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The overall goal of this primer is to paint a picture of the weekend NFL betting slate so you can dive into it with your head on straight. Sports betting is here, and if you are going to bet, you might as well get an edge, right?
Cleveland Browns @ Green Bay Packers: CLE +7.5, GB -7.5, o/u 46.5
Baker Mayfield and Kevin Stefanski will return for the Browns after their game last week was pushed to Monday afternoon due to a covid-19 outbreak. The Browns are still battered due to covid and other injuries on the roster, and while they still have an outside chance of making the playoffs, it seems highly unlikely. The Packers barely escaped the Ravens last week but hold the best record in the NFL at 11-3. I’m not backing the Browns here on the road, and it’s Green Bay or pass. This line will continue to creep up, so this could be an excellent spot to tease the Packers down. No go on Cleveland for me in this spot.
Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals: IND +2, AZ -2, o/u 49
This is a traditional buy low sell high type of game for me. However, I can’t help but wonder what this line would have been if the Cardinals did not look so bad last week against the Detroit Lions. I think the public perception is a little overinflated with the Colts given their recent success and a little bit down on the Cardinals now they have lost two games in a row.
The top two running backs in the league this season will clash in Jonathan Taylor and James Conner. It’s safe to say that whichever team can limit the opposing running back will probably have a clear path to victory. Indianapolis has gone on a bull run over the last six weeks, losing just one game in that span. The Colts have been so successful as of late because they’ve been sensational at creating points off of turnovers, generating 122 this season.
On the flip side, I pinpoint the Cardinals’ recent struggles to trying to get the team back in sync now that Kyler Murray is healthy. No DeAndre Hopkins will undoubtedly limit some aspects of the Cardinals’ offense; however, if Kyler can get back to playing like he was early in the season and using James Connor as a complementary receiver and back, the Cardinals offense could thirve. It’s not surprising to see the Cardinals sputter here over the last couple of weeks, but I do think they are good enough to rally and put together a good performance this week. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden will be essential to this. Arizona is 0-4 in games where they can clinch the playoffs under Kliff Kingsbury…. will it be 0-5?
The Colts are a solid team, but I still have a question about Carson Wentz. Vance Joseph has done an excellent job building up the Cardinals’ defense over the last couple of seasons, and I will go ahead and back the home team here as we get closer to the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals: BAL +4.5, CIN -4.5, o/u 44.5
Lamar Jackson has not been ruled out at the time of this writing; however, it appears he will be out for this game against the Bengals. We have seen this line balloon up a little bit as a result. This was one of the games we talked about on the Football Friday show this week, and I’m a bit surprised that Lamar is trending towards not being able to play in this one. Still, a significant reason I liked the Ravens in the first place is their head coach. John Harbaugh is one of the premier head coaches in the league, and I believe that his team will be ready to play this week, regardless of who is under center.
We have seen the Ravens hang around in plenty of games this season without Jackson, so who’s to say they can’t do it again this week against a division opponent that they are very familiar with?
There is also the revenge factor of this game. Cincinnati throttled Baltimore back on October 24 by a final score of 41-17, and you best believe the Ravens have not forgotten about it. Baltimore is still very much in the thick of a playoff hunt, but they need wins, and those are tough to come by with only a few games left on the schedule. This is not a dire game for Baltimore, but it makes the rest of the way a lot tougher if they fail to get the dub here.
I do worry if the bottom eventually falls out on this Ravens team that has been playing with a spruce of injuries throughout the season, but I’ll still consider backing Baltimore here. They are tough as nails and nearly beat the Packers last week with a backup. In my eyes, Harbaugh is superior to Zac Taylor, and this is the exact type of let-down spot I can see the Bengals folding to. The Ravens are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as a road dog and 6-1 ATS following a straight-up loss.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots: BUF +2, NE -2, o/u 43.5
If the Bills want to get back into the race to win the AFC East, they have to win this game. If New England comes out victorious, they’ll win this division, forcing the Bills in the playoffs as a wild card. The last time these two played, Bill Belichick took Sean McDermott to school with a throwback game plan that involved running the ball and playing strong defense. New England won that game 14-10, and now the two will face off just a few weeks removed from the snow bowl.
This is a bounce-back spot for the Patriots after their seven-game winning streak ended last week against the Indianapolis Colts. It will be interesting to see how New England comes out, and this game will tell us a lot about how good this team actually is. As I’ve said the last few weeks in the primer, I have to have a robust case to bet against greatness, and with New England laying under a field goal at home, it’s going to take a REALLY strong case. The Patriots absolutely dominated the Bills in the trenches last game, and who’s to say the same won’t occur here? Damien Harris is expected to return for New England, which will be a massive boost for their offense, and the Buffalo run defense has been awful all season.
This game will be won of the trenches. Buffalo is 7-1 this season in games where they rush for a touchdown. As good as Buffalo was last year and earlier this season I’m just not confident enough to take them in the spot against the evil empire. The trends say otherwise, though.
The road team is 18-6-2 ATS in their last 26 h2h meetings in Buffalo. The Bills are also 4-1-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings in New England. I’m backing Pats, but this should be a fun game nonetheless.
Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons: DET +6.5, ATL -6.5, o/u 42.5
Believe it or not, the Detroit Lions are one of the most profitable teams against the spread this season in the NFL despite their overall record. Detroit has plenty of talent on their roster, although their record does not support that.
On the flip side, this version of the Atlanta Falcons has got to be one of the most hollow six-win teams I have ever seen in my life. The only team of note they have beat the season is the Miami Dolphins, which came early when Miami was still struggling. Not much for me on this one, but I’m sure as heck not laying this many points with Atlanta. Lions or pass.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Houston Texans: LAC -10.5, HOU +10.5, o/u 46
There is no question the Chargers are the better team here. Los Angeles dismantled the New York Football Giants a few weeks ago at home, and I expect them to do the same this week against the Texans with the playoffs approaching. We are at the point of the year where it’s hard for me to consider backing these dogs in these games where the other team is playing for so much. I’ll look to tease the Chargers down here, and potentially play them with the Packers or some of the other teaser candidates on this slate.
Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota Vikings: LAR -3, MIN +3, o/u 49
I was getting ready to back up the Brinks truck on the Vikings before the news about Dalvin Cook was released. Cook is expected to miss this game as he was placed on the Covid reserve list this week, which certainly makes things a bit more interesting for this matchup against the Rams. Minnesota is one of those teams that I love to back as an underdog, and consistently fade as a favorite. One thing that is almost guaranteed with the Vikings this season is that they will play close games. They have yet to lose a game by more than one possession, and I expect that to continue this week with a Rams team coming to town on short rest.
The Rams were forced to play on Tuesday due to the Covid circus that ensued last week and come into this game riding high after a couple of wins. The Rams are a tough team for me to get behind when they are playing with so much confidence. Sometimes it appears this Rams club cannot stay even keel and balanced throughout the season. They get way too high and way too low at times, and knowing that the Vikings play these tough games, I’ll look towards them here, especially being this game is not in prime time. Another rule of thumb with the Vikings is say your prayers with Kirk Cousins in primetime, but get your cash ready for when it’s an afternoon time slot. I’ll look at the Vikings here as they fight to make the playoffs down the stretch.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles: NYG +9.5, PHI -9.5, o/u 40.5
I’m still bitter about backing Mike Glennon a few weeks ago, and it seems like the Giants have learned their lesson as Jake Fromm is expected to make his NFL debut against the division-rival Eagles.
I have no confidence backing the Giants at this point this season, as it appears the team is looking to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Joe Judge has his squad playing uninspired football, and it’s tough to back a team that is playing in this manner. That said, there’s always a wildcard factor being that this is a division matchup, but I still don’t have enough confidence to consider the Giants here. The line is a bit big for a good reason, so if you want to back Philly, I would consider doing it in a teaser. No confidence with the New York Football Giants moving forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers: TB -10, CAR +10, o/u 44
I know of a handful of respected bettors that Are backing the Panthers here. I don’t like this game at all and will most likely pass it entirely. I’m surprised some are on the Panthers as this is a natural bounce-back spot for Brady and the Bucs. I expect the public to load up on Tampa Bay, so it’s a tease or pass spot for me.
Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks: CHI +7, SEA -7, o/u 41.5
The 2021 football season has been a lost cause for both the Chicago Bears and the Seattle Seahawks. Chicago has failed to cover the spread in the last five games, and Matt Nagy is a dead man walking from a football perspective. Justin Fields has shown flashes of potential this season, but it’s clear that he’s going to require a different coach to excel in this league.
At 5-9, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are at a breaking point. It would take a miracle for the Seahawks to make the playoffs at this point, which means this will be the first time we will see Russell Wilson playing games that lack meeting this late in the season. Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and I don’t expect him to quit on the team now that they’re likely not going to make the playoffs. As wonky of a season as it has been for Seattle, I can only look to them here due to the instability and chaos that has ensued within Chicago for years now.
Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders: DEN PK, LV PK, o/u 41.5
This line baffles me. I texted Jay Kornegay from SuperBook to determine what the drop-off was from Teddy Bridgewater to Drew Lock. I was shocked when he replied maybe 1 or 0.5 points. In my opinion, the Broncos are far worse with Drew Lock, especially at this point in this season. Lock looked alright when he jumped in the game last week, but as his stint progressed, his true colors shined, and the Broncos wound up losing in ugly fashion.
The Raiders have faced tremendous adversity this season yet have managed to play .500 ball. They’ve also played well against the Broncos recently, covering in their last five home games against Denver. The Broncos are just 1-8 ATS in their last 8 games against the Raiders as well. The under has cashed in 8 of the last 10 h2h meetings, and I can see that being a play here. I’m confused as to why this line has not moved more. Drew has always had a higher ceiling than Teddy Bridgewater; however, his floor is much much lower. He’s too unstable, and the Raiders are the home team, so I’ll lean with Vegas.
Sunday Night Football
Washington Football Team @ Dallas Cowboys: WFT +11, DAL -11, o/u 46.5
The Dallas Cowboys’ offense has been out of sync for the last few weeks. There’s something wrong with Dak Prescott at the moment, and there is a bit of pressure mounting for Dallas to get back to their early-season form. Washington will play this game on extremely short rest, having played on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 surge. Washington is banged up and will start Taylor Heinicke at QB now that he’s cleared protocol. Heinicke is a gamer, and while Dallas is the more talented team, I’m waiting for a letdown spot from the defense. Washington almost pulled off a miracle back door cover the last time these two played thanks to a lagging Cowboys’ offense.
I like Dallas in the game, but I’ll go ahead and tease them down for this one.
Monday Night Football
Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints: MIA -2.5, NO +2.5, o/u 38.5
Rookie Ian Book is expected to start for New Orleans. The Saints also brought in veteran quarterback Blake Bortles as a backup for this week, after Trevor Simeon and Taysom Hill were placed on the COVID-19 reserved list. New Orleans will get back head coach Sean Payton, which should boost them. Payton is an excellent head coach, so I’m sure he’ll get creative with the rookie and running back Alvin Kamara to try to put some points on the board, but it’s hard to back the Saints knowing what’s going on internally.
Miami is trending in the right direction, and vying for a spot in the postseason. They’ve put together a very solid second half, and a win here can give them another boost as we get closer to the playoffs. The Dolphins have won six in a row and I don’t see that streak ending this week. This is a Dolphins or pass play for me.