MATCHUP SPREAD MONEYLINE OVER/UNDER
Detroit at NYG NYG -4.5 DET +180, NYG -210 +/- 41
Philadelphia at Baltimore BAL -5.5 PHI +200, BAL -240 +/- 41
Green Bay at Chicago GB -6 GB -280, CHI +240 +/- 39.5
Indianapolis at Minnesota MIN -4 IND +175, MIN -200 +/- 45.5
Cleveland at Buffalo BUF -10 CLE +425, BUF -550 +/- 41
Tennessee at Kansas City KC -5.5 TEN +210, KC -250 +/- 42.5
Jacksonville at Houston HOU -5.5 JAX +190, HOU -220 +/- 39.5
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati PIT -3 PIT -175, CIN +155 +/- 44
New Orleans at Arizona ARI -3 NO +130, ARI -150 +/- 50
San Francisco at Atlanta ATL -13.5 SF +600, ATL -900 +/- 51.5
New England at Denver NE -3 NE -165, DEN +145 +/- 44
Oakland at San Diego OAK -3 OAK -145, SD +125 +/- 50.5
Tampa Bay at Dallas DAL -7 TB +250, DAL -300 +/- 46.5
Carolina at Washington WAS -6 CAR +230, WAS -230 +/- 51
Lines courtesy William Hill, updated Friday, Dec. 16
Detroit/NYG — under
Both of these defenses have been overachieving in recent weeks, and I think that trend will continue against each other. Eli Manning is typically good for a letdown game, and the Giants are riding high after beating their biggest rival, the Cowboys, last weekend in primetime. Matthew Stafford will be playing with a dislocated middle finger in his throwing hand, which leads me to believe the Lions won’t be lighting up the scoreboard. So staying under the total score is really a matter of Odell Beckham Jr. not housing three slant routes, which is possible, but I’ll bet against it this week. With rain in the forecast, the Giants’ front seven will likely be in Stafford’s face all game. That should limit a ton of points from being scored.
Green Bay -6
The Packers, as they’re wont to do, are peaking at the right time. Enter the Chicago Bears, a bad team that has been ravaged by injuries. But they played a competitive game at Detroit last weekend and beat the 49ers the game before. That’s got some people believing they’ll be able to compete at home against Green Bay. I don’t buy it. They only scored one offensive touchdown against the Lions, and the Packers’ defense is clicking. As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy enough to play and connects for an early touchdown or two, I feel extremely comfortable Green Bay will continue its march to win the NFC North after teetering on the brink of irrelevance.
Ben Roethlisberger isn’t as good on the road as he is from the comfort of Heinz Field. Despite playing a spotty Buffalo defense, the QB threw for three interceptions and a 18.0 QBR. This week’s rivalry typically produces games full of fireworks and big hits — see: last year’s playoffs. The Bengals will have a chance to stay in it if they can establish the run game with Jeremy Hill while stopping Le’Veon Bell from asserting his will. That’s not an easy ask, but I’m assuming this game will be closer than the linemakers are giving it credit for, and in that scenario, I’m going to take the home team and the moneyline odds and hope for the best, even with A.J. Green out.
New England/Denver — over
The Broncos have a world-class defense, one so good it won the team a Super Bowl last year despite its subpar quarterback. Ordinarily, they’re quite tough to score on at home. But Tom Brady is not ordinary, and other teams worth worse offenses have managed to score in the 20s at Mile High Stadium this season. Combine that with New England having an average defense that is susceptible to the pass, and I think Trevor Siemian and the throw-happy Broncos will be able to score enough to put this game over the total.
I don’t trust NFC East teams less and less as the season grows older, and Washington has a penchant for playing close games: 10 of their last 12 games have finished within a one-score margin. The Panthers, the runner-up in last year’s Super Bowl, are out of the playoff picture because they haven’t been able to win close games. But they still run the ball well with Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart. Slowing the rush attack is the phase of the game where the Washington defense struggles most as it allows 112.8 yards per game on the ground. I’m not confident Carolina’s young secondary will be able to slow Kirk Cousins enough to take the win, but I do think Cousins will need some late-game heroics if Washington is going to keep its playoff hopes alive after Monday night.
Week 14: 3-2