My pick to win: listed first. All caps: home team.
Once we get halfway through the season or so, I start paying a lot of attention to teams’ point differential – their total points scored minus total points allowed. By the end of the season, I think point differential compared to win-loss record is the best measure of a team. You can spot some teams that should be doing better (bad luck), some teams that should be doing worse (good luck), but most teams wind up right where they should be.
BUCCANEERS +3 vs. Texans – The Bucs are a rather extraordinary team. With 416 points scored so far, they trail only San Fran (419 points) in the entire NFC. And the only team in the AFC with more than 400 points scored so far are the Ravens (a whopping 472). They’re the third-highest-scoring team in the entire NFL! Did you know that? So why are they 7-7? Because their defense has given up 398 points – tied for worst in the NFC with the lowly Cardinals. Only the laughable Dolphins are worse (435). So they have the second-worst defense in the NFL. 7-7 is right where they should be. The Texans on the other hand, are net +11 points on the season – pretty good offense, pretty bad defense. But somehow they’re 9-5. I know the Bucs are out of the playoffs and that’s often an excuse teams use to start making vacation plans off-season, but I sort of feel like the Bucs are one of those out-of-the-playoffs teams with something to prove. I’ll take the points. 🖐
BILLS +6.5 vs. Patriots and Patriots-BILLS UNDER 37.5 – Look, betting against the Pats in week 16 with the AFC East title and a first-round playoff bye at stake is, historically speaking, stupid. Really dumb. The Pats own the AFC East and they practically own annual rights to one of those first-round byes that are so important to mounting a Super Bowl run. But Tom Brady has run out of gas, folks. In the last 5 weeks, among quarterbacks who’ve attempted 100 or more passes, Brady ranks 29th of 29 in every significant stat. He’s not just bad, he’s the been the worst quarterback in the league for over a month of important games. So I like the Bills with 6.5 points and I absolutely love the UNDER in this game (it’s a 2× bet for me). I can see the Pats winning by 3-4 points and the Bills covering. And it’s really hard for me to see either of these teams getting past 21 points unless the Pats defense and special teams score a few times on their own. ❌ ❌❌ (Oof.)
(Worth pointing out that the Pats have an extraordinary +191 point differential – lately that’s all been thanks to their defense, which has only given up 181 total points. No other team in the NFL has given up fewer than 200. But the second-fewest points given up? The Bills, at 222. Again, I love this UNDER.)
Rams (+285 moneyline) vs. FRISCO and Rams +7 vs. FRISCO – Both teams put up turds last week, with the Rams getting shellacked in Dallas and the Niners getting embarrassed by the Falcons (who look awful one week and like the contenders of a few years ago the next). The Rams still have a path to the playoffs, but it is bleak: they need to win out (Niners this week, Cardinals next week) and they need the Vikings to lose out (Packers this week, Bears next). But it’s not that bleak if they win this game against the Niners. The Packers are 5.5-point underdogs in the Monday night game against the Vikings, but they’re still the Packers, and they are absolutely not going to overlook this game with so much at stake. It’s that Bears-Vikings regular season finale in Minneapolis that looks bad for the Rams. But I see no reason for the Rams to give up, so I’ve got two separate bets on this game: a moneyline bet for the Rams to win outright and a +7 point-spread bet that the Rams will at least keep it within one score. ❌ ✅
Saints -2 vs. TITANS – I think the Saints are the best team in the NFC. If I had to make a Super Bowl matchup bet today I’d go with Saints-Ravens (which sounds amazing). I don’t get this line at all. The Titans are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, yes, but the Saints are in the hunt for a first-round bye and possible home field advantage. I look for the Saints to blow this game out. 2× pick. ✅✅
Ravens -10 vs. BROWNS and Ravens-BROWNS OVER 49.5 – The Ravens are on fire and the Browns are so bad players are begging other teams to get them out of there. Plus there’s the revenge factor: somehow the Browns put a beatdown on the Ravens earlier this season. I’m taking the OVER figuring the Ravens will get around 40 on their own and the Browns will pick up some garbage time scores in the 4th quarter after the stadium is empty. ✅❌
Cowboys -2 vs. EAGLES – Both teams are 7-7 but Dallas is +90 on point differential (6.4 per game) and the Eagles are +6 (0.4 per game). Prescott might have a bum shoulder but against the Rams last week Dallas had two 100-yard rushers. Run, run, run. And who do the Eagles have to throw to other than Ertz? Just make someone other than Ertz beat them. Also, if Dallas jumps ahead early, look for the Philly crowd to get ugly. Carson Wentz is far from universally loved in this town. 2× pick. ❌❌
Chiefs -6.5 vs BEARS – This feels like a 34-20 sort of game. I expected this to be a 9-point spread. KC feels like they are really on a roll on both sides of the ball. ✅
Last week: 6-3
Season to date: 46-52-1