The final game of the year is here and the Rams are favored by 4 over the Bengals and the total is 48.5. One thing the Super Bowl does offer is the chance to make prop bets that fall into line with your thoughts on the game. I have the Rams winning by 3.85 points, so obviously not a whole lot of value in the side for me. But the alternate line of Rams -3 is -155 and that isn’t real appealing, so I did make a token play on the Rams and also have some prop bets going where a Rams victory would increase the chances of several of them cashing.
The first prop bet is for the Rams to have more first downs at -160. The Bengals will have a tougher time marching methodically down the field and are more likely to need the bigger play. A lot of this will have to do with how well the Bengals protect Burrow.
The next prop bet is Rams to have the edge in time of possession at -130. While the Bengals did better than the Rams in terms of time of possession during the regular season, thinking the Rams will try to take advantage of what has been a shaky Bengals’ run defense lately and possible keep the ball on the ground a bit more than expected.
The third bet is Rams to take the first time out at -115. This one is all about the coaches and Sean McVay likes his timeouts. The Rams have called the first timeout in their last nine games and McVay was ranked worst in calling unnecessary timeouts, with 2.9 per game.
The final two prop bets are also value related, with the first being more points scored in the second half than in the first half at -145. Of course, a blowout would be a blow to this wager, but don’t see this one being a complete runaway one way or the other.
Lastly, I played the over 6.5 punts, as the number was a bit low. Even in the Bengals’ 27-24 win over the Chiefs there were seven puts, while the Rams’ 30-27 win over the Buccaneers saw eight punts, so a higher-scoring game doesn’t necessarily lead to a low number of punts.
Far too many field goals in the Tennessee game last week, as both teams moved the ball, but settled for field goals and you’re not going to win many overs when you see five field goals in a game. So from an excitement standpoint, you’re not going to top last weekend, but from a betting perspective it stunk.
San Francisco at LA Rams: The Rams are favored by 3.5 and the total on the game is 45.5, down slightly from the opening number. The betting on the total has been pretty well split down the middle, with 55% of the wagers coming in on the over, no doubt a little bit having to do with the 27-24 game the teams played a few weeks ago. While it was a three-point game, the outgained the Rams 449-265. The Rams had a 19-yard touchdown drive after a good punt return and the 49ers turned it over at the Rams’ 22 with an interception after driving from their own 23 after they had rallied back to tie the game at 17 after falling behind 17-0.
The 49ers didn’t abandon the run after getting behind big and that could very well be key once again. The 49ers ran for more than 150 yards in the first game, which they won 31-10 thanks to a pair of interceptions, one at their own 7 after the Rams marched down the field and the second was returned for a TD. While it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season, the 49ers should have some confidence entering this one and will take the 49ers +3.5.
Cincinnati at Kansas City: The Chiefs are 7 or 7.5 depending on which sports book you use and that’s a big half point out there, so make sure you lay 7 or take 7.5. It might not make any difference in this game, but over the long haul getting the best odds will be crucial to your bottom line. The Chiefs have received 62% of the bets in the game, while more than 75% of the bets are on the over, which is why it’s moved from 50.5 to 54.5. Both teams can score and the weather isn’t expected to be too bad on Sunday, so you can see the reason for the move, but still, that’s a lot of points, especially if one team can move the ball on the ground. No real opinion here.
Misread the Cardinals and the Rams game and it cost me a pair of losses, as I go 1-2 on the straight bets last week. The teasers were a bit better, but a pretty big disappointment to end the week on such a downer. Just four games this weekend and we’ll do the same thing by having a play on each game here or on the teasers. Just one play for the week here.
Cincinnati at Tennessee: The Titans are favored by 3.5 and the total on the game is 47.5 and I like the over in this one. The Titans will have Henry back for this one and the Bengals allowed 4.4 yards per rush this season, which should also help open things up for the passing game. The Bengals should score some points themselves, so think this one has a decent chance to hit on the over. The Bengals averaged 27 points for the season against teams who allowed 24.1, while the Bengals gave up 21.9 to teams who scored 21.9. The Titans scored 24.6 points against teams who allowed 22.9 points per game and allowed 20.8 to teams who scored 22.5 points. The Bengals don’t run the ball all that well and are a better throwing team, while the Titans are solid against the run and a little softer against the pass.
Los Angeles at Tampa Bay: The Bucs are favored by 3 and the total has dropped slightly to 48 or 48.5 depending on which sportsbook you use. The teams met early in the season and the Rams won 34-24. After a scoreless first quarter, the teams scored 21 points in the second quarter and 27 in the third, as the Rams led 31-17 after three and tacked on a field goal before the Bucs got a garbage touchdown with just over a minute left. In that game, Tampa Bay only ran the ball 13 times and threw 55 times. Brady was the team’s leading rusher with 14 yards. The Rams weren’t a whole lot better, rushing 24 times for 72 yards, so you have to expect both teams to make more of an effort to move the ball on the ground just to keep the defense honest. Brady was sacked three times in the earlier game and the Rams are capable of putting pressure on and take him out of his rhythm. Not a play, but would lean to the under if forced to make a play here.
Back at .500 on the season, which is where we finished the college season in a bit of a disappointment, as we didn’t really catch many breaks and had a few tough losses. That’s all part of the game, however, so will see what we can come up with here. The only two games we didn’t use in the teaser plays are the Bengals and Raiders, along with the Monday night game between the Rams and Cardinals, so we’ll look at those two in this one.
Las Vegas at Cincinnati: The Bengals are favored by 5.5 and the total here has dipped slightly to 48.5, as it’s expected to be pretty cold and cloudy on Saturday. The team’s earlier game was a bit misleading in the final score department, as the Bengals won 32-13 despite just a 10-yard edge, 288 to 278. The Bengals had a 27-yard TD drive in the fourth quarter, followed by a 2-yard drive for a field goal, with Vegas turning the ball over two of their last three possessions. The game was close at the half, as the Bengals led 10-6 and Cincinnati made it 13-6 entering the fourth quarter. Going to go ahead and take the under in this one.
Arizona at LA Rams: The Rams are favored by 4 and the total on the game is 49, while I have the Rams winning this one 26-24. Interestingly, if I used home and away scoring numbers instead of overall numbers, I’d have the Cardinals winning the game, as Arizona was a better team on the road this season. The Cardinals averaged 3.3 more points per game and allowed 2.6 fewer. The Rams were pretty much the same at home or on the road. The Cardinals were 6-0 as an underdog and 8-1 away from home, so hard to go against those types of numbers. The Cardinals outgained the Rams both times they played this season, although the Rams did win the game in Arizona. The team that lost both games made two turnovers while the winning team didn’t have a single one. Murray threw for 651 yards in the two games, while Stafford threw for 567 yards and five touchdowns, so both quarterbacks were decent. In the Arizona loss, Murray threw two interceptions and no TDS. Like the Cardinals to keep this one close in a high-scoring game, so will take the Cardinals +4 and the over 49.
We head to the final regular season weekend in the NFL, which is a week when a lot of people stay away or simply cut back on the number of their wagers. It’s always difficult to tell the mindset of the teams who have been eliminated, especially those who were thought to be playoff contenders when the season began and saw their postseason hopes evaporate in the last week or two. Just one play this week, along with a couple of looks at other games.
Chargers at Raiders: A meaningful game here in the playoff battle, as the Chargers visit Las Vegas where the road team is favored by 3 and the total has climbed to 49.5 after opening at 48.5.Normally in such a meaningful game, you look for reasons to take the under, but defense isn’t really the strength of either team, so it wouldn’t be a complete shock if this one resembles more of an old-fashioned shootout. The Raiders have struggled offensively the last month or so and are on a 1-4 totals run, but should find the Chargers’ defense a little more to their liking, so will play this one over the total.
San Francisco at Rams: The Rams are favored by 4.5 points and the total here is 44.5 and like the 49ers to keep this one close, so will take San Francisco plus the points her. Would naturally feel a little more confident about San Francisco if their quarterback situation was a little more settled, but Trey Lance has done a decent job when called upon this season, so no real qualms taking the 49ers here. While the Rams are looking to clinch the division, the 49ers have a little bit more urgency in needing to win to make the playoffs, so would lean to the dog.
Chicago at Minnesota: Interesting game here, as the Vikings opened -6 and the line dropped to Minnesota -3, but has since climbed back up now that Minnesota named Cousins as the starter. The Vikings may be the best team to not make the playoffs, as they had five losses by four points or less. Coach Zimmer is on the hot seat and it’s quite possible this is his last game with Minnesota, while the Bears are likely in the same situation, with Matt Nagy going from Coach of the Year a few seasons ago to unemployed. Would lean to Minnesota, but not really eager to play this one.
A split on our two games last week, with Seattle not able to stop the Bears on that final drive, which sent the game over the total. One of those games where you have the best number, the weather in your favor, but still it doesn’t quite pan out the way you expected. Three plays this week.
Kansas City at Cincinnati: The Chiefs are favored by 4.5 with a total of 51 and will go ahead and take the over in this one, even if it’s a bit of a square play. Both teams can score and are middle of the pack when it comes to defense, so think both teams should be able to get into the end zone some in this one. Kansas City’s pass defense is about as average as they come, with the Chiefs allowing 65.7% passing and 6.8 Yards Per Pass Attempt, which is what their foes have averaged during the season. The Bengals are slightly lower than average over the season. Offensively, both teams are much better than average, particularly when it comes to throwing the ball, so like the chances of a high-scoring game in this one.
Miami at Tennessee: The Titans are favored by 3.5 in this one with a total of 39.5 and have to take the Titans here. The Fish are playing some great football, but who have their wins come against? Two wins against the Jets, they beat Houston, Carolina, New Orleans with a third-string quarterback, etc. The Titans are better than anybody they’ve beaten on their streak. Tennessee surprised a few people, including myself, by keeping it together after the loss of Henry, who won’t be back here, but could play the following week. That news has to be a morale boost for the Titans, who close the season with a game against Houston.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: The Browns are favored by 3.5 points in this one and the total is 41 and think the Steelers get the job done here and will take the home dog to keep it close after their dismal showing against the Chiefs last week. This could be the last home game for Roethlisberger, and think he has a bit of a bounce back. Both teams have the traditional home vs. away stats that you expect, so playing in front of the home fans would work to Pittsburgh’s advantage in this one.
The Broncos couldn’t quite get there for us last week in a game where they had a few chances, so will look to bounce back this week, which is a bit tough due to several games already being played, along with the ever-changing COVID protocol list. Held off as long as possible this week to see any last-minute changes. Lines are from DraftKings.
Los Angeles Chargers at Houston:
The Chargers are favored by 10 and the total is 46 and like this one to go over the total. The Chargers are scoring 27.1 points per game and allowing 26.4 and haven’t held a team to fewer than 21 points since Oct. 4. It’s not as though the Texans are a high-scoring team, averaging just 14.8 points per game and allowing 26.6, but Houston does play a little higher-scoring games at home. The Chargers have scored a little less on the road, although the 34-6 loss at Baltimore distorts their numbers a bit and Houston’s defense won’t be confused with Baltimore. The Chargers have gone over the total in four of their last five games and think the offense should put up some decent numbers in this one.
Chicago at Seattle:
The Seahawks are favored by 6.5 and the total is 43 and like this one to go under the number. Wilson hasn’t really been himself since coming back from an injury and Seattle has been relying on the run. Looking at their last five games, when Seattle scored 30 and 33 points, they ran the ball for 146 and 193 yards respectively. In the three games they failed to run for at least 100 yards, they averaged 13 points per game. The Seahawks have averaged a little less than 200 passing yards in those five games, breaking the 200-yard mark just twice. The Bears have also had a pair of high-scoring games mixed in with three lower-scoring games in their last five and while they’re not great, the Bears are pretty average on defense, allowing 24.9 points per game to teams who score 23.9 points. Seattle averages 20.1 points per game. Seattle has been easy to move the ball against, but tough to score against, with the team’s Yards Per Point number of 19.4 the best in the league. The Bears are 5-9 in totals this season and Seattle is 4-10, so think this one sneaks under the total.
As I mentioned in the teaser article, this week is a bit tricky due to the number of players who are in COVID protocol and the result was been some pretty big line moves in a few of the games this week. Just one play this week due to the uncertainty surrounding the week.
Cincinnati at Denver:
The Broncos are favored by 2.5 and the total on the game is 44 and I have Denver winning by 4, so will go ahead and take the Broncos here, as they have the better defense. The Bengals look almost unbeatable when they’re on their game, but have also looked pretty pedestrian at times this year, being blown out in two of their last five games. The Broncos have also had a couple of clunkers thrown in there over the past five games. Offensively, the Bengals get the edge throwing the ball, while the Broncos are the better rushing team. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Denver throw a little more than normal here, as the Bengals are allowing 67.1% pass completions against compared to Denver’s 58.4% and Denver completes a high percentage of short passes. Also gave the Broncos a slight edge in special teams in this one.
New York Jets at Miami:
The Dolphins are favored by 9.5 and the total is down to 41. I don’t see the Jets scoring a whole lot against Miami’s defense, which has been solid lately, but this one could get a bit out of hand if the Dolphins come out and play the same as they have for the past five weeks. That makes it a little hard to pull the trigger on the under. Still, the Dolphins have scored more than 24 points just twice all season, so would lean to the under if I had to play this one.
Minnesota at Chicago:
The Vikings need to win out to make the playoffs and the good news is they get the Bears twice, but also play the Rams and travel to Green Bay, so it’s not looking good for the boys in purple. The Vikings are favored by 5.5 with a total of 44 and the line is a bit on the steep side, while the total seems to be a bit low considering the last couple of games by each team. Would give the slightest of nods to the Vikings, but will stay clear.
The last two minutes of the games were just brutal to us a week ago, which is par for the course the last month. One of those seasons where you probably deserve a bit better, but see the majority of breaks go against you. Anyway, onto two totals plays this week.
New York Giants at LA Chargers:
The Chargers are now favored by 10 and the total has dropped down to 43 and I definitely agree with the line move in this one, as I’ll grab the under 43 in this one. Naturally, liked it better when it was higher, but still think there’s a little of value in this one. The Giants have been an under machine this season, going 3-8-1 this season, while the Chargers are 5-7. Neither defense is great at defending the run, so both offenses should have a bit of success keeping the ball on the ground, which is what we’re hoping to see in this one. The two defenses are fair against the pass and the Giants can struggle to put points on the board at times. New York ran the ball well against Miami last week, but for some reason went away from the run despite averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The Chargers have been hit or miss the last few weeks, scoring 41 points twice, but just 13 points the other game.
Buffalo at Tampa Bay:
The Bucs are favored by 3 and the total on the game is 53.5 and will take the over here. You can still find 53 at a few betting outlets, but 53.5 is the one I’m seeing most often, so will go ahead and use that one. Tampa Bay’s offense is clicking on all cylinders right now, having scored 30 or more points in their last three games, while Buffalo hasn’t quite been itself recently, although last week’s dismal showing can be forgiven due to the weather. The Bucs have scored more than 38 points a game at home this season, but haven’t played in Raymond James Stadium but once since Oct. 24. So, they should be able to continue with their scoring outburst in this one, while the Bills should bounce back after a couple of subpar efforts their last three games, so will be on the over in this one.
A 1-2 day last time out, as Tennessee going for it in the fourth quarter deep in their own territory was the death blow to the under, but one of those things that are going to happen. Tough slate of games for this weekend, so just two plays on Sunday.
Tampa Bay at Atlanta:
The Bucs are favored by 11 and the total on the game is 50.5 and am going to go ahead and take a shot on the Falcons +11 in this one. It’s hard to trust Tampa Bay to win in a blowout, as the Bucs appear to be going through the motions at times this season and were extremely lucky to get the win over the turnover-prone Colts a week ago. As bad as the Falcons have been, they’re still 5-6 on the season and in the hunt, at least, for a wildcard spot, as an 8- or 9-win team will probably be in the playoffs this season. The Falcons don’t really run the ball all that well, which might not hurt them too terribly much in this one, as Tampa Bay is pretty decent when it comes to stopping the rush, so expecting Atlanta to throw the ball quite a bit in this one. Ryan has had a couple of clunkers recently, but is typically a pretty competent quarterback and has the potential to lead the Falcons to a backdoor cover.
Washington at Las Vegas:
The Raiders are favored by 2.5 over Washington and the total is 49.5 and believe the Raiders are the correct side in this one. Washington might be slightly overrated after winning their last three games, all of them as underdogs. Washington will no doubt try to get things going on the ground, while the Raiders will look to do their damage through the air and Washington’s pass defense doesn’t instill a lot of fear in opposing quarterback. The Raiders have gone 3-3 in their home games this season, and haven’t looked that good in their last two, getting blown out by Kansas City and Cincinnati, so think they play better in front of the home fans in this one. The Raiders are still 6-5 and have playoff aspirations, but these are the types of games they have to win in order to reach the postseason and think they’ll do so, so will go ahead and lay the 2.5 with Las Vegas.
Still spinning the wheels with the NFL single plays, which are still at .500 for the season as we fell to 11-11 on the season. A tough slate this week due the three games played on Thursday, so will see what we can come up with for the weekend.
New York Jets at Houston: The Texans are favored by 2.5 and the total is down slightly to 44.5 and have to think this one lands over the number. Sure, neither offense is anything to get too excited about, but take a look at the defenses involved in this game. The Jets are allowing 32 points per game, while the Texans are allowing 27.1. Neither team has shown much of a rushing attack at all, but have shown a little ability to move the ball through the air and happen to be going up against a couple of dismal passing defenses, both allowing more than 250 yards per game. It’s not going to be pretty, but think we see enough points to sneak over the total in this one.
Tennessee at New England: The Patriots are favored by 6.5 and the total on the game has dropped slightly to 44 and think points will be tough to come by here, so will play the under. The Titans moved the ball pretty well against Houston last week, but only came away with 13 points and can’t see them faring well against a New England defense that has allowed just 13 points over their last three games. The Titans fared well in their first few games without Henry, thanks to a couple of horrible interceptions throw by Los Angeles in the win over the Rams, along with a bit of luck against New Orleans, winning despite being outgained by more than 100 yards, but think the Pats can slow them down enough to keep this one under.
Seattle at Washington: Washington is favored by 1 and the total is down to 46.5 and think this one also lands under the number. Seattle hasn’t been the same since Wilson returned, as he’s still not completely 100% and is having trouble holding and throwing the ball. Seattle’s defense hasn’t played bad, but couldn’t stop Arizona last week when it mattered. Washington runs the ball well and with Seattle not throwing for 200 yards in their last five, think the under is the way to go.
An ugly couple of weeks and last week was a bit painful with a pair of overs that came up short, which is how things have gone the last two weeks, dropping to .500 on the season in a hurry. Two plays this week and will look to get untracked a bit.
Houston at Tennessee:
The Titans are favored by 10 and the total on the game is 44.5 and I think this is a fair spot for the ugly underdog, so will go ahead and take a shot on the Texans +10. A lot of this one is motivation and can’t see the Titans having a lot of it to play against the worst team in the league. Tennessee is coming off a hard-fought win against the Saints and have the Patriots on deck. Meanwhile, the Texans are coming off a bye and at least will have a competent quarterback under center with Tyrod Taylor returning to the line-up. Davis Mills wasn’t all that bad, at least stat-wise, but Taylor gives the Texans the added dimension of being able to run with the ball and the team also has a higher Yards Per Pass Attempt when he’s in there, as he’s more willing to throw the ball down the field. It’s not going to be pretty, but will take the dog in this one.
Dallas at Kansas City:
Kansas City is favored by 2.5 and the total on the game is 56. Going to be a bit of a popular play, but think the over 56 is the way to go in this one. Sure, the Cowboys were able to shut down the Falcons last week, but Kansas City is a completely different and looked to regain a little bit of their swagger a week ago against the Raiders. Both teams are pretty average defensively, with the Chiefs allowing .2 fewer points than their foes score, while the Cowboys allow 2.0 fewer points than their teams allow, with part of that coming last week when they just allowed a field goal. It’s a different story on offense, where the Cowboys score 8.9 more points than their opponents allow, while the Chiefs score 3.2 more points than their opponents allow. A lot of the trends are pointing towards the over and this is the type of game that could see both teams in the 30s, so will ride the over and hope to see some big plays in this one.
A completely brutal day last Sunday, no real other to put it, as a few terrible calls and a couple of brutal turnovers in a few games did us in. You can’t make-up what you did in the past, only look for better things in the future, so on to this week and a couple of plays.
Minnesota at LA Chargers: The Chargers are favored by 3 and the total is 53.5 and have to take the over in this one, even though we’ve already lost a couple of points in the total, which opened at 51/51.5. The Vikings are battling some injuries on defense, which they really can’t afford as they’re not that great of a defensive team to begin with. The Chargers are also battling a few injuries of their own on the defensive side and Los Angeles is pretty weak against the run, so Dalvin Cook could be ripe for a big game. Both quarterbacks are capable of big games, although both can be a little inconsistent at times. The Vikings haven’t been blown out this season, losing by 7 or fewer points in all five games and could easily have a couple more wins than they do. The Chargers have gone over in three of their last four after starting the season with four straight unders. Minnesota has gone over in two of their last three.
Atlanta at Dallas: The Cowboys are favored by 9 and the total is 54.5 and also like the over in this one. Dallas was shutdown by the Broncos for the majority of the game a week ago and think they’ll get untracked here against an Atlanta defense that isn’t nearly as good as Denver. The Cowboys allowed 30 points to Denver, an offense that isn’t as good as Atlanta’s, so we could see plenty of points on the scoreboard. The Falcons are coming off an upset against New Orleans and should have some success against a Dallas pass defense that isn’t that impressive at times. The Cowboys are better at stopping the run, which is something Atlanta doesn’t do that well to begin with. The Falcons only rushed for 34 yards last week in the win over New Orleans. The total is high in this one, but don’t really see either team able to shut down the opposition, so the over has a pretty decent shot at coming though in the end.
A bit of a tough slate for this week’s NFL plays, so once again just two side plays.
Arizona at San Francisco:
The Cardinals are favored by 1 and the total on this game has dropped from 47 to 45. The big question here is Murray and how his ankle will hold up. Regardless, it could be the 49ers’ rushing attack that makes the difference in this one, as San Francisco can run the ball and the Cardinals have problems stopping the run. The 49ers ran for 152 yards and a 5.4 yard per carry average in the first game against Arizona, but still managed to lose 17-10. San Francisco gained 338 total yards but didn’t take advantage of opportunities and could just muster the 10 points. Arizona’s run defense hurt them last week against Green Bay and it was only a matter of time before it did catch up to them. The Cardinals normally have a big enough lead where teams feel they have to throw the ball, but have to believe San Francisco will make a serious effort on the ground here and think they’ll pull the upset, so will take the 49ers in this one.
Chicago at Pittsburgh:
This is a bit of an ugly one for the Monday night game and hoping it plays out that way. The Steelers are favored by 6.5 and the total is 40 and will take the under here, as I have it 21-12 for the Steelers, but not too keen on Pittsburgh, who hasn’t been a decent favorite recently. The Bears can rush the ball a little bit and the Steelers are pretty average at stopping the run, so the Bears can have a few time-consuming drives. The Steelers don’t run the ball that great themselves, but Chicago isn’t that impressive in stopping the run, so can see Pittsburgh having a bit of success on the ground, which is what we’d like to see. The Bears just broke a string of unders last week, allowing 33 points to the 49ers, while the Steelers won a 15-10 game against the Browns. The Bears don’t score a lot and have been even worse on the road so far this season, and both teams have been decent under teams in the first half of the year, so have to think the under is the way to go in this one.
Tough NFL slate this weekend, which happens from time-to-time when you factor in the bye weeks and fewer games to choose from, so just a pair of plays for this Sunday.
New England at Los Angeles Chargers:
The Chargers have moved from 2.5 to 4 and there are a few 4.5s out there, so a lot of value is gone from the Chargers for those who liked the home favorite. The total has moved from 47 to 49 and am going to take the over 49 in this one. The Patriots are looking a little better, although much of that has to do with the competition they’ve faced. Jeff Sagarin has the Pats as having played the easiest schedule in the NFL so far and he’s probably correct on that front. The Chargers’ defense is a little bit of a concern, as they’ve allowed four of the last five teams they’ve faced to rush for 4.9 yards per carry or more, with three of them gaining more than 6.0 yards per rush. The Pats can run the ball a bit, with the Tampa Bay game for of an exception than a rule, as the Bucs held them to negative yardage. Jones is playing with more confidence and think we see some offense in this one.
Dallas at Minnesota:
The Vikings have moved from 2 to 2.5 with just 30% of the wagers in the game, so will be on the Vikings in this one regardless if Prescott plays for Dallas or not. Minnesota has been inconsistent this season and really haven’t put together what you could call a complete game. Both teams play ball control offense, with high percentage passes and run the ball more than average. Defensively, the Cowboys have been better at stopping the run, while the Vikings have been better against the pass. The Cowboys are running for 5.1 yards per carry against teams who allow 4.4 yards, while the Vikings run for 4.5 yards against teams who allow 4.2 yards. Dallas allows 4.3 yards per rush to teams who average 4.1 yards, while the Vikes allow 4.8 yards per carry to teams who average 4.4, so Dallas gets the edge, but it’s a bit closer than it may appear at first glance. The big difference is passing defense, where Dallas allows 7.7 yards to teams who average 6.8 and Minnesota allows 6.8 yards to teams who average 7.3. Think the Vikings can get the win here.
NFL Pick Record: 9-5
Expert NFL Pick Recap
No point lamenting about last week’s dismal performance, as the Browns were just a terrible play and the Patriots probably deserved a little better, losing by 6 as 3.5-point underdogs in overtime, but those things are going to happen. A lot of plays that I looked at this week, but narrowed it down to two plays, which sometimes pays off and sometimes doesn’t, as there’s an old adage about not handicapping your handicapping, but it’s something everybody does at times.
Carolina at New York Giants:
The Panthers are favored by 3 and the total here is 43 and I’ll go ahead and take the under 43 in this one. Both teams were pretty brutal defensively a week ago and think they may get things cleaned up here, especially the Panthers, who catch the Giants dealing with a rash of injuries. Neither team is really that great at stopping the run, although they’re not completely awful, so they should be able to limit the number of big gains on the ground, but allow enough 4 to 6 yard carries to keep the clock moving and keep the opposition running the football. The Panthers played some strong defense earlier in the season but things have gotten away from them a little as of late. But at least they’re capable of shutting down the opposition and think they can hold the Giants in check in this spot.
NFL Pick: Under 43
Philadelphia at Las Vegas:
The Raiders are favored by 3 and the total is 49.5 and will go ahead and take the Raiders in this one, as I have Las Vegas taking this one by a 7-point margin. The Raiders stunk it up last time at home, losing outright to the Chicago Bears and think they’ll give a better effort in front of the home fans for this one. The Eagles are coming off a hard-fought loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Raiders do have a bye next week, so should have all of their attention on the Eagles, while Philadelphia could have a bit of a letdown after having their chances to upset the defending Super Bowl champions. The Raiders are scoring a little more than the Eagles and allowing slightly fewer points. Las Vegas doesn’t run the ball well, but the Eagles are decent against the run, allowing 135 yards per game, but just 4.1 yards per carry. The Eagles haven’t shown themselves to be quite as good at defending the pass, which is where the Raiders are at their best.
NFL Pick: Raiders -3
We won our lone play here last week in an otherwise pretty dismal weekend and now have a bit of a tough slate, with really only a couple of games that I like. Will go ahead with two plays for the week and see how it all shapes up.
Dallas at New England Pick:
The Cowboys are favored by 3.5 and the total is 50.5 and will go ahead and take the Patriots in this one. While New England lost to the Buccaneers, it could turn out to be the game that helps turn the season around, as the Pats were able to overcome an extremely slow start last week against Houston and rally for the victory. The Patriots have thrown for more than 200 yards in each of their last three games, a sign that Jones is getting more comfortable and settling in a little bit. New England’s rushing game hasn’t accomplished a whole lot this season, but did come to life a little bit a week ago. The Patriots are going to have to stop Dallas’ rushing attack, which is something they do well, with the Pats allowing 3.8 yards per carry. The Cowboys have been against the run, but that has to do with the pass defense being pretty bad, as Dallas allows more than 310 yards per game through the air.
Arizona at Cleveland Pick:
The Browns are -3 and the total on the game is 49.5 and even though I used Cleveland in the teaser, will take them here, as well, as I think Cleveland is the right side of this one. The Browns are rushing for 187.6 yards per game, while the Cardinals allow 139 yards per game and 5.4 yards per rushing attempt. Cleveland should be willing to stay on the ground as much as possible and the Brown average 35 rushing attempts and 29 passing attempts per game. The Cardinals run the ball 30.2 times and throw the ball 33 times per game. It would be one thing if the Cardinals just had a bad game or two against the rush, allowing a big gain or two, but the last four opponents have each ran for more than 120 yards and 5.0 yards per carry. Cleveland’s defense gets overlooked a little bit, but Cleveland is solid stopping the opposition and believe they’ll grab the win in this one, so will lay the field goal.
Pick: Browns -3
Pick Record: 7-3
Some weeks you really like the NFL schedule. Other weeks you don’t and this is definitely one of the weeks I’m not particularly excited about, so we’re going to keep it to just a single play. There’s no need to force plays this time of the season and next week is another week.
New Orleans at Washington: The Saints are favored by 2 and the total on the game is 43.5 and I’ll go ahead and take the Saints -2 in this one. New Orleans is coming off an embarrassing home loss to the New York Giants, while the Washington Football Team pulled off a last-minute comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in what was an exciting game. This is one of those games where the public is a little enamored with the team that won last week and is selling short on the team that found itself in the loss column.
The New Orleans passing defense was just brutal last week, allowing the Giants to throw for 402 yards. New Orleans was able to shut down the New York running game, limiting the Giants to 83 yards on 20 carries, with Daniel Jones having a team-high run of 20 yards. New York did have two passes over 50 yards and New Orleans is better than that defensively.
Offensively, Winston was decent going 17 of 23 for 226 yards and a touchdown, but Taysom Hill was picked off the play after Winston’s 46-yard touchdown pass was nullified by a holding penalty.
Washington was pretty even in the stats with the Falcons, holding a slight edge on the strength of two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Washington also returned the second-half kick-off for a touchdown, which is something you can’t always count on.
Taylor Heinicke has played well since taking over for an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they’ve beaten the Giants by one and the Falcons by four for their two victories. Washington does trail most of the major stats, being outscored, outgained and outplayed the majority of the time. The team has hurt itself with turnovers at times this season, most notably the Buffalo game, where they committed three turnovers and forced none.
Have to think the Saints are the better team in this one and the line is low enough you’re really only asking New Orleans to get the victory, so will ride with the Saints -2 in this one.
A split with the two NFL games last week, coming up a point shy with the total in the Patriots game, and winning with the Green Bay Packers. Another two plays this week and we’ll use the lines from William Hill.
Arizona at Los Angeles Rams: The Rams are favored by 4.5 and the total on the game is 55 and while it might be a sucker bet, am going to go ahead and play the over 55 in this one. Arizona has scored more than 30 points in all three games so far this season, yet are 1-2 in totals due to playing Tennessee and Jacksonville, holding both those teams to fewer than 20 points. The Cardinals have done most of their damage through the air, rushing for 110 yards per game, while throwing for 322. The Rams are much the same, rushing for 84 yards per game and throwing for 304.
Neither team has been that special in regards to stopping the run, so both may have a little more success on the ground than they’ve had so far, but that should help open up things for the passing games of both teams. The Cardinals have been particularly bad against the run so far, allowing 5.4 yards per rush. Think we see enough offense from both teams to get over the number.
Las Vegas at L.A. Chargers: The Chargers are favored by 3 (-115) over the Raiders and the total on this one is 52.5 and will go ahead and take the Chargers in this spot. Las Vegas has pulled off a couple of hard-fought wins so far this season, but think it’s going to come to a half against a Chargers team that is 2-0 on the road, but dropped their lone home game so far this season. The Raiders don’t rush the ball very well and that’s been a bit of a problem so far for Los Angeles, so if the Chargers can keep even if the rushing department, that will increase their chances of winning the game.
The Raiders looked decent in their lone road game of the season against Pittsburgh, although the Steelers playing bad also had a hand in the outcome of that one. The Chargers are coming off a key road win at Kansas City and think they’ll be fired up for a rare Monday night appearance and find a way to get the victory.
We made up for an 0-2 start with a 3-0 effort on Sunday, so hopefully we can keep the momentum going this week, which at first glance, doesn’t appear to be the greatest week for handicappers. There are some tough games on the slate, so will keep it down to a pair of plays this week.
New Orleans at New England:
The Patriots are favored by 3 and the total is 42. There has been a little bit of sharp action on the under in this one, which pushed the number down to 41 for a bit, but it has since bounced back to 42 and think the over is the correct side in this one. Jameis Winston looked great in Week 1 and absolutely dismal last week, so will have to turn it around quickly if he wants to retain the starting job. The Saints won’t show as much patience as the Bucs did with Winston. New England’s defense hasn’t looked bad this season, although playing the Jets will make the majority of NFL defenses look pretty impressive. This one is unlikely to be a 35-31 shootout but think both teams can get enough points to push the game over the total.
Pick: Over 42
Green Bay at San Francisco:
The 49ers are now favored by 3 (-115) after being 3.5 earlier this week and think the line move is correct here, as I have Green Bay winning this one, so will take the Packers +3. The betting public overreacted a bit to Green Bay’s first game of the season and the Pack looked pretty solid against the Lions, while the 49ers have split their first two games against the spread, so the public probably hasn’t changed their perception of the team all that much. These teams are pretty even on the field, with the 49ers a little better at running the ball and a slight edge to the Packers in the passing game. Green Bay is only gaining 3.0 yards per carry running the ball, but the 49ers are allowing 5.0 yards per rush, so something will have to give there, but with just two games to look at it, you can’t put too much weight in the numbers. With this one having the potential to go either way, still trust Rodgers a little bit more than Jimmy Garoppolo if the game is on the line late in the fourth quarter.
Pick: Packers +3
Turnovers and penalties were too much to overcome for the Vikings and Patriots last week, so we started the year off with an 0-2 record. The Patriots outgained the Dolphins by 83 yards, but gave most of that back by having 54 more penalty yards, while the Vikings’ 37-yard advantage was nullified by Minnesota having 101 more penalty yards than the Bengals. So while there are a lot of advanced stats when it comes to football, many games are still decided on the basics – penalties, injuries and turnovers.
New Orleans at Carolina:
The Saints are favored by 3 (-120) over the Panthers and think New Orleans come down to earth a little bit in this one, so will go ahead and take Carolina +3. I like Jameis Winston and think he’ll do well in New Orleans, but don’t believe New Orleans should be favored by a field goal on the road in this one. The Panthers aren’t a bad team, even though they didn’t look great in the win over the Jets. But this is more of a play against New Orleans than it is a play on the Panthers.
Pick: Carolina Panthers +3
Tennessee at Seattle:
The Seahawks are favored by 5.5 and the total is up to 54, but think this one lands in the 60s, so will go ahead and take the over here. Tennessee looked pretty bad offensively and defensively in their opener against the Cardinals. The offense has room for improvement, while the defense could have some problems this season. Seattle was decent against the Colts on both sides of the ball, but think the defense won’t be quite as effective in this one. The Seahawks ran the ball well against the Colts and should have a bit of success against the Titans, which could help open things up for Wilson.
Pick: Over 54
Houston at Cleveland:
The Browns are favored by 12.5 and the total on this one is 48 and will go ahead and take the over 48 in this one. The Texans looked good opening week, although that was against the Jaguars, but they still did allow 21 points to a rookie QB making his first start. Mayfield and the Browns should be able to do a little more damage offensively. It was key for the Texans to get some confidence on the offensive side of things early and Taylor isn’t a slouch behind center. He’s done some good things for a few different teams in his career and is a capable replacement for Watson.
Pick: Over 48
2021 NFL Pick Record: 0-2
NFL Week 1 Expert Picks – Posted 09/09/21
We’re back for another season of NFL plays after a bit of a dismal season a year, so will hopefully be able to revert back to previous form. There are always a lot of unknowns early in the season, especially in Week 1, so we’ll start off a little bit slowly with just two plays here for the opening week.
Minnesota at Cincinnati Expert Pick:
The Vikings are favored by 3 and the total on the game is 47.5 and I’m going to take the Vikings -3 in this one. The Vikings turned in a dismal effort last season and it looks like a lot of people have given up on them entering this year, but Minnesota was busy trying to fix some of their problems, especially on the defensive side of things, which is where they really stunk. The Bengals are going to play Joe Burrow and it’s one of the worst kept secrets in the league that he isn’t at 100% and it’s a little puzzling why the Bengals are going to play him early in the season instead of waiting until he’s completely ready. The Vikings’ offense has some talent and they should fare a little better if the defense steps up by giving them shorter fields and more time of possession.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings -3 Over Cincinnati Bengals
Miami at New England Expert Pick:
The Patriots are favored by 3 in this one and the total is 43.5 and will go ahead and take the Patriots in this one. Last season was a forgettable one for the Pats, who went with Cam Newton at quarterback and he didn’t fit what the Patriots had done for years. Jones will be a much better fit and even though he’s a rookie playing his first game, he should be an improvement. The Patriots’ sharp decline last season wasn’t solely about Tom Brady leaving, but the team had some key players on defense opting out of the season due to COVID-19 and with them back and a couple of solid free agent signings, the Patriots should look more like their former selves than they do last year’s 7-9 team. The facts that the Patriots are favored over last year’s 10-win Miami team tells you something. Don’t read too much into the former Alabama quarterbacks doing battle in this one, as they won’t be on the field at the same time, but believe Jones will have a better NFL career when all is said and done, as he’s more of a standard NFL quarterback. Should be a decent game, but think the Patriots get the win and the cover here.