Seven NFL groups final week earned a win within the last two minutes of regulation or in additional time. Seven! And you anticipate me to accurately choose these video games …
One factor is obvious. It’s unattainable to organize for a Lovie Smith-coached group.
His Texans roster stinks, a lot in order that it’s confirmed unattainable for opposing groups to observe the sport movie and suppose they’ve something to fret about after they play Houston. The Texans nearly beat the Cowboys two weeks in the past, so the Chiefs coaches had loads of speaking factors earlier than enjoying the sport in Houston final Sunday.
Overtime. The Chiefs barely win. And Smith, that marvelous beard of his and the Texans cowl the unfold once more.
We had the Chiefs final week, together with eight different bushy dropping picks. We went 7-9 in opposition to the unfold and 2-2 in our greatest bets because of one-point losses by the Vikings and Saints. We are again on the Chiefs this week in opposition to the fading Seahawks, and our different finest bets are the Bears internet hosting the Bills, the Titans internet hosting the Texans — stubbornness is a illness — and the Commanders on the highway to maintain it shut in opposition to the 49ers.
Last week: 7-9 in opposition to the unfold.
Season file: 105-114-5 ATS (Plays of the week are 19-22-3 general)
All odds are from BetMGM and are locked when the choose was made. Click here for stay odds.
NFL Power Rankings: Jaguars rise, join Lions as ex-doormats with playoff hopes
Trevor Lawrence has seemingly arrived — his EPA per dropback with three-plus seconds to throw has improved from twenty seventh within the league to ninth previously seven weeks — and he’s coming off two spectacular wins in opposition to the Titans and Cowboys. The Jaguars are taking pictures up within the energy rankings, and everybody loves them. Which means it’s time for us soar off after driving the Jags (hopefully this works out higher than the Lions).
Zach Wilson is beginning at quarterback for the Jets — whose playoff hopes now hang in the balance — and he can be OK in opposition to a beneficiant Jaguars go protection that can be with out 2022 No. 1 choose Travon Walker. The larger cause to again the Jets at house is the return of defensive deal with Quinnen Williams and his matchup in opposition to a patchwork Jacksonville offensive line.
With Williams this season, the Jets have a 38.6 % stress fee and 10.6 % sack fee — each of which might rank second if stretched throughout an entire season. Without Williams, these numbers drop to twenty-eight and three.1 %, respectively — which might rank twenty ninth and final within the NFL.
The choose: Jets -1.5
Josh Allen — who took over the game within the fourth quarter in opposition to the Jets — has run the ball 38 occasions since Week 12, trailing solely Jalen Hurts amongst QBs. Justin Fields — who nonetheless needs a lot of help from his entrance workplace — has run 21 occasions throughout that span. Yes, it’s the battle of the operating quarterbacks.
It’s in all probability true most weeks, however particularly this week the Bills can choose the rating because the Bears protection is horrible. They often choose to win however not cowl the purpose unfold — and we had been lastly on the proper facet of that final week with the Dolphins.
We don’t see any cause to go in opposition to that right here. The Bears lined the unfold final week and will have the ability to cling round because of Fields and a few underrated operating backs in David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.
As we talked about on the prime with the Texans, it’s unattainable to get fired as much as play the Bears.
The choose: Bears +8.5
The Saints turtled up final week, settling for the win and never the quilt after an awesome begin in opposition to the Falcons. That’s what we get for going with Dennis Allen.
The Browns additionally received, because of the Ravens blowing quite a few scoring alternatives. Deshaun Watson was a little better in his third game back, and the Saints are usually not excellent at getting stress on the quarterback. Watson is averaging 6.47 air yards per try with the Browns, down from 9.07 in his earlier 4 years with the Texans.
Watson had a 17-yard run in opposition to the Ravens, and that might be one other factor that took a while to get going after his suspension. From 2018 to 2020, he trailed solely Josh Allen in EPA off scrambles (75.08 for Watson) and ranked third in speeding first downs (93). The Saints rank twenty seventh in success fee vs. QB runs (32.4 %).
The choose: Browns -2.5
I do know, I do know, Lovie Smith is the G.O.A.T. But he can’t change historical past — and historical past is vital as a result of it impacts what occurs sooner or later, or in order that they instructed me once I didn’t need to examine historical past again once I was in class.
Derrick Henry has six profession 200-yard speeding video games — and 4 have come in opposition to the Texans. In 5 matchups in opposition to Houston since 2019, he’s averaged 195.6 yards on 28.2 carries.
This season, he has accounted for 38.1 % of the Titans’ yards from scrimmage — the best share of his profession, and the second-highest share of any participant since 2018, trailing solely Christian McCaffrey’s 2019 season (40.2 %).
The Titans even have an excellent run protection and so they covered the spread against the Chargers last week, which was a constructive step, and can now cease their four-game dropping streak with a decisive house win. Their season is on the road, and I feel Mike Vrabel will get probably the most out of his group right here — even without an injured Ryan Tannehill.
The choose: Titans -3
Much just like the Bills, the Chiefs simply don’t cowl a whole lot of massive level spreads. But the Seahawks protection has gone off the rails, and Patrick Mahomes doesn’t even must do a lot to win by 10 factors right here. Besides not getting a whole lot of stress on Mahomes, the Seahawks received’t have the ability to cease operating backs Jerick McKinnon or Isiah Pacheco.
The Seahawks have hit a skid however still have playoff hopes. QB Geno Smith ought to be OK with out Tyler Lockett — he’s 32-of-44 for 364 yards (8.27 YPA) and a TD with out him this season — however could not have the ability to lean on Kenneth Walker III and the operating sport as a lot as you suppose. Since their bye in Week 8, the Chiefs rank eighth in rush protection success fee (62.9 %) and tenth in defensive EPA per rush.
The choose: Chiefs -10
The Vikings made a mockery of our help final week, not showing up in the first half earlier than making the best comeback within the historical past of the sport — and never protecting the unfold by one level. Disgustingly for us, we’re again on them right here.
The Vikings will have the ability to run the ball — by success fee (43.5 %), the Vikings had their finest speeding sport final week in two months — because the Giants enable explosive runs on the NFL’s highest fee (13.1 %).
The re-emergence of a more healthy Saquon Barkley does give us pause as, although the Vikings are powerful in opposition to the run, they don’t seem to be excellent at protecting operating backs. Not to say that the Giants pass rushers are all finally healthy.
The choose: Vikings -4
The Patriots’ playoff chances are high laying on the turf, subsequent to the stiff-armed Mac Jones, watching Chandler Jones run away and rating final Sunday after the dumbest play in NFL historical past.
— NFL (@NFL) December 19, 2022
It can be onerous to bounce again with such a foul offense. The Patriots are averaging 18.43 factors per sport on offense, the second fewest of the Bill Belichick period, trailing solely the 2000 group (16.81). As a rookie, Jones, who really needs a strong finish to the season, tried 41 passes outdoors the numbers and 15-plus air yards in 17 video games. This 12 months, he has 34 such passes in 11 video games. He is 10-of-34 for 315 yards (9.26 YPA), one TD and two interceptions — which ranks thirty second in EPA per dropback.
The Bengals, although, are coming off a misleadingly simple comeback win in opposition to the Buccaneers, as they scored three touchdowns off turnovers within the second half. No one is questioning the team’s toughness, however it is going to be trying previous the Patriots because the Bengals have massive video games arising in opposition to the Bills and Ravens. The visiting Bengals even have a whole lot of accidents on the line of defense, which can someway assist the gross Patriots offense rating sufficient factors to lose by a area aim or much less … and even win.
The choose: Patriots +3.5
The Lions are rolling, even getting a win outside in New Jersey because of a punt returned for a touchdown. We had the Lions 5 weeks in a row and sure, they’ve lined the unfold seven weeks in a row … so we is likely to be somewhat bitter.
The Panthers have an excellent protection and are coming off a troublesome loss to the Steelers. They are playing hard (and have gone 4-5) for interim coach Steve Wilks, and I just like the matchup as house underdogs in chilly climate in opposition to Jared Goff and the Lions.
Sam Darnold isn’t horrible when he isn’t pressured, and the Lions are higher at stopping the run than getting within the quarterback’s face. This is Darnold’s first three-game stretch with out an interception since Weeks 13 to fifteen in 2020, and we in all probability simply jinxed ourselves.
The choose: Panthers +2.5
Is this the week that Lamar Jackson comes again to save the season? He didn’t apply once more Wednesday, so who is aware of. You wouldn’t suppose the Ravens would wish him to beat the Falcons by greater than seven factors, however the offense didn’t look nice even with him and the protection is inconsistent.
Desmond Ridder struggled in his debut for the Falcons, however they stayed true to what they do — run the ball with Cordarrelle Patterson and promising rookie Tyler Allgeier and use a whole lot of play motion (45.7 %). The Ravens rank twenty fifth in defensive success fee vs. play motion (47.7 %.)
Baltimore did add veteran receiver Sammy Watkins, if you happen to suppose they may get a lift. Among 116 WRs who’ve run 150-plus routes, Watkins ranks 72nd in yards/route (1.31) and 82nd in catch fee (59.1 %).
I assume we’ll lay the factors with the house group, however I’m not thrilled about it.
The choose: Ravens -7
This can be a greater take a look at of Brock Purdy than the Seahawks sport, because the Commanders are fairly good in opposition to the run. Then once more, possibly it doesn’t matter. In Purdy’s two begins, the 49ers have averaged 5.29 offensive EPA per sport, which is probably the most they’ve averaged with any beginning QB throughout the Kyle Shanahan period.
Washington outgained the Giants final week and misplaced partially to some shady habits by the officers on the ultimate two performs. Taylor Heinicke had been capable of keep away from turnovers earlier than final week, and he has a gifted sufficient receiving corps to hold round on this sport. And to hold on to his job now that Carson Wentz is again.
Besides, the 49ers clinched the NFC West and are overdue for one among their small naps — even though they are going full-bore for the No. 2 playoff seed.
The choose: Commanders +7
This level unfold began rocketing up Monday morning, even earlier than the information of Jalen Hurts’ shoulder damage got here out. No one, it seems, has any religion in backup Gardner Minshew — who’s 7-9 ATS as an underdog in his begins. Of course, the 13-1 Eagles have a a lot better supporting solid than the Jaguars did. And they haven’t formally ruled out Hurts, either.
Though the Cowboys had a historic collapse against the Jaguars and have registered only one sack previously two weeks, they posted a stress fee of 42.5 % in these video games (their season common is 42.4). Since coming into the league in 2019, Minshew ranks nineteenth out of 45 certified QBs in EPA/DB when pressured (500-plus complete go makes an attempt since 2019 because the qualifier).
Hmmm, Cowboys win by 3.
The choose: Eagles +4.5
The Raiders are 4-1 of their previous 5 video games, a stretch during which Jones ranks tenth within the NFL in stress fee (15.5 %) out of 79 certified gamers (100-plus go rush snaps in that span). Jones’ 9 QB hits since Week 11 are tied for fifth, with teammate Maxx Crosby first with 15 QB hits.
We even have little interest in choosing the Raiders as their overachieving offensive line is a multitude once more with two beginning guards probably out, to not point out Derek Carr is 0-6 with ugly stats in video games the place it’s colder than 37 levels. It’s alleged to be 1 diploma Saturday night time. Uno.
The choose: Raiders +2.5 in what we challenge to be a tie sport, 13-13.
The Packers are again. That’s what everybody thinks after they beat the Bears and the Baker Mayfield-led Rams the previous two video games. I’m not shopping for it, however that is one other good matchup because the Dolphins received’t have the ability to get that a lot stress on Aaron Rodgers both, and the Packers’ talented RB duo is ready to do its part.
Plus, the Packers’ go protection is not any nice shakes, however they need to have the ability to take care of Miami’s fast passing sport. The Packers have allowed the fourth-lowest YPA (5.88) when the opposing QB removes the ball in 2.5 seconds or much less and surrendered explosive passes in these conditions on the ninth-lowest fee (8.6 %).
The bend-but-don’t-break strategy ought to work in what ought to be a field-goal sport both manner.
The choose: Dolphins +4
Everyone’s betting on the Broncos. Or possibly it’s simply in opposition to Mayfield and the Rams. The Rams don’t throw the ball previous the sticks on offense after which give every little thing up on third down on protection.
Mayfield, who ought to have retired after that comeback win in opposition to the Raiders, is throwing 38.2 % of his throws at or previous sticks, averaging 2.9 yards in need of the sticks on all throws.
Oh, and he has been off track on a career-high 11.6 % of throws of 5 air yards or much less. (And to be honest, the offensive line continues to be a tattered mess. Of the eight penalties for 76 yards incurred by the Rams on Monday night time, 4 had been known as in opposition to their offensive linemen.)
The Rams protection, in the meantime, generates stress on the lowest fee on third down (26.5 %). Easy win for the Broncos, particularly if Russell Wilson is again. He lastly regarded like his previous self in that shut loss to the Chiefs two weeks in the past, and beleaguered coach Nathaniel Hackett might be hitting his stride as well.
The choose: Broncos -2.5
With Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy each injured, Trace McSorley is starting at quarterback for the Cardinals. That’s why the unfold has gone up 4.5 factors already and can go up extra. The Cardinals received’t have the ability to transfer the ball, which is becoming in a matchup of two groups that rank on the backside of the league in yards/route by WRs — each at 1.44.
Yeah, the Buccaneers are usually not an excellent group both. Haven’t been all season. Tom Brady has not trusted his offensive line — and he shouldn’t — and has not performed properly. Brady was historically bad against the Bengals. He’ll be looking for J.J. Watt, who ranks tenth amongst defensive linemen in splash performs (32). His 9 1/2 sacks are his most by 14 video games since 2018.
Laying a whole lot of factors with the Bucs is a foul thought, however the different goes with McSorley. Or hoping that backup and “Hard Knocks” star David Blough will get a shot. Also bleak.
The choose: Buccaneers -7.5
Since Jeff Saturday took over in Week 10, the Colts have been outscored by 66 factors after halftime, the worst mark within the NFL throughout that span. The aura of over-confidence lastly wears off the opposing group.
The Chargers defense is improving at the right time — by defensive EPA, two of the Chargers’ 4 finest defensive performances have come previously two weeks — and now they get to face a Colts group without RB Jonathan Taylor. (Though backups Zack Moss and Deon Jackson aren’t horrible.)
But I feel the Colts go rush will harass Justin Herbert simply sufficient for Nick Foles — yeah, Nick Foles … wild, huh? — and people two operating backs to maintain the Colts within the sport. They will turn out to be the primary group to blow a 33-0 lead and canopy the purpose unfold the next week.
The choose: Colts +4.5
— TruMedia analysis courtesy of NFL editor Aaron Reiss.
(Graphic: Sean Reilly / The Athletic; picture of Lovie Smith: Logan Riely / Getty Images)