Week sixteen in the books, just two more weeks of regular season football to go. We saw some success after a winless week sixteen with two wins and one loss. My laptop keyboard has immediately reverted to having the same problem it had prior to repairs, so I’ll blame the sole loss on the lack of efficient typing fogging up my brain. We’re sitting at 26-33 for the season, seven games under five hundred. If I can go 4-2 for the rest of the regular season, I think I can put together a playoff run and get over 50%. Here’s a quick look at last week’s picks before diving into the week seventeen slate.
Packers/Bills Teaser: The math checks out. The extra six points were exactly what we needed for the Packers to cover, while the Bills won outright against my beloved Patriots. If the numbers work out again this week with good teams, I’ll definitely go back to another teaser. Math is tight.
Ja’Marr Chase Longest Reception O/U 25.5 Yards: I read this game completely correct, the Bengals got everything they wanted through the air and Ja’Marr Chase had a monster day with seven catches for 125 yards, almost 18 yards a catch. Unfortunately, his longest catch was just 22 yards, slightly under the line so this one lands in the loss column.
Rams and Vikings Each to Over Score 20: Even with a couple of drives ending in field goals and a red zone turnover both teams found their way over the 20 point mark. I was worried when the Vikings’ first red-zone drive ended in an interception, but they turned it on late and found the end zone twice in the second half to get over 20 points.
Now, let’s get to some picks.
As I said in the intro, math is tight. There are lot of very big spreads on the slate this week which will make it harder to find lines to exploit for good prop bets. The teaser is a great bet because it allows you to completely ignore the matchups on the football field and win a bet by using math. That’s not entirely true; there are other factors to consider when picking the teams to tease, but I’ll get into those momentarily. To quickly recap the math behind the teaser, we want to line the spreads up to cross the numbers seven and three in either direction. Touchdowns are (typically) worth seven and field goals are always worth three, so these are the numbers we see in victory margins frequently and try to exploit.
Last week, I did an entire write-up on the methodology behind the teaser that you can read here. This week, I’ll talk about a few personal things I look for when choosing the teams to add to the teaser. For the sake of explanation, this week’s teaser will again include the Packers (-6.5) and the Seahawks (-7). The Packers are taking on the Vikings on Sunday Night Football in Lambeau, while the Seahawks are hosting the Lions. I broke my own rule last week when picking the Bills, but one of the biggest things I look for in teaser teams is home-field advantage, especially when picking favorites. The old, maybe antiquated, standard is that home-field is worth three points, so when you’re teasing the lines down to numbers under three, home-field advantage can cover that difference, if you believe that standard. The Packers and Seahawks both play at home this week, so we tease them down to one-point favorites and all we need is each team to win their respective games. The other factor I look for, apart from betting on good teams, is quarterback play. A good quarterback likely doesn’t turn the ball over and can make one or two plays to win a game. Aaron Rodgers is playing like the best quarterback in the league, and Russell Wilson is a veteran quarterback that doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. A bad quarterback can ruin a bet in an instant with an untimely turnover or a bad series late in the game. I’ll put the Packers and Seahawks in the teaser this week and hope they can knock off the Vikings and Lions.
Pick: Packers -0.5, Seahawks -1.0 (-120, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Edit: With Kirk Cousins out due to covid, I wouldn’t recommend teasing the Packers down to eight-point favorites. The Colts or Chargers fit the bill as replacement teams for a second leg.
Rams Team Total O/U 24.5
The Rams travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens this week in what is somewhat of a must-win game for Baltimore. Last week, the Ravens were embarrassed by the Bengals, allowing 41 points as Joe Burrow threw for over 500 yards. Lamar Jackson should be back for the Ravens, giving the offense a boost, but this pick is all about the defense, more on that in a second. The Rams come into this game off a win against the Vikings, 30-23. Matthew Stafford completed just 21 of 37 pass attempts but Sony Michel picked up the slack on the ground, running for over 100 yards to carry the offense. Los Angeles has done a good job of having multiple offensive play styles this year rather than just leaning on the passing game. You could say this is also a must-win game for the Rams if they want to hold on to the NFC west and guarantee a home playoff game.
I’m writing this on Wednesday, so obviously covid absences could have an affect on the line and my opinion on the game, but betting early is typically a better strategy as the lines gets sharper the closer it gets to game time. Right now, the Rams team total is set at 24.5 which is believe is way too low. I routinely say that Vegas is smarter than me and has a better idea of how the games will play out than I do, but I see the Rams getting into the 30s on Sunday afternoon. I typically don’t like betting on west coast teams coming east and playing in the early window, but I’ll break that rule due to how bad the Ravens passing defense has been. The only good passing offense that Baltimore has kept under 24 points this season is the Chargers, all the way back in week six. John Harbaugh himself has acknowledged that they don’t have good enough cornerbacks, going for two at the end of games on two separate occasions because of their inability to get stops. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is returning from the covid list, giving a slight boost to the secondary, but safety Tony Jefferson, one of the teams best pass defenders, is likely out this week due to covid restrictions. Smith’s return to the lineup may help, but even when Matt Stafford has struggled, Cooper Kupp has been virtually un-guardable, going over 100 yards just about every week. Last week the Ravens couldn’t slow down Burrow and the Bengals; I see the Rams have similar success this Sunday.
Pick: OVER 24.5 (-110, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Cardinals Team Total O/U 23.5
The Cardinals are in an absolute tailspin right now, losing three straight games and falling to second place in the division. Early in the season many people were pegging the Cardinals as the best team in the league and Super Bowl contenders. I’ve bounced around Super Bowl picks (Rams, Patriots, Packers, Chiefs), but have never been on the Cardinals bandwagon. No offense to Cardinals fans, but the Cardinals just don’t seem like a Super Bowl team. Close your eyes, and tell me you can picture the Cardinals going into Lambeau or Tampa Bay and winning a game. It just isn’t going to happen. The Chargers are the same way, they’re just not a championship team simply because they’re the Chargers. Logically, that makes no sense but my football brain tells me it’s the truth. Sorry for the ricochet shot towards the Chargers, but context was necessary. The Cowboys on the other hand, are a Super Bowl team. Sure, in recent memory they’ve choked in the playoffs, but they’re still the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are synonymous with football. They’re also playing really good football right now, blowing out Washington 56-14 on Sunday night.
The Cardinals team total is set at 23.5 for Sunday in Dallas. Usually, I would look at the number 23.5 and say that it’s too low and take the over, but over the past several weeks I’ve learned the 24 is a much higher number than it seems in terms of football. It’s also a number the Cowboys have let very few teams surpass this season, just four times in 15 games this season. The Cardinals haven’t got over 23 points in their current three game losing streak and have only gone over that mark just once in their last seven games. Kyler Murray looks like a video game character at times with how fast and elusive he is, but the Cowboys have their own freak athlete on defense, Micah Parsons. Parsons, coupled with Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence have been a wrecking ball this year, disrupting quarterbacks all season. On the back end, Trevon Diggs is a ball-hawk, catching everything thrown his direction. While the Cardinals have playmakers in DeAndre Hopkins, James Connor, and Chase Edmonds, the Cowboys defense has been playing phenomenal. I like that to continue on Sunday afternoon and see the Cowboys keeping the Cardinals under 24 points.
Pick: UNDER 23.5 (-105, DraftKings Sportsbook)
New Year’s Eve features the college football playoff semi finals with Georgia playing Michigan and Alabama playing Cincinnati. Alabama is the number one ranked team in the country, coming off a dominant win over Georgia, while Cincinnati had to claw their way into the playoff and only got in, in my opinion, due to the chaos that happened around them. As of Wednesday, Alabama are 13.5 point favorites and the total is set at 57. It’s Alabama against Cincinnati. I’ll repeat, it’s Alabama… against Cincinnati. Alabama just beat Georgia, an SEC powerhouse, by 17. Don’t overthink it. Lay the points with Alabama and watch Nick Saban and the gang show the entire country that regardless of what people want to think, they’re still the cream of the crop in college football. One more time, it’s Alabama… against Cincinnati.
Pick: Alabama -13.5 (-105, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Featured Image by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)