Welcome back to the final edition of Beating the Spread! I’m Jake Roy, and I led the BTS team again this season. I’m joined by two-time Beating the Spread participant Brennan Rampe and newcomer Jason Wolf. We’ve been here every weekend throughout the season and we’ll crown our champion at the end.
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)
|Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)
|Jason Wolf (@J_Wolf_picks)
|Rams/49ers under 42.5
As a Patriots fan, I pray that they go out with a loss. A win could shoot them up the draft order, potentially costing them a shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. At the same time, it could be Bill Belichick’s last game with the team, and it would be nice to see him go out with a win. Unfortunately for the Patriots’ future success, beating the New York Jets is a virtual certainty. Belichick hates the Jets and will always pull out all the stops to beat them. With both teams having nothing to play for, I think it’s much more likely that we’ll see the Patriots rally around Belichick than it is for the Jets to go on the road and pull off the win. I’ll take the Patriots minus a couple of points. NE -2.0
Next on the list of playoff hopefuls is the Green Bay Packers. They’re taking on the Chicago Bears in the second window of the Sunday slate, and while there’s a chance they’ve already clinched the final seed in the NFC, it could also be win and in. Like the Patriots and the Jets, the Packers always beat the Bears. With the Packers’ season potentially on the line, the Bears are not going to go into Lambeau and win. Every time the Bears are seemingly riding high, the Packers put them right back in their place. Look back to Week 1 of this season. Yes, the Bears are a better team now than they were then, but people were all over the Bears in that game, and the Packers shut that down very quickly. Once again, I like the Packers to dominate this weekend. GB -6.0
Last pick of the season, so let’s make it a good one. Both the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers will be starting backup quarterbacks on Sunday, with neither team having anything to play for. This is a game you can skip entirely because if anything worthwhile happens, you definitely won’t need to see it live. Maybe check each team’s’ X/Twitter accounts from time to time for some highlights if you’re really that interested. While the defenses in this one won’t need to play particularly hard, I tend to err on the side of the under when we’re likely to get bad quarterback play. If you’ve been following along all year, you’ll know I love to take the under. Thanks for reading. LAR/SF U42.5
The New England Patriots have dominated the New York Jets in their franchise history. They never seem to lose to their division rivals; in fact, the last time they dropped a game to New York was in 2015! This was supposed to be a great season for the Jets, but it might’ve well been a repeat of last year. They started multiple quarterbacks after Aaron Rodgers went down on the first series of the season, and none of them played well. The Jets’ defense was great, but it didn’t matter since their offense was historically awful, despite a Pro Bowl-caliber running back in Breece Hall and a star-caliber wide receiver, Garrett Wilson. I expect the Patriots to finish the season with a win in what could be Bill Belichick’s last game with the franchise. NE -2.0
Inside the Numbers: The Patriots are 42-39-4 against the spread in divisional games since 2010.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the chance to win the NFC South last week, but lost. They can still win the division; all they have to do is beat the worst team in the league. That would be the Carolina Panthers, a complete mess of a franchise. They were shut out by the Jacksonville Jaguars and lost to backup quarterback C.J. Beathard. They didn’t win a single road game; their two wins were both at home. Tampa Bay won 21-18 in the first meeting, but their defense was a bit banged up. The dysfunction starts at the top in Carolina, as David Tepper has taken the crown from Dan Snyder as the worst owner in the league. He was fined this week after throwing a drink at a Jaguars fan, and he will have a very hard time trying to find someone to coach this team. It’ll likely be years before Carolina is competitive, especially after trading away the first overall pick. TB -5.0
Inside the Numbers: The Buccaneers are 6-5-0 this year against the spread in conference games.
The Dallas Cowboys had a minimal chance of winning the NFC East because of what appeared to be an easy schedule down the stretch for the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia then somehow lost to the Arizona Cardinals, and will likely have to play multiple road playoff games. Dak Prescott has been playing like an MVP candidate but Lamar Jackson will likely win that award. Dallas has dominated in divisional matchups ever since Mike McCarthy arrived as head coach, and they have an easy opponent in the Washington Commanders. Sam Howell had a solid start to the year but has had too many turnovers. He has been benched twice and the only reason he played last week was because Jacoby Brissett injured his hamstring in practice. I believe that Dallas will win the NFC East and dominate this game. Big changes are coming for Washington in the offseason. DAL -13.0
Inside the Numbers: The Cowboys are 14-9-0 in divisional games against the spread under Mike McCarthy.
My preferred betting angle for the last week of the regular season is to back teams that have nothing to play for. They get to focus on having fun playing football and playing spoiler against high-strung teams on the cusp of the playoffs. The matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a perfect spot for this approach. The Bucs seeking to claim the NFC South title with a win while the Panthers have absolutely nothing to play for. They don’t even have their first-round pick, so a loss doesn’t help the franchise secure a better pick. They have nothing to lose., and as a bonus, the Panthers are at home against a division rival. I don’t think the Bucs are a touchdown-plus better than anybody so I’ll back the Panthers to keep this game competitive as they aim to play the role of spoiler against a division rival. CAR +5.0
Hop over to Lambeau Field and we’ll find another instance in which a division rival with nothing to play for goes up against a playoff hopeful in a win-and-in situation. Though the Packers have everything to play for and have also beaten the Bears nine times in a row, I’m bravely giving the edge to Chicago in this one. While the Bears have nothing to lose, quarterback Justin Fields has everything to gain as it’s his last chance to cement his status as the Bears’ quarterback of the future (or audition for a potential trade partner for a starting gig elsewhere). The Bears’ defense has played much better since the acquisition of Montez Sweat while Fields and the offense have been much more consistent over the past month, leading the Bears to a 4-1 record over their last 5 gmaes. I think the Bears take this one straight up so I’ll gladly back them getting a field goal as insurance. CHI +3.0
I’ve backed the Bills numerous times this year only to be disappointed more often than not, but here I am again, taking them for one last ride. If the Bills win this game, they will steal the AFC East away from the Miami Dolphins while a loss could potentially mean missing out on the playoffs entirely. Regardless of their potential playoff scenarios, I think the Bills are better positioned to win this game due to the unfortunate avalanche of injuries Miami is dealing with. Now down their top two pass rushers after losing Bradley Chubb for the year, the Dolphins will also be without cornerback Xavien Howard. Additionally, offensive centerpieces Raheem Mostert and Jaylen Waddle are on the wrong side of questionable. Given all of the Dolphins impactful injuries, Josh Allen’s propensity to show up in big games, and the fact that the NFL would certainly prefer Josh Allen to be in the playoffs, I’m comfortably backing Buffalo here to take the win and steal the division away from this bad-luck Miami squad. BUF -3.0
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)