Welcome back to another edition of Beating the Spread! I’m Jake Roy, and I’m leading the BTS team again this season. I’m joined by two-time Beating the Spread participant and Brennan Rampe and newcomer Jason Wolf. We’re here every weekend throughout the season and we’ll crown our champion at the end.
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re on to December. It was hit or miss for the panel last week, with myself and Brennan combining for a 6-0 week, while Jason couldn’t find a win. The pack has tightened up for the home stretch, and we’ll have to start considering team motivations and weather a little bit more as we get deeper into the season; so far, we’re sitting at a collective 55 percent win rate on the season.
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)
|Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)
|Jason Wolf (@J_Wolf_picks)
|Lions/Saints under 45.5
It has been 12 weeks, and I’m still not sure if the Detroit Lions are good. I think they are, but if they can’t shake the turnover bug, they’re going to have a hard time securing the NFC North. Over the last two weeks, Detroit has turned the ball over seven times, and the New Orleans Saints’ defense is great at taking the ball away. If I’m Dan Campbell, I’m looking to take the crowd out of the game by leaning on the run game and controlling time of possession. On the other side of the ball, the Saints have a myriad of injuries to their skill positions. Unless they can create big plays, they’ll have a hard time finding the end zone. DET/NO u45.5
As a New England Patriots fan, I know this isn’t the smartest pick in the year 2023. At the same time, I’ve seen this game before and I know how it goes. This is the game that gets Brandon Staley fired. According to Pro Football Focus’s matchup tool, New England has a sizeable advantage in the run game. They should be able to keep Bailey Zappe in manageable situations, keep the offense on the field, and keep the game close. The public will probably be all over the Los Angeles Chargers with the spread within a touchdown, but I have a feeling the Patriots may eke this one out, even if it isn’t in the best interests of their future. NE +6.0
With the injury to Joe Burrow, the Bengals’ season is all but over. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, they played incredibly conservatively. It showed on offense, where Jake Browning‘s average depth of target was just under six yards downfield. That may be in part due to T.J. Watt and the Steelers’ pass rush, but it also may be a lack of trust in Browning. Now at (5-6), they may be more willing to open up the playbook, especially in primetime. The Jaguars are playing good football right now, but given the low total (37.5), I think eight points is a bit too many to lay with Jacksonville. CIN +8.0
The Detroit Lions have had a long time to rest after a disappointing loss on Thanksgiving. The New Orleans Saints lost to the Atlanta Falcons, their main divisional rival. Derek Carr has not been playing well recently, and seemingly all of his wide receivers are banged up. The Saints could be without their top three options at the position, and that could be a big problem as New Orleans didn’t score a touchdown last week. Detroit has had a lot of turnovers recently, but I expect them to go on the road and win this one by a touchdown. DET -4.0
Inside the Numbers: The Lions are 3-1-0 as an away favorite against the spread under Dan Campbell.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won last week in their first game without Matt Canada calling the offensive shots. They didn’t score a ton of points but had over 400 yards of offense for the first time in over 50 games; that total was never reached with Canada as offensive coordinator! The rest of Pittsburgh’s schedule looks pretty easy, and they suddenly look like a team with a great chance of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals were just demolished by the Los Angeles Rams at home. They just don’t have enough talent on offense or defense to win games right now. Kyler Murray’s return has made them more competitive, but I don’t see the Cardinals keeping things close in Pittsburgh. PIT -5.5
Inside the Numbers: The Steelers are 5-2-0 as a home favorite against the spread since 2022.
The Kansas City Chiefs were trailing early against the Las Vegas Raiders but after trailing 14-0, they battled back and won by a score of 31-17. Great teams always seem to find ways to win games they should. Wide receiver Rashee Rice had a breakout game as he had over 100 yards and a touchdown. He’s only a rookie, but has clearly emerged as the best wide receiver that Patrick Mahomes has to work with. The Green Bay Packers have a two-game winning streak going, but that’s in jeopardy against the defending champions. The Chiefs always play well when it matters most and they know they’ll likely have to win out to claim the top seed in the AFC. The Packers have played well recently, but I don’t believe they’re ready for moments like this just yet. KC -6.0
Inside the Numbers: The Chiefs are 15-12-2 against the spread in non-conference games since 2018.
This game has all the makings of a Miami Dolphins blowout. I usually don’t like to take super heavy favorites but this spot is a nightmare matchup for the Washington Commanders, who have given up over 32 PPG over their last five games while sporting an abysmal 14:1 TD/INT rate. The Dolphins have repeatedly crushed poor defenses, and the Montez-Sweat-and-Chase-Young-less-Commanders might be the worst unit they’ll face all year. Miami’s defense has also really stepped up since the return of cornerback Jalen Ramsey and is now playing like a Top 10 defense. Miami hung 34 on a previously feared Jets defense last Friday and now has a couple of days extra rest and get ready for what looks to be their last easy win before their schedule gets much harder. MIA -9.5
I’m going back to betting against the Philadelphia Eagles after the Buffalo Bills were able to score at will against their shoddy pass defense, as I expected. Stop me if you heard this before: the Bills somehow found a way to lose a tightly contested high-scoring battle in which they lost on a heartbreaking game-winning score. The San Francisco 49ers are not the Bills, as the Niners have a legitimate defense to go along with their killer offense. All of the 49ers’ weapons are healthy and clicking, and that should scare the Eagles because, despite their record, they are due for some regression and have not looked as impressive as a (10-1) team normally does. If you’re into narrative angles, there is a big one at play here with the 49ers seeking revenge for last year’s NFC Championship Game. I also think the 49ers being favored by a full field goal over the (10- 1) Eagles is a sign of how this game is going to go. SF -3.5
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)