December 22, 2021
The NFL extended its regular season by one game — and so far there has been little to no outrage. The intended effect of lengthening the season was further widening the net for playoff contention, combined with the already existing 7th playoff spot in each conference. Thankfully Week 16 continues to live up to the hype as so many teams are still alive.
Thursday Night Football opens just a few days after a pair of Tuesday night games, with the Titans as a home dog against the Niners. Christmas Day doesn’t just belong to the NBA this year, as we have two big games with plenty of postseason implications. The Browns are barely alive and are in Green Bay, followed by the Cardinals hosting the Colts.
The rest of the weekend has a sense of normalcy return (for now) with a busy Sunday slate capped off by Dallas hosting Washington in primetime on Sunday Night Football — but not before the Eagles stretch of three games in thirteen days continues as they open up as a double-digit home favorite against the Giants. The week ends, hopefully, with a Monday Night matchup featuring the Saints off a big win hosting the red-hot Dolphins.
49ers (-3.5) at Titans | Total: 44.5
San Francisco has won five of six games and is now 8-6 fully entrenched in the playoff race. Meanwhile, the Titans still find themselves atop the AFC South but are also down a couple of key players – including Derrick Henry. Ryan Tannehill may be without his top two wideouts in AJ Brown and Julio Jones, making life for the Niners pass rush incredibly easy. Everything screams to take the Niners in this game, except the hook. If this were anything higher than 3.5, I’d say lay off the game and enjoy a Thursday night of stress-free football. The Titans have dropped three of four, with the one win being the Jags. Take the Niners.
Browns at Packers (-7) | Total: 44.5
The Packers come into this game already having clinched a playoff spot and the NFC North division. Things are a tad different for the Browns, as they come off another brutal loss – this one marred by COVID. The Packers haven’t clinched home field advantage yet, and Aaron Rodgers is playing for the MVP. We will have to keep an eye on the Browns situation – as it’s not just COVID now. Myles Garrett’s groin injury may keep him out, which would be an automatic smash on the Packers – even laying a TD at home.
Colts at Cardinals (-1) | Total: 49.5
The first thing that should jump out at you is how short of a favorite Arizona is, especially coming off a horrific loss to the Lions. The second is this total being below 51 points. While Arizona should bounce right back, and the Colts continue to win games, the line is too sharp to play at essentially a pick-em. The better value here is jumping on a total that should certainly rise north of 50 points by kick. Both teams have shown they can score, albeit the Colts are more consistent. The only thing holding the Cardinals back was injury and a big head — and losing to Detroit will do wonders for the latter. Expect both teams to throw and score a lot of points, with Johnathan Taylor getting a score or two on the ground. Best play here is going over the total and not worrying about which team comes up short on the spread.
Giants at Eagles (-10) | Total: 41.5
The biggest concern for the Eagles wasn’t a let down against the Giants, but how they would play on Tuesday night. After surviving Washington, it’s a quick turnaround for Philadelphia. They mainly kept WFT in the game with bad outlier plays, something that isn’t nearly as consistent of an issue for the Eagles. The Giants have nothing left without Daniel Jones and his threat to run. The Eagles are riding momentum and still get chunk yardage with plays on the ground. Expect them to obliterate the Giants.
Ravens at Bengals (-2.5) | Total: 44.5
Baltimore seemed to answer way more questions this week about going for two as opposed to which QB will be out on Sunday in Cincy. That may be the best thing for a Ravens team that desperately needs a win to hold off the Bengals in the AFC North. If Lamar Jackson does play, then getting points seems like a gift. If Jackson is out, don’t expect these 2.5 points to truly matter. You can jump ahead of this on Wednesday and see if Jackson does practice, and if he does then smash the Ravens at plus money before the line moves. If not, do the same thing with the Bengals. Cincy is only 7-7 ATS on the year and split their last four games. They need a break, and not having to face Jackson would be perfect.
Bills at Patriots (-2.5) | Total: 43.5
The theme of lower totals continues in Foxborough as the Bills and Patriots battle it out for an inside track in winning the division. Buffalo needs this more than New England, but both teams could use a win. The Pats saw their seven-game win/cover streak come to an end, but they still are dangerous at home. Buffalo is just 3-6 ATS over their last 9 games, something to think about if you like New England under the key number 3. The better play may simply be going over 43.5 points in this game. Buffalo scored 27+ points in four of their last six, and NE has gone over the point total in four straight home games.
Lions at Falcons (-4) | Total: 44
Detroit comes off a giant win over Arizona only to hit the road and battle sneaky Falcons team. There’s no depth to the story with Detroit – they’ve covered games all year and fight no matter the score. They are coming off a big win and the letdown factor – especially for bad teams – is a real thing in the NFL. Atlanta should bounce back on their own, as they were humiliated in San Francisco. The key stat here is Detroit being 9-5 ATS on the year with just two wins. This is the exact type of game that a bad-to-decent Falcons team will get caught sleeping. This line may go up to 6 points by kick, and you want to be on Detroit’s side.
Jaguars at Jets (-2.5) | Total: 41.5
Don’t overthink this one. Play the over and keep it moving to the next one. Both teams have awful defenses, and it should allow plenty of scoring opportunities. The Jags/Texans game went over a low number of 39.5 last week, and the Jets defense is worse than both those teams. The public always gets tripped up on bad offenses going against each other, but the break remains when the defenses are worse. The over is 8-6 for the Jets – the home team dictating flow matters more here – as their defense gives up a ton of points.
Chargers (-9) at Texans | Total: 46.5
When betting teams this deep in the season, it’s important to factor in how well a team is playing. The other two factors should be how healthy they are and – in the case of the Chargers – how desperate they are for a win. We are just a day removed from a bunch of players landing on the COVID list for L.A., including Joey Bosa who will not play in Houston. The Chargers are also hoping Austin Ekeler can be healthy enough to play through an injury. This game has under written all over it — the O/U is 7-7 this year for LA and eight of the last twelve Texans game went under.
Rams (-3) at Vikings | Total: 49
Minnesota still finds themselves in the mix for a playoff hunt while the Rams are logjammed in the NFC West. Both teams are coming off short weeks so don’t expect a crisp game from either offense. Both rush defenses have been playing considerably well, but the game should come down to which team runs the ball better. Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins have been lackluster – outside of Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson bailing out their respective quarterbacks. Neither one of these teams will score a bunch so better to take the under 49.
Bucs (-11) at Panthers | Total: 44
Tom Brady and the Bucs left Week 15 humiliated in front of a national audience. This also isn’t the Lions or some other bad team like the Panthers – who have now dropped four straight and five of six. Carolina is a mess, and they might fire their head coach before the season ends. The Bucs still have a shot at home field in the NFC and Brady is the odds-on favorite for MVP. I’d look at TB -14 for a little extra value, possibly up to -17 for a huge payout. Carolina has dropped five straight at home and might fold after this week’s loss to the Bucs.
Bears at Seahawks (-6.5) | Total: 43.5
The season is over for both of these football teams, but it just seems much worse for Chicago. The Bears offense was dismantled by pressure on Monday night and it gets no easier against Seattle – to be fair it wouldn’t be easier against many teams. Chicago is 4-10 on the year and the same record ATS. They’ve lost three straight games and five of their last six. Just take Seattle.
Broncos at Raiders (-1) | Total: 41.5
The Raiders got a win, but it came mainly at the expense of the Browns incompetence. The Broncos will be without their starting QB for a while after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a concussion in Denver’s loss to the Bengals. Neither Denver nor Vegas are any good, and it’s a divisional matchup. The total is just over a key number 41 and seems like the safer play to go over here. The data for Denver is based on Bridgewater and not Drew Lock at QB, which can cloud the public’s judgement on scoring. Lock will throw much more down field than Bridgewater, and if it's a shootout Denver wants, the Raiders will happily oblige.
Steelers at Chiefs (-10) | Total: 46
On the surface, the best thing to do is pound the Steelers at anything over 9.5 mainly because of the serious COVID issues with the Chiefs this week. The Steelers are better in lower scoring games, as they’ve won two of three by scoring less than 21 points in both wins. The Chiefs aren’t fantastic at covering games at home either, just 3-5 ATS at Arrowhead stadium. This line won’t get much wider if the Chiefs are fully healthy, but if guys are ruled out it may drop as low as 7. Jump on Pittsburgh now.
Washington at Dallas (-10.5) | Total: 47
Dallas is in a weird spot as they should be running away with this division and focusing on playoff seeding. Don’t get too caught up in the WFT COVID situation this past week, but coming off that game in Philadelphia on Tuesday only to play on Sunday should cause disruption. The Cowboys are a heavy in-division favorites and relatively healthy outside of a few guys on the O/D lines. I hate laying anything over 7 for these late division games, but it’s hard to ignore the big moment on SNF and how Dak Prescott will respond – by torching Washington’s league-worst pass defense.
Dolphins at Saints (-3) | Total: 38.5
The total is so low, but the Saints offense is so bad! Alvin Kamara can’t save this team, and neither can the return of their head coach to the sidelines. It’s a shame we can’t count on anything Saints when it comes to their offense, because the Dolphins look sharp and should normally destroy this total. Instead, we ride the Dolphins hot streak against a s***-show at QB for the Saints. The Dolphins won six straight and covered five of those games, the lone failure was covering a 10-point line in a 7-point victory over the Jets. I like Miami winning outright on the moneyline.
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