choice Patrick Mahomes.
With the AFC West more wide open this year, the Chargers seem to have stepped into the favorite role. This was a very good team last year. They actually had a better point differential than Kansas City. But the same old issues plagued the Lightning Bolts, namely an inability to win close games. They dug themselves a huge hole last year, starting the Anthony Lynn era 0-4 w/ three of the losses coming by three points or fewer. From that point on, they went 9-3 SU (w/ one of the losses in OT), but it was "too little, too late." There's no doubt in my mind that this was one of the six best teams in the AFC last year (certainly better than Buffalo), they just didn't get a chance to show it. While there were two significant injuries sustained during camp - TE Hunter Henry and DB Justin Verrett - I believe this team has the tools to win the AFC West this year.
Looking at last year's numbers, the Chargers were one of the top Under teams. The Under went 12-4 in their games as they allowed just 17.0 PPG, one of the lowest figures in the league (3rd). But they were actually 15th in yards allowed, so I expect some regression in the points allowed category this year. The same thing is true for the Chiefs, although it could be a bigger problem. While they ranked 15th in scoring defense, they were 28th in yards allowed. The difference here could end up being the fact that a Chargers offense that was 13th in scoring last year was also 4th in total yards. I'd "hold onto my hat" for this one as we should see plenty of scoring with the gunslingers Rivers and Mahomes leading the two offenses. Also Mahomes is likely to turn the ball over more times than his predecessor Smith, so don't rule out a defensive touchdown for Los Angeles here. 10* Over Chiefs/Chargers
|02-04-18||Eagles v. Patriots UNDER 48.5||Top||41-33||Loss||-109||194 h 15 m||Show|
10* Under Eagles/Patriots (6:30 ET): So, against the odds, the Eagles did make it to the Super Bowl. That sounds like an odd statement for a team that had home field advantage, but this isn't your typical #1 seed as they were a dog in both games. That's due to Nick Foles now starting at QB rather than MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Turns out that the "downgrade" from Wentz to Foles was severely overrated, if it even exists at all. As I've said before and will repeat again here, the strength of this Philly team has always been on the defensive side of the ball. It's now been four games in a row that this defense has allowed 10 pts or fewer (33 pts total). That will serve them well in this Super Bowl matchup w/ the favored Patriots. I know I've had success taking the Eagles twice so far, but I'll back away here and instead play the total, which I believe stays Under.
New England's defense is very interesting to evaluate. In terms of points allowed, they were 5th in the league, giving up only 18.5 per game. That's right behind the Eagles (4th), who allowed 18.4. But there's a giant gap between the two defenses in terms of yardage allowed. While Philly was also 4th in that department, New England was 29th. That bend but don't break mentality typically lends itself to regression, however, there is no denying that Matt Patricia's defense has gotten better as the season has gone along. Getting back to the number of points allowed, they've given up 20 pts or less in 12 of the past 16 games. They allowed only 267 yds total in the Divisional Rd win over Tennessee. Jacksonville outgained them (slightly) in the AFC Champ Game, but it was just six points in the 2H. Four of the seven drives after halftime were five plays or less and resulted in punts.
The O/U line exceeds the total number of points per game both teams see scored in their respective games this year. The respective point differentials are actually virtually identical. Philly is #1 in the league, outscoring its opponents 28.3 to 17.3 per game. New England was #2 at 28.7 - 18.3. Though I have been downplaying Foles replacing Wentz at QB, it is a downgrade and I do have concerns over a backup QB on this stage. All but one of Foles starts have come at home. There is just no way the Eagles offense will perform as well here as they did in the NFC Title Game. Remember that one TD came from the defense. Also, remember that two weeks ago they were held to only 15 pts. As for the New England offense, will they have TE Rob Gronkowski (concussion)? Even if so, he is unlikely to be 100 percent. They only gained 344 yards against Jacksonville, includig 46 yds rushing against what is not a good run defense. The Eagles have a much better run defense than the Jags and given the status of Gronk, the Pats' passing game will be hampered. 10* Under Eagles/Patriots
|01-07-18||Panthers v. Saints UNDER 48||Top||26-31||Loss||-110||53 h 8 m||Show|
8* Under Panthers/Saints (4:25 ET): New Orleans went under a sort of radical transformation in 2017, all of a sudden developing a defense and running game to compliment Drew Brees. Actually, that statement somewhat underscores the transformation. The defense and running game became the identity of the team, supplanting Brees and the passing game. Led by rookie Alvin Kamara and a revitalized Mark Ingram (both made Pro Bowl), the Saints were #1 in the league in yards per carry at 4.7. The defense allowed just 20.4 PPG, same as the more heralded Carolina unit. Brees attempted 137 fewer passes than last season. This is a much different Saints team than the last time they made the playoffs (2014).
Carolina may have allowed the same number of points per game as New Orleans, but they allowed significantly fewer yards (7th best overall) and held opponents to 32 YPG below season averages (4th best). They were #3 against the run (88.1 YPG allowed), but the Saints had their way w/ them in the two regular season matchups, going for 149 and 148 yards, both wins. But while the Panthers also allowed 30+ points in both games, they allowed only one other 30+ pt game (Patriots) all season. How impressive were the Saints' two rushing performances against the Panthers in the regular season? In 13 of their other 14 games, Carolina did not allow more than 109 rushing yards. They allowed 85 yds or less 10 times.
Carolina's offense averaged only 22.7 points per game and ranked only 19th in yards per game. They scored only 10 points in the regular season finale at Atlanta. In two games vs. New Orleans, they scored 21 and 13 points. So if the Panthers are to win on Wild Card weekend, it will likely be on the back of the defense. Speaking of defense, the Saints allowed fewer than 20 pts in over half of their regular season games. While I realize these teams have posted the highest combined scoring average of any division rivals the past few seasons, those were different-type teams, especially on the Saints side. Two years ago, the Panthers were the top scoring offense in the league en route to a Super Bowl appearance. That's certainly not the case anymore. In three indoor games this year, Carolina averaged only 19.3 points per game. 8* Under Panthers/Saints
|01-06-18||Falcons v. Rams UNDER 48.5||Top||26-13||Win||100||101 h 46 m||Show|
10* Under Falcons/Rams (8:00 ET): The Wild Card round in the NFC half of the draw seems far more compelling than its AFC counterpart. Here, he we have the defending NFC Champs (who blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, you may have heard) against this year's big upstart. Atlanta led the league in yards per play (6.7) as well as most other key offensive categories last season, but while still effective on that side of the ball, dropped across the board this season. Thus, a team that was 16-2-1 Over last year went 11-5 Under this regular season. The Under has cashed in their last five games. Therefore, something is going to have to give Saturday night in LA as the Rams head into the playoffs on a five-game Over run!
The Rams replaced the Falcons as the league's highest scoring team this year, scoring 125 more points over the course of the 16-game season. Their PPG average would have been even better had they not elected to rest starters LW vs. San Francisco (had NFC West wrapped up). Admittedly, even the most optimistic Rams fan did not see this season coming. The transformation of QB Jared Goff from year one to two was borderline miraculous and 1st year HC Sean McVay deserves a ton of credit. A resurgent Todd Gurley helps too. But I'm counting on a rusty Rams offense here due to a combination of the regulars not playing last week and the playoff stage being new to them. Let us not forget a game against Minnesota earlier this year when this group was held to just 7 pts (scored on opening drive).
Dan Quinn, now in his third year as Falcons' HC, was ironically brought into repair the defense. Last year's team (as mentioned above) was carried by Matt Ryan and the offense, but any 2017 decline was somewhat offset by an excellent defense that allowed only 19.7 points per game. No opponent scored more than 23 against them in the L6 weeks and only one (Seattle) did so over the L11 weeks! Of course, the Rams have an impressive D too, coordinated by one of the best ever, Wade Phillips. Coming into the year, that side of the ball was thought to be the strength of the team and rather quietly they allowed only 20.6 PPG. They are also 4th in sacks w/ 48. I believe they can handle an Atlanta offense whose production almost always declines outdoors. The Falcons haven't scored 30 pts in any of the L5 games. I doubt they would here. Finally, let's not discount the impact of the Rams not having ace kicker Greg Zuerlein. 10* Under Falcons/Rams
|12-31-17||49ers v. Rams UNDER 45.5||Top||34-13||Loss||-110||116 h 58 m||Show|
8* Under 49ers/Rams (4:25 ET): Is Jimmy Garappolo the greatest player in NFL history? In all seriousness, the Niners QB has never lost a NFL start (now 6-0) and has made San Fran look like a completely different team since coming over from New England. They were 1-10 SU when he took over and now they're 5-10 SU following wins over Chicago, Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville (if only the 49ers played in the AFC South!). Two of those wins were very close (as in decided by 2 pts or less), but LW saw "Jimmy G" and company hang 44 pts on what was the #1 scoring defense in the NFL (Jaguars). That combined w/ the fact that the Rams are the #1 scoring offense in the league might lead you to believe Over is the correct call here. But this is Week 17 and no normal game. Take the Under.
Even though their seeding is not set (could be #3 or #4 in NFC), the Rams have decided that winning the NFC West is enough as they're guaranteed to host a Wild Card game next weekend, regardless of what happens here. 1st year HC Sean McVay (should be Coach of the Year) is resting starters, most notably QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley, WR Cooper Kupp, not to mention the possibilty of two offensive lineman as well. So the offense that will take the field Sunday, led by backup QB Sean Mannion, will be MUCH different than the one that has averaged 30.9 PPG this year. Then there's the kicking game where Greg Zuerlein is injured and we saw the adverse effect that had last week vs. Tennessee (replacement Sam Ficken missed an XP and short FG).
While the 49ers did score 44 pts LW, one of their touchdowns came from the defense and two others were set up on a short field after Jacksonville turnovers. The Niners were actually outgained in the contest. This being the season's second matchup between the teams, typically we see an Under in this situation. The first game, which might as well have been played last season as it was all the way back in Week 3, was a wild 41-39 Thursday night affair. I expect nothing of the sort here w/ the Rams playing backups. In Garoppolo's first three starts, the Niners failed to break 26 points. 8* Under 49ers/Rams
|12-25-17||Steelers v. Texans OVER 45.5||Top||34-6||Loss||-110||53 h 35 m||Show|
10* Over Steelers/Texans (4:30 ET): Even w/ an extra day to prepare, this is not a great situation for the Steelers, who are having to hit the road after losing an emotional game (at home) last week to the Patriots and they no longer have WR Antonio Brown (out for the rest of the reg season). The loss, which has brought about debate ad nauseum over how how the late game execution was handled, probably will cost the Black & Gold home field advantage in the AFC playoff draw (they now need New England to lose again). Though, it is is likely they'll still be the #2 seed and get a bye. Fortunately though, this week's opponent is exponentially weaker, especially now that they are on their THIRD QB of the season. I wouldn't want to lay the points, but Pittsburgh should certainly score enough here to help the game go Over the total.
As you (likely) now know, Ben Roethlisberger threw an INT in the end zone in the closing seconds of last week's 27-24 loss to the Patriots. If there was ever time to call up the "dreaded" fate route, it was there. At worst, the pass goes incomplete, you can still kick the game-tying field goal and then try your luck in overtime. But considering the Steelers were already 7-1 SU in games decided by seven points or less this season, maybe they were due for some "comeuppance." While no Steelers' road game has gone Over this season (0-6-1), this talented offense has certainly begun to "rediscover itself" w/ averages of 28.7 points and 444 yards per game over the L3 weeks.
While I certainly expect the Pittsburgh offense to "get theirs" at the expense of an injury-riddled defense, the Texans offense will be required to do SOMETHING here to help this one go Over the total. Certainly, there's only one way to go (and that's up!) after four straight games of 16 pts or fewer. Last week, they gained just 186 yards total, but that game (vs. Jacksonville) still went Over as it was a 45-7 loss. QB TJ Yates obviously isn't great, but he's probably playing for a roster spot at this point. Plus, he has one of the top WR's in the game to throw to in DeAndre Hopkins. But the really good news is that the Texans' scoring average jumps up to 27.4 PPG at home. Four of the Steelers' last five games would have gone Over this total. Houston home games average roughly 51 PPG. 10* Over Steelers/Texans
|12-23-17||Colts v. Ravens UNDER 41.5||Top||16-23||Win||100||101 h 44 m||Show|
8* Under Colts/Ravens (4:30 ET): Coming in at 8-6 SU w/ two weeks to go in the regular season, Baltimore has to be feeling pretty good right now about its chances of returning to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. They finish w/ two bad teams, these Colts and the Bengals (who are playing for a lame duck coach), and both games are at home. History suggests that the Ravens will NOT lose this game as they are 25-0 straight up in franchise history as a double digit favorite! But they're only 13-12 ATS in those same games and the price is especially high here. They may very well cover, but the Under is a better looking play to me w/ the key being I don't expect Indianapolis to score very many points here.
The Colts should already be thinking about next year. Andrew Luck not playing at all doomed them from the start here in 2017 and there's a good chance HC Chuck Pagano might be relieved of his duties at season's end. While the Colts have managed three wins, they are probably the second worst team in all of football (ahead of the Browns, obviously) as those wins came at the expense of Cleveland, San Francisco (pre-Jimmy G) and Houston (post-DeShaun Watson). The last six games have all stayed Under for them w/ the offense never topping 20 points. In the last five games, all losses, they have not broken 17 points. In the last three, they've averaged a measley 10.0 points and 248 yards per game. Four of the last five weeks, they have not even gained 300 total yards. So, yes, this is a very bad team and QB Jacoby Brissett (who looks lost at times) knowns he's just "keeping the seat warm" for Luck's impending return next season. Brissett has thrown only 11 TD passes this year and has been sacked 49 times. He figures to fare poorly against this Ravens defense, which leads the league in turnover margin (+17).
The Ravens may have scored 23+ points in every game since the bye and appear to be peaking at the right time. But, through the years, they've had some strange struggles w/ the Colts. They've beaten them just twice since 2002 and are just 1-9 ATS the L10 head to head matchups. But this is obviously one of the worst editions of Colts football they will have faced during that time (31st in total offense) and simply put, I expect the Ravens' defense to dominate this game. They lead the league in sacks, so Brissett is in major trouble, plus they've allowed an average of just 16.4 PPG at home in December under HC Harbaugh. There's also the strange trend that has seen these teams go Under in six straight and 10 of the last 11 matchups! Baltimore's scoring has been aided by multiple defensive scores the last five games (had another last week) and while that's a real possibility again here, I just don't see Indy scoring very much. For the year, the Ravens are still only gaining 303.6 YPG. 8* Under Colts/Ravens
|12-17-17||Rams v. Seahawks OVER 47.5||Top||42-7||Win||100||96 h 8 m||Show|
8* Over Rams/Seahawks (4:05 ET): When we think of these teams, we think "defense," but that may be a misnomer as the Rams' offense has put up the second most points in the NFL, topped by only the Eagles team that beat them last week (in fact, the number of points the Rams lost by - 8 - represents the total difference in pts scored between the two teams). Fantasy players know that Russell Wilson - not Carson Wentz - is the top QB this season. Seattle is also off a loss, and a high-scoring at that, as they fell 30-24 in Jacksonville. This is somewhat of a tough spot for the Seahawks as they flew all the way across the country last week and back. Both teams are down key defensive personnel. So I'm on the Over here.
Usually, in the second matchup of the year between division foes, I lean towards the Under. There's a familiarity present that typically - but not always - leads to less points being scored. But I don't think that will be the story here. First off, the 1st meeting (in LA) was only a 16-10 final in favor of Seattle. It was a fairly fortunate win for the Seahawks as they were outgained 375-241, but forced five turnovers. It was a very frustrating result from the Rams' offense's perspective. There were four different drives they moved the ball inside the Seattle 25-yard line, only to come away w/ no points. The Seahawks' defense that QB Jared Goff and company will go up against here is much different and not for the better. Already two different "Legion of Boom" members (Sherman, Chancellor) are out and now linebackers Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright may join them on the sidelines. Wagner in particular would be a massive loss.
The Rams' strength on the defensive side of the ball comes against the pass rather than the run. That's good for them b/c Seattle struggles to run and almost entirely relies on Wilson's playmaking. But they get a break in that the Rams are also down a top DB, Kayvon Webster, and already to struggle defend tight ends. That could mean trouble w/ the Russell Wilson-Jimmy Graham combo. With the Rams' offense ranking #2 in points scored league-wide and having scored 67 pts the L2 wks, they should certainly hold up their "end of the bargain" here, especially w/ the Seahawks having allowed 400+ yds in B2B games. As for Seattle, they average 28.0 PPG at home. 8* Over Rams/Seahawks
|12-14-17||Broncos v. Colts UNDER 40.5||Top||25-13||Win||100||32 h 59 m||Show|
10* Under Broncos/Colts (8:25 ET): Thursday Night Football should probably be done away w/ entirely, for a number of reasons, the least of which is matchups such as this one. It's fair to label both the Broncos and Colts among the very worst teams in the league, particularly Indy. Denver at least won last week, though that snapped an eight-game SU and ATS losing skid where the team rarely led, let alone was "in the money" (i.e. covering). However, they did dominate the Jets last week (from start to finish) in a 23-0 shutout. The defense is still good here (top 10) and deserves ALL of the credit for the fact the team is still actually outgaining its opponents over the course of this season. But the offense remains putrid, something that is not exclusive in this matchup. Take the Under here.
Denver still only averages 17.6 points per game as they've cycled through three different starting QB's this season, none of whom appear to be viable options at this level. Trevor Siemian has been the most consistent of the bunch, but that's not saying much. Even in victory last week, the Broncos still only gained 273 total yds of offense and you'd have to go all the way back to Week 1 (when they scored 24 pts) to find the last time they topped last week's 23. Incredibly, the Colts are even more inept offensively as they average only 16.3 PPG, though they were not in a good situation last week playing in the snow at Buffalo (lost 13-7 in OT). They actually did gain 163 yards rushing, but that was on 46 attempts and even though this game is indoors, they won't be gaining as many yds over land this week as the Denver defense is tied for #3 in the league at stopping the run (allowing 89.5 YPG).
With one team shutting out its opponent last week and the other playing in a blizzard, I shouldn't have to tell you that both teams are coming off an Under here. In fact, Indianapolis' last five games have all stayed Under the total. Earlier, I mentioned how the Broncos have not topped 24 points in a game this season. The Colts did twice, but those games came against Cleveland and San Francisco (both winless at the time) early in the year. Having been held to 20 pts or less in five straight games and facing what is still a Top 10 defense, I don't expect much from Jacoby Brissett and company Thursday night. Denver, meanwhile, averages a putrid 13.5 PPG on the road. Fortunately, there is that defense, which allowed just 100 yards TOTAL last week! The week before (vs. Miami) saw the two teams' defenses account for 18 pts of scoring. That won't be happening again. Oddsmakers can't make this O/U low enough, in my estimation. 10* Under Broncos/Colts
|12-11-17||Patriots v. Dolphins OVER 47||Top||20-27||Push||0||35 h 26 m||Show|
10* Over Patriots/Dolphins (8:30 ET): New England will be w/o star TE Rob Gronkowski (suspended) here, but it figures to matter little against a Miami team that should feel extremely fortunate to have five wins this season. The Dolphins rank near the bottom of the league in most, if not all, consequential offensive categories and that includes being last in yards gained (292.6 per game) and 27th in points (17.4). Prior to LW's 35-9 thumping of the Broncos (more on that in a moment), all of Miami's previous wins had come by six points or less. Going against a resurgent Patriots' defense, we probably should not expect much from this Dolphins' offense tonight. That being said, their last seven games have all gone Over the total and that's the way I'm playing this one.
Reports of the Pats' demise were greatly exaggerated. They did start out "only" 2-2 SU w/ the defense giving up 30+ points in all four games. But since then, it's been eight consecutive victories, tied w/ Pittsburgh (who they play next week!) for the longest active streak in the league. During the win streak, the defense has not allowed more than 17 pts in any game. Still, I'm a bit leery of buying "too much" into this "transformation" as the Patriots' D continues to allow plenty of yards per game (375.7). With or w/o Gronk, however, there is no questioning Tom Brady and this offense. They lead the league in yards per game (413.1) and in the first meeting vs. Miami (two weeks ago), it was 35 points and 417 yards that were put up. One of the reasons I'm not overly concerned w/ the Gronk suspension here is that in the 1st meeting, the Pats were highly successful at the running the ball, gaining 196 yards on 38 carries.
Miami actually averages 25.2 PPG at home, a full TD over their overall scoring average. Because they lost a home game to London, they've played only five times here all season. But in each of the last four, they've scored at least 20 points. If they hit that benchmark here tonight, I have no doubt that the Over is coming in. Last week's game vs. Denver was a bit odd in that there were two safeties (both for Miami) and two non-offensive scores (1 per side). Take that stuff away and it would have been a far lower scoring game. But Miami did gain 367 total yds and had success running and passing the ball. The home game before that (vs. Tampa Bay), they gained a season-best 448 yds (only to be undone by FIVE turnovers). Again, seven straight Overs for this team. 10* Over Patriots/Dolphins
|12-10-17||Raiders v. Chiefs UNDER 47.5||Top||15-26||Win||100||122 h 34 m||Show|
8* Under Raiders/Chiefs (1:00 ET): There was a time when the thought of a tight, three-way race for AFC West supremacy would have been considered unfathomable. At least one that involves the Chargers, who were 0-4 SU at one point while the other three teams all started 2-0 or better. The Chiefs were 5-0 SU and thought to be the best team in the league at one point. But that was a mirage as they were being outgained the whole time and a stunning fall (lost six of seven) has opened the door for both Oakland and Los Angeles to overtake them. All three teams enter the week at 6-6 SU, making this game absolutely crucial (Chargers host Washington). Oakland took the first meeting, 31-30, in what was an absolute thriller, won on an untimed down. But I expect the rematch to feature a lot less scoring. Take the Under.
Oakland's offense has been nowhere near as prolific as it was last year, scoring more than 21 pts just three times in the L10 games. The KC game, a Thurs night home game, was their highest scoring effort of the season. I'm not buying this team as being "back" considering their last three wins were against the Dolphins, Broncos and Giants, and all by a TD or less. Last week vs. the Giants, it was a 10-7 game entering the 4th quarter. Yes, the Chiefs' D is w/o CB Marcus Peters (suspended), but the Raiders' offense may likely be w/o WR Amari Cooper (concussion). Oakland's last three games have all stayed Under the total w/ them averaging fewer than 18 points per game.
Meanwhile, it's all going wrong for the Chiefs right now. The offense finally woke up last week, scoring two early TD's and finishing w/ 31 points. But the defense let them down, making Jets QB Josh McCown look like an All-Pro. The 38-31 loss was KC's fourth in a row, the last three all by a TD or less. The previous three had seen them score just 36 points total, however. The defense has allowed 20 pts or fewer in more half the games this season, so again, I have every reason to believe that this week will see far less scoring than that first meeting. It's also all but assured the KC offense will see its production decrease from last week (and the 1st meeting), especially w/ the cloud of uncertainty hanging over QB Alex Smith. Could there be a Patrick Mahomes sighting? 8* Under Raiders/Chiefs
|12-04-17||Steelers v. Bengals OVER 43||Top||23-20||Push||0||21 h 35 m||Show|
10* Over Steelers/Bengals (8:30 ET): Along with the Patriots, the Steelers have somewhat "pulled away" from the pack in the AFC. They enter this game at 9-2, which is two fewer losses than every other team not named "New England." Tonight they look to continue their mastery of a Bengals team they have beaten five consecutive times, including 29-14 back in Week 7. I had the Over in that game, noting that (at the time) they were the only team in the league yet to have a single Over on its resume. The Under is still 8-3 in all Steelers' games this season, but all of a sudden the vaunted offense has awoken w/ B2B 30+ point efforts after not crossing that threshold even one time in the first nine games. I like the Over in the rematch as well.
Cincinnati started its season by being the first team since the 1930's to not score a single TD in its first two home games. That prompted a change at OC and since then, they've been okay, going 5-4 SU overall. They are off their second highest scoring game of the season, a 30-16 triumph over the winless Browns. Now, the Bengals two highest scoring games of the year have both been against Cleveland. Other than that, the offense has not topped 24 pts in any other game. But something to look for here is the propensity of the Steelers' secondary to give up big plays. Last week vs. Brett Hundley and Green Bay, Pittsburgh allowed THREE touchdown passes of 39+ yards. That was after giving up FIVE pass plays of 40+ yds the previous three weeks. So don't be surprised if Bengals' WR AJ Green has a big game tonight. Also, RB Joe Mixon is coming off a career-best day LW.
On the flip side, the Steelers shouldn't have much trouble scoring in this game either. The Cincinnati defense ranks 28th in the league at stopping the run (126.6 YPG allowed), so Le'Veon Bell should have a big night. Yes, WR Antonio Brown (best WR in the league) is listed as questionable w/ a toe injury. But, whether he plays or not, does NOT affect this selections. It's a low O/U line, one that can easily be exceeded. 10* Over Steelers/Bengals
|11-30-17||Redskins v. Cowboys UNDER 44||Top||14-38||Loss||-102||52 h 34 m||Show|
10* Under Redskins/Cowboys (8:25 ET): This has the feel of almost an "elimination" game in the NFC playoff picture. We already know that the Eagles are a virtual lock to win the East as they have a five-game edge over both of these teams w/ only five left to play. The loser of this game will drop to 5-7 SU and in a top-heavy conference, that's tantamount to death. Both last played on Thanksgiving w/ Dallas getting blown out by the Chargers (third straight loss) while the Redskins snuck by the lowly Giants. Incredibly, the road team has won seven of the past eight meetings, including Dallas going to D.C. earlier this year (as a three-point favorite) and winning 33-19. The L4 matchups have also all gone Over the total (O/U line was 49.5 for that first meeting).
These will not be the same two teams that faced off back in Week 8, specifically on the Dallas side. We know all about the Ezekiel Elliott suspension and what that has done to the offense. In the three games w/o him, the Cowboys have scored a TOTAL of 22 pts, no more than nine in any one game. Additionally, they have gained an average of just 235 yards per game during that three-game stretch. Elliott ran for his season high (150 yards) the first time around vs. Washington and had a pair of touchdowns. Since then, the Cowboys offense has scored a grand total of 2 TD's in the three games and they came 11 quarters apart. After taking a 7-0 lead on Atlanta in the first quarter back in Week 2, they did not find the end zone again until the 4th quarter on Thanksgiving (already down 16-0).
Nor is Washington the same here as they were last month. They have been besieged by injuries, particularly along the offensive line. That has obviously had an adverse effect on both QB Kirk Cousins and the running game. Last week, they gained just 322 total yards against the Giants and it should be noted that was a 10-10 game w/ just under four minutes to play. Washington has also been hit hard w/ RB Chris Thompson and TE Jordan Reed, two key components of the passing game, both out. With the line having "flipped" (Washington now favored), there's no value there, but w/ the total there is (even though it's several points lower than it was in that 1st meeting). Dallas' passing game ranks only 27th, so they're really limited in what they can do and the same can be said for Washington (due to injuries) as they have been held to 20 pts or fewer three times in their last five games. 10* Under Redskins/Cowboys
|11-27-17||Texans v. Ravens OVER 38||Top||16-23||Win||100||31 h 30 m||Show|
10* Over Texans/Ravens (8:30 ET): Only in the AFC and only in 2017 could both the Texans and Ravens both be in playoff contention. Both teams have put forth truly pedestrian seasons. Baltimore, off a 23-0 shutout of Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay, is now 5-5 and may actual control its own playoff destiny. Houston is 4-6 SU and even after last week's 31-21 win over Arizona, they're "up against it" due to being w/o their #1 QB, DeShaun Watson. Offense is both teams' albatross, but as a result, we have a very low total to work w/ Monday night. Conventional wisdom says to go Under here, but it won't take much to go Over either. I'm going "unconventional."
Even w/ Tom Savage under center, the Texans were still able to put up 31 points and 357 yards last week. A big reason for that was rookie D'Onta Foreman emerging w/ a pair of fourth quarter TD's. Now, it likely will be a challenge to run the ball against a Ravens defense that has allowed 45, 71 and 75 yards over land the L3 games. But, for the year, that same group allows 135 YPG rushing at home. So they can be run on. I admit that I am worried about Savage facing a secondary that leads the league in interceptions. But this also works both ways. We've seen this Baltimore defense find the end zone before, which is always a boon to Over bettors. Only two teams - Jacksonville and Detroit - can claim more defensive scores than the Ravens' five. Furthermore, they (Baltimore) are the ONLY team in the league to have BOTH a kickoff and punt return for TD to their credit.
Houston may not have any special teams TD's to its credit, but like Baltimore they have four defensive scores. So again, I'm almost "expecting" a non-offensive TD in this game. The Ravens have delivered two shutouts in the last three games, thereby "skewing" their overall point differential for the season. The offense has scored 20+ pts in five of the last six games and before last week, the team's previous five games all went Over the total. QB Joe Flacco "leads" the league's worst passing attack, but here he'll be facing a secondary that is 26th against the pass. So Monday night very well could be his "coming out party." 10* Over Texans/Ravens
|11-23-17||Giants v. Redskins OVER 44.5||Top||10-20||Loss||-119||57 h 57 m||Show|
8* Over Giants/Redskins (8:25 ET): The Giants have just two wins this year, but both came as double digit dogs against an AFC West opponent (Denver, KC). The latest came last week, 12-9 over the Chiefs in overtime (upset of the year?). Sadly, this week's opponent is not a DD favorite nor is it an AFC West team. It is a familiar foe though, that being NFC East rival Washington, who itself is trying to pick up the pieces following losses in four of the last five games. They do own wins over the Rams and Seahawks (both on the road!) and should have beaten New Orleans LW, only to wilt in the final minutes of regulation and lose in OT. (So both teams are coming off OT games and playing on a short week). My "gut" says Washington wins here, but I don't want to lay points w/ a team that is only 1-4 ATS at home. Therefore, we turn to the total.
It's been well-established that the Giants' defense is nowhere close to the unit that we saw last season. I can't say that I'm surprised. They made the quantum leap from 30th to 2nd in DVOA last season and thus regression was all but inevitable. Aside from the two wins, they've allowed 24 or more points in six of the seven losses, Week 1 being the exception. Remember that two weeks ago, they allowed 476 yards and 31 points to the previously winless 49ers. Last week, Big Blue was the beneficiary of some windy conditions as the Chiefs still elected to throw the ball roughly 60% of the time, playing right into the underdog's hands (good ol' Andy Reid). Quite frankly, this Giants' defense is lucky to "only" be allowing 24.7 points per game this year as they are 31st in yards allowed.
Washington's last two games have seen both they and the opponent score 30 or more points. Obviously, both games went Over. Last week was a brutal loss as they lost 34-31 to the Saints in overtime after taking a 31-16 lead w/ just over six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. They gave up both TD's in the final three minutes of regulation (and a 2-pt conversion) and wound up allowing 535 total yds of offense. There is hope here for the beleaguered Giants offense as the 'Skins are 31st in scoring defense at 26.6 PPG allowed. Both teams are very banged up right now (on both sides of the ball), but I see this one going Over the total. 8* Over Giants/Redskins
|11-19-17||Ravens v. Packers OVER 37.5||Top||23-0||Loss||-115||121 h 40 m||Show|
8* Over Ravens/Packers (1:00 ET): Green Bay treated me last week as I was sure to note the Chicago team they were playing had not been favored in almost a year and not over the Pack dating back to 2008! Sure enough, despite the absence of Aaron Rodgers, GB pulled the "upset," winning 23-16 at Soldier Field. Now they're back at Lambeau to host a Ravens team fresh off its bye. Baltimore is only 4-5 SU in what has been an "up and down" season thus, but they're more than just alive in what is shaping up to be a top-heavy AFC where there's probably going to be at least one pretty ugly playoff entrant (maybe them?). So much of the focus in Baltimore has been on an offense which ranks 30th in the league, but they've faced a pretty impressive slate of defenses thus far and the Over is still 5-0 their last five games. Take the Over here.
Four times this season, the Ravens have had to faced a top 10 defense (Jags, Steelers, Bears and Vikings). They've lost all four games and averaged only 14 PPG. But they're 4-1 SU otherwise and averaged 26.8 points in those games. The Green Bay defense is certainly nothing special, ranking 18th overall. So I look for more of the "good" Baltimore offense this Sunday. Also, do not discount the likelihood of a defensive score (or two!) here, facing an inexperienced QB like Hundley. Two weeks ago against Miami (who was starting Matt Moore), the Ravens returned two interceptions for touchdowns. In a game against Chicago earlier in the year, they got two special teams TDs. Four of the last five games, this team has put at least 20 points on the board.
The Packers had not topped 17 pts since Hundley took over for Rodgers, until last week. Now, off a win, I wouldn't be surprised if the QB started playing with more confidence. Though its unlikely they'll make the playoffs w/o Rodgers (NFC is deeper than the AFC), the Pack aren't finished yet. Their last two games have gone Over as have five of the previous seven. Defensively, they've allowed at least 239 yards passing each of the last five games. Last week, they gave up 297 to Mitchell Trubisky, which was 133 more than the rookie's previous career high. So this could be a big game for Flacco. Baltimore has not been a healthy team this year, but off the bye, they're as healthy as they've been at any point in 2017. This is a low O/U line, the likes of which they've been topping of late. For Green Bay, it's the lowest of the season to date. 8* Over Ravens/Packers
|11-16-17||Titans v. Steelers OVER 43.5||Top||17-40||Win||100||56 h 8 m||Show|
10* Over Titans/Steelers (8:25 ET): Hey! We actually have a relatively attractive Thursday night matchup for once. Don't think for a second that Tennessee is as fortunate to be 6-3 straight up as their negative (-8) point differential might suggest. That's still owed to one, ugly 57-14 loss to Houston back when the Texans still had DeShaun Watson at QB. Also. the Titans lost Marcus Mariota to an injury in that game. Since Mariota returned, they've won four straight (three by four points or less!) and "looked the part" of a playoff team. What I do find interesting here, however, is the Steelers' 8-1 Under record. They have an offense that many thought would lead the league in points per game, but instead they're averaging only 20.8 PPG and have exceeded that average only twice in the past six games. Yet, I'll take the Over here. Why? Read on!
Last week marked that vintage lackluster road game that Steelers' fans have become all too familiar with during the Mike Tomlin era. As double digit favorites, they actually trailed the Colts 10-0 before coming back to win 20-17. They didn't even score until the final seconds of the first half when Chris Boswell kicked a 41-yd FG. Boswell then won the game w/ a second field goal w/ no time remaining. Despite what you're just read, I'm still a buyer on this offense. You can't really blame Le'Veon Bell holding out anymore as he currently is the league leader in rush yards (840), even though roughly 10% of his attempts have gone for zero or negative yardage. He is facing more defenders stacked in the box, but (theoretically) that should start to open the passing game.
Tennessee, on the other hand, has gone Over in six of its last eight games. They've topped 30 points three or more times during that span and that's out of seven games w/ Mariota in the lineup. Last week, they rolled up over 400 total yards in a 24-20 win over Cincinnati that required a fourth quarter comeback. They had 27 first downs to Cincinnati's 15. They would have scored more, but fumbled at the goal line after an 11-play, 6:13 drive. Also, in the first half, kicker Ryan Succop missed for the first time inside the 50 in 48 tries after another long, 11-play drive. This is a pretty low total considering the Titans have allowed 20 or more points three of their last four games. The one time they didn't was against Cleveland. 10* Over Titans/Steelers
|11-13-17||Dolphins v. Panthers OVER 38||Top||21-45||Win||100||54 h 1 m||Show|
10* Over Dolphins/Panthers (8:30 ET): Calling the Dolphins "the worst 4-4 team in NFL history" might sound like a meaningless distinction, but it's certainly not hyperbole. That .500 record comes in the face of an ugly -63 point differential, which ranks right near the bottom of the league. This sort of overachieving is nothing new for this franchise, at least recently. Last year, they may have qualified for the playoffs, but were a complete fraud in doing so. They were outscored again, despite going 10-6 SU in the regular season. This all may make it sound like I'm poised to play against them here, but in anticipation of some close losses forthcoming, I'll actually refrain from doing so. As you can see, the oddsmakers share my view of these Fish and it's a heavy price to pay to fade them in this spot. Therefore, we turn to the total and it's the Over I like here.
Carolina enters this game at 6-3 SU, but has hardly been impressive as they've outscored opponents by just a nine-point margin over the course of this season. They've scored just 40 pts over their L3 games and average only 18.8 PPG for the year. However, an offense which could not run the ball at all suddenly exploded last week against Atlanta for 201 yards over land. But it's been a defense that ranks near the top of the league in scoring that's really carried the team this year. They allow just 17.7 points and 274.1 yards per game, ranking in the top five in both categories. On paper, you have to like this matchup for the Carolina defense as they face a Miami offense that is - statistically speaking - the worst in football.
That dynamic would have you thinking Under, which is the way the L3 Panthers games have all gone. But prior to that they went on a 4-game Over streak. Miami's season has been just the opposite w/ them starting 5-0 Under and the L3 games all going Over. So something will have to give here. This will be the lowest O/U line for either team this year, assuming it holds (it should), and could wind up the lowest O/U line for any NFL game YTD. (The first two Texans' games both had O/U lines of 38.0). The Dolphins have been shut out twice this season, but one of those games still went Over as they allowed 40 to Baltimore, two weeks ago, also in primetime. Four of the five all-time meetings between these teams have stayed Under, but I'm going to call for Carolina to score more than expected here and Miami will score enough to help send the game Over. 10* Over Dolphins/Panthers
|11-12-17||Chargers v. Jaguars UNDER 41||Top||17-20||Win||100||46 h 17 m||Show|
8* Under Chargers/Jaguars (1:00 ET): Is Jacksonville for real? There are a number of teams this year the public needs to take w/ a proverbial "grain of salt," this one among them (not to mention Rams, Saints, Vikings, Eagles). But there is no disputing this Jags' defense is #1 in the league in scoring (14.6 PPG allowed). The result of that is one of the top overall scoring differentials in the league (+89, tops in AFC). I find the scoring differential metric to typically be an excellent predictor of future success, so maybe the idea of printing playoff tickets in Jacksonville should be taken seriously? I certainly love this matchup for that #1 overall scoring defense and will be on the Under this week.
Why do I love this matchup so much from the Jags defense's perspective? Well, for one, the Chargers' offense is far too predictable. Secondly, Philip Rivers is as immobile as any QB in the league. That's certainly a bad combination when facing a defense allowing a league-low 156 yards passing per game w/ 35 sacks (most in the league) to boot. Furthermore, the propensity of this Chargers' coaching staff to stubbornly run the ball on 1st down, despite a lack of success, is a concern here. LA comes in averaging only 18.8 points per game. Shockingly, that's tied for 22nd (scoring way down this year), but it's still not good. They have scored more than 21 pts only two times all season.
Jacksonville's defense won't be the only stout one in this matchup. The Chargers have a pair of strong rushers on the edge - Melvin Booker and Joey Bosa - who have 17 sacks between them. Expect them to add to that total here w/ the Jaguars potentially being down as many as THREE starting offensive lineman. Both starting guards and RT Jeremy Parnell were limited in practice this week. Remember, this is a "fresh" Chargers' defense, one that allowed an average of just 12.3 points the L3 games before the bye. As much as Jacksonville might be "for real" in 2017, I still put little faith in QB Blake Bortles. Only two Jacksonville games all season have seen more than 44 total pts scored. In a 30-9 win earlier this year vs. Pittsburgh, it was the defense supplying two of the three touchdowns. This game will be ruled by the defenses, which are - easily - the two strongest units in the matchup. 8* Under Chargers/Jaguars
|11-05-17||Raiders v. Dolphins UNDER 44||Top||27-24||Loss||-110||99 h 38 m||Show|
8* Under Raiders/Dolphins (8:25 ET): No matter which QB they have at the helm, this Miami offense is one of the worst in the league. In fact, statistically speaking, they ARE the worst in the league as they're dead last in both yards gained and points scored. Of course, losing your starting QB in training camp will put any offense "behind the 8-ball." After Ryan Tannehill went down, the Dolphins paid Jay Cutler to come out of retirement and even though the WL record was fine (team started 4-2), the numbers remained ugly. Then Cutler suffered a rib injury, leaving Matt Moore to start last Thursday's game against Baltimore. The results there were disastrous as the 'Fins got shut out for the 2nd time the season, this one being a 40-0 loss.
Oakland is another of those teams that overachieved last year and thus I felt would be a disappointment in 2017. (That list also included Miami, the Giants, Houston and Detroit). Sure enough, when it comes to the Silver and Black, my pessimisstic outlook appears justified. The Raiders are just 3-5 SU and any goodwill earned by their 31-30 win over Kansas City two weeks ago, was instantly thrown away w/ a 34-14 loss at Buffalo last Sunday. That loss in Buffalo marked the FIFTH time in the past six games that Oakland was held to 17 points or less! It appears as if we were too quick to annoint QB Derek Carr as anything special and WR Amari Cooper (save for the KC game) is having a pretty bad year. The Marshawn Lynch signing reeked of "overrated" and it hasn't helped that the Raiders' offensive line is nowhere near as good as it was a season ago.
Adding to Miami's offensive woes is that the front office just decided to trade away its leading rusher, Jay Ajayi. With Cutler not 100%, I'm just not sure how this team is going to find any kind of offensive success moving forward. Before giving up a combined 68 pts the L2 wks to the Jets and Ravens (includes two defensive scores by Baltimore), each of the Dolphins' first five games stayed Under the total. Oakland is averaging just 15 PPG on the road and in their last three games away from home (all losses), they've scored 10, 10 and 14 pts. They too fell victim to a defensive score (by the Bills) last week, which was one of three turnovers they had. So, like Miami, their defensive effort was not as bad as it appeared on the scoreboard. 8* Under Raiders/Dolphins
|11-02-17||Bills v. Jets OVER 42.5||Top||21-34||Win||100||26 h 35 m||Show|
10* Over Bills/Jets (8:25 ET): This is a rematch from Week 1, when the Bills opened the season w/ a 21-12 win and cover (as seven-point chalk) in Orchard Park. But even with that result, you could say BOTH teams have drastically overachieved in 2017. Vegas still doesn't respect the Bills all that much, but looking at their schedule, it seems as if there's a pretty good chance this team makes the playoffs. Keep in mind I have an outstanding ticket on this team beating its projected win total (6.5), but in making that bet, I could not have envisioned them performing so well. As for the Jets, they were universally being called the worst team in the league coming into the season. But here they are at 3-4 SU, needing only one win to exceed the number of wins that the oddsmakers projected for them. With two overachievers, I'm refraining from a play on the side, and will instead make a play on the total.
Buffalo crushed Oakland last week 34-14 as three-point favorites. That win improved them to 5-2 SU & 5-1-1 ATS. One area of concern I have for this game is that while the Bills are a perfect 4-0 SU at home, they're just 1-2 SU on the road. However, I am pretty convinced that they should be able to move the ball against this Jets defense. In Week 1, they rolled up over 400 yds against them, including 190 on the road. An offense that led the league in rushing last year again ranks near the top w/ 124.6 YPG this year (8th). On the other hand, the Jets' defense ranks 28th in stopping the run. The Bills' passing game just got a much needed "jolt in the arm" as well w/ the trade for WR Kelvin Bejamin. Wide receiver had been a real weak spot for this offense after a number of players at that position were dealt away shortly before the season started. Buffalo has scored 30+ points in B2B games and LW's 34 was a season-high.
The Jets have lost three straight, but all of those were by seven points or less. The 12 pts scored in the first matchup w/ Buffalo still stands as a season-low as they've scored at least 20 in five of the previous seven games. But, at the same time, they've also allowed at least 24 pts in every game during the current losing streak. This is a pretty low number, not surprising as five of the previous six meetings have stayed Under the total. A big difference between this game and Week 1 is that the Jets average 373.5 YPG at home, way more than what they average on the road. Last week's game vs. Atlanta saw 30 point scored by halftime before a low-scoring 2H. This total is just too low in my estimation. 10* Over Bills/Jets
|10-29-17||Texans v. Seahawks OVER 46||Top||38-41||Win||100||99 h 36 m||Show|
10* Over Texans/Seahawks (4:05 ET): DeShaun Watson has stepped in and counteracted what I felt would be inevitable regression for Houston in 2017. Last year's Texans may have finished 9-7 (SU), but they were outscored by 49 points over the course of the regular season and had only one win by more than 7 points (which came in Week 1!). The quarterback position has always been the "weak link" for this franchise, even predating current HC Bill O'Brien's tenure here. So Watson's emergence has been a godsend for the team and fanbase alike. O'Brien, known for having a quick hook to begin with, mercifully pulled Tom Savage in the first game. Watson's first start resulted in an ugly 13-9 win over Cincinnati, but since then the offense has averaged a whopping 39.25 points over its L4 games.
Off a bye, Watson and the Texans face arguably their toughest test to date w/ a visit to Seattle. Now, I say that knowing full well that they've already traveled to New England and played the Patriots close, in a 36-33 loss (were 13-pt dogs). But the Patriots' defense, even though it's improved the L2 games, is nowhere near as stingy as that of the Seahawks. With the exception of one game (33-27 loss @ Tennessee), Seattle has allowed 18 pts or fewer in every other game. They were off a bye last week and despite a slow start, were easily able to dispatch of the woeful Giants, 24-7 as four-point road chalk. QB Russell Wilson was very good, completing 27 of 39 passes, three of them for touchdowns. He finished w/ 334 yards overall.
There was a early-week line move w/ this total as others seem to be thinking similar to me (that the total opened too low). Houston's defense is w/o both JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus now, so that's something they should be concerned about. It hasn't really hurt them quite yet, although in losses to New England and Kansas City, they did give up a total of 78 points. Their two most recent wins came against Cleveland (inept) and Tennessee (Marcus Mariota hurt), so you can probably just go ahead and toss those defensive performances right out the window. Consider they did allow Brady to throw for 378 yds w/ a 71% completion rate and KC was able to drive inside the 35-yard line 9 times in 10 tries against them. Both of those games came w/ Watt and Mercilus on the field! So Seattle should be able to move the ball here and I think Watson and Houston will be able to "keep up" relatively well, leading to a pretty easy Over. Seattle's defense has been pretty lucky so far in that they've faced some pretty offenses: San Francisco, Indianapolis and the Giants, to name a few. 10* Over Texans/Seahawks
|10-26-17||Dolphins v. Ravens OVER 37||Top||0-40||Win||100||32 h 42 m||Show|
8* Over Dolphins/Ravens (8:25 ET): I didn't think Miami was anywhere near as good as its 10-6 (SU) showed last season, considering they were actually outscored by 17 points. Nor do I "buy into" this year's 4-2 SU start given they are -20 in point differential! This is a team "due" to regress in a major way and quite frankly, I don't see them winning many more games the rest of the way here in 2017. This all probably leads you to believe that I'll be fading the 'Fins in this Thursday night matchup at Baltimore. But I'm a little "gun-shy" in wanting to lay points here w/ the Ravens, who have their own set of struggles. I realize that neither of these two offenses are exactly setting the world on fire right now, but it's a REALLY low total for tonight, one of the lowest I've tracked for a TNF affair in several seasons, in fact. Therefore, I'm on the Over.
The big story here for Miami is at the QB position where Jay Cutler has cracked ribs and thus won't play. Enter career backup Matt Moore, who actually owns a lifetime 20-7 ATS record as a starter. That's another reason I didn't want to lay even a short number here and in my opinion, Moore is not much of a downgrade from Cutler, if he is even a downgrade at all. He led the comeback last week against the Jets (31-28 win) and as we saw there, he is better than Cutler at getting the ball downfield. Truthfully, when Ryan Tannehill got hurt over the summer, I thought Miami was best sticking w/ Moore and not wasting its money on coaxing Cutler out of retirement. Expect the Dolphins to run the ball plenty in this matchup w/ Jay Ajayi and for them to be successful in doing so. Baltimore's once-heralded defense is currently last in the league at stopping the run, giving up an average of 145.3 yards per game. They've allowed 166 or more four of the past five weeks, including 169 last week to a Minnesota team that was w/o its starting RB.
The Ravens are also dealing with injuries on offense, most notably at the WR position. However, they've still managed to go Over in three straight games (4-1 L5) thanks to low O/U lines such as this one. If the current number holds, and I suspect it will, this will be the fifth time already this year that an O/U line has closed at below 40 pts for them. So far, the Over is 3-1 in such contests. Having scored only one offensive TD in the last 10 quarters, I suspect we'll see some sort of breakthrough from Joe Flacco and the Ravens tonight. They also have an outstanding kicker in Justin Turner. Looking at the number from Miami's perspective, it is the lowest of the season to date, a good sign for a team that hadn't gone Over until last week! Moore threw two TD passes in the final 12 mins of regulation and his 188 yds passing for the game easily eclipsed Cutler's numbers. 8* Over Dolphins/Ravens
|10-22-17||Seahawks v. Giants OVER 40||Top||24-7||Loss||-110||51 h 56 m||Show|
8* Over Seahawks/Giants (4:25 ET): The Giants pulled one out of their collective (you know where!) last week, somehow beating the Broncos 23-10 as 13.5-pt underdogs. It had been a long time since we'd seen an underdog of that size win a game straight up in the NFL (several seasons), but it actually happened TWICE last week (also Miami over Atlanta). How the Giants did it was forcing three turnovers and Denver missing multiple field goals. That's how you pull an upset of that magnitude while still being outgained 412-266. Needless to say, it was as stunning a result as we'll probably see all season. Of course, as you know, the Giants entered that game winless (0-5) and were w/o their top FOUR wide receivers. Now they have to take on the famed "Legion of Boom!"
Seattle is off its bye week here. Prior to it, they recorded their own somewhat fortuitious victory, 16-10 over the Rams despite being outgained 375-241. Like the Giants last week, the turnover margin was a huge benefit to the Seahawks in that game as they took the ball away from the Rams FIVE times. While Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' offense has struggled at times this season (scored 16 pts or less three times), they also scored 73 pts in the other two games. The Giants' defense, which carried the team to the playoffs a season ago, has really fallen off a cliff here in 2017. They've allowed an average of over 400 yards per game the last three weeks, so I expect the Seahawks to move the ball and score in this one. The Giants' defense had given up 24 points or more each of its four games previous to last week.
Eli Manning only dropped back to pass 19 times last week, which was probably for the best given the lack of weaponry at his disposal now. One positive here though is that WR Sterling Shepard may return in time for Sunday. The Giants also need to continue to run the ball as they've gone over 100 yards on the ground B2B weeks for the first time this season. Obviously, we have a low total to work with here, and as we've seen so many times before, all it takes sometimes is for a defensive score to cash in. With the often turnover-prone Manning facing the vaunted Seattle defense, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see a 'pick-six' (or two!) in this game. 8* Over Seahawks/Giants
|10-22-17||Bengals v. Steelers OVER 40.5||Top||14-29||Win||100||51 h 56 m||Show|
10* Over Bengals/Steelers (4:25 ET): Despite possessing what - at least on paper - looked to be one the strongest sets of skill position players in the league, Pittsburgh has seen the Under cash in all six of its games so far. It hasn't really hurt them per se, as they come into this divisional matchup w/ Cincinnati at 4-2 SU and in first place in the AFC North. Last week, they became the first team to beat the Chiefs this season, doing so on the road and in 19-13 fashion (held them to just 251 yards total). As for the Bengals, they're off bye. Prior to it, they won for me as a short home favorite, beating Buffalo 20-16. The Under is 4-1 in their games, but after infamously failing to score a TD in their first two home games, they've averaged a healthy 25 PPG over the last three weeks under new OC Bill Lazor. I feel there are enough "ingredients" in place here to send this game Over a low total.
The Steelers have averaged nearly 400 YPG over the L3 weeks. The matched a season-high w/ 26 pts in a beatdown of Baltimore in their last AFC North game. The following week saw them bit by the turnover bug (career-high 5 INT's from Roethlisberger) and they lost 30-9 at home to Jacksonville. But then came the big bounce back last week in Kansas City. Though they managed only 19 points, suffice to say it may have been the first game that the entire "Big 3" (Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown) all played well. Bell, who has gotten off to a slow start due to an offseason hold out, ran for 179 yards. Brown was his usual awesome self w/ eight catches for 155 yards. I believe it's only a matter of time before this offense regains "old form" and starts putting more points on the board.
I already mentioned the difference in Cincinnati's offense since the coordinator change. Not only have they averaged 25 PPG since Lazor took over playcalling duties, but they're also averaging 346.3 YPG. Now before we go complimenting either defense too much, be aware that both teams have faced a pretty weak slate of opposing offenses. Both have faced Cleveland, which is always a walk in the park. Both have also faced Baltimore. The Steelers got to face the Vikings w/ Case Keenum and the Bears w/ Mike Glennon. The run defense only ranks 23rd in the league currently (allowing 118.5 YPG). Historically, they've also struggled to defend Bengals WR AJ Green, who has four career 100+ yard days vs. the Steelers. Of course, the only WR in the league w/ more yardage receving this year would be Brown. Note that the totals for both meetings last year were significantly higher. 10* Over Bengals/Steelers
|10-22-17||Panthers v. Bears UNDER 41||Top||3-17||Win||100||48 h 33 m||Show|
8* Under Panthers/Bears (1:00 ET): Carolina has to be itching to return to the field after losing what was billed as a battle of two NFC heavyweights last Thursday, at home, to Philadelphia. The extra time they get to prepare here should help, but they're on the road taking on a Bears team that is starting to find success at Soldier Field. Not only are the "Monsters of the Midway" 3-0 ATS at home this season w/ two outright upsets (nearly three!), but they're 7-2 ATS the last nine times taking points here. So I'm not about to lay points on the road. Instead, I'll look at the total, which is low but probably not low enough. We've got two surprisingly strong defenses and as I'm about to get into, the fact each team went Over (the total) last week is a tad bit misleading. I'm on the Under.
Chicago upset Baltimore last week, 27-24, as six-point road underdogs in overtime. The 24 pts they scored in regulation matched a season high. But that also comes w/ a caveat in that they scored on a 90-yard INT return. In fact, that game featured more non-offensive scores (3) than actual offensive TD's (2) as the Ravens scored both via special teams and defense (when was the last time you saw that?). So the Bears defense actually didn't give up a single touchdown in the win! This group is very underrated as they've held each of the last four opponents to 300 total yards or less. I'm hardly surprised that HC John Fox, who has a history of turning around defenses at every stop, has this one playing much better in 2017. As for the Bears offense, well, it remains a "work in progress." I know there's a sense of optimism surrounding rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky now starting, but the bottom line is the Bears' receivers are terrible and no QB, let alone a rookie, figures to thrive here.
While Chicago is holding opponents to roughly 52 YPG below their season averages, Carolina has been even stingier, holding its opponents to 77 YPG below their season averages. That's a league-best number. I know that ace linebacker Luke Keuchly won't play here, but still, points should be hard to come by for both teams on Sunday. On offense, Carolina's run game has been terrible the past two weeks w/ running backs gaining just 32 yards on 33 carries (that is not a misprint!). Last week, their leading rusher was Cam Newton, who had 71 yards on 11 carries. That was a 10-10 game at halftime, but an early second half turnover by Newton, plus the loss of Keuchly really put the Panthers' defense behind the proverbial 8-ball. Fortunately here, they've had time to prepare to play w/o their star LB and they won't be facing the Eagles' offense, they'll be facing that of the Bears. 8* Under Panthers/Bears
|10-22-17||Saints v. Packers UNDER 47.5||Top||26-17||Win||100||48 h 32 m||Show|
8* Under Saints/Packers (1:00 ET): The last eight times the Saints and Packers have played, the Over has cashed. That streak actually dates back all the way to 1995. But there's a big caveat this time around and it has to do w/ who will be under center for Green Bay. Or rather who WON'T be. It won't be Aaron Rodgers (or even Brett Favre), instead it will be Brett Hundley as Rodgers is done for the year w/ a broken collarbone. Needless to say, this is a crippling injury - both literally and figuratively - for the Pack. Granted, he was thrown somewhat "into the fire" last week, but Hundley did not have much success w/ the offense scoring just 10 points under his direction and none after halftime. Green Bay's offense finished the game w/ just 227 yards total in a 23-10 loss. Right now, it's pretty difficult to be optimistic about the Packers.
One thing that may help GB here is the environment. We all know that, traditionally, the Saints' offense is never as prolific outdoors. Sunday's forecast at Lambeau calls for unfavorable conditions as well w/ a decent amount of wind and a good chance of rain. If the forecast holds, Drew Brees and company should stay relatively grounded. Even if the conditions are better than expected, I still don't envision a big offensive day from New Orleans as they've played only one "true" road game outdoors thus far. Ironically, it was their highest scoring game to date (34 points) before last week, but I still don't see that as a harbinger of things to come.
Now the Saints are off a wild, 52-38 victory over the Lions at home last week. But while 90 total pts were scored in that game, there were a total of FOUR touchdowns scored by the two defenses. Three of them came from the Saints' side! That certainly isn't likely to repeat itself this week. Speaking of the Saints' defense, a funny thing happened in their last two games away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and that's they've allowed just 13 points total. There was the 34-13 win at Carolina, then they shut out the Dolphins in London. This group definitely seems to be improved (how could they not after the last couple years?) and I don't think they should have much trouble w/ Hundley, who doesn't have much of a run game to lean on (Pack averaging only 88 YPG rushing) and his starting center (Corey Linsely) is likely out as well! If Rodgers were playing here, I would forecast the Packers to win in a shootout, but he's not, so expect a lower-scoring type affair. 8* Under Saints/Panthers
|10-12-17||Eagles v. Panthers UNDER 46.5||Top||28-23||Loss||-115||29 h 10 m||Show|
8* Under Eagles/Panthers (8:25 ET): Carolina is coming off a pair of road wins where they scored a total of 60 points against a pair of playoff teams from last year, one of them being the Patriots. But they also have a defense that ranks in the top 10 in both scoring (18.8 PPG) and yards (274.0 per game). They just held Detroit to 242 yards last week. On paper, this looks like an even matchup w/ the Eagles, who are also 4-1 SU and off a dominant win. They routed the Cardinals last week, 34-7, albeit at home. But I don't see the Eagles' offense being as successful this week w/ stud O-lineman Lane Johnson likely out (concussion). The Eagles' defense should also be able to hold its own here as it is allowing only 19.8 points per game. Take the Under here in a battle of two likely playoff teams.
I do not expect either team to run the ball w/ much success in this one. Save for their lone loss to the Saints, Carolina has yet to allow any opponent to rush for more than 80 yards this season. Philadelphia isn't allowing anyone to run on them right now as the L3 games have seen them give up an average of just 46 rushing yards per game! Only Kansas City (lone loss) has gone for more than 64 yds over land against them. Last week saw the Panthers average a "whopping" one yard per attempt rushing the ball as they gained just 28 yards on 28 carries and that was against the Lions. Philadelphia's run game and probably the whole offense will be adversely affected by Johnson's absence. RB Wendell Smallwood is likely out as well. The short week here isn't going to help either offense.
Let's talk more about Lane Johnson. Over the L2 seasons, the Eagles are 9-2 SU when Johnson plays and 2-8 when he does not. Wentz's TD-INT ratio takes a predictable hit in the games where Johnson doesn't play. Carolina's defense ranks third in the league w/ 17 sacks, so pass protection could be another issue for the Eagles here. Meanwhile, after going Over in three straight games and scoring 60 pts total the L2 weeks, I don't see the Panthers coming close to their recent offensive efficiency here. In two home games so far, they've scored only 22 points total! However, their defense allowed only six points - total - the first two games of the season, remember. 8* Under Eagles/Panthers
|10-09-17||Vikings v. Bears OVER 40||Top||20-17||Loss||-115||13 h 20 m||Show|
10* Over Vikings/Bears (8:25 ET): You may need a scorecard here just to keep track of who is in and who's out for this game. Tonight marks the much ballyhooed debut of Bears rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky, the #2 overall draft choice. He takes over for the ineffective (imagine that!) Mike Glennon, who directed the team to an average of just 15.2 points through the first four games. As for Minnesota, they are now w/o BOTH their starting QB (Sam Bradford) and RB (Dalvin Cook), however (as of press time), it is beginning to look more and more likely that the former (Bradford) WILL play. That would be a huge boost to our call, which is the Over on a very low total.
Vikings HC Mike Zimmer reportedly told ESPN's MNF production crew that he expects Bradford to start here. That's huge. Bradford's lone start thus far resulted in a 29-19 win over the Saints (on MNF no less). They've since alternated bad and good offensive performances w/ Case Keenum at the helm. In the two losses (to Pittsburgh and Detroit), they scored 16 points TOTAL, but they also scored 34 in a win over Tampa Bay. Last season saw Bradford set the NFL's all-time completion percentage record. While the distinction was relatively meaningless, I do think that w/ Bradford in, the offense can move the ball. They showed that in the opener where WR Adam Theilein hauled in nine passes for 157 yards. Bradford completed 27 of 32 pass attempts for 346 yds and three touchdowns. The Vikings offense finished w/ 470 total yards in that game. Yes, it was against the Saints, but it's not as if the Bears' defense is anything special at this point. (Note: If Bradford does NOT play tonight, this play IS still valid).
The move to Trubisky from Glennon is the right one, even though the Bears' weak receiving corps remains a concern either way. That said, Trubisky did look impressive in the preseason and clearly has the more upside of the two quarterbacks. The Bears' Week 4 loss at Green Bay (Thursday night game) was a little misleading in the sense that the Bears actually outgained the Packers 308-260, only to be undone by an ugly -4 turnover margin. The offense did not break 23 points under Glennon and went Under each of the first three games. The defense has allowed 23 or more points three times. To me, this is a very low total by modern NFL standards and it doesn't take much for an Over to cash here (six touchdowns). The Vikings offense has averaged 6.1 yards per play even w/ Bradford missing three games. 10* Over Vikings/Bears
|10-05-17||Patriots v. Bucs UNDER 56||Top||19-14||Win||100||34 h 42 m||Show|
10* Under Patriots/Buccaneers (8:25 ET): The "sky is falling" in Foxboro as the Super Bowl Champs are 2-2 SU w/ the worst defense in the league. Consider that they are averaging 32.2 PPG, yet have those two losses to their credit. Matt Patricia's defense has been every bit as bad as it's been made out to be, giving up 33 or more points three times and an average of 424 yards per game. Ironically, the one time they did hold an opponent under 33 pts was on the road against New Orleans (won 36-20). All four Patriots games have gone Over the total and as a result, this is the highest O/U line to date for one of their games. The Bucs have gone Over in B2B games as well, but none of their first three games (bye Week 1) would have gone Over this number. I'm on the Under here as this is the highest O/U line for any NFL game this season.
New England's early season "struggles" haven't gone unnoticed by the oddsmakers in Vegas as for the first time in a long time, they are no longer listed as the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl. Even though this is a short week, I expect the pride of the defense to kick in and the level of play to improve. Tampa Bay averages just 84.7 rush yards per game (26th overall) and even though RB Doug Martin is expected back Thursday, look for Bill Belichick to force the TB offense into being rather one-dimensional. Note that the Bucs' offense isn't really as good as it may appear. The Week 1 win over Chicago was greatly aided by turnovers as all three TD drives were 35 yards or less.
Tampa Bay's defense could be "up against it" w/o two starting linebackers, one of them Lavonte David. Without both, they still managed to win last week, but that was against an inept Giants team and it took a field goal on the final play. They had just 16 points midway through the fourth quarter. As I'd anticipated, WR Desean Jackson has been an overrated acquisition w/ just nine catches in three games. Defenses should thus still be able to double team Mike Evans. I just feel that with so much discussion on the Patriots defense going into this game, they will "rise up" with their best performance to date. Many times, we see the offenses struggle in these Thursday night affairs. While the Patriots will still manage to score plenty, it won't be enough to push the final score Over this lofty total. 10* Under Patriots/Buccaneers
|09-24-17||Ravens v. Jaguars OVER 39||Top||7-44||Win||100||24 h 32 m||Show|
8* Over Ravens/Jaguars (9:30 AM ET): Our first London game of the season and of course the Jaguars are involved. This will be their fifth all-time appearance in the UK and they've won and covered the last two. This is also a much better Jags team than past editions. They opened the season w/ a 27-9 drubbing of Houston (I had them there), but laid an egg last week at home against Tennessee, losing 37-16 (dominated in the 2nd half). But this will be a stiff test going up against a 2-0 Baltimore team that's allowed only 10 pts on the year while forcing 10 turnovers. I'm not going to make a call on the side here, but I do like the game to go Over the relatively low total even though the L5 head to head meetings have all stayed Under. Like I said earlier, Jacksonville is better this year.
The big story here for the Ravens is that they are now w/o their best offensive lineman, Marshall Yanda. While this figures to have an adverse effect on both the running game and protecting Joe Flacco, I expect them to still be able to move the ball. Jacksonville's defense gave up nearly 400 total yards LW against Tennessee. The turnover issue could also be big here for the Ravens defense going against Blake Bortles. Bortles, who leads the league in interceptions the L3 seasons, is going up against the defense that has forced the most turnovers in the league to this point. So, like the Titans last week, don't be surprised if the Ravens get set up on a short field and take advantage.
This would be the fourth year in a row these teams have played and the O/U line is several points lower than any of the previous three matchups. Last year, the Ravens won a 19-17 game in Jacksonville (also in Week 3!) on the strength of four Justin Tucker field goals. Jacksonville had two drives in Baltimore territory end w/ Bortles' interceptions plus another w/ a missed field goal. While Cleveland and Cincinnati found little to no success against the Ravens defense, that was w/ a rookie QB and an inept offense that's already fired its coordinator. The Jags bring the strongest offense Baltimore will have faced to date. Offenses are struggling across this league, but you can "throw the numbers out" in an environment such as this where at least the Ravens are unfamiliar. This is a really low total and I think the teams will score enough to go Over. 8* Over Ravens/Jaguars
|02-05-17||Patriots v. Falcons UNDER 59.5||Top||34-28||Loss||-115||149 h 58 m||Show|
10* Under Patriots/Falcons (6:30 ET): The Under is never the popular side when it comes to betting the total, but for this year's Super Bowl, it figures to be REALLY unpopular. New England and Atlanta are a combined 4-0 Over this postseason and the Falcons, driven by the league's top offense, have gone Under in only two games all season. The game is being played indoors. That all being said, I'm still going Under here. Remember; I had the Over in the AFC Champ Game. I also had Atlanta in the NFC Champ Game and certainly have a ton of respect for their offense. I just think that a neutral setting where a slow offensive start on both sides is likely, this number is a bit too high. It's the highest in SB history, as you've probably heard. But only eight Super Bowls in history have seen at least 60 total pts scored. That includes just one of the past 12! Take the Under.
Atlanta went 5-1 ATS as an underdog during the regular season, winning four of those games outright. But interestingly, that sextet produced their three lowest scoring games of the year and both Unders. The Over was 10-0 in final season of the Georgia Dome, but "just" 5-2-1 on the road. Interestingly, not only did the Falcons average 3.5 PPG less on the road offensively, they also give up 3.3 PPG fewer on the road as well. They just held Seattle and Green Bay to 20 and 21 pts respectively. A Packers offense that had been shredding everyone coming into the NFC Champ Game was shutout in the first half. The amount of pressure that Dan Quinn's defense has been bringing has been key during the playoff run. If there's been one "commonality" in beating Tom Brady through the years, it's bringing pressure.
The Patriots lead the league in scoring defense at 15.7 PPG. While I happen to think that number is a bit "phony" in the sense that they've faced a poor slate of quarterbacks, the fact remains that they have allowed more than 24 points in a game just twice all year! Over the L5 wks, they've allowed an average of just 10.6 PPG or 53 points TOTAL. They've allowed 17 pts or less in eight of the last nine games and 13 times total this year. While I don't think for a second they can be that stifling here, certainly it's a better defense than what Atlanta saw against Green Bay in the NFC Champ Game or possibly even against Seattle, who was w/o Earl Thomas. Again, do not be surprised if a slow start to this game is what keeps it Under. All the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Super Bowl can be a distraction to both sides. 10* Under Patriots/Falcons
|01-22-17||Steelers v. Patriots OVER 50||Top||17-36||Win||100||23 h 11 m||Show|
10* Over Steelers/Patriots (6:40 ET): So after all the craziness of this NFL season, we wind up w/ the AFC Champ Game that I think most would have expected prior to the start of the campaign. The Steelers and Patriots did meet in the regular season, but little can be derived from that matchup considering Ben Roethlisberger did not play. For what it's worth, Pittsburgh did hang pretty tough w/ Landry Jones under center. It was a 20-16 game early in the fourth quarter. But that was at Heinz Field. The rematch takes place in Foxboro where the Pats almost never lose (24-4 SU L3 seasons). Despite being favored in all but two games this year (both w/o Tom Brady), NE has managed to go 13-3-1 ATS. But they really haven't played the most challenging slate of QB's either. Meanwhile, the Steelers' offensive and defensive numbers are a bit misleading due to red zone in/efficiciencies. I'm on the Over here.
Because he accounted for all 18 points LW against Kansas City, "some" are choosing to place Steelers' kicker Chris Boswell as the 4th "Killer B" alongside Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell. What foolishness. However, believe it or not, it wasn't the first time this year that Boswell made six field goals in a game. The other was late in the regular season at Cincinnati. The following week, Pittsburgh scored 31 points against a quality Ravens defense. What I'm getting at here is that red zone efficiency can be a very fluky statistic. Pittsburgh had six quality drives last week against a good KC defense, but just couldn't punch it in the end zone. One of the field goals was just a 22-yarder. The Steelers still rolled up almost 400 total yards LW and average 372.9 (7th) for the year. I'll call for them to score far more points this week even though they are going up against the #1 scoring defense in the league here.
New England only gives up 15.6 PPG, but they were actually 8th in yards allowed, so there's a bit of a bend but don't break going here. Something else that's helped the Patriots throughout the year is not really facing many top QB's. They faced Pittsburgh w/o Big Ben, so really Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco are the only "Pro Bowl level" signal callers they've seen. During this eight-game win streak of theirs, these are the QB's they've faced: Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick (twice), Jared Goff, Flacco, Trevor Siemian and Matt Moore. Yikes. Not surprisingly, the last two times they gave up 23+ pts came against Wilson and Flacco. Of course, there's no real issues with a Patriots offense that comes in averaging nearly 28 PPG. They too will present a far greater challenge than what the Steelers' defense has had to deal w/ facing Matt Moore and Alex Smith in these playoffs. I thought the Steelers were very fortunate to get away w/ allowing only 12 point against Miami given the amount of yards allowed. Four times the Dolphins turned possession of the ball over on the Steelers side of the field. 10* Over Steelers/Patriots
|01-15-17||Packers v. Cowboys UNDER 52.5||Top||34-31||Loss||-110||98 h 33 m||Show|
10* Under Packers/Cowboys (4:40 ET): Green Bay blew out the Giants on Wild Card Weekend, winning 38-13. They were my 10* Game of the Week selection, so certainly I was happy. But while the lazy talking heads were quick to cite an ill-timed boat trip by the Giants' receiving corps as the cause of the loss, more reasonable minds were all over the fact that NY losing top CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had far more to do the end result. After a shaky start to the game, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers caught fire once DRC left the game. He ended up throwing for 362 yards and four touchdowns, despite missing top WR Jordy Nelson for most of the game. Nelson has since been ruled OUT for this week's game in Dallas, which is a big deal, and thus look for GB's run of five straight 30+ point efforts (and Overs) to come to an end here. I'm on the Under.
Led by two superstar rookies (QB Dak Prescott & RB Ezekiel Elliot), Dallas went 13-3 SU in the regular season, earning the top spot in the NFC. One of those three losses was in the meaningless reg season finale at Philly while the other two came against the Giants. One of the 13 wins was against these Packers, back in Week 6, as the offense rode Elliott for 157 yards en route to a 30-16 win and cover at Lambeau Field. The line for that matchup was Dallas +5 and clearly the oddsmakers' shift for the rematch is warranted. But I'm not sure the increase in the O/U line is warranted as the reg season meeting just did stay Under (total was 47.5). Something I mentioned in LW's successful Under play on Miami-Pittsburgh is that rematches tend to be lower-scoring than the original. That played out in three of the four games last weekend. So getting a higher O/U line to work with for the rematch here seems to be a steal. After all, Cowboys games "only" averaged 45.4 total PPG this year.
In addition to benefiting from the loss of the Giants' top cornerback, Rodgers was able to get away w/ yet another of his "patented" Hail Mary completions at the end of the first half. I used quotes around the word patented because even w/ him completing three over the last two seasons, such an event should not be expected again here. Again, I have to go back to how slow the Packers started LW's game as their first five drives only accounted for 51 yards total. Four of them went for four plays or less. Not having Nelson is going to be a big deal for Rodgers. At the same time, don't be surprised if it takes awhile for Dallas' offense to get going as well. They have rookies starting at the two key positions after all. I would expect GB to do a better job at containing Elliott this second time around. In fact, neither side allows 100 yds rushing per game. Interestingly, of the seven times Dallas has faced Rodgers, six have been in Lambeau Field (L3 all stayed Under). With the home field advantage, I expect this game to be lower scoring than expected. 10* Under Packers/Cowboys
|01-08-17||Dolphins v. Steelers UNDER 46||Top||12-30||Win||100||90 h 22 m||Show|
10* Under Dolphins/Steelers (1:00 ET): This O/U line opened as the highest of the four Wild Card games. I think too high. We think of the Steelers as a high-scoring, explosive team, but their games averaged "only" 45.3 points per game, which was as middle of the road as it gets in the league. Dolphins games were actually - on average - slightly higher scoring at 46.5 PPG. While the difference between the two is rather nominal, Miami actually wound up at 12-4 Over for the season, closing on an 8-0 run their final eight games. This, however, is the playoffs and I don't see the offense being quite as successful in this environment. Not w/ career backup QB Matt Moore at the helm going against a battle-tested Pittsburgh team. I like the Under here in this regular season rematch.
The regular season meeting between these two - won by Miami, 30-15 - is what turned the Dolphins' season around for good. They were 1-4 SU heading into that game, where they were 7.5-point underdogs - at home! It should be noted that one previous win was against Cleveland, in overtime. So what happened that day? Well, RB Jay Ajayi had his breakout performance, running for the first of what would be three 200+ yd games this season (other two were both against Buffalo). Even w/ Cam Hayward missing from the Steelers' defense this time around, I would not expect a repeat performance from Ajayi though. In six of the last seven games, the Miami offense has failed to gain even 100 yards rushing. Throwing out its meaningless regular season finale vs. Cleveland, the Steelers were generally very good at stopping the run down the stretch (allowed less than 100 yds in 5 of previous 6 games).
It should also be mentioned that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger got hurt in the loss to Miami. His return for this playoff rematch is offset by the Dolphins starting Moore, however. Miami's offensive success this year was basically a result of "chunk" i.e. big plays and the number of those has come down w/ Moore under center. This offense only averaged 22.7 PPG for the year and that's factoring in a lot worse defenses than the one they'll see here. In particular, the Steelers' does a great job at buckling down in the red zone. It's also worth noting that while Big Ben is back, the Pittsburgh offense managed only eight points through three quarters against this Dolphins defense the first go around and that was w/ Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown both playing as well. Rematches tend to be lower scoring that initial meetings (familiarity!) and if that's the case here, the Under is ours. This will be one of the higher O/U lines of the year for Miami. 10* Under Dolphins/Steelers
|01-01-17||Panthers v. Bucs UNDER 46||Top||16-17||Win||100||48 h 41 m||Show|
10* Under Panthers/Bucs (1:00 ET): It's all division games in Wk 17 of NFL and thus in every instance we'll have a previous matchup to include in our handicapping. In the case of Carolina-Tampa Bay, a meeting all the way back in Week 5 set the tone for the respective seasons. In what was considered a shocking upset at the time, the Bucs beat the Panthers 17-14 as six-point underdogs on a last second Roberto Aguayo field goal. Since that time Tampa Bay has gone 7-4 SU overall, getting itself onto the very fringes of playoff contention. Meanwhile, it's been "that kind of year" for the defending NFC Champs, who are 6-9 SU and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Note that Carolina played w/o Cam Newton in that earlier season matchup, which was a Monday night affair. I was on the Under, a really easy winner obviously, and will go back to "the well" despite Newton's presence for the rematch. Most of the focus concerning the Panthers' 2016 decline has been on the defensive side of the ball, the secondary (which lost Josh Norman) in particular. But Newton and the offense really haven't held up their end of the bargain either. Of course, there were plenty of "smoke and mirrors" involved with this group last season when they led the league in scoring, but were actually outside the Top 10 in yards per game. The Over was 12-6-1 LY for Carolina (including playoffs), but this year the team's scoring has declined by more than a touchdown.
Tampa Bay still has a very outside shot at making the playoffs, but an incredible confluence of events would need to take place later in the day for that goal to be achieved. Still, I expect the rapidly improving defense to perform well in a game they'll obviously want to win. Prior to LW, five straight Bucs games had stayed Under the total. They are off road games against Dallas and New Orleans (lost both), but those are two of the top offense in the league. This will be an easier assignment and thus we should see something along the lines of the five-game stretch when they allowed an average of less than 13 PPG. Factor out the two indoor games vs. New Orleans and Atlanta and Carolina has seen only four Overs all season. 10* Under Panthers/Bucs
|01-01-17||Cowboys v. Eagles UNDER 43.5||13-27||Win||100||4 h 24 m||Show|
8* Under Cowboys/Eagles (1:00 ET): Dallas turned in a remarkably efficient offensive performance last week, scoring 42 points on one of the top defenses in the league (Detroit). But we know that we won't be seeing their full compliment of skill position players on the field for Week 17 as America's Team has nothing to play for here w/ the #1 seed in the NFC all wrapped up. Most notably, there will be a change at the QB position w/ Dak Prescott giving way to Mark Sanchez and, yes, Tony Romo. While there is no official word on how long some of the key players will play, if they play at all, I expect the most vanilla of gameplans for the Cowboys in the regular season finale. There is just no incentive for them to try. Take the Under.
The Eagles might be out of contention, but I actually view them as one of the top non-playoff teams. They were my top play for Week 16 when they hosted the Giants last Thursday and delivered in kind w/ a 24-19 "upset." (Though they actually closed as the favorite). The key to that correct call and this one as well is that Philly has a very good defense. At home, they're giving up an average of only 15.9 points per game. However, the offense has its issues. QB Carson Wentz may have hit the proverbial "rookie wall" some time ago as he has an ugly 5-11 TD-INT ratio the L8 games. The team's top two running backs (Ryan Matthews, Darren Sproles) are both out here. Remember that LW, the team needed a defensive score just to get to 24 points as the offense gained less than 300 total yards. In terms of yards per play, this offense ranks fifth worst in the league.
The Eagles' 29-23 loss at Dallas in Week 8 is what started their swoon. While that game was high scoring, note it went to overtime after Philly blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead. That being said, it was another game that they gained fewer than 300 total yards. The Cowboys had nearly 500, but sources are now saying Ezekiel Elliot will be limited to only a handful of snaps here and that's key because he accounted for almost 150 of those yards in that first meeting. Also, the Dallas' D is quietly allowing only 18.6 PPG this year and 81.5 rush yds per game, which is tops in the league! The Under is 5-2 for them this season in road games. 10* Under Cowboys/Eagles
|12-19-16||Panthers v. Redskins UNDER 50.5||Top||26-15||Win||100||30 h 22 m||Show|
10* Under Panthers/Redskins (8:30 ET): Washington, thanks to an efficient offense and somewhat leaky defense, has turned into one of the most reliable teams for Over bettors in the entire league. Sure enough, dating back to LY's stretch run when they won four straight to win the NFC East, the Over is now a ridiculous 16-2 the L18 games! That includes an 11-2 mark this season with each of the last six games going that way! So, it would seem only natural to play this Monday night matchup with Carolina accordingly, right? Not so fast. This will be only the third time this year that the O/U line has cracked the 50-point barrier for the 'Skins and one of the previous two saw an Under cash. The Under would have been 2 for 2 on 50+ pt totals, but the team scored a late TD in garbage time against Dallas on Thanksgiving.
Carolina was an obvious call to regress in 2016, but the regression that has taken hold has been far more severe than even the greatest pessimist could have anticipated. Last year's NFC Champs currently sit at 5-8 and let's face it; the playoffs are only a pipe dream. One thing that I always found interesting about LY's team is that while it ranked #1 in the league in scoring (31.3 points per game), they were just outside the top 10 (11th) in yards per game. When a team rates so highly in # of yards per point (and Panthers were #1 in that dept LY), regression is all but inevitable the following year. Sure enough, Cam Newton and company have dipped down to a scoring average of 23.9 PPG this year. Last week was more reminiscent of 2015 as they scored 28 points despite gaining only 272 total yards. That was thanks to five Chargers turnovers.
Of course, the week prior was a disaster for Carolina as they were held to seven points on a near identical yardage total (271!) in a humiliating primetime loss at Seattle. Washington's defense may not be anywhere near as good as Seattle's, but they have allowed fewer than 300 total yds in B2B weeks. As for the Panthers defense, it would definitely be better if LB Luke Keuchly takes the field for the first time in four games. It's unclear if he will as of press time, but regardless, I expect Carolina not to "roll over" here. With temperatures expected to be chilly, expect the scoring to be lower than expected. 10* Under Panthers/Redskins
|12-12-16||Ravens v. Patriots OVER 44.5||Top||23-30||Win||100||13 h 46 m||Show|
8* Over Ravens/Patriots (8:30 ET): I am quite astonished that New England isn't getting its "usual amount of respect" for a home game here. Granted, they are w/o Rob Gronkowski and the Ravens have the top run defense in the NFL. But I still think the Pats can put quite a few points on the board Monday night as long as Tom Brady is the quarterback. This Baltimore defense, while stout against the run, still allows 4.9 yards per play as they've been quite susceptible through the air. Granted, they weren't last week against Miami, but that was due to them jumping all over the Dolphins early and thus the defense was able to play in a position of strength the rest of the way. Weather impacted a number of games Sunday, but it does not look as if it will play a role here. Take the Over.
Baltimore's offense had largely not been doing its part most of this season, but that changed in a major way w/ a 36-point effort LW vs. Miami. QB Joe Flacco threw for a season-best 386 yards in that victory and while you may be tempted to say "good luck" to him in his attempt to match that number against Bill Belichick, note New England has really benefited from facing a string of lousy QB's this year. The last three games alone they've faced Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colin Kaepernick and Jared Goff. No wonder they've allowed 17 pts or less in three straight games! Flacco and the Ravens certainly present a greater challenge here. Flacco has posted a 16-8 TD-INT ratio vs. the Patriots in his career and Baltimore has scored at least 20 points in eight of those nine games.
Of course, then we have Brady, who since returning from his four-game suspension has completed nearly 69 percent of his pass attempts w/ an incredible 19-1 TD-INT ratio. In the eight games w/ Brady at the helm, the offense has averaged 29.75 PPG. Sure, most of the defenses faced during that time are not as good as Baltimore's is, but as I said before the Ravens can be had through the air. Opposing QB's are completing over 64% of their pass attempts against their secondary and they, like New England, have hardly faced a litany of great offenses. 8* Over Ravens/Patriots
|12-11-16||Jets v. 49ers OVER 43.5||Top||23-17||Loss||-110||47 h 3 m||Show|
10* Over Jets/49ers (4:05 ET): For a second consecutive week, the Niners are favored. The role certainly didn't suit them well last week as they were humiliated 26-6 in Chicago. That outright defeat dropped them to 0-7 ATS in the favorite role their last seven chances. Incredibly, despite using two different QB's, San Fran managed just SIX passing yards last week. Not to be outdone, the Jets may have put forth an even more putrid performance LW as they basically no-showed in a 41-10 home loss to the Colts Monday night. Thus this shapes up as the ugliest matchup on the Week 14 card w/ virtually everyone looking to go Under the total. But, rarely do we find the percentage of total tickets so high on the Under. I'm going contrarian here and taking the Over as there's no way either offense will be as bad as they were last week.
The Jets are finally moving past QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who never should have been re-signed in the first place. Starting for the first time in his career will be Bryce Petty of Baylor fame. This may not sound inspiring to you, but making Petty's life easier is the fact that the 49ers defense is worst in the league against the run and it's not even close. San Fran allows a ghastly 169.3 YPG over land at 4.9 yards per pop. While the Jets have managed a total of only 100 rush yards (combined!) the L2 games, note the previous four weeks saw them gain 139+ every time out. For the year, the 49ers give up over 400 YPG and 30.8 PPG. Both of those averages rank dead last in the league.
Colin Kaepernick will again get the start despite LW's putrid performance. As bad as things have gone for Kaepernick this year, his TD-INT ratio and yards per pass attempt are both at their highest levels since the Super Bowl season of 2012. The Jets defense is nowhere near as good as it was in Todd Bowles' first year and is giving up 28.2 points per game on the road. The secondary was shredded last week by Andrew Luck and while there's a drop in class in terms of the opposing QB they will face here, I'm not positive that a short week will allow for the Jets secondary to cure all that ails them. For the year, they're giving up over a 65% completion rate. Weather should not be an issue in this game. 10* Over Jets/49ers
|11-27-16||Chiefs v. Broncos OVER 38.5||Top||30-27||Win||100||11 h 59 m||Show|
10* Over Chiefs/Broncos (8:30 ET): This is a big game in the AFC West as both teams are trying to keep pace w/ the first place Raiders. The loser here will be two games back w/ only five to play. There is a good shot that all three teams in the division make the playoffs. Denver is off its bye and at home, giving them a slight advantage, plus they have generally had KC's number the last few seasons. A seven-game series win streak was snapped in the second meeting LY thanks to a poor performance from Peyton Manning. But I'm staying away from the side here and instead turning to the total. The number is obviously low, but despite the perceived edges of the defenses, I see this one sneaking Over the total. This is the lowest total for either team to date in 2016.
The Chiefs have gone Under their last six games, which is a big reason this O/U line is so low. But it's how much lower than previous O/U lines that has caught my eye. The average O/U line for their games this season is 45.5. I think their defense has been a little overrated considering they're giving up an average of 410.7 yards per game the L3 weeks. They gave up 442 last week to Tampa Bay in a 19-17 upset loss at home. As you should be able to surmise from that score, the Bucs settled for a lot of field goals. Kansas City seems to have a real "bend but don't break" unit considering they are 25th in yards allowed, but 5th in scoring. That doesn't seem like a sustainable blueprint for success.
The Broncos' defense ranks 4th in yards allowed and eighth in scoring, so I'll give them the edge on that side of the ball. Offensively, note they have also scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. I think that the bye will do wonders for this offense this week. Note that this is the lowest total for a Chiefs-Broncos game since Week 17 of 2011, which was the year we were all "blessed" with Tim Tebow as Denver QB. Each of the last seven meetings have seen at least 41 total points scored. The Broncos last three games have all seen at least 46 total points scored. I look for both QB's to make enough plays to held send this one Over the total. 10* Over Chiefs/Broncos
|11-21-16||Texans v. Raiders UNDER 45||Top||20-27||Loss||-106||11 h 22 m||Show|
full analysis soon
|11-13-16||Packers v. Titans UNDER 50||Top||25-47||Loss||-115||62 h 35 m||Show|
10* Under Packers/Titans (1:00 ET): Green Bay has clearly been underachieving as they've been favored in all but one of their eight games, yet are just 4-4 SU. I went against them last week, at home vs. Indianapolis, expecting a close game. What I got was an outright win on the Colts, 31-26. The Pack did outgain the Colts mind you, but that's only a pyrrhic victory in what was the team's third loss by five points or less this season. Meanwhile, Tennessee has improved this year as they already have one more win than they did all of last season. But, it was a 43-35 loss LW at San Diego. GB looks tempting as this short of a road favorite, but their offense just isn't what it used to be. So let's go with the Under instead.
The Titans have gone Over in six straight games. As a result, we now have the highest total for any of their games this season. I was a bit 'snakebitten' in taking the Under LW in San Diego as that game as twice the Chargers scored a defensive TD. Granted, that wasn't enough to explain the discrepancy, but a few other factors are working in our favor here. One is Tennessee's defense shouldn't be as bad this week now that they're back at home. Two, I don't see their offense being very successful running the ball this week. They gained only 80 yards LW on 19 carries, but the Packers defense has excelled defending the run this year, allowing just 3.35 yards per carry (#1 in the league). Contrary to the way the rest of this league is going, Tennessee is a team that prefers to grind it out with the running game. That may not work here.
Sometimes you have to be a contrarian (I often am) and this figures to be one of the most popular Over choices of the week. This will be right with Atl-Phi and Mia-SD as one of the top choices of Over bettors. But, because of that, we can take advantage of a number that's been bet up. As I said before, the Packers' offense isn't humming like we're used to seeing. Shockingly, they are bottom 10 in the league in yards per play (5.3). On the road, that number dips to 5.1 and they are averaging less than 300 YPG. 10* Under Packers/Titans
|11-07-16||Bills v. Seahawks UNDER 44||Top||25-31||Loss||-107||13 h 55 m||Show|
10* Under Bills/Seahawks (8:30 ET): Both teams' stock is relatively low right now. Buffalo started the season 0-2 SU/ATS and fired its offensive coordinator following a Thursday night loss to the Jets. What followed was a four-game win streak that included a shutout of the Patriots (no Brady). But they've since dropped B2B games, including LW's rematch to the Pats and thus we find them basically where we thought they'd be at this point of the season - .500. Seattle hasn't won in three weeks following a tie w/ Arizona and a surprising loss at New Orleans. They stand at 4-2-1 SU, but one has to figure homefield advantage will account for something tonight. Still, the number is a bit too high for my liking and I'm looking at the total instead.
These teams only meet once every four years, so the fact that every Bills-Seahawks game since 1989 has gone Over the total should be taken w/ a little grain of salt. Still, that's eight straight meetings though. The last time these teams played was 2012 in Toronto (remember that gimmick?) and Seattle won 50-17, basically kickstarting their ascension towards the top of the league. I wouldn't be looking for the Seahawks to score 50 pts again tonight, however. This offense can't run the ball at all. They average just 3.6 yards per carry, which ranks 27th, plus no team in the league has fewer runs of 15+ yards this year than does this one (3). The much maligned Seattle offensive line figures to have all sorts of trouble protecting QB Russell Wilson here as Buffalo ranks 1st in the league w/ 26 sacks. Wilson's health has been an issue and the 'Hawks have scored a grand total of 19 pts the L2 games. Particularly concerning was LW's 20-pt effort against an awful Saints defense.
While Seattle can't run, Buffalo often struggles to throw as they rank 31st in the league in passing. The Bills' own running game could be hampered if LeSean McCoy can't go. Of the team's five lowest scoring games this season, four took place on the road where they are now averaging just 18.7 points per game. As an underdog, Buffalo is 15-6 Under the L3 seasons. That includes 6-1 as a road dog of +3.5 to +7. 10* Under Bills/Seahawks
|11-06-16||Titans v. Chargers UNDER 47||Top||35-43||Loss||-101||27 h 2 m||Show|
10* Under Titans/Chargers (4:25 ET): Though they lost LW at Denver (27-19), I still feel confident in asserting that San Diego is the "best 3-5 team in the league." The Lightning Bolts haven't lost a game by more than eight points all season and while some fans may be disappointed by the current record, note that the team has been favored only twice this season. This will be third time, even though Tennessee comes in on extended rest, fresh off an impressive 36-22 Thursday night win last week. But the Titans haven't played on the road in awhile. Then again, this team doesn't mind playing away from home as that's where two of their three wins have come this year. I'm staying away from the side here (SD has been kind to me as a dog, but don't like them as much when favored) and looking at the total.
Tennessee comes into this game having gone Over in each of its last five games. They are off a season high in points scored (36) and total yardage (494). Thus, I feel comfortable in calling for a decrease in production this week. Now after averaging just 15.5 PPG the first four weeks, the Titans are up to 30 PPG the L4 wks. But they've been fortunate to face some pretty weak defenses of late, such as the Colts and Browns. Here they'll go up against a fairly underrated Chargers defense that just held Denver to only 324 yards and 15 first downs last week. Also note that one of the TD's allowed by San Diego LW came on a INT return. This is also a much higher O/U line than usual for Tennessee.
Philip Rivers' weapons have dropped like flies this year. He lost top wideout Keenan Allen in the first game and has been making chicken soup out of you know what w/ an unheralded corps. This offense has put up some nice point totals (avg 28.1 PPG), but the unit is a bit overrated considering they rank outside the Top 10 in yards per game. Back to the defense, they are allowing only 20 PPG here a home. Last week's game at Denver did go Over, but only b/c there were two defensive TD's in that game, one per side. The Chargers' offense actually had only two scoring drives in that game. Observing the line movement, it appears as if sharp money is on the Under here. So am I. 10* Under Titans/Chargers
|10-30-16||Raiders v. Bucs UNDER 49.5||Top||30-24||Loss||-110||47 h 32 m||Show|
10* Under Raiders/Bucs (1:00 ET): Here we have two teams that are nowhere good as their respective records might indicate. Oakland is 5-2, tied w/ Denver atop the AFC West. But that's despite ranking dead last in the league in yards per play and yards per game allowed and having a point differential of only +6 (worst in their division). The Silver and Black are off perhaps their most complete game of the year, a 33-16 win over Jacksonville that kept their road record perfect (now 4-0). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has not won a home game, but is somehow 3-3 SU, even though their YTD point differential is -33! They too are off their most complete win of the year, 33-17 at San Francisco last week. Obviously, I'll steer clear of the side here, which means I'm going total, but not the way you're likely thinking.
The Bucs' defense is coming off B2B strong efforts. They forced seven turnovers in wins over Carolina and San Francisco. Last week, they fell behind 14-0 early, but held the 49ers to just 181 yards after that. Even in a 27-7 loss to Denver three weeks ago, the D gave up just over 300 yards. This week, though they'll be facing a Raiders offense that scored 33 pts last week, it gained a rather pedestrian 344 total yards. Thanks to three Jacksonville turnovers in that game, Oakland got a number of chances to work with "short fields." They had three scoring drives (13 points total) of 25 yards or less. The Under is 11-7 in Tampa's last 18 home games, including 4-1 if the total is between 45.5 and 49 pts. As of press time, this is one of the highest O/U lines on the board this week; only one is guaranteed to close higher.
The Over is 6-0-1 the past seven meetings between these two teams, including the Super Bowl matchup at the end of the 2002 season. This number is significantly higher than any of the previous matchups. Of course, a lot of that has to do w/ the Raiders defense, but note they have had to play some of the top offenses in the league to this point. That includes New Orleans, Atlanta, San Diego and Kansas City. Last week, they held the anemic Jags to only 16 points. They've also held Tennessee to only 10 in an earlier road win. 10* Under Raiders/Bucs
|10-23-16||Redskins v. Lions UNDER 50||Top||17-20||Win||100||70 h 28 m||Show|
10* Under Redskins/Lions (1:00 ET): Dating back to last year, Washington has been winning big for Over bettors. The Over is 10-1 their last 11 games overall including 5-1 this season. Last week's game vs. Philadelphia just snuck over the total of 45.0 (27-20 final), but note that the defense actually did not give up a single TD and allowed just 239 total yards. The Eagles' two touchdowns came on a kickoff return and an interception return. It was the third consecutive game that the Redskins allowed 20 points or fewer. Despite that, we find the highest O/U line for any of their 2016 games to date as they venture into the Motor City to take on a Lions team that has hardly been an offensive juggernaut itself the last several weeks. Take the Under.
Detroit opened this season by going to Indianapolis and pulling out a 39-35 outright win. But it's since been well-established that the Colts have one of the worst defenses in the entire league. Since that time, the Lions haven't been particularly impressive on offense. They did score 27 points against Green Bay in Week 3, but that was a byproduct of falling behind early and taking advantage of some soft Packers' coverage. The L3 games have seen the Lions held to an average of only 285 YPG. Last week against the Rams was the team's highest scoring game since the opener (31 points). But it was also the fourth straight week they failed to even gain 85 yards rushing. I do not expect them to run the ball w/ much effectiveness here as Theo Reddick has again been ruled out. Better coverage and tackling has resulted in Washington allowing just 15 second half points the L4 games.
Four game win streak be damned, I'm still not a believer in Kirk Cousins. His propensity for turning the ball over is what kept the Eagles in the game last week. Now the Washington offense did roll up almost 500+ total yds against a good Eagles defense. But that was easily a season-high and will not be sustained. A key vs. Philadelphia was running for a stunning 230 rush yards. Detroit allowed only 76 LW to Todd Gurley and the Rams. Save for the Colts game, this is the highest total for any Lions game this year and there's a chance it could close higher than that season opener. Washington also won't have TE Jordan Reed, a big part of their offense, again. I can't see them being as successful as they were last week, here, without him. 10* Under Redskins/Lions
|10-10-16||Bucs v. Panthers UNDER 46||Top||17-14||Win||100||20 h 20 m||Show|
10* Under Bucs/Panthers (8:30 ET): Carolina led the NFL in points per game last season (31.3), but happened to do so in spite of the fact they actually finished just outside of the top 10 in yards per game. That's sure seems like an "unsustainable business model," no? Ironically, they are fourth in yards per game this year (386.5), but only eighth in points (27.3). Funny how that works! Certainly, there should be an expectation of an offensive decline here w/ Derek Anderson and not Cam Newton as the starting QB. Those making the argument that Anderson is a "capable backup" and that there "won't be any kind of huge dropoff at the QB position" best check that opinion at the door as there isn't a single competent football mind that would consider playing Anderson over Newton in a non-injury situation.
Tampa Bay has been real "feast or famine" offensively through the first four games. Twice, including last week, they've been held to just seven points. They came into the week w/ the worst point differential in the entire league. QB Jameis Winston continues to turn the ball over too much (Bucs are -9 in TO department thus far) and I don't see him taking advantage of the Panthers' secondary in the same way Falcons QB Matt Ryan did last week. Furthermore, Winston doesn't have a receiver like Julio Jones to throw to. Through four games, the Bucs offense ranks outside the top 20 in both yards and points per game. They average only 82.5 YPG rushing. Missing here will be RB Doug Martin as well as his backup Charles Sims. Also out is WR Cecil Shorts III.
Carolina has beaten Tampa Bay six straight times and the Over cashed both times in LY's sweep. That was largely owed to the fact that the Panthers averaged 37.5 PPG in the two wins. I just don't see that happening here. Both of Anderson's starts w/ Carolina have come against Tampa Bay. Both games took place in the 2014 season. Both stayed Under w/ the Panthers averaging just 19.5 PPG, roughly half what they scored LY w/ Newton behind center. On the defensive side of the ball, I do expect a bounce back from Carolina after being embarrassed last week. Tampa Bay is 10-5 Under as a dog of 3.5 to 9.5 points, including 6-3 on the road when priced at +7.5 or less. 10* Under Bucs/Panthers
|10-09-16||Giants v. Packers UNDER 48.5||Top||16-23||Win||100||11 h 8 m||Show|
8* Under Giants/Packers (8:30 ET): Overwhelmingly one-sided public betting on the Over has me now going the other way Sunday night. The Giants have been held to 20 pts or less in three of four games this season (27th in PPG) and have major internal issues right now w/ WR Odell Beckham Jr. Their defense, save for the Redskins loss (which was also their highest scoring game on offense) has been much improved as well. They've held Dallas, New Orleans and Minnesota all to 24 points or less. The G-Men are 29-14 Under L43 road games when the total is between 45.5 and 49 points.
Don't look for the Giants to have much success running the ball in this game. They are w/o RB Rashad Jennings and will be going against a Packers' defense that has allowed no more than 50 yds rushing in any of its three games! Allowing averages of just 43 YPG rushing on 1.8 YPC are easily both league bests coming into this game. This will put a lot of pressure on Manning, who is already having to endure the Beckham drama.
Even though WR Jordy Nelson is back, the Packers' offense just doesn't seem to be a strong as it once was. The Week 3 win over the Lions saw them gain a season-high in total yards, but even then the number was just 324 total yards. Both Minnesota and Jacksonville were able to hold them under 300 total yds. As I said earlier, the Giants defense is much improved this year. This will likely close as the highest O/U line for any Green Bay game this season. It will be the second highest for the Giants, falling short of only the Saints game that had a 53-pt total. Of course, the final score there was only 16-13 and the offense failed to score even a single touchdown on what was the league's worst defense in 2015. 8* Under Giants/Packers
|10-06-16||Cardinals v. 49ers OVER 43||Top||33-21||Win||100||31 h 17 m||Show|
8* Over Cardinals/49ers (8:25 ET): There's some question as to whom will be quarterbacking for Arizona here, Carson Palmer (concussion) or Drew Stanton. Regardless, I expect them to score points here against a 49ers defense that has given up an average of nearly 36 points per game the L3 weeks and just lost its best player (Navarro Bowman) for the remainder of the season. It has been a shockingly poor start this year for the Cards, who already have as many losses (3) as they did at the end of the regular season last year. They've scored just 31 points the L2 games, B2B losses to the Bills and Rams. But this has the makings of a "get well" situation. It's also a really low total, likely Arizona's lowest of the season. Provided they don't turn the ball over like they have the L2 weeks (10 TO's!), they should score plenty of points. They did roll up 420 yds LW against a much better defense (Rams) than they'll see here.
Last year, the 49ers pulled out a surprise Week 1 win in the late game of the MNF doubleheader (beat Vikings). Things quickly went south though as they finished 5-11 SU (and the record probably should have been worse). This year, they again won the late Monday nighter (28-0 shutout of the Rams), but the pattern has been similar w/ three consecutive losses. They've scored only 35 total points the L2 games, but one of those was against Seattle and it's top flight defense. Obviously, Blaine Gabbert won't scare anybody as the team ranks 32nd (last!) in the league in passing. But RB Carlos Hyde is tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns w/ four. I still trust Chip Kelly, in his 1st year here, to get the offense going.
Arizona has a running back, David Johnson, who leads the league in total yards from scrimmage. So, if Stanton does start, expect the offense to go through Johnson. Three of the last four times these teams have played, the Under has cashed w/ the lone exception being LY's home win by the Cardinals where they put up 47 points themselves. But I could see this game ending up like my successful Over play from Sunday night (Chiefs-Steelers) where one team handles the bulk of the scoring. This total is just too low. 8* Over Cardinals/49ers
|10-02-16||Chiefs v. Steelers OVER 47||Top||14-43||Win||100||50 h 10 m||Show|
10* Over Chiefs/Steelers (8:25 ET): Both of these teams failed to impress on offense last week. Pittsburgh was held w/o a touchdown in a shocking blowout loss at Philadelphia. Kansas City's result (24-3 win over Jets) needs to be taken w/ a grain of salt as it was greatly aided by eight forced turnovers! (Keep in mind the Chiefs were #2 in TO margin LY; a market correction is overdue here). Though the last four Chiefs-Steelers matchups (all since 2011) have all stayed Under the total, I see both offenses bouncing back this week, leading to a game that will be higher scoring than expected. Needless to say, I don't think anybody, myself included, expected to see the Steelers averaging only 21.7 points per game through three weeks. Take the Over.
Of course, last week negatively skews all Pittsburgh offensive statistics. The first two games saw them average 31.0 PPG in wins over Washington and Cincinnati, both division winners from a year ago. Now, an offense already loaded with top notch skill position players gets RB LeVeon Bell back. In case you forgot, Bell (suspended first three games) is as good as any running back in this league. Kansas City allows 123 rushing YPG. Of course, Pittsburgh also happens to have the top WR in the league as well, Antonio Brown. They will be facing a very banged up Chiefs' defense that continues to be w/o Justin Houston (PUP list), Tamba Hali and now possibly both starting corners. Neither Marcus Peters nor Phillip Gaines practiced two days ago. Gaines is the one less likely to play.
Kansas City runs a similar offense to Philadelphia. That's bad news for the (not) Steel Curtain, which has allowed 300+ yds passing in every game so far. This is a young secondary that did not look good LW vs. the Eagles. Even running backs seem to be exploiting the Steelers' suspect pass coverage. They have allowed 100+ yds receiving to Gio Bernard and Darren Sproles the L2 wks. The Kansas City running game, which averages 4.2 yards per carry, should find success here as well. Jamaal Charles may play here. So both offenses should be able to move the ball here. Pittsburgh, usually a strong bet at home and in primetime, has seen the Over cash six of the last seven times they've been a home favorite of 3.5 to 7 pts. 10* Over Chiefs/Steelers
|10-02-16||Browns v. Redskins UNDER 47.5||Top||20-31||Loss||-110||43 h 40 m||Show|
10* Under Browns/Redskins (1:00 ET): Cleveland treated me well last week. I didn't even need to watch overtime against Miami as I was getting 10 points, thus it was an automatic winner on my end. Sadly for the Browns, it wound up being another loss as they gave up a touchdown in the extra period to fall 30-24. This offense, quarterbacked by rookie third-stringer Cody Kessler, was actually only responsible for 17 pts last week and that was against a bad defense. The Browns' defense scored a TD on an INT return and that kind of production certainly cannot be counted on a week to week basis. Week 1 was only a 10-pt effort from the Cleveland offense and Week 2 was just two big plays and a drive set up by a turnover. The Browns won't score much here, but neither will the Redskins. Take the Under.
Washington got its first win of the year last week, coming from behind to beat the Giants 29-27. That too was a win for me as I took the points w/ the Skins. I'm not about to back them in this spot, however, as QB Kirk Cousins is 0-6 ATS as a favorite in his career w/ four outright losses. Five of those games have seen the offense score 23 pts or less, four have seen them held below 20. I still have my questions about Cousins despite the fact he ranks near the top of the league in passing yardage. The first two games saw Cousins and the 'Skins offense account for just 39 total points. Yet both games still went Over as did last week's win. Washington's last eight games, dating back to last year, have now all gone Over. That seems like a streak that's due to end, no?
While in line with most Redskins totals for the year, this number figures to close as the highest for any Browns game to date. Again, Cody Kessler is this team's starting QB. He began the year as third string. This is an offense that had limited options to begin with. Now Josh Gordon, once their most dynamic playmaker, has been released (drugs). Rookie WR Corey Coleman broke his hand and is out several weeks as a result. I really see this team struggling to put points on the board moving forward as a result. Cleveland comes in averaging only 18.0 PPG while Washington is at 22.7. Add those numbers up and it's a TD less than the actual total here. 10* Under Browns/Redskins
|09-29-16||Dolphins v. Bengals OVER 44.5||Top||7-22||Loss||-107||21 h 6 m||Show|
10* Over Dolphins/Bengals (8:25 ET): The last time these teams met, Over bettors thought they had one "in the bag." It was a 20-20 game entering overtime (total of 43.0), so no worse that a "push" right? Wrong. Miami actually won on a walkoff safety, giving them (and Under bettors) a 22-20 win. But the Dolphins defense is much worse this go around and I expect Cincy to score at will. I look for the Under streak of three in head to head meetings to come to a halt Thursday night as the Bengals have always proven to be more prolific offensively at home. They aren't facing Denver or Pittsburgh this week. Take the Over.
Miami's defense got off to a good start in holding Seattle to just 12 points in Week 1. Since then, however, it's been all downhill. They were torched early by New England, giving up 31 points to Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. Last week, even in victory, might have been worse. As big home favorites, they allowed 24 pts and 430 total yards to a Cleveland team that was starting Cody Kessler. They made Terrelle Pryor look like one of the most talented offensive players in the league. Bengals QB Andy Dalton comes in leading the league in passing (938 yards). Cincy was able to run the ball last week against Denver's fearsome defense and Miami ranks near the bottom of the league in rush defense after allowing 160+ yards B2B weeks. The Over is 5-1 in the Bengals' last six home games when the total is 42.5 to 45 points.
Miami has scored 24 pts in regulation B2B weeks. Granted, they struggle running the ball and on third down. The offensive line is really banged up. But the Bengals have allowed at least 22 pts in every game so far. A first year starter (Trevor Siemian) exploded against the last week for 300+ yards and 4 TD passes. This week, their secondary will be w/o CB Dre Kirkpatrick. I do expect the front seven to get the job done now that Vontaze Burfict is back from suspension, but a few big plays stand to be made by Miami in the passing game w/ WR Jarvis Landry, particularly if they fall behind again like they did at New England. Miami did gain 426 total yards on offense last week. This is a low total. 10* Over Dolphins/Bengals
|09-25-16||Chargers v. Colts UNDER 51||Top||22-26||Win||100||46 h 56 m||Show|
10* Under Chargers/Colts (4:25 ET): Both of these teams have gone Over in their two games so far. However, that's a bit misleading. From the Indianapolis perspective, LW's game at Denver only went Over due to a late FG + defensive TD (2nd of the game) from the Broncos. In fact, that late TD also cost Colts backers the cover. As for San Diego, their defense has played much better than anticipated, save for one 4th quarter meltdown against the Chiefs in Week 1. Both TD's given up to Jacksonville last week came in garbage time. However, if there is one worry with the Chargers, it's that skill position players appear to be "dropping like flies." Therefore, they may not be able to take full advantage of a suspect and injured Colts defense. I'm on the Under here.
For San Diego, the offense has already suffered two major season-ending injuries: WR Keenan Allen and RB Danny Woodhead. Those are major losses. TE Antonio Gates is also unlikely to play here. QB Philip Rivers has still managed to deliver a 5-0 TD-INT ratio in spite of this, but how long can he keep it up? Yes, he's going up against a defense that has given up a NFL-high 73 points through two games. But I look for SD to be more of running team this week as Melvin Gordon is starting to emerge in his sophomore season. Note that over the last three seasons, the Over is 9-2 in Chargers games when the closing line is three points or less. That includes a 6-1 mark as a road underdog. The Indianapolis defense only allowed 20 pts last week when factoring out the defensive TDs.
San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano is the brother of Indianapolis' HC Chuck. So there's familiarity there. Also, John will be bringing in a rapidly improving defense. In Week 1, the Chargers held the Chiefs to only 10 points through three quarters before melting down late. Last week, the passing yards accumulated by Blake Bortles and Jacksonville all came late. This time, the Lightning Bolts had too big of a lead to blow. Until the 4Q last week, the Jags didn't have a single drive last longer than six plays. That's trouble for Andrew Luck and a Colts offense that is w/o WR Donte Moncrief. Last week, facing an admittedly top defense, Indy gained only 253 total yds. This is actually the third straight year the Colts have opened 0-2. I don't like this team at all right now, especially w/ Luck batting an injured throwing shoulder. Look for a fare lower scoring game than expected here. 10* Under Chargers/Colts
|09-18-16||Cowboys v. Redskins UNDER 45.5||Top||27-23||Loss||-102||44 h 27 m||Show|
10* Under Cowboys/Redskins (1:00 ET): Neither team had an enjoyable Week 1. Dallas lost 20-19 to the Giants while Washington was rather humiliated Monday night, losing 38-16 here at home to Pittsburgh. The road team has actually won outright in each of the previous five editions of this NFC East rivalry, so that coupled w/ this being the 'Skins second straight home game, has me off the side (I'd lean Dallas). Instead, with neither offense impressing much LW, I'm looking at the total and going Under. Curiously, this number has come DOWN despite the overwhelming number of tickets being written on the Over. That's a signal to me of some "sharp action" and even though I chose to go Over on two separate occasions last week, typically playing the Under is the way to go in divisional matchups such as this.
I think that we can all agree that Washington QB Kirk Cousins is bound to regress in 2016. His TD-INT ratio from LY was totally unsustainable. Sure enough, he threw a couple of picks against the Steelers and what should have been a third was blatantly dropped (that drive ended in a Washington field goal). You like that? The Redskins offense scored only one touchdown LW and it didn't come until early in the fourth quarter. Yes, Cousins has completed at least 65 percent of his pass attempts in nine consecutive games. One more and he ties Joe Montana for the all-time record. But most of Cousins' throws tend to be "low risk, low reward." Washington hardly even attempted to run the ball vs. the Steelers, gaining only 55 yards on 12 carries. I have the Dallas' defense improving this season and after holding a better Giants offense to only 20 pts, they should do just fine here.
Going back to last year, the Redskins have actually gone Over in six straight games (excludes preseason). But, as is the case w/ Cousins, all good streaks must end. After being gashed LW by the Steelers, the Washington defense should be more helpful here as they'll be facing a rookie QB making his second career start (Dak Prescott), not Ben Roethlisberger. That's a major difference. The Cowboys offense, which is predicated on running the ball, scored only 19 pts LW against a questionable Giants' defense. Six points came on two 50-plus yard field goals. Like the Redskins, they did not score a first half TD. Dez Bryant had just one catch for eight yards. The Under is 6-1 in the Cowboys' last seven games following a SU loss. 10* Under Cowboys/Redskins
|09-12-16||Rams v. 49ers OVER 43.5||Top||0-28||Loss||-110||127 h 14 m||Show|
10* Over Rams/49ers (10:15 ET): There were 13 NFL games played yday. Only two had a total lower than this one. In today's NFL, an O/U line in the low 40's is quite low and the reality of the matter is that it doesn't take much to send it over. We saw this is the Minnesota-Tennessee game yday, which had the lowest O/U line on the board and went Over thanks to a pair of defensive scores. In the second game of tonight's MNF doubleheader, we've got two bad teams, and while the defenses are thought to be the respective strengths, I think this one ends up higher scoring than expected. Both Rams vs. 49ers' matchups stayed Under last season, as did 12 of the Rams' 16 games overall, but that's helped create value in going the other way here. Take the Over.
There is much hoopla surrounding the Rams' return to Los Angeles, but the bottom line is that this has been a mediocre (at best!) team throughout Jeff Fisher's tenure. I don't expect substantial improvement in 2016 despite what you may have seen on "Hard Knocks." Fisher is clearly desperate to hold onto his job. Why else would he forsake starting #1 overall DC Jared Goff in favor of Case Keenum? As far as the growth of the team goes, I don't agree with that decision at all, but at least it probably helps our cause here. Goff struggled in the preseason and at least Keenum has NFL starting experience. Keenum may be the one better suited to putting more points on the board in these early season games. He can of course simply hand the ball off to Todd Gurley, who ran for 133 yards in his lone game against this defense last season. San Francisco allowed 124 YPG rushing a season ago.
Another QB decision I don't agree with is the 49ers going w/ Blaine Gabbert over Colin Kaepernick. "The book has been written" with Gabbert and his record as a starter tells the story. But, I do concede that he did have his best day as a pro against these Rams in the season finale last year. There, he threw for 354 yards in a 19-16 win. I just can't envision the 49ers' offense not being better than it was a year ago. Remember, Chip Kelly has come on board and that means tempo. It also may mean his own defense could tire by the end of this game, because the time of possession never seems to be in his team's favor. The ticket count on the Under here is really high, which is very unusual, given that Over is typically the public play. That too has swayed me to the Over. 10* Over Rams/49ers
|09-11-16||Bucs v. Falcons OVER 47.5||Top||31-24||Win||100||419 h 50 m||Show|
10* Over Bucs/Falcons (1:00 ET): A crazy thing happened w/ Atlanta last year - they stayed Under in each of the L12 games! That includes both against division rival Tampa Bay, a 23-20 loss at home and a 23-19 loss on the road. One would have to think that total trend will start to reverse itself in 2016 as the league's top Under team last year should probably start to see some low totals. For a frame of reference, note the O/U line for the Falcons' season opener LY (vs. Philadelphia) was 55! Matt Ryan and the offense were quite disappointing throughout the previous campaign, averaging just 21.2 PPG, thereby negating the gains made by the defense in the 1st year under HC Dan Quinn. At home, there's no reason to expect the Falcons won't score more against the Bucs this year, so I'm on the Over.
Tampa Bay jumped from 2 to 6 wins last season, but that didn't stop the front office from jettisoning Lovie Smith in favor of OC Dirk Koetter. The Bucs also averaged just a hair over three touchdowns per game last season, but that was w/ a rookie QB (Jameis Winston). Working with Koetter, much is expected of Winston in year two and I look for a much better season from his top receiver, Mike Evans. The Bucs' offense was one of the best in the league at running the ball a year ago as they averaged 135 YPG. The problem w/ the defense is that it's a "stars and scrubs" approach that never works. They have talented players at all three levels (DT Gerald McCoy, LB LaVonte David and 1st round DC Vernon Hargreaves), but a lot of subpar talent on that side of the ball as well.
These teams have two things in common. One is a 4,000+ yard passer. The other is a consistent failure to bring pressure on opposing QBs. Thus, Winston and Ryan should both have big days here. Ryan has thrown for 4,000+ yards in five consecutive seasons, but LY's TD-INT ratio (21-16) was the worst of his career. Many of those interceptions came at the worst places, like in the end zone, which are just back-breakers. I anticipate Ryan taking better care of the football in 2016 and the team's 6-0 Under mark in divisional games from last year should take a turn. 10* Over Bucs/Falcons
|02-07-16||Panthers v. Broncos UNDER 45||Top||10-24||Win||100||175 h 16 m||Show|
10* Under Panthers/Broncos (6:30 ET): After cashing the Under in Denver's AFC Championship Game victory and the Over in Carolina's NFC Championship Game victory, I had a choice to make here and I'm again calling for another relatively low-scoring Broncos game. Certainly many of the reasons I thought the AFC Championship Game would stay Under the total still apply here. We have Denver's defense, which gave up the fewest yards per game in the regular season and was fourth in scoring (18.5 PPG allowed). That group has now held both Pittsburgh and New England (two of the league's top offenses) under 20 points in these playoffs. We're also now substituting in a Panthers defense, which during the regular season gave up just slightly less points per game (0.4) than the Patriots did. They just held a potentially explosive Arizona offense to just 15 points in the NFC Championship Game. Under is my top play for Super Bowl 50.
Now Carolina did go Over the NFC Champ Game total all by themselves (scored 49 pts). But to me, without question, Denver's defense will be the best that Cam Newton and company will have faced all season. The Broncos incredible ability to generate pressure on the quarterback (#1 in both pressure and sack rate) was fully evident against the Patriots and that was with sending only three or maybe four rushers at a time. Denver will have to respect the running game more here, but then again they allow just 3.3 yards per rush attempt. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger is the only QB to have thrown for 300+ yards against this Broncos defense this season (did it twice), but Big Ben has a much better group of receivers and the Steelers went w/ a pass-heavy approach in both games. Denver has now played 18 games this year and has allowed 20 or fewer points in two-thirds (12) of them.
Substitute Wade Phillips' defense in for virtually any other in the league and they would be the strength of just about every team. But with this year's Broncos, there is no denying that the defense has had to carry the offense. Peyton Manning has endured easily the worst statistical season of his career this year. Since his return from injury, many of the scoring drives he has "led" have been blessed with outstanding field position. In fact, take away last week's opening TD drive vs. New England and six of their other nine scoring drives in the playoffs have gone for 30 yards or LESS, many of them resulting in only field goals. Remember that Carolina's defense also allows fewer than 20 PPG and not only did they hold Arizona to just 15 points last week, they held Seattle scoreless in the first half in the Divisional Round. I expect that both of the offenses in this game will be forced into third down quite a bit. Avoiding turnovers (for both teams) is also key here as takeaways have led to many of the scores in both teams' games this postseason. The Panthers have returned an INT for a touchdown in both playoff games, so those final point totals are a bit misleading. Additionally, Super Bowl scoring tends to start out very slow due to all the pomp and circumstance, not to mention the layoff and stakes involved. Look for Super Bowl 50 to be ruled by the defenses. 10* Under Panthers/Broncos
|01-24-16||Cardinals v. Panthers OVER 47.5||Top||15-49||Win||100||81 h 10 m||Show|
10* Over Cardinals/Panthers (6:40 ET): I'm not at all surprised where the pointspread is at for this matchup as we have the top two teams in the league in scoring differential (Carolina #1, Arizona #2) and the respective points scored vs. points allowed are nearly identical. Both offenses come in averaging slightly more than 30 points per game w/ Carolina at 31.2 and Arizona at 30.3. There wasn't another team in the league above the 30 PPG threshold. On defense, Carolina allows 19.5 PPG and Arizona 19.6, both good enough to be in the top 10. But because of notable injuries in both secondaries, I feel that it will be more likely to see the respective offenses in top form as opposed to the defenses. Take the Over.
For Carolina, they have a big time issue at cornerback, opposite Josh Norman. Last week, Seattle fell into such an early hole that you may not have noticed that they began to exploit that very issue in the second half. Whether it was Robert McClain or Cortland Finnegan, Russell Wilson had a field day picking apart the Panthers' second corner. Keep in mind that neither of those players were with the team prior to December 15th. If there is one team uniquely qualified to best take advantage of such subpar secondary depth, it would be Arizona, who has an excellent receiving group. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown all had strong years and Norman will only be able to cover one at a time. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer struggled big-time last week, but I anticipate he'll take advantage of Panthers' depleted secondary (which really struggled LW when bliztes didn't get home and there's no Jared Allen this week) and have a big bounce back game.
Carolina's offense didn't average as many yards per game as Arizona's did, but they will have the best offensive player on the field Sunday night in the form of probable league MVP, Cam Newton. When Newton looks downfield in this game, he won't see Tyrann Mathieu and that should bring a big smile to his face. The Panthers may not have the same quality receiving corps that Arizona does, but considering what Aaron Rodgers was able to engineer last week with a real "skeleton crew," that's not necessarily important. Newton has been able to make "chicken salad" out of you know what all season, throwing for over 4,000 yards at 7.7 yards per attempt. He faced plenty of blitzing this year, which the Cardinals will undoubtedly do a lot of here, and typically performed well in those situations. The Panthers have scored 31 or more points in seven of their last eight games and I'd pay no mind to the scoreless second half last week as they clearly took their "foot off the gas pedal." 10* Over Cardinals/Panthers
|01-24-16||Patriots v. Broncos UNDER 44.5||Top||18-20||Win||100||77 h 30 m||Show|
8* Under Patriots/Broncos (3:00 ET): When these teams met on this same field back in Week 12, I took both Denver and the Over. Both plays won, yet so much was misleading about the 30-24 score in favor of the Broncos. For starters, the game went to overtime, which only serves to inflate the final tally. Interestingly, only because of overtime did Denver get to 30 points, something we have not seen the offense do in any other game this season! Then there was the fact it was just a 14-7 game entering the fourth quarter. Down 21-7, Denver took advantage of a short field (off a muffed punt) to score its second touchdown of the game and things took a dramatic turn from there. Interestingly, five of the game's scoring drives were 60 yards or shorter, including the game winner, which was capped by a 47-yard CJ Anderson touchdown. The total is a little higher here than it was for the regular season matchup, but I expect the rematch to be lower scoring than the original, significantly lower scoring in fact. Take the Under.
Clearly, a big difference between this and the Week 12 matchup is the presence of Peyton Manning. But as I discussed in last week's analysis (going against the Broncos), I'm not sure if Manning is a significant upgrade from Brock Osweiler, or even an upgrade at all. Last week, the Broncos offense scored one touchdown and it came directly after a Steelers fumble set them up on a relatively short field. Looking at the five drives that ended up w/ a field goal, four of them went for 30 yards or less, three starting on the Pittsburgh side of the field. Manning has had a terrible year in Gary Kubiak's offense, even after transitioning back into his preferred shotgun formation. Some of that was due to injury, but the fact remains that this offense has been held under 25 points in regulation in eight of Manning's 10 starts. One of the two exceptions was the wild Week 2 win at Kansas City, won on a defensive score, the other was a unique thrashing of Green Bay.
Lest we forget that we'll have two of the best defenses in the game on the field in Sunday's AFC Championship Game. Denver has allowed the fewest yards in the league and only Pittsburgh was able to score more than 30 points against the league's #4 scoring defense. The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger is the only QB to throw for 300+ yards against them (did it twice). It will be interesting to see if the Patriots employ the same pass-heavy approach we saw last week vs. Kansas City as Denver's defense was the best against the pass in the regular season. Meanwhile, don't sleep on the New England defense either, which ranked 9th overall and 10th in scoring (19.7 PPG). They held the conservative Alex Smith to less than five yards per pass last week and I can't see Manning doing a whole lot better. Yes, Denver's offense was plagued by drops last week, but whatever nominal gains they have in that department here will be offset by a Patriots defense that's playing well. 8* Under Patriots/Broncos
|01-16-16||Packers v. Cardinals UNDER 50||Top||20-26||Win||100||76 h 51 m||Show|
10* Under Packers/Cardinals (8:15 ET): While Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense seemed to receive the majority of the accolades in last week's 35-18 Wild Card win over Washington, I'd like to reiterate what I said about the team's defense in my analysis for that matchup. This is a group that is allowing only 20.1 points per game for the year and really coming into its own. Only three times in the last 14 games have they allowed more than that season-long average! This is a pretty high total for a playoff game and Green Bay is 2-0 Under this season when the O/U is 50 pts or higher, including their regular season meeting with the Cardinals where Rodgers played the worst game of his entire career. Take the Under.
Now, I obviously anticipate Saturday night's game being a lot closer than the regular season matchup, which was won by Arizona 38-8. But it needs to be discussed just how much the Arizona defense dominated that game. They held Rodgers to his second lowest QBR (ESPN stat) of his career and the Packers offense to just 178 yards total. Rodgers was sacked nine times (!) and the Cardinals forced five fumbles (recovered three), returning two of them for touchdowns. Prior to scoring their lone touchdown of the game (in the third quarter), Green Bay's first seven drives (excluding kneel down at the end of the first half) all ended w/ a punt or a turnover and none of them went for more than 27 yards. Four went for six yards or less.
Arizona scored two defensive touchdowns in that 38-8 win, so take those away and there's really little reason to like the Over here, particularly w/ such a high O/U line. Green Bay was held to 17 points or less in six of its final 13 regular season contests. Rodgers won't have to deal with Tyrann Mathieu here, but I wouldn't look for a repeat of last week's 35-point performance either. Washington's porous defense was an ideal matchup for them as the Redskins ranked 25th against the pass and 26th against the run. It's unlikely that we will see the Packers run for 141 yds again like they did last week. Arizona's defense ranks 8th against the pass and 6th against the run. However, Green Bay's defense will be able to keep them in this one. Interesting is the fact that the public has been pounding the Over here, but the number has remained relatively unchanged. I think that 24 points is a realistic expectation for the winning side. 10* Under Packers/Cardinals
|01-10-16||Packers v. Redskins UNDER 45.5||Top||35-18||Loss||-109||100 h 47 m||Show|
10* Under Packers/Redskins (4:45 ET): Green Bay did not look good down the stretch, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. With Aaron Rodgers, that's surprising (even w/ a depleted WR corps), but the bottom line is that this team hasn't topped 30 points one time since starting the season a perfect 6-0. They really struggled in the L2 games, totaling just 21 points in losses to Arizona and Minnesota. Shockingly, there were four other games this season where the Pack were held to 17 pts or fewer, making it six total or nearly half their games. At the same time, Kirk Cousins and Washington doesn't scare me despite their recent strong offensive form. I like this one to finish Under the total.
With Rodgers and the Packers' offense struggling to get back on track, do not be surprised if it is the team's defense that carries them in this one. That unit allowed just 20.2 points per game this season. They were torched by Arizona two weeks ago, but other than that, allowed more than 20 points just three other times in the past 13 games. Against Minnesota last week, they allowed only 242 yards total, including just 91 through the air. In their only two games against playoff teams (New England & Carolina), the Washington offense was held to an average of only 16 points per game and gained just 250 and 196 total yards. Cousins, while improved, remains a question mark on this stage. He struggles against the blitz and the Packers defense blitzes a lot. Opposing QB's completed only 58.6% of their pass attempts against GB (4th lowest in the league) and Washington averages less than 100 YPG rushing. Green Bay went Under in 11 of their 16 regular season games.
The Redskins' own defense is pretty strong as well, at least in the first halves of games and of late. Here at home, they are allowing just 18.6 PPG including only 6.0 in the first half. They were often susceptible through the air, but the bottom line is that six of eight visiting teams this year were held to 20 points or fewer. Over the L3 games, the 'Skins have allowed an average of just 8.0 PPG in the 1st half while during that same time frame, Green Bay has averaged only 5.6! Look for a low-scoring start to the game to hold up and this game to stay Under the total. 10* Under Packers/Redskins
|12-28-15||Bengals v. Broncos OVER 39||Top||17-20||Loss||-110||28 h 37 m||Show|
10* Over Bengals/Broncos (8:25 ET): This is one of the lowest NFL totals I've seen all season. I suppose that this should not be all that surprising. We have two of the best defenses in the league here and a matchup that will likely determine who gets a 1st round bye in the AFC Playoffs (and who doesn't), thus it should be a playoff-like atmosphere in cold Denver Monday night. But, in the modern NFL, a number like this is just far too low. Yes, neither defense allows 20 points per game and in the case of each offense, it is a "backup" QB at the helm. But both offenses are more than capable of helping send this one Over the total. Take the Over. These teams played to a 38-27 final (won by Cincinnati) last season on Monday Night Football, the third straight Over in series history.
For Denver, Brock Osweiler is a "backup" in name only. He's clearly been a better option than the embattled Peyton Manning this season and he proved that by directing a 27-point first half last week in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately though, the Broncos failed to score after halftime. Incredibly, that was the offense's third consecutive game doing so! Troubling for sure, but that first half showed me what Osweiler can do. He'll be going against a Bengals defense that allows just 17.4 points per game (1st in the league), but I think the Broncos can easily top that number as Cincy has been a little fortunate to allow 19.4 yards per point this season. Opposing QB's are completing 65% of their passes against this defense and two games ago, they gave up 33 points to Pittsburgh. The thing to consider w/ Cincinnati is that they've been facing a lot of bad offenses lately (Houston, Cleveland twice, St. Louis and San Francisco).
The Bengals offense averages 29 PPG on the road and had scored 30+ in three consecutive contests before Andy Dalton got hurt. Still though, with AJ McCarron at the helm, they scored 24 points LW against what is a pretty good 49ers defense (don't laugh!). They did struggle to run the ball, but McCarron showed me an ability to throw the ball downfield. Denver's defense has given up 24 or more points in four of the last seven games and again, the exceptions have come against the "lesser" offenses they have faced. There's no reason to believe that this can't be a 24-17 game, which of course means the Over would be a winner. 10* Over Bengals/Broncos
|12-27-15||Patriots v. Jets UNDER 46||Top||20-26||Push||0||97 h 48 m||Show|
10* Under Patriots/Jets (1:00 ET): If you're a regular reader/client of mine, then you know that I'm a firm believer that when you have two division rivals playing for a second time, fewer points should be expected. I expect that to be the case here in a critical game for both the Patriots and Jets, which should have a "playoff-like" vibe to it. New England has regained control of homefield advantage in the AFC and can clinch the #1 overall seed w/ a win here. The Jets, who could finish 11-5 SU and still MISS the playoffs, desperately needs to keep winning and hope either Kansas City or Pittsburgh slips up once in these last two weeks (not likely). The first meeting of the year (where I cashed the Jets +9) was surprisingly high-scoring (Patriots won 30-23) even though neither team really put up a ton of yards. I expect a much lower scoring game this week. Take the Under.
In that Week 7 win over the Jets, New England almost exclusively went to the pass as they gained just 16 yards rushing - for the entire game! Few teams have had success running the ball this year against the Jets, who are #2 in the league in that department (just 82.8 YPG allowed). The issue here is that Tom Brady won't likely have the same success passing the ball like in the first matchup as his receivers have been "dropping like flies" (injuries) throughout the season. The Pats did manage to score 30+ points for the first time in seven weeks last Sunday, but consider that a) they were playing the Titans and b) one of their three touchdowns came from the defense.
The Jets are top five in the league in total defense and top eight in scoring (just 19.4 PPG allowed). Besides the first meeting with the Patriots, there has been only one other game where they allowed more than 24 points and it too came on the road (at Oakland). The team's last three games have all stayed Under and five of the last six have seen 43 or fewer total points scored. However, what surprised me the most when handicapping this rematch is the fact New England actually allows fewer points per game than the Jets (19.2). Take away the three non-offensive TD's Philadelphia scored against them a few weeks back and this unit's recent string of performances look all the more impressive. 10* Under Patriots/Jets
|12-26-15||Redskins v. Eagles UNDER 47.5||Top||38-24||Loss||-105||33 h 35 m||Show|
10* Under Redskins/Eagles (8:25 ET): This one falls under the domain of a divisional rematch, which usually end up being lower scoring than the "original." Such was the case Thursday w/ Chargers-Raiders. I made a bad decision in that one, electing to only go with the 1st Half Under as it was the second half where the scoring screeched to a grinding halt. Here, we have a matchup of two teams that played to a 23-20 final the first go around and curiously the total is higher for the rematch. Perhaps that has to do w/ both teams more recent outputs, but I expect this game to have a more "playoff-like" mentality as there's a chance (if Washington wins) the NFC East could actually be decided here. Take the Under.
When handicapping the Redskins, one must obviously consider the strong home-road dichotomy that is in play. Prior to winning in Chicago two weeks ago, this is a team that didn't have a road win to its name all season. It's not even really QB Kirk Cousins to blame for the decline in offensive production when the Redskins take their act on the road, but rather an anemic rushing attack which averages a paltry 54 yards per game outside of D.C. Overall, the offense averages just 18.3 points per game on the road, well under its overall season average. The 24 points they scored two weeks ago against the Bears was their highest scoring game on the road all season.
Washington is 4-2 Over on the road because of a defense that has surrendered over 30 PPG in those contests, but I'm not sure Philadelphia has the offense to take appropriate advantage of this. Take out the three non-offensive TD's they scored against the Patriots a few weeks ago and over the last six games, the team has scored just 104 points total or an average of 17.3 per game. Now, they did gain over 400+ total yards LW vs. Arizona and they will be able to move the ball against this Washington defense. But I don't see this turning into any kind of shootout w/ the Eagles averaging just 21.7 PPG at home this year. Consider that when these teams met earlier in the year, Philadelphia was shutout in the first half. 10* Under Redskins/Eagles
|12-20-15||Dolphins v. Chargers OVER 45.5||Top||14-30||Loss||-110||72 h 24 m||Show|
10* Over Dolphins/Chargers (4:25 ET): In an atypically busy 4 PM slate of games, this matchup of AFC also-rans isn't likely to attract much, if any, attention. But when it comes to the total at least, there's some pretty good value here. Sure, San Diego has been horrible offensively of late (though they did cash as double digit dogs for me last week!), scoring exactly three points in three of the last four games. But this one falls into the concept of two bad teams playing late in the season and that means little defense is likely to be played. Miami certainly didn't put up much of a defensive effort Monday night in a 31-24 loss to the Giants (where I cashed BOTH side & total!) and working on a short week after going cross-country isn't likely to inspire any kind of improved effort. Take the Over.
I wrote fairly extensively last week about the Dolphins' defensive ineptitude. I'll reiterate how this unit now ranks 28th in yards allowed and 26th in points. Monday night marked the fourth time in the last seven games that they allowed more than 30 points. This has to be "music to the ears" to Chargers' QB Philip Rivers, who is in line for a big game. Particularly so, if he gets something from the dormant rushing attack, which will be going against Miami's 30th ranked rush defense. Last week saw Rivers and company have to deal with a driving rainstorm and an excellent Cheifs defense, two things that will not be present in sunny San Diego on Sunday afternoon. The Chargers did actually move the ball some last week vs. the Chiefs w/ four drives of six or more plays resulting in zero points, including the final one, which lasted 17 plays and 74 yards, but ended with an incompletion in the end zone on the game's final play.
Miami was able to stay in the game Monday night because they were facing a suspect Giants defense and this week they'll be going up against a similarly bad defense. San Diego has allowed 26.9 PPG at home this season and allowed opposing QB's to complete over 69 percent of their pass attempts! So, Dolphins' QB Ryan Tannehill could be in line for a much-needed big game as well. The offense was at about 60 yards above their season average vs. the Giants last week and had 17 pts in the first half alone. They also need to start giving RB Lamar Miller more carries (over 7.0 YPC Monday night). San Diego's run defense (127 YPG allowed) is also one of the worst in football (27th). In what could be the final NFL game ever at Qualcomm Stadium, expect a shootout. 10* Over Dolphins/Chargers
|12-17-15||Bucs v. Rams OVER 41||Top||23-31||Win||100||59 h 1 m||Show|
10* Over Buccaneers/Rams (8:25 ET): Part of me has a slight lean towards Tampa Bay in this matchup. They are off a very disappointing loss last week, at home, to New Orleans. That loss not only prevented them from topping their season win total, but also pretty much killed off whatever small chance they had at making the playoffs. Meanwhile, St. Louis was a winner for me on Sunday, beating Detroit w/ a defensive touchdown being the difference in the game. That win and cover snapped a 5-game ATS slide for the Rams. However, I'm far more locked into the total now for this Thursday night matchup (rematch of 1999 NFC Championship Game!). While neither offense was impressive LW, this total is low and I anticipate more points being score than expected. Take the Over.
Now, I am aware that the Rams have gone Under the total in four straight games, not to mention seven of their last eight. Take away last week's defensive score and the team has not scored 20 points in six consecutive contests. But this Bucs defense isn't to be feared, particularly on the road where they allow opposing QB's to complete nearly 70 percent (!) of their pass attempts (69.4%) and 384 total yards per game. They were right at that average LW at home vs. the Saints, giving up 388 yds in the 24-17 loss and Drew Brees completed 31 passes. St. Louis clearly will try and run the ball more as we saw them run for a season-best 203 yds LW. Re-establishing Todd Gurley went a long way against the Lions and though the Bucs' have actually done an outstanding job at stopping the run recently, they haven't faced a back as dangerous as Gurley during that time.
St. Louis has actually beaten Tampa Bay each of the last three seasons and all three times the game stayed Under. But the Bucs now have Jameis Winston at QB and while he may have had a disappointing day vs. what had been an awful Saints' defense, I expect him to bounce back tonight. Yes, four of the last six games have seen the Bucs fail to score 20 points. But when you have two bad teams likes this, late in the season, defense often becomes optional. Quietly, Tampa Bay has the fourth best rushing offense in the NFL (141.2 YPG), so they should be able to move the ball in this one. In the end, this is a really low total by today's NFL standards and for the Bucs, they are 4-1 Over this season when the O/U line is between 40 and 42 points w/ all four Overs seeing at least 56 total pts scored! 10* Over Bucs/Rams
|12-14-15||Giants v. Dolphins OVER 46.5||Top||31-24||Win||100||115 h 21 m||Show|
10* Over Giants/Dolphins (8:30 ET): Both of these teams come in at 5-7 SU and have been outgained in 10 of their 12 games. So, from that perspective, they appear to be evenly matched. Also, neither has a very good defense (Miami 27th, Giants 31st) in terms of yards allowed. While I absolutely prefer one side in this matchup (don't miss my *10* SUPER POWER), I love the total even more. Considering how bad the respective defenses have been, I'm on the Over in this one. Yes, Under players had a big day Sunday and Miami is off an awful offensive performance in its last game. But, those factors have helped keep this number lower than what it should be. Take the Over.
There have been just two games all season where the Giants have failed to score 20 points. Both came against division opponents. The most recent being a rematch w/ Washington (typically divisional rematches lower scoring than the original). Including that game, the G-Men are off their lowest scoring two-game stretch of the season as LW saw them get held to only 20 points in a loss to the Jets. They would have scored more, and possibly won, had it not been for a failed fourth down attempt inside the 5-yard line. The Redskins & Jets also have solid defenses. The Dolphins do not. They allow 25 points and 390 yards per game and have given up 33+ in three of their last six games. Eli Manning has averaged 300+ yards passing the L3 weeks and had averaged over 40 attempts per game over a four-game stretch prior to LW.
While the Giants offense should have a big night, it would be wrong to expect their defense to pitch a shutout. They are dead last in the league, allowing 424 YPG (6.2 yard per play!), so expect Miami to do better than the paltry 15 points and 219 yards they put up last week vs. Baltimore. QB Ryan Tannehill should fare well against the league's worst pass defense, but the real key here is probably the Giants' own rushing attack going up against a Dolphins' run defense that allows 134.8 yards per game. I look for this one to turn into a shootout. 10* Over Giants/Dolphins
|12-13-15||Steelers v. Bengals UNDER 50||Top||33-20||Loss||-108||84 h 55 m||Show|
10* Under Steelers/Bengals (1:00 ET): If you were on board last week, then perhaps you'll recall how I laid out a theory behind divisional rematches, generally, ending up lower scoring than the original. Things played out just the way I'd hoped with Arizona-St. Louis as the two combined for only 30 points, which 16 points fewer than they combined for in the first meeting and more importantly 13 fewer than the posted total. It's a bit of a different situation this week with Pittsburgh at Cincinnati as we will have two offenses to worry about, not one (St. Louis was a virtual non-factor in LW's play), and while these two AFC North rivals played to a 16-10 final the first go-around, it's not likely we will be getting a lower-scoring rematch here. But, then again, it doesn't have to be. The oddsmakers have been "kind enough" to give us plenty of points to work with; even though the first meeting stayed way Under the total. This one will too. Take the Under.
Cincinnati destroyed Cleveland last week in what was a rare bad call by me and one of only two losses I took in Week 13 (went 7-2 overall). But while that particular matchup ended up being completely lopsided (37-3), total yardage was actually fairly even until late in the third quarter when two late Bengals' drives accounted for 60 yards. It should also be noted that 23 of the Bengals' 37 points came after the Browns turned it over via a fumble/INT/downs or a missed field goal. Pittsburgh's defense, which allows just 20.0 points per game, will clearly offer greater resistance. Of course, you can't sleep on this Bengals' defense either as it is #1 in the league in points allowed and gives up only 15.2 PPG at home, and is the driving force behind the fact the team has gone Under in five of its last six games. During that time, they've allowed 10 pts or fewer five times!
Pittsburgh's offense exploded for a season-high 45 points last week in their own beatdown (of Indianapolis), a Sunday night game where I cashed them in the 1st half. That made it four consecutive games of 30+ points for the Steelers, but I seriously doubt they'll even approach that threshold here. I was surprised to find that the Black & Gold average only 20 PPG on the road and remember that Ben Roethlisberger was the QB when they were held to a season-low 10 points in the first meeting w/ the Bengals. Not only that, but Big Ben was held to a season low in yards per pass attempt (5.8). Cincinnati's offense was held to just six points until the final three minutes of that game! Again, I'm not sure this will be a lower-scoring game than the first matchup (probably won't), but it doesn't have to be and I love the fact that the number was bet up during the course of the week. 10* Under Steelers/Bengals
|12-06-15||Cardinals v. Rams UNDER 43||Top||27-3||Win||100||77 h 20 m||Show|
10* Under Cardinals/Rams (1:00 ET): Divisional rematches, often times, end up lower-scoring than the original. I realize that I somewhat "violated" this axiom by getting down on the Over Monday night (which did cash, mind you!). However, for what it's worth, Ravens-Browns 2 did actually feature fewer points than the first time they played and if you subtract the THREE non-offensive TD's that were scored in that game (though I didn't mind them at the time!), then it would have been significantly lower-scoring. This week, I'm taking this idea into account for a Cardinals-Rams, a matchup that saw St. Louis actually win the first go-around, 24-22, even though Arizona had a 2:1 edge in first downs (-3 in turnovers). While calling for the Cardinals to exact revenge might seem appropriate to some here, I like the Under more.
Arizona has been one of the best team's in the league all season, but last week saw them resemble last year's more fortunate bunch as they clearly "played down" to the level of competition in San Francisco, escaping w/ only a 20-13 victory. I covered w/ the home dog there and once again the Cardinals will be facing a stingy defense as the Rams permit just 18.4 points per game. The Cards were able to gain 447 total yards in that first meeting, but I don't see them coming close to matching that output here, not w/ the running game that's currently in bad shape. Both Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington are out and the former is a significant loss as he was fourth in the league in rushing. This leaves rookie David Johnson as the primary, and possibly only, ball carrier and he has been plagued by fumbling issues. The Rams defense allows just 92 YPG on the ground at home, so a potentially one-dimensional Arizona offense should struggle to move the ball Sunday.
A play on St. Louis this week would require quite the leap of faith as their offense is in shambles right now. They don't have a competent QB on the roster (as much as they "ripped off" Washington in the RG3 trade, it's not like it's translated into any real success) as Case Keenum is two weeks removed from a concussion and Nick Foles has just been awful all year. The offense has failed to gain 300 yards each of the last three games, averaging just 11.0 PPG and there have been seven times this season where they've failed to break 20 pts. Rookie Todd Gurley had a strong effort in the first meeting w/ Arizona (140+ yds rushing), but he won't come close to matching that here as his numbers are down in recent weeks (54.8 YPG L4 wks) & Arizona is allowing just 91 rushing YPG on the season. St. Louis' passing game is virtually non-existent, a major reason the team has gone Under in six of its last seven games. 10* Under Cardinals/Rams
|11-30-15||Ravens v. Browns OVER 41||Top||33-27||Win||100||13 h 49 m||Show|
10* Over Ravens/Browns (8:25 ET): Much will be made here of who ISN'T on the field for the respective offenses. What had already been a nightmare season for Baltimore somehow took a further turn for the worse (even in victory) last week as both QB Joe Flacco (ACL/MCL) and RB Justin Forsett (broken arm) were lost for the season! That leaves journeyman Matt Schaub under center and keep in mind that both of the team's projected starting receivers are out for the year as well! As for Cleveland, you know they upset the execs at ESPN when the decision was made to bench Johnny Manziel for this game due to the "same old" off-field antics we've come to expect. Despite all the absences, I'm still anticipating a relatively high scoring affair here or enough to go Over what is a very low total by today's NFL standards. Take the Over.
These teams already played once this season and the result of that first meeting was a 33-30 OT win for the Browns, who haven't won since. It's been five straight losses in Cleveland and in the last four games, they've averaged a pathetic 11.25 points and less than 300 yds per game. For as much talk about how Manziel can be a more "dynamic" element for this offense, it was veteran Josh McCown that had a career day vs. Baltimore last month, throwing for a career-best 457 yards. That was easily Cleveland's best offensive day of the season and it's not difficult to see why. The Ravens' defense has fallen off a cliff this year, yielding 5.7 yards per play and almost 25 points per game. Another season-ending injury, one to top pass-rusher Terrelle Suggs, has been a contributing factor there. But, there's also as little talent on that side of the ball as we've even seen in Baltimore. I see no reason why McCown can't have another big day here.
Nationally, this is obviously a very unappealing matchup. But because both teams are out of it, we could very well see another shootout. Cleveland's defense is one of the worst in the league statistically as they allow 27.7 PPG and Baltimore should absolutely be able to run the ball effectively here as the Browns yield 139 rushing YPG, most in the league. All four Browns' home games to this point have gone Over the total as they've scored at least 20 points every time out. Both teams should be able to get to that benchmark tonight in what could end up being an entertaining, albeit totally meaningless, game. 10* Over Ravens/Browns
|11-29-15||Patriots v. Broncos OVER 43.5||Top||24-30||Win||102||99 h 25 m||Show|
10* Over Patriots/Broncos (8:30 ET): This is actually a matchup of the top two scoring defenses in the league, which is not what you expect when analyzing Patriots-Broncos as it's normally the offense grabbing the headlines. That fact, combined with some expected chilly weather conditions, have led to the O/U line being bet down significantly and I feel it's now an opportune time to take advantage of an overreaction and to play the Over. Remember that I played the Under Monday night w/ the Patriots as they won an ugly one over the Bills, 20-13. This will easily be the lowest O/U for any game this year involving New England, a team that comes in averaging 32.3 points per game. Take the Over.
The Patriots' defense may be #1 in scoring, but they allow roughly 60 yards per game more than the Broncos. That has them at 14th in total defense, indicating they've been fortunate to give up as few points as they have. They also haven't faced very many good offenses throughout the year. They allow 18.7 yards per point, which is extremely fortunate. Only Pittsburgh has been more "bend but don't break" league-wide at 19.4 yards per point allowed. I've made the case previously that the Denver offense is likely to be more efficient w/ Brock Osweiler under center as opposed to Peyton Manning and I mean it as he's more likely to run the kind of attack HC Gary Kubiak wants. Remember that this Broncos' offense is loaded w/ weapons at the skill positions and gets WR Emmanuel Sanders back here. They gained almost 400 yards in last week's win over the Bears.
New England's offense is rapidly losing playmakers, but there hasn't been a game all year that they haven't scored at least 20 points. Last week marked the season-low as Buffalo was able to pressure Tom Brady, but will Denver be able to do the same w/o DeMarcus Ware? I do expect the Broncos defense to have success in this game, but only to a degree. Again, with this being such a low total for the Patriots, we don't even need either team to hit its season average in points per game. Note that five of the past six meetings between these two have gone Over and in five of those games the O/U line was greater than 50 points. 10* Over Patriots/Broncos
|11-26-15||Bears v. Packers OVER 47||Top||17-13||Loss||-105||67 h 16 m||Show|
10* Over Bears/Packers (8:30 ET): The last four times these long-standing rivals have met have all seen the combo of Green Bay & Over cash. All the way back in Week 1, the Packers struggled far more w/ the underdog Bears then you may remember. It was a 31-23 final where they were outgained by Chicago (402-322) and actually trailed going into halftime. But that was in the Windy City and not Lambeau Field. So, despite division dogs of a TD or more often being a solid value, I'll resist the urge to take the points in this situation, especially because it's going to be an emotional night w/ Brett Favre's number being retired. Typically, the Packers have been dominant here at home and considering what happened the last time they played here (outright loss to Detroit!), they should be in "full force" Thanksgiving night. Therefore, we turn to the total where both teams have been surprisingly rewarding Under bettors of late. But I look for that to change here. Take the Over.
Green Bay got back on track LW in Minnesota w/ a critical 30-13 victory that reclaimed first place in the NFC North. It was the offense's highest scoring output since a 38-28 win over Kansas City, which was all the way back in Wk 3, also a night game (Monday). Yes, the receiving corps is depleted for Aaron Rodgers. But that didn't stop him from throwing for 300+ yards in the two games prior to last week. The Vikings defense that held him to 212 yds passing is a much stronger unit than the one he'll face here. Chicago's defense has gradually improved under John Fox, but still allows 25.1 points per game. The fact remains this Packers offense has always been better at home, particularly in this primetime affairs. Incredibly, they have averaged 41 PPG their L5 night games here at Lambeau w/ Rodgers turning in a 19-0 TD-INT ratio!
Chicago's offense, meanwhile, is better than you think. Sure they were held to just 15 points last week, but they too faced a better defense (Denver) than what they'll see here. The week previous, on the road, saw the Bears explode for a season-high 37 points against a pretty good Rams defense. Had this team not had to turn to the now-released Jimmy Clausen early in the season (shutout in Seattle), the overall offensive numbers would look better. Matt Forte is coming back this week and he and Jeremy Langford are an excellent tandem out of the backfield. Even better is that it's looking like WR Alshon Jeffery will be back as well. A depleted receiving corps really hurt Cutler LW vs. the Broncos. I look for a high scoring game Thanksgiving night. 10* Over Bears/Packers
|11-23-15||Bills v. Patriots UNDER 48||Top||13-20||Win||100||13 h 40 m||Show|
8* Under Bills/Patriots (8:25 ET): The first matchup of the season between these two was quite the high-scoring affair as New England (as a pick 'em or underdog, depending on your line) went into Buffalo and prevailed 40-32. But that final score was somewhat misleading in the sense that the Pats led 37-13 heading into the fourth quarter. That loss dropped the Bills to 3-27 SU their L30 games vs. New England. They (Buffalo) were clearly overvalued heading into that Week 2 tilt and one could argue that they still are here, but rather than lay the points w/ an unbeaten team (risky!), I'm more interested in tonight's total. I don't think we'll see nearly the same amount of scoring as we did the first go around. Take the Under.
Going w/ the Under is a little risky here in the sense that New England has scored at least 27 points in every game this season. They'd scored 30 or more six straight weeks before landing on exactly 27 each of the L2 games. However, remember that this is a banged up offense right now that's down several key weapons, most notably RB Dion Lewis (done for the year) and WR Julian Edelman (Brady's favorite target). The offensive line is also not healthy. Last week's game vs. the Giants was fortunate to go Over the total as Tom Brady should have been intercepted on the final drive (dropped), which ultimately resulted in a GW FG. The Bills defense, despite inferior numbers under Rex Ryan compared to last season, remains a formidable unit. They've allowed just 17 pts B2B weeks and have given up fewer than that three other times this season.
New England is actually only 5-4 Over in all games this season and the key to the Under has been their defense. In three of the four games that stayed Under, they held their opponents to 10 points or less! Surprisingly, Belichick's defense is allowing only 18.8 points per game this season, fourth best in the entire league. While the Over is 7-2 the L9 meetings between these two, tonight's number is higher than any of the previous four. The Bills offense does not scare me at all; in fact they gained less than 300 total yds LW vs. the Jets and scored only one touchdown. I am expecting tonight to be one of their lowest scoring outputs of the entire year. 8* Under Bills/Patriots