It’s officially crunch-time in the NFL, as the regular season is winding down and teams are fighting for their playoff lives.
NFL SEASON RECORD ATS: 50-40-3
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Usually, the Patriots lose a game or two early in the season and everybody says their run is over. They start talking about how Tom Brady is ready to retire, and Belichick is going somewhere else. This year, it’s happening in December, as the Patriots are coming off a 23-16 loss to the Chiefs.
The perfect remedy for a struggling team is playing the Bengals. The Bengals are 1-12 on the season, and coming off a bad 27-19 loss to the Browns in a game they feel like they could’ve stolen in the end. Since going back to Andy Dalton, the Bengals have looked better, but again, they’re still the Bengals.
The Patriots are 9.5 point favorites on the road in this game. I hope nobody is taking the Bengals. The Patriots always respond when analysts say the world is falling, and after the reports that they may have “cheated” again, oh boy. The Patriots are going to try to make a statement in this one, winning by plenty more than 10 points. Take the Patriots.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks, after being the #1 seed in the NFC for a short stay, are now holding a Wild Card spot in the NFC. They’re 10-3 and almost guaranteed at a playoff spot, but this is a big game for them to avoid a late season letdown.
The Panthers are in a freefall, with no end in sight. The only bright spot for them is Christian Mccaffery, but the problem for him is that he has a turnover prone QB in Kyle Allen, and a defense that can’t stop the run to save their lives.
With the Seahawks being 6.5 point favorites in this one, I see this as a classic rebound spot from a loss. The Seahawks had been on a roll, and maybe feeling a little too good on themselves. A loss at this point in the season is often a blessing in disguise, as I think the Seahawks use that as motivation and come out strong this week, but buying to 5.5.
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
After losing a heartbreaking loss to the Jets in Metlife Stadium last week, the Dolphins are running it back in the same stadium. Since their dismal start, the Dolphins have been steadily improving throughout the year. It may be hurting their draft stock, but it at least keeps the players and fans engaged, as first-year coach Brian Flores has the team playing hard.
The Giants had their chance on MNF. They had the Eagles on the ropes in Eli Manning’s return to the field, and they blew it. They lost in OT, and now Eli Manning’s career record now sits at 116-117, not ideal for the potential Hall of Famer.
With both of these teams having an eye towards the future, it’s hard for me to get a feel on these games. Instead, the total is intriguing to me, at 46.5. Frankly, both of these teams struggle to score, and I see a low-scoring game coming. Lean the under with confidence.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Rookie Drew Lock came into the Broncos lineup with high hopes, but little expectations. What he did last week against the Texans was incredible, throwing for 309 yards and 3 TD in a 38-24 upset victory. It put the world on notice that the Broncos may have found their QB of the future.
The Chiefs made a statement of their own last week, walking out of New England with a 23-16 victory in which their defense put the clamps on the Patriots attack. This was an important game for the Chiefs confidence that they could not only compete with a team of New England’s caliber, but win on the road. They didn’t just win, they won with their defense.
But this is a new week, and I don’t think the Chiefs are going to have to play too much defense in this one. I see Pat Mahomes having his way with the Broncos defense in this one as he tries to establish a late-season rhythm before the playoffs. Couple this with Lock’s impressive play, and the over at 45 is the play here, but I’m buying to 44.5 to prevent a push.
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys
If the NFC East wasn’t so bad, nobody would even be talking about these Dallas Cowboys anymore. After a 3-0 start with a cupcake schedule, bad coaching, injuries, and straight up underachievement has been the story of their season, as they’ve dropped 7 of their last 10 games to sit at 6-7. Somehow, they’re still in 1st place in the NFC (L)East.
The Rams are a different story. They started the season underachieving, but seem to have found their stride as they fight for a playoff spot. They’re coming off a commanding victory over the Seattle Seahawks last week as they looked like the Rams of old. They’re firing on all cylinders at the right time, just in time for their playoff push, although they need some help if they want to make it back.
The opening line for this game was originally Cowboys -3. So much money has poured in on the Rams that they are now favored by 1.5. Normally, I’d go against the public in scenarios like this, but the Cowboys have burned me too many times this season. I’m taking the Rams as I fully expect the Cowboys freefall to continue.