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Palmer’s Picks: No point in going away from a good thing

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The Baltimore defense should help the Ravens pull away from the Detroit Lions late today. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
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Counting today, there are five weeks of betting left in the NFL regular season. Meaning, even losers like me can scratch their way back in the black before losing it all again in the playoffs. Last week, I made the bold choice of doing what most successful sports bettors have been doing for decades and made picks using the contrarian system. If the public felt one way, I was going to put my money down on the other side. It kinda worked, and I’m not one to turn my back on anything that has made me money. Las Vegas makes its money by going opposite of consensus, so let’s give this strategy another shot.

Baltimore -3

Only 38 percent of gamblers think the Ravens can win by more than a field goal at home against the Lions, according to Sports Insights. Baltimore has a solid run game, lockdown defense and one of the best kickers in the game. Detroit has stayed in playoff contention thanks to a subpar strength of schedule. Don’t expect Matthew Stafford to go on the road and light up the scoreboard. And as long as that holds, the Lions won’t put up enough points to keep this one close.

New England/Buffalo — over 49

More than half of bets placed indicate Tom Brady and the boys will struggle on the road against a divisional rival. Not mine. The Patriots have scored at least 33 points in their last three contests and face a below-average defense. On the other sideline, the Bills are done pretending Nathan Peterman is a starting-caliber quarterback — so, they should be able to do their part in getting to the total score. The emergence of Matt Patricia’s defense in recent weeks makes me nervous here, but the consensus that this will be a low-scoring game makes me believe I should get over those anxieties.

Tampa Bay ML

I don’t feel great about this one because Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter doesn’t seem long for his job. But this is the only moneyline — not involving the 49ers — where the majority of bettors (78 percent) are going with the favorite to win the game outright. Despite his impressive showing in primetime against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, I’m not sold Brett Hundley and Mike McCarthy have figured out how to make the Packers winners in post-Aaron Rodgers life. As long as Jameis Winston doesn’t make an embarrassing pregame speech where he pretends that a win is something you can eat, he should provide a boost for his team as he returns from injury.

Cleveland/LA Chargers — under 42.5

Only 17 percent of gamblers think this will be a low-scoring game despite Cleveland’s scheduled participation in it. That is mind-blowing to me. The Chargers have the sixth-best scoring defense in the NFL; the Browns have the worst scoring offense. Philip Rivers has led his team to score more than 28 points once this season, and while this weekend could easily make for No. 2, I’m going to count on Cleveland not scoring enough for it to matter.

Seattle +6

Only 35 percent of bettors think the Seahawks can keep it within a touchdown despite playing at home. The Eagles are a great team, but Carson Wentz struggled mightily last year when he played at CenturyLink Field. Philadelphia is in a prime position to run away with the NFC and they could further that cause tonight. Hopefully, the Seahawks can keep it close as they pass the torch.

Week 12: 3-2

2017: 25-34

MATCHUP SPREAD MONEYLINE OVER/UNDER

Detroit at Baltimore BAL -3 DET +130, BAL -150 +/- 42.5

San Francisco at Chicago CHI -3 SF +145, CHI -165 +/- 40.5

Minnesota at Atlanta ATL -3 MIN +130, ATL -150 +/- 47.5

New England at Buffalo NE -9 NE -440, BUF +360 +/- 49

Denver at Miami DEN -1.5 DEN -125, MIA +105 +/- 39

Houston at Tennessee TEN -7 HOU +250, TEN -300 +/- 43

Indianapolis at Jacksonville JAX -9.5 IND +380, JAX -475 +/- 40.5

Tampa Bay at Green Bay GB -1.5 TB +105, GB -125 +/- 44

Kansas City at NYJ KC -3.5 KC -175, NYJ +155 +/- 43.5

Carolina at New Orleans NO -4 CAR +175, NO -200 +/- 48

Cleveland at LA Chargers LAC -13.5 CLE +650, LAC -1000 +/- 42.5

LA Rams at Arizona LAR -7 LAR -300, ARI +250 +/- 45

NYG at Oakland OAK -8.5 NYG +310, OAK -380 +/- 42

Philadelphia at Seattle PHI -6 PHI -240, SEA +200 +/- 47.5

MNF

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati PIT -5.5 PIT -240, CIN +200 +/- 43

Lines courtesy William Hill; updated Friday, Dec. 1

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