The end of the regular season comes with some relatively big lines. This portion of the schedule is primetime for teasers. It’s time to give yourself a little more cushion. And, as always, it’s time to fade the public. (All betting data is courtesy Sports Insights.)
Firing Ben McAdoo didn’t solve all of the Giants’ problems. They lost by 20 last week to Dallas at home, and now they enter another NFC East matchup against the playoffs-bound Eagles. Two out of every three bets placed on this game have been in favor of Philadelphia covering this touchdown-plus spread. But there are several aspects of this game that should make gamblers who love the favorites take pause: First, quarterback Carson Wentz is out for the season, and it’s unclear how smooth the transition to Nick Foles will be. Next, this is the Eagles’ third-straight road game, which always makes it tough to cover a big point spread. Finally, teams with a .800-or-better win percentage are 65-94-2 against the spread late in the season (from December to February), according to Sports Insights. This is a classic hold-your-nose pick. But there’s money to be made when you buck common logic.
New York Jets/New Orleans — over 47
Alvin Kamara is back in a game that is being played at the Superdome, where Drew Brees performs much better and scoring flows like wine. The Saints have scored at least 30 points in their last three home games. There’s still a real risk here as the Jets will be starting Bryce Petty at quarterback with Josh McCown out for the season. But the majority of public bettors are overreacting to that, leading to just 31 percent of wagers coming for the over — the lowest figure on the board this week. These are the kind of games where Vegas makes its money. My feeling is the Saints’ dynamic attack out of the backfield will pour it on against a bottom-third scoring defense, and the Jets will score a meaningless touchdown late to push the total over.
LA Rams ML
The Seahawks are no longer invincible at home as they’ve lost two games at CenturyLink Field this season. And it’s a comforting thought that you will most likely need Blair Walsh to miss in a close divisional game late in the season. Safer bettors should consider taking the points, especially if the public continues to flood Seattle, which opened as home underdogs. One thing to watch with this pick, it becomes much weaker if linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring) is able to play. He’s one of the last great players on this defense who is maintaining his health. Fellow ’backer KJ Wright (concussion) is listed as doubtful, making Sean McVay and Jared Goff’s job easier. The Hawks offense typically struggles against the Rams, so the door is open for a road victory for the young darlings of the NFL.
Cleveland/Baltimore — under 40.5
It’s seems like every week that the public thinks it’s getting a great deal on a low points total when the Browns play. With the worst team in football traveling to play the Ravens today, a whopping 76 percent of bettors are flooding the over. Think about that: Several people feel good about the worst scoring offense (15.2 points per game) helping this game hit the over against the Ravens defense (the fourth-best at 18.9 points allowed per game). That basically means that money is flooding in for the Baltimore offense to carry this over by itself. Seems hard to believe as the second half of this game should fly by after the home team takes a huge lead into halftime and then runs out the clock.
According to the Action Network, Blaine Gabbert is 0-7-1 against the spread in games following a straight-up win. And the public is leaning toward the underdog Cardinals (51 percent of bets). It’s hard to figure why the (admittedly slight) majority is choosing Arizona despite Adrian Peterson and John Brown already being ruled out. I get that Washington has lost four out of their last five games, but those were against much better teams (Vikings, Saints, Cowboys, Chargers) than the Cardinals’ uninspiring 12-9 win over the Titans last weekend. Give me a bounceback game by Kirk Cousins, who will be trying to rebuild his stock before hitting free agency this offseason.
Week 14: 3-2
MATCHUP SPREAD MONEYLINE OVER/UNDER
Philadelphia at NYG PHI -7.5 PHI -340, NYG +280 +/- 40
Green Bay at Carolina CAR -2.5 GB +125, CAR -145 +/- 47
Cincinnati at Minnesota MIN -10.5 CIN +450, MIN -600 +/- 42
Miami at Buffalo BUF -3.5 MIA +150, BUF -170 +/- 39
Houston at Jacksonville JAX -11 HOU +500, JAX -700 +/- 39
NYJ at New Orleans NO -16 NYJ +1100, NO -2000 +/- 47
Arizona at Washington WAS -4 ARI +180, WAS -210 +/- 43
Baltimore at Cleveland BAL -7 BAL -330, CLE +270 +/- 40.5
LA Rams at Seattle SEA -2 LAR +115, SEA -135 +/- 48
New England at Pittsburgh NE -3 NE -150, PIT +130 +/- 54
Tennessee at San Francisco SF -2 TEN +110, SF -130 +/- 44
Dallas at Oakland DAL -3 DAL -160, OAK +140 +/- 46
Atlanta at Tampa Bay ATL -6 ATL -260, TB +220 +/- 48
Lines courtesy William Hill; updated Friday, Dec. 15