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Posted by on Dec 1, 2022 in Blog, Essays, Sports Betting | 2 comments

2022 NFL Analysis and Picks (Week 13)



This week’s “Best Seat in the House” star is Michael Minkoff, from Las Vegas.  What a view!  Minkoff works the Las Vegas Raiders games.  Oh, and he gets paid to sit in the ultimate man cave.  The downside — he’s stuck watching the Raiders.

But in all fairness, Minkoff enjoyed a thrilling last two weeks, both games won on the final play of the game by Las Vegas.  Afterward, I asked Minkoff if the production people in the control room and studio cheer and get excited when the Raiders pull off a big win.  He said, yes.  Now, that’s a helluva’ workday — watching football, getting paid, and enjoying a thrilling victory.

In previous weeks here at my website, many friends including Scott Byron (New York Giants-CLICK HERE), Bruce Kramer (Philadelphia Eagles-CLICK HERE), Noah Carbone (Miami Dolphins-CLICK HERE), Jason March (Las Vegas Raiders-CLICK HERE), Linda Kenney Baden/Dr. Michael Baden (New York Jets-CLICK HERE), Bob Jones (NFL London at Wembley Stadium-CLICK HERE), Judd Greenagel (Minnesota Vikings-CLICK HERE), Chad Halloway (Chicago Bears-CLICK HERE), and Joseph Freda (New England Patriots-CLICK HERE) each shared their seat views.  Photos were posted here in the weekly write-ups.

Last week’s results:  10 wins, 7 losses, +$460

Detroit Lions +9.5 (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. WON
Dallas Cowboys -9 (-115) — Risking $230 to win $200 ….. LOST
Minnesota Vikings -2.5 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200 ….. WON
Atlanta Falcons Team Total-OVER 9.5 (First Half) (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. WON
Baltimore-Jacksonville UNDER 44 (Full Game) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. LOST
Chicago Bears (First Half) +3.5 — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. LOST
Carolina (First Half) +1.5 (-135) — Risking $270 to win $200 ….. WON
Houston Team Total Full Game OVER 16.5 (Full Game) (-105) — Risking $210 to win $200 ….. LOST
PROP: J. Brissett OVER 207.5 yards passing (-115) — Risking $230 to win $200 ….. WON
PROP: J. Brissett OVER 18.5 pass completions (-115) — Risking $230 to win $200 ….. WON …… 
Seattle Seahawks -4 (Full Game) (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. LOST
Los Angeles Chargers -3 (Full Game) (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. LOST
LA Chargers (First Half) -1.5 — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. LOST
LA Rams / Kansas City UNDER 42 (Full Game) (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. WON
San Francisco 49ers -9 (Full Game) (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. WON
Philadelphia Eagles -6.5 (Full Game) (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 ….. WON
Pittsburgh Steelers (First Half) +1.5 (-125) — Risking $250 to win $200 ….. WON
TEASER: Pittsburgh +8.5 / Baltimore -1.5 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200 …..PENDING


Now, it’s on to Week #13.



94  Wins

60  Losses

0  Pushes 

Starting Bankroll:     $10,000.

Current Bankroll:     $15,908.

Net Gain/Loss:     + $5,908.     

Last Week’s Results:     10 wins – 7 losses (+ $460.)



Note:  Most of the game analysis was posted Thursday — Friday — Saturday.  UPDATES were/are posted Saturday night/Sunday morning.


Tennessee at Philadelphia
Line: Eagles -4.5
O/U: 44.5

Analysis: Tennessee (7-4) had won 7 in a row and covered 8 in a row prior to last week’s 20-16 home loss to Cincy. This week, the Titans go on the road against Philadelphia (10-1) an even tougher opponent that’s arguably the NFL’s best team at the moment. It’s tough to predict how Tennessee will fare in this spot. They’re 5-0 SU against inferior losing teams….but are just 1-4 SU when facing teams with winning records, and that single victory was an unimpressive win against Washington. / Philadelphia hasn’t inspired much betting confidence of late, either. Sure, they covered by a half-point last week hosting the Packers, but that 7-point win was against an opponent playing with a backup QB. The Eagles haven’t played (or looked) like a 10-1 team in more than a month. The main takeaway from last week’s 40-33 win vs. Green Bay was Philadelphia’s gargantuan rushing stats, which obliterated franchise records dating back more than 70 years. If the Eagles maintain anywhere near those rushing stats, they could be unstoppable. / Meanwhile, when we think of the league’s best rushing teams, Tennessee is certainly in that conversation. However, the Titans have rushed for woeful numbers lately — 63-88-63 — in its last three games. Given Tennesee’s average passing game, they absolutely must run the ball well to have any success. What has carried the Titans during this stretch has been a very good defense, ranking #8th in the NFL in points allowed, including just 17 PPG in their previous nine games. Grabbing +4.5 with the Titans is tempting. After all, this is the NFL”s best team against the spread this season (8-3 overall), which tells us that betting markets continue underestimating feisty Tennessee. However, I see slightly better value in going OVER 9.5 points on Tennessee’s team total in the first half. As evidence, the Titans have outscored opponents 147-85 in the first half, while scoring at 13.4 PPG1H, which ranks #8th in the NFL. I’m betting they can get to 10+ points in the 1H of this game, although the vig price is -130.

The Pick: Tennessee Titans [Team Total-First Half] OVER 9.5 (-130) — Risking $290 to win $200


Cleveland at Houston
Line: Browns -7
O/U: 47

Analysis: Here are two teams out of the playoff hunt, yet this game will receive considerable attention since it marks the return of controversial QB Deshaun Watson, finally making his first start for the Browns. Adding to all the drama, Watson is returning to the NFL after nearly two years on the sidelines and is facing the Texans, his former team. I’m surprised at this line, though I won’t touch either side. Do bettors really think a potentially rusty Watson will simply step into the huddle after spending 22 months in street clothes and walk away with a happy ending? Oops, let’s skip that. Sure, it could happen. Perhaps Cleveland (4-7) will build on their thrilling come-from-behind victory vs. Tampa Bay last week and manhandle the much weaker Texans, which has the NFL’s worst record (1-9-1). But that sure seems like expecting a lot. The Browns could just as easily be in for a mental letdown. Also note that Cleveland has been a horrible road team, posting just 1 win in 5 games this season. It doesn’t matter who they play against, laying a touchdown seems excessive. Nonetheless, I can’t play Houston either, which has lost each of its last six games by at least 7+ points. / Instead, where I do see value is betting the UNDER. The total at 47 looks high, especially given how bad Houston’s offense is at the moment. The Texans trashed-yardaged their way to scoring 15 points last week in Miami, but the game was already decided at halftime, as the score was 30-0. They won’t be playing against a prevent defense with backups this time around. The UNDER has cashed in Houston’s last 4 of 5. They aren’t moving the ball, either. In their last two games, Houston was held to just 148-210 yards respectively by Washington/Miami. The Texans are averaging a horrible 15.8 PPG this season, which means based on their season average, Cleveland likely has to crack 31+. But they’ve only reached the 30-point mark only twice in 11 games this season. The UNDER 47 looks like a solid bet.

UPDATE:  Cleveland is up to -8.  A flood of money is coming in on Browns, and while books held -7 for a while, it’s probably an overwhelming figure that compelled a line move.

The Pick: Cleveland / Houston UNDER 47 [Full Game] (-110) — Risking $200 to win $200


Denver at Baltimore
Line: Ravens by 8.5
O/U: 39.5

Analysis: The entire football gambling world is likely to load up on Baltimore in this game, especially since Denver has become the NFL’s most disappointing team this season. It’s a bet against Denver-fest.  What’s a real shame here is the overlooked talent on the Broncos’ stout defense. It’s been a royally wasted effort by the Broncos, which might otherwise be a Super Bowl contender if there was anything comparable on the other side of the ball. Once again, let’s point out that if Denver had scored just 18 points in every game, they’d be 9-2 right now and tied with the Chiefs. The dichotomy between the Broncos’ outstanding defense (ranked #3 in both points and yards allowed) and putrid suck-ass offense is almost unfathomable. Denver has lost 7 of its last 8 games, scoring just 13 PPG in its previous seven contests (even Houston ranks better statistically). In fact, the lowly Broncos scored 16 or fewer points in 9 of 11 games this season. Here’s another stat that’s hard to digest for any NFL team in the modern era: Denver has scored just eight touchdowns on its last 81 drives (1/10). Nothing on this offense inspires confidence nor a wager on Denver +8.5 in this game, certainly not the coaching, the play-calling, nor the poor performance and void in leadership of Russell Wilson. So, it’s either a bet on Baltimore laying points (or teased), or nothing in this game. What scares me is the Ravens being so obvious as the pick here. Moreover, I’m tempted to lay more on another teaser (adding to last week’s carryover) since I can still catch -2.5. Baltimore coming off last week’s last-second loss should be even more motivation for the Ravens, who haven’t played well at home. Then again, do I really want to bet more money on a team that’s struggled the last few games against Carolina and Jacksonville? Not really. Six of the last 8 Ravens’ games were decided by 5 or fewer points. Baltimore is also 0-4 ATS as a home favorite this season. Yuck! I like my early bet at Baltimore -1.5. But that’s enough exposure. What I will bet here is a prop on the FGs. Both teams can move the ball somewhat, but stutter nearer the goal line. Both teams also have above-average kickers. Denver’s Mcmanus is 7/7 from 40-49 yds and 4/8 from 50+. Baltimore’s Tucker is legendary, of course — 3/3 from 40-49 yards and 6/9 from 50+. That’s a combined 10/17 from 50+ between the two kickers, and we have an O/U prop on the longest FG at 46.5 yards. With both teams likely to try longer FGs more often than average given the confidence in kickers, I think OVER on this prop at -115 is worth a bet.

UPDATE:  Line is up to Baltimore -9.5 which shows the importance of acting early in the week, when possible.

The Picks: Baltimore -1.5 [Teaser–Posted Last Week] / PROP: Longest Field Goal (either team) OVER 46.5 yards [no successful FG is a push] — Risking $230 to win $200.


Green Bay at Chicago
Line: Packers -3.5
O/U: 44.5

Analysis: There’s a debate now brewing in Packerland about which QB should start for Green Bay. Should the Packers bench/sit Aaron Rodgers and allow backup Jordan Love to start? Rodgers appears to be playing out his tenure in Green Bay, and with no real shot at making the playoffs, Love getting the opportunity to show his skills and gain some experience makes more sense. Love also played an outstanding game last week in Philadelphia albeit a valiant losing effort, a very encouraging sign for the Packers’ quarterbacking future. Of course, this is no guarantee he’ll get the nod. I presume if Rodgers is good to go, he’ll be on the field in Chicago to face a team he’s dominated throughout his pro career. / The Bears have a similar pregame decision to make, though their future at QB now looks secure with Justin Fields. Why risk making an injury worse by starting him here in what amounts to a meaningless game for Chicago? But, just like the Packers’ situation, common sense will probably be ditched and Fields will suit up and start (according to Friday afternoon reports). I would dearly love to bet on Love and the Packers and lay the points here if I knew for certain that Trevor Siemian was starting and will play the full game for the Bears. Siemian, an NFL bust now with his 4th team in five seasons, makes Andy Dalton look like a 1958 edition of Johnny Unitas. Chicago is decimated at the moment, but Fields gives them an added dimension and will keep them in most games. Even with a horrid defense, the Bears are significantly improved with Fields healthy and starting. / Given so much uncertainty about both teams, it’s probably advisable to pass on this game. However, if Love and Siemian both start, I may make a near-gametime bet on Green Bay and lay up to -4.

UPDATE:  Fields is expected to start.  / Rodgers is expected to start. / Total is up to 45–probably should be higher, up around 47.

The Pick: No Action


Jacksonville at Detroit
Line: Lions -.5 (half point)
O/U: 51

Analysis: Jacksonville and Detroit both have both improved this season after being the losing laughingstocks of the league for a very long while. While both teams remain inconsistent, there are compelling reasons for optimism–especially about both offenses. Hence, the high total of 51 for this matchup. The Lions have covered the spread in 4 of their last 5 games, and have also covered the spread in 8 of their last 10 home games. Detroit also won three straight — against the Packers, Bears, and Giants — and very nearly extended that streak to 4 games on Thanksgiving Day, but lost a 28-25 heartbreaker against Buffalo. So, Detroit appears to be in a confident mental state and the moment, which means they’re probably worth consideration laying a half point. Moreover, the Lions scored  25+ in four of their last five overall, and eight of their last nine at Ford Field. So this team can put up points lately and is especially strong at home. / Meanwhile, Jacksonville got off to a strong start in September, winning 2 of its first 3 games. But then the Jags lost their next 5 in a row–although all five of those losses were one-possession games. JAX bounced back since then, winning 2 of their last 3 games, including a thrilling 28-27 win versus the Ravens last week. Normally, we might expect a letdown by Jacksonville, unaccustomed to dealing with the emotions of a huge win, followed by a road game the next week. However, these Jags could see a carryover, as we saw early in the season when JAX came off a shutout win at home, and went on the road, ending up destroying the Chargers by 3 TDs. / Instead of picking a side, I think what has value are some of the props connected to points being scored. Two that stand out are the teams total for both teams in the first half — which is *12.5.* This is a critical number, since *13* gives us a winner. The Lions average 13.4 PPG1H. Jacksonville averages 10.7 PPG1H. What compels an OVER is that both defenses are well below average–and Detroit’s D is exceptionally bad. I predict at least one of these teams reaches 13+ and possibly both hit the mark in what could be a high-scoring shootout.

The Picks: Jacksonville Team Total OVER 12.5 [First Half] (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200 / Detroit Team Total OVER 12.5 [First Half] (-125) — Risking $250 to win $200


NY Jets at Minnesota
Line: Vikings -3
O/U: 44.5

Analysis: I’m seeing an equal split among sportsbooks on the Jets +3 at -120 and Vikings at -2.5 laying -120. I much prefer to seize the FG margin and lay -120. This is a far more important game to the Jets, boasting a Top-5 defense and perhaps a newly-discovered QB who might lead them into the playoffs. With Buffalo on deck next Sunday, this is a critical game for NYJ at 7-4. Win this game, and they can probably afford a loss next week. At 9-2, Minnesota can clinch the NFC North crown with a win. However, first place and a bye (along with Philadelphia) are likely all but settled. I’m not sure there’s as much urgency to the Vikings here, so I’m going with a bet on the hungrier Jets. Last week, NYJ benched Zach Wilson in favor of Mike White, who went 22-of-28 for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns. But that was against the Bears. Could he repeat those numbers? The stats say–yes. Minnesota ranks #30th in passing yards allowed this season, so look for White and the receivers to move the ball. NYJ have won/covered in 6 of their last 8 games (and one of those losses was the ridiculous last-second punt return for a TD vs. NWE). NYJ also has one of the best defenses in the NFL, ranking #4th in YPC and #5th in PPG. I also think there’s some justifiable doubts about Minnesota and questions about how good they really are. Despite being 9-2, the Vikings outscored opponents by only 5 points (262-257). That shows Minnesota does enough to win (and covered in a majority of games), but also isn’t a team that blows teams away. I expect NYJ to stay in the game, and perhaps even pull off the upset. They have more to play for, have the better defense, and are getting a FG in what should be a close game.

The Pick: New York Jets +3 [Full Game] (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200


Pittsburgh at Atlanta
Line: Steelers -1
O/U: 44.5

Analysis: This sounds ridiculous, but Atlanta (5-7) has roughly a 50/50 chance to win the NFC South and make the playoffs. Four of their final 5 games are versus teams with losing records, and if they can pick up 3 or 4 wins in that stretch, the Falcons are likely to eclipse Tampa Bay for the division title. That fact makes this week’s home game hosting the Steelers a huge opportunity for Atlanta, not that they’ll necessarily rise to the occasion, but really big in terms of motivation. I think betting markets overreacted to the Steelers’ excellent performance last Monday night when they won 24-17 at Indianapolis. Now, another road game on a short week will be an even bigger test. Credit Pittsburgh for playing much better on defense with T.J. Watt healthy again (his influence is off the charts). Let’s also acknowledge the Steelers may have finally found a starting QB with Kenny Pickett, who has displayed some talent and on-the-field leadership. But I also think short week prep against a motivated team will hurt the Steelers here, and we’re also getting some excellent line value with a small home dog (I’d make this line….Atlanta -2.5). Let’s also note the Falcons are 4-2 SU at home this season, and clearly play better inside the dome. Scheduling factors also help Atlanta in Week 13, since they’ll enjoy a bye next week (which means everything should go into this game with focus) while the Steelers face the rival Ravens next Sunday.

Update:  Falcons are now -1.  Some money has come in on Atlanta, which is still probably worth a bet at this price all the way up to -2.5

The Pick: Atlanta Falcons +1 [Full Game] (-115) — Risking $230 to win $200


Washington at NY Giants
Line: Commanders -2
O/U: 40.5

Analysis: Can you believe the NFC East might produce four playoff teams this season? It’s certainly possible. What’s really amazing is this division was predicted to be one of the worst in the NFL. Instead, NFC East teams are a combined 34 wins and 16 losses. Both of these teams are huge overachievers and the two coaching staffs deserve a medal. Particularly Ron Rivera who always seems dismissed when we discuss the best coaches. He seems to do consistently more with less talent than any coach in the NFL. I’m surprised to see Washington (7-5) as a division road favorite at NY Giants (7-4) this week, though I do think this is a fair line. The spread is likely influenced by two teams appearing to go in opposite directions of late: NY Giants have lost 2 straight games, and 3 of their last four, beating only the lowly Texans. Daniel Jones at QB is really struggling. Meanwhile, Washington is an entirely different story, winners of 6 of their last seven games, with the only loss a last-second defeat to Minnesota. The Commanders are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7, as well. Washington is also 4-0 ATS as a favorite this season. Oh, and Washington won/covered its last four road games. So, now we see why the Commanderskins are the favorite. / It’s hard to bet against either team, even with solid trends favor Washington in this spot. Given that NYG are 8-3 ATS this season, that’s evidence of betting markets underestimating this team, which continues again this week. / This is an interesting scheduling spot for Washington, as well, since they play at NYG this week, get a bye next week, then host NYG (again) the following week. I’m not sure how that plays into the game planning. / What does look compelling is the game total and a bet on the UNDER. Eight of the Commanders’ last ten games stayed UNDER the total. The UNDER is also 7-3-1 in NYG games this season. We can probably expect both teams to run the ball heavily. They rank #4 and #5 in the NFL in rushing attempts per game. They love to run the ball.  Translation: This should keep the game clock moving.  Catching a win on the key total number of 40 is also a nice bonus.

The Pick: Washington / NY Giants UNDER 40.5 [Full Game] (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200


Miami at San Francisco
Line: 49ers -4
O/U: 46.5

Analysis: This could be the game of the year. Two of the hottest teams in the NFL face off in what looks like a clash of completely opposite styles. Miami, winners of 5 straight games and emerging as a bona fide Super Bowl contender in the packed AFC, as well as undefeated this season when QB Tua Tagovailoa plays the full game, will line up against the brick wall of San Francisco, which boasts the #1 ranked defense. The 49ers have been a demon beast to score against — shutting out opponents in the second half for five straight weeks. They’ll be hard-pressed to continue that jaw-dropping streak in this game, since Miami ranks #3 in total yards and #4 PPG. On the other hand, the Dolphins have scored 30+ points in each of their last four games, but the competition has sucked, as three of their last four opponents — Lions, Browns, and Bears — each rank among the bottom defenses in the league. / The tipping point for my wager on this game is simple: The 49ers’ defense is a nightmare matchup for the Dolphins offense. Keep in mind Miami’s rushing game is terrible, ranking #28th. That means, Miami certainly must throw the ball. However, they’re likely to be without both starting offensive tackles versus one of the best defensive fronts in football. That’s a problem. Tagovailoa will do his best to overcome the pass rush by getting rid of the ball quickly, but stats show SFO pressures QBs as well as anyone. If the 49ers can at least partially disrupt Tagovailoa, it’s going to be a long day for Miami. As for the 49ers, there’s not nearly as much that’s impressive about their offense — #19th in PPG and a mediocre #13th in YPG.  It’s hard to lay this many points given those stats — laying -4 is a little too steep for me. I might lay -3, but not -4. / Where there does appear to be value is with the UNDER. We see a higher-than-average total that’s predicated on Miami’s explosive offense, but also which seems to be insulting somewhat to how well San Francisco’s defense has played. With Miami’s two starting OL possibly out, that surely hurts their scoring potential. We also gain some value with a high O/U since the 49ers’ offense is somewhat inconsistent. / Intangible: Miami coach McDaniel coached with the 49ers from 2017-21 — not sure if that hurts or helps, but that does add some complexity to the game planning.

UPDATE:  Line has moved to San Francisco -4.5 in some places, which tells us the OL injuries are definite (they won’t start).

The Pick: Miami / San Francisco UNDER 46.5 [Full Game] (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200


Seattle at LA Rams
Line: -7
O/U: 41

Analysis: The Rams are early-pre-season-training-camp-trash-can bad right now, resembling an expansion team with pickups off the practice squad and inexperienced players that otherwise would never otherwise start in the NFL. Losers of five straight games, the 2022 season has been over for some time for the defending Super Bowl champions, decimated by injuries, especially to the offense. This makes things difficult trying to predict just how much effort the Rams will put forth each week. Credit the Rams’ defense which remains above average in most categories, but the offense inspires no confidence whatsoever. That’s really good news for Seattle, which comes off a crushing OT loss to the Raiders and a horrific game last week, defensively speaking. That defeat will probably cost Seattle a playoff spot. Las Vegas racked up a whopping 576 total yards and demolished the Seahawks’ defensive unit in an effort that was laughably bad. There seems to be little chance of that happening again this week since the Rams will field an Arena League-level OL and two rabbits at QB — Perkins/Wolford will both play in this game according to reports. Despite the recent losses, Seattle’s offensive numbers remain strong, so they should score enough to get the win. I’m not so sure about the cover, however, especially laying -7. The Seahawks have won in Los Angeles already this season, thanks to a 37-23 win over the Chargers in Week 7. HFA should be non-existent for the Rams. I see the Seahawks getting the win, but on the off chance they continue to struggle, I’m not laying points. Instead, I’ll tease Seattle from -7 down to -1. Moreover, I’ll mostly combine the teaser with several teams according to the Wong strategy (through the key numbers — 3, 4, 6, 7.).  It’s also tempting to play Seattle on the teaser wheel with the entire board.

The Picks:
TEASER: Seattle Seahawks -1 / Cleveland Browns -2 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200
TEASER: Seattle Seahawks -1 / New York Giants +8 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200
TEASER: Seattle Seahawks -1 / Cincinnati Bengals +8.5 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200
TEASER: Seattle Seahawks -1 / Los Angeles Chargers +8 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200
TEASER: Seattle Seahawks -1 / Dallas Cowboys -4.5 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200


Kansas City at Cincinnati
Line: Chiefs -2.5
O/U: 52.5

Analysis: Here’s last season’s AFC Championship game rematch. In fact, the Bengals beat the Chiefs twice last season. Cincinnati won in OT 27-24 as a 7-point underdog in the playoffs. The Bengals defeated the Chiefs earlier in the regular season — 34-31 as +3.5 underdogs. What should concern Kansas City bettors is that, once again, oddsmakers may be giving the Cheifs too much credit. While Kansas City is riding a five-game win streak, they’re just 3-7-1 ATS overall this season. KC hasn’t covered the spread since Week 7 against San Francisco. At the same time, Cincinnati may be underrated. The Bengals are coming off a 20-16 road win at Tennessee. Moreover, Cincinnati is 8-3 ATS this year with 3 of its 4 losses being decided by 3 points or fewer on last-second FGs. Cincy also expects RB Joe Mixon and WR Ja’Marr Chase to return from injuries. I’ve already bet the Bengals on a teaser, up to +8.5. That’s always risky in high-totaled games, especially with Kansas City capable ot rolling up 40 points on any given week. However, the Bengals have shown the ability to beat the Chiefs and enjoy the home-field edge this time around. I’ll skip the temptation to take +2.5 for the game and instead opt for Cincinnati in the first half, getting +1.5. Both teams average 14 PPG1H this season.

The Pick: Cincinnati +1.5 [First Half] (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200


LA Chargers at Las Vegas
Line: Raiders -2.5
O/U: 49.5

Analysis: I’ve had trouble handicapping both of these teams all season long. Both AFC West foes are ridiculously inconsistent and make some really questionable coaching decisions. Still, they’re both coming off huge road wins last week, which will play into my making a play on the OVER. These two teams have been OVER machines. The OVER has hit in 6 of the last 9 Chargers’ games. The OVER has hit in 7 of the last 10 Raiders’ games. Since we’re getting a total of less than 50 in what amounts to ideally-controlled conditions (dome), I think we can ride the OVER train for another week. Where the Chargers are really vulnerable is versus the run, and they’ll be facing an explosive big-play Las Vegas rush attack coming off a monster game. In their last five games, the Chargers allowed 183 YPG, on average. The Chargers rank 26th in PPG allowed. So, look for Las Vegas to enjoy long drives and ball control. However, the Raiders’ weak defense ranks 23rd in PPG allowed. They’re facing a really good passing team here. Las Vegas’ pass defense is awful, ranking #28th in the NFL, so the LAC should have no problem getting on the scoreboard.  There’s a solid UNDER trend this season on totals in divisional matchups, and this qualifies.  UNDERs have been killing it in these rivalry games.  It’s tough to go against trends like that, but here, I see two offenses that should move the ball and some desperation on both sides with means I think we’ll see some risk-taking, big plays, and offense.  Recall last season’s epic final game of the season on this field decided 35-32 in OT.

The Pick: LA Chargers / Las Vegas OVER 49.5 [Full Game] (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200


[SNF] Indianapolis at Dallas
Line: Cowboys -10.5
O/U: 44.5

Analysis:   This line seems a little high. I’d have it at -9.5 rather than 10.5. The Colts are no prize, but since the coaching change and sideline housecleaning, they’ve played three respectable games — beating Las Vegas outright as underdogs, nearly upsetting Philadelphia before losing by 1 point, and losing to Pittsburgh by 7. But all three contests were one-score games. Credit the Colts’ defense for playing pretty well under the circumstances (i.e., losing time of possession and field position battles in every game due to the ineffectiveness of the offense). Indy faces one of the league’s best defenses this week, which doesn’t bode well for many points from the Colts. However, I also believe Indy brings enough talent on defense to keep this one UNDER the total, which looks high at 44.5. The Colts have gone UNDER in 9 of 12 games this season. Dallas has a reputation as a high-scoring team, but they’ve gone UNDER in 6 of 11. So long as we can avoid multiple big plays, this game should slide UNDER the total of 44.5. Indy also has the NFL’s #8 ranked pass D. I’m hoping either the Dallas defense completely shuts down the Colts and/or the Indy defense continues to play competitively. Big component–find 44.5 since that’s much better than 44 and is a key number.

The Pick: Indianapolis / Dallas UNDER 44.5 [Full Game] (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200 


[MNF] New Orleans at Tampa Bay
Line: Buccaneers -3.5
O/U: 40.5

Analysis:  It’s hard to believe, but this game between two losers actually has playoff implications. Even though it’s December and we’re into Week 13, the NFC South is so bad and wide open that any of the four sub-.500 teams can still win the division and earn a post-season slot. Incredibly, all four teams have been outscored by opponents this season. If Tampa Bay wins, with a 1.5-game lead in the division that’s probably a nail in the coffin of the other three teams — Atlanta, Carolina, and New Orleans. If the Saints can pull off an upset in this MNF division rivalry game, it then becomes a 5-game season and with several inter-division games still to play, turns into a drunken crapshoot. / The fact that Tampa Bay isn’t favored by more than -3.5 points shows just how far trust in the Bucs has fallen in betting markets. Consider that Tampa Bay has lost 6 of their last 9 games SU and is a dreadful 1-7-1 ATS in those games (worst in the NFL in that span). While Brady gets most of the attention, it’s actually the Bucs’ miserable running game that’s the problem. The 100-yard mark isn’t exactly a high bar for any NFL offense, yet the Bucs have been held under 100 yards rushing the last 9/10 games. That’s a horrific statistic, and places lots of pressure on Brady and the receivers to compensate. We should credit Tampa Bay’s outstanding defense for keeping them in many games–and it’s no surprise that 9/11 Tampa Bay games went UNDER. The Bucs rank #3 in PPG and #4 in YPG, which sorta’ makes them the Broncos of the NFC. / Meanwhile, New Orleans is an even bigger mess. The Saints’ offense has gone into hibernation early, scoring just 12 PPG in its last 3 games on average, including getting shutout last week. This is a brutal stretch of for the Saints’ red-headed offense, facing the Steelers (with T.J. Watt back), the #1 defense in the NFL (SFO), and now the #3 defense (TB). New Orleans’ defense is finally playing up to expectations as they’ve allowed only 16 PPG in the last five contests. The Saints rank #12 NFL in total defense and also apply pressure with 33 sacks, #8 in the league. If they can get to Brady, they’ve got a shot to win outright. New Orleans has been spectacular in the red zone, allowing TDs less than the New Orleans defense as a game changer. No surprise, the Saints are also on a strong UNDER trend — 4 of the last 5 New Orleans’ games stayed UNDER the total. / We can probably conclude this game won’t be a shootout. So, I’m inclined to grab points when and where possible. Tampa Bay’s terrible ATS record, plus the fact they can’t run the ball, really plays into the Saints’ strengths. So long as Andy Dalton doesn’t play like Andy Dalton, New Orleans should keep this game close. Even though TB defeated NOR 20-10 earlier this season, the Saints have played well in Tampa Bay. New Orleans won 8 of the last 11 games in the series and covered in each of their last four visits to Tampa Bay. The hook with the Saints is enough to reel me in with a wager.

The Pick: New Orleans Saints +3.5 [Full Game] (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200




[TNF]  Buffalo at New England
Line: Bills -4.5
O/U: 44
Analysis: What a terrific Thursday night matchup that’s likely to have a playoff atmosphere. This is an absolute “must-win” game for the Patriots (6-5), who have exceeded most expectations this season, but are just a loss away from a .500 record and likely elimination from serious playoff consideration. There’s just as much pressure on the Bills (8-3) to win, as well. Buffalo is in a dogfight with Miami (also 8-3), which is one of the NFL’s hottest teams at the moment. Both teams need the win. / Several conflicting trends make this a difficult outcome to predict. Buffalo wins games, but they also tend not to cover. The Bills are an awful 0-4-1 ATS since their bye week. Dating back even further, the Bills have been mediocre road favorites, going 10-9 ATS in the last 19 games in that role. Meanwhile betting markets still may be underestimating New England — winners of five of their last seven games (and 6-2 ATS in their last eight), even with some QB hiccups. However, New England’s offense has been erratic; In the Patriots’ last 4 games, they’ve scored just 4 TDs, 16 FGs, and also have a horrendous 16 three-and-outs on 46 drives (nearly one-third of all drives). An offense that can’t move the ball is at a horrible disadvantage versus a team like Buffalo, which is the NFL’s second-highest-scoring team. Accordingly, this puts tremendous pressure on the Patriot defense, which has been somewhat successful when called up to rise to the occasion in a big game. / Another concern for Buffalo is this being a division road game (often a bad spot no matter what the circumstances), which is complicated even more by the Bills playing the third straight week on the road. Recall that Buffalo’s “home game” a few weeks ago was moved to Detroit. That’s a lot of extra time in hotels and airports recently. / Both defenses are solid, ranking #4 and #5 in the NFL in points allowed. New England’s defense is actually slightly better when it comes to yards allowed, ranking #4 in the NFL (the Bills’ defense ranks #8). So, New England may have a slight edge here. / My final summation is this: (1) Three straight road games will take a toll on the Bills. (2) I like division home dogs anyway, but getting +4.5 is too generous to pass up. (3) Buffalo has underperformed to market expectations in the last month, while New England has exceeded market expectations. (4) The Patriots should have covered and perhaps won last week, and might have were it not for a late roughing the kicker penalty. That was an impressive loss and non-cover (versus a 9-2 team) that really wasn’t indicative of how well New England actually played. (5) And finally, Bill Belichick getting points at home late in the season, and coaching for his playoff life—I really like that intangible. The weather will be cold but shouldn’t be much of a factor. This game should be close, and the points could matter. Three bets I like are New England as the home dog and the Patriots going OVER their team total in the first half (9.5) and for the game (19.5).

The Picks: New England Patriots Full Game +4.5 (-115) — Risking $230 to win $200 / New England First Half Team Total OVER 9.5 (-120) — Risking $240 to win $200 / New England Full Game Team Total OVER 19.5 (-125) — Risking $250 to win $200



  1. Nolan

    You might say I have been out to lunch but I just discovered you.
    These last few days I have had time to review both your football prowess and a variety of your essays. While I don’t agree with ‘all’ your opinions, I certainly appreciate and enjoy your insight.
    I am not the NFL junkie you seem to be. In my youth I was but soured after living in various NFL cities. I found fans rabid, rude and not worth my time. Also, back then, there weren’t all the betting options that are available today. I have dipped my toe into some of those this season with some success.

    Thank you for your thorough analysis and input. I look forward to reading more in the coming weeks. Wishing you continued success and an even better new year.


      Thanks for the feedback and the positive reinforcement, MM! You made my day!

      — Nolan

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