Welcome back to another week of Beating the Spread. As always, I’m Jake Roy and I’m joined by Brennan Rampe and Tyler Gentile. We’ll be here every Friday throughout the season, posting our picks along with some analysis.
Happy New Year! Down to our last two weeks and the NFL playoff race is heating up. More importantly though, the Beat the Spread race is heating up as Tyler and I are separated by just a half-game with ten picks remaining. It’s becoming harder and harder to pick winners with players resting for the playoffs and teams having nothing to play for, but we’ll keep it rolling into the new year.
You can play along in the comments or find us on Twitter (@Jake3Roy, @808Paperboi, @phdinnfl). Assuming -110 odds we need about 53% to break even, let’s see if we can hit that magic number for the season and come out with some profit. So, without further ado, here are the lines we’ll use for Week 17!
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)||Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)||Tyler Gentile (@808PaperBoi)|
|Pick #1||Eagles/Saints under 44.0||Eagles -6.5||Bears/Lions over 52.0|
|Pick #2||Seahawks +1.5||Chiefs -13.5||Panthers/Buccaneers under 40.0|
|Pick #3||49ers -6.0||Giants -6.0||Jets -1.5|
|Pick #4||Browns/Commanders under 40.5||49ers -6.0||Browns/Commanders under 40.5|
|Pick #5||Bears +6.0||Bills/Bengals over 49.5||Vikings/Packers over 48.5|
First on the list, we’re going with one of my weekly unders. The Saints are hosting the Eagles who are still facing some uncertainty at quarterback (as of Wednesday). If Jalen Hurts plays, this number will probably creep up a little bit, but I think it’s unlikely he suits up given his condition and the Eagles’ playoff position. It’s a game they should be able to win with Gardner Minshew under center, although a road game in New Orleans is never easy. Lane Johnson is missing out which will hurt the Philadelphia offensive line and slow down the offense a little bit. Andy Dalton still leads the Saints on offense and hasn’t been very inspiring. Even if they are scoring, they’re likely coming away with field goals after very long drives. Chunk plays are tough to come by for Dalton and company. Combined, the two teams are allowing just about 41 points per game, slightly below the total set here. Give me another under. PHI/NO U44.0
I love home underdogs. I love home underdogs more when they’re fighting for a chance to get into the playoffs. Hungry dogs do in fact run faster. I wish it was Zach Wilson starting for the Jets, but we’ll take Mike White. The Seahawks’ defense has been much improved down the stretch and should be able to contain White and friends, especially at home. Offensively, Geno Smith is out for revenge against his former team and likely won’t need a ton of points to cover the spread here. Pete Carroll is experienced in these types of games and will have a solid game plan to get the job done and live to fight another day. SEA +1.5
I may be a sucker for this one, but the 49ers should absolutely destroy the Raiders. Derek Carr has been benched in favor of Jarrett Stidham as if that will help the Raiders’ offense. Nick Bosa should live in the backfield and give Stidham nightmares. Josh Jacobs has been great, but San Francisco will likely key in on the run and keep them behind the sticks and force the new starting quarterback to make difficult throws. A backdoor cover is certainly a possibility if the Niners want to rest players late in the game, but I see the 49ers running away with this one. SF -6.0
I don’t know what it is, but I just have a good feeling about this next one. We’ve got the Browns and Commanders squaring off in D.C. with the Commanders clinging to their playoff lives. They’re the seven seed in the NFC as of now, but that could quickly change with the Lions, Seahawks, and Packers all on their tail. The good news for Washington is that Chase Young is back for his second game of the season and should be better conditioned. The bad news is that Carson Wentz is the starting quarterback again. For our purposes, that’s okay because we’re taking the under. The Browns’ defense is solid, allowing 22.9 points per game. Even with Deshaun Watson back, they’ve struggled offensively. Maybe another week will help him improve, but I like the Commanders to stay strong and keep the scoring down to try to hold on to their playoff spot. CLE/WAS U40.5
The Lions should never be favored by six points. I don’t care who they’re playing, they shouldn’t be six-point favorites. The Bears aren’t exactly the cream of the crop in the NFL, but they are good enough to cover a six-point spread against a divisional opponent. Justin Fields may be the most dynamic player in the league and can turn any play into a touchdown. The Lions have a potent offense as well, but they’re a defensive mess and give up easy points. Motivation could play a factor here with the Lions still fighting for a playoff spot, but sometimes a team with nothing to lose is more dangerous than a team with everything on the line. Matt Eberflus could cook up some sicko plays and let the offense have some fun on Sunday afternoon. I’ll take the points and back Chicago to cover. CHI+6.0
The Eagles suffered their second loss of the season last week to the Cowboys, but they gave it everything they had. Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew played pretty well, but Philadelphia had four turnovers and it’s hard to win in the NFL when you do that. However, their next two games are at home and they just need one more win to be the top seed in the NFC. The Saints somehow beat the Browns despite being without Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry, their top two wide receivers. Andy Dalton didn’t do anything special. I feel like the Eagles have a significant coaching and talent advantage over New Orleans. Philadelphia knows how important this game is. I don’t know if Minshew or Jalen Hurts will start, but the Eagles should win by a touchdown and cover. Inside the Numbers: The Eagles are 8-1-1 with an average margin of victory (MOV) of 12.2 as a home favorite against the spread under Nick Sirianni. PHI -6.5
The Chiefs beat the Seahawks last week, and are now about to play their final regular season home game. Patrick Mahomes is putting up MVP-level numbers despite being without Tyreek Hill. He’s dominant against his divisional rivals and still hasn’t lost to the Broncos once. Denver finally fired Nathaniel Hackett after a Christmas blowout loss to the Rams. Russell Wilson doesn’t look like the same quarterback that everyone saw in Seattle for a decade, but Hackett’s horrendous coaching along with injuries has played a part in that. The Broncos have had a terrible offense and a fantastic defense all year long, but they gave up 51 points to a Rams team that has struggled to score all year long. Senior assistant coach Jerry Rosburg will be the interim head coach. While most teams generally play better under an interim head coach, I don’t see how they will be able to keep up with Kansas City. Maybe Denver will be a good team next year if they hire a good head coach. Frank Reich seems like a good candidate to me. Inside the Numbers: The Chiefs are 33-24-1 with an MOV of 8.5 in division games against the spread under Andy Reid. KC -13.5
It’s the highest total on the board this week, but I don’t think it’s high enough! These are by far two of the worst defenses in the league. In terms of defensive DVOA, the Bears are last while the Lions are 31st. Detroit is last in EPA/play and the Bears are 31st. Chicago is allowing the 2nd most yards per play while the Lions are allowing the most. The last time these teams met the Lions stormed back for a 31-30 win and I think that’s a realistic scoreline we get in the dome of Detroit this Sunday.
The Lions have been one of the better offenses this year ranking sixth in DVOA, eighth in EPA/play, and t5th in yards per play. Since they let the reins loose on Fields running the ball back in week 7, Chicago is 14th in both EPA/play and DVOA. These teams are tied atop the over-record leaderboard at 10-5, and I think they keep this trend going and make it 11-5 a piece. CHI/DET O52.0
Shame on me for taking Tampa -7.5 last week in Beat the Spread. Luckily I bet them in a teaser instead of taking them straight up. They are such a joke on offense–23rd in EPA/play, 17th in DVOA, t6th worst in yards per play. Bucs games are now 11-4 to the under–tied for best under record with the Broncos and Ravens. The Panthers have been a much more formidable offense with Sam Darnold (wait, what?) at QB, but on the season as a whole they’re still 26th in DVOA and 22nd in EPA/play. I don’t take too much stock in them thrashing the Lions’ and Seahawks’ defenses. The Bucs have been solid on the defensive side of things this year ranking in ninth in both advanced metrics and Vita Vea looks like he should be able to suit up and clog up the running lanes for the Panthers. As for Carolina, they’re 12th in EPA/play and 14th in DVOA since week 10 on defense. The last time these teams met only 24 points were scored in a 21-3 Panthers win. CAR/TB U40.0
Deshaun Watson is simply not it this season, and it makes sense all things considered. The Browns have played in some horrendous weather the past two games, but it’s not enough of an excuse for what he has brought to the team. In the four games with Watson starting, Cleveland is averaging just 9.75 points on offense per game. Despite last week’s drubbing, Washington has been one of the stronger defensive units this season–11th in DVOA and eighth in EPA/play. Their games are 9-5-1 to the under, tied for the fourth-best under rate, and now they’re going to Carson Wentz to lead the offense. At best this is a lateral move away from Taylor Heinicke starting, and the Commanders are one of the worst teams offensively as it is–28th in DVOA and 26th in EPA/play. Don’t bother watching this snooze fest. CLE/WAS U40.5
What a roller coaster of a season it has been for the Seahawks. Projected to be one of the worst teams, they outperformed everyone’s expectations early on, but have regressed mightily across the latter half of the season and have lost five of their last six games. Over that span they’re 30th in DVOA and 31st in EPA/play on defense and 14th in DVOA and 18th in EPA/play on offense.
Outside of the most important position on the field of Quarterback, the Jets have a very talented squad. Imagine if they were able to draft Trevor Lawrence over Zack Wilson in the 2021 draft. We might be looking at a 11-4 team right now opposed to their current 7-8 record. With Mike White back they will not have to deal with the headache Wilson brings, but it’s really about the Jets’ dominant defense here. Geno has been struggling and his case for Comeback Player of the Year is in serious question now. There’s a good chance he’s without one of his best weapons, Tyler Lockett, who fractured his left index finger 10 days back. Even if he is good to go, it’s hard to see the Hawks mustering up any offense against the sixth-best defense by DVOA and seventh-best according to EPA. If it weren’t for a garbage time TD with 2:25 left in the game, Seattle would’ve scored just three points last week at Kansas City who are 21st in defensive DVOA. Gimme the slight road dog here. NYJ -1.5
The Packers are suddenly a little bit interesting as they make their way into the playoff hunt for the final wild card spot. Their defense is questionable at best, ranking 27th in EPA/play and 19th in DVOA, but the offense is what intrigues me here. Since week ten they are sixth in both advanced metrics averaging 26.5 points per game. What is even more intriguing for them is facing the Vikings’ putrid defense. Minnesota is allowing the second most yards per play, are 22nd in DVOA, and are one of the most over-friendly teams–their games are 10-5 to the over. Six of their last seven games have cruised to the over averaging 56.7 points per game. The Vikings offense is nothing to really write home about by EPA or DVOA, but as stated earlier, Green Bay’s defense isn’t really stopping anyone either. There aren’t any weather concerns in Lambeau, so give me the over here. MIN/GB O48.5
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)