It’s taken nearly two full seasons, but Palmer’s Picks saw its first perfect set of picks last weekend. If only there weren’t a first-half of the NFL season, I’d be way up this year. But I’m not here to play a game of What If. I’m here to give back all the winnings I made in Week 15 by being overconfident in Week 16. The good news about this part of the season: Most teams are playing divisional rivals, which means the scores are going to be lower and the margins tighter. Also, the common bettor believes they know more about the lines they’re gambling on than they actually do. Opportunity is out there and there’s no better way to ignore your family this holiday season than wagering on pro football. Happy Holidays, everyone.
This game is going to be ugly, but the consensus should be wrong. Despite being favored by more than a field goal, the Lions are receiving 65 percent of the moneyline action — according to Sports Insights. It’s hard to suss out which of these disappointing teams is better, but the market is too high on Detroit after they beat the Chicago Bears at home last week and barely snuck by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the game before. On the other side, the sports world has given up on quarterback Andy Dalton. This one isn’t easy and I’m not particularly confident about it, but I’ll happily take favorable odds on a home team in a cold climate hosting a dome team in December.
Rams/Titans — over 47
Jared Goff and Sean McVay went into Seattle last week and made a statement by boatracing the Seahawks, setting the overreaction machine into overdrive. The Titans have had two-straight really bad weeks, losing on the road to a pair of NFC West teams. Now they play the divisional leader at home and conventional wisdom says it’s only going to get worse for Marcus Mariota. But the Tennessee offense is finally facing a defense that struggles against the run (LA allows 4.7 yards per carry) and the Rams lost one of their best cornerbacks for the season. McVay has proven he can score whenever and wherever, and it’s time for the Titans to keep up their end of the bargain.
Falcons/Saints — under 52.5
This total must’ve been calculated for the 2016 versions of these two defenses, because this year, they’re actually quite good. And this is the second meeting of the season between divisional rivals. They know each other pretty well. Those tricks that work in the early part of the season have been put on tape and studied by their opponents. Alvin Kamara will be available, which typically makes for an uneasy under pick, but that number is way too high. Matt Ryan is winning lately, but he isn’t playing well. Facing a healthy Marshon Lattimore won’t make his life any easier as all those turnover-worthy throws will actually come back to bite him against an opportunistic defense.
Jameis Winston looked healthy and in rhythm for the first time all season last week for Monday Night Football. This pick includes two of my favorite gambling theories: Fade the public (only 32 percent of bettors think Tampa Bay can keep this one competitive), and take the points in the second meeting of divisional rivals (“Favorites of 10 or more points in division games are 78-107-5 against the spread since 2003,” writes John Ewing of Sports Insights). After that, it’s not as much of a lock as Winston typically struggles against Cam Newton, and Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter seems on his way out. But, like a moth drawn to a light, I can’t stay away from all those points.
It’s hard to pick which team will be more apathetic about this game. The Giants quit on the season weeks ago and barely lost last week at home. Arizona is starting Drew Stanton at quarterback and doesn’t have a healthy starting running back. But the majority of bettors are backing Eli Manning on the road. So give me Bruce Arians hyping his team up against a beatable team. It’s been a nightmare season in terms of injuries for both of these squads, but — this late in the season — you can find me backing the head coach who has a chance of being back next year.
Week 15: 5-0
MATCHUP SPREAD MONEYLINE OVER/UNDER
Detroit at Cincinnati DET -3.5 DET -185, CIN +160 +/- 44.5
LA Chargers at NYJ LAC -7 LAC -265, NYJ +225 +/- 43
LA Rams at Tennessee LAR -7 LAR -265, TEN +225 +/- 47
Cleveland at Chicago CHI -7 CLE +225, CHI -265 +/- 38
Tampa Bay at Carolina CAR -11.5 TB +400, CAR -500 +/- 46.5
Atlanta at New Orleans NO -6 ATL +220, NO -260 +/- 52.5
Denver at Washington WAS -3 DEN +160, WAS -185 +/- 40.5
Miami at Kansas City KC -12 MIA +415, KC -525 +/- 43
Buffalo at New England NE -13 BUF +450, NE -600 +/- 47
Jacksonville at San Francisco JAX -4.5 JAX -220, SF +180 +/- 42
NYG at Arizona ARI -3 NYG +150, ARI -170 +/- 40
Seattle at Dallas DAL -4.5 SEA +180, DAL -220 +/- 47
Pittsburgh at Houston PIT -10 PIT -400, HOU +325 +/- 45.5
Oakland at Philadelphia PHI -10 OAK +330, PHI -410 +/- 47
Lines courtesy William Hill; updated Friday, Dec. 22