Last six weeks of NFL season can be puzzling

By Brent Musburger  (VSiN managing editor) 

November 23, 2018 04:32 PM

For a handicapper, the last six weeks of an NFL season are tougher to solve than a Rubik’s Cube. And remember, it’s estimated that only 5.8 percent of the world’s population can solve the Rubik’s Cube. So good luck with 32 NFL teams and the point spreads down the stretch.

The New Orleans Saints charged back atop the NFC playoff standings with their win over Atlanta on Thursday night. And they covered the 12½-point spread.

For all of us, the motivation to make the playoffs and the push to get a higher seed look like an easy handicapping angle. But remember, it doesn’t always work out. Both injuries that cannot be forecast and coaches trying to save their jobs are tricky to guesstimate down the stretch.

There are three favorites carrying double-digit spreads Sunday. At the South Point, the Baltimore Ravens are 10½-point home favorites over the Oakland Raiders. The Los Angeles Chargers are favored by 12½ hosting the Arizona Cardinals. Taking their show on the road the New England Patriots are laying 10 against the New York Jets.

The odds of all three favorites covering huge numbers are not good, but they certainly provide opportunities for those of us who like to tease. Let me buy a seven-pointer to get the Jets plus 17, and take the Chargers down to –5½.

Sunday night the NBC cameras will again be focused on the Minnesota Vikings, who this time will be at home when they play Green Bay. The Vikings sit right on the cut line of the NFC playoff standings at 5-4-1. They can guarantee staying as at least the No. 6 seed by beating the Packers. But bettors beware: they still have to cover the 3½-point spread against Aaron Rodgers.

Because we’re busy with the holidays most of us take the easy way out and bet the number at our favorite sportsbook. But remember, you can win with the hook, or you can push without it. Take the Rams’ win over Kansas City. If you waited and were lucky enough to get the Chiefs plus 3½, you were a winner. If you didn’t get the hook, you pushed either way. And if you bet the Rams –2½ when the game was still scheduled for México City and got to ride with the move north of the border, you were a winner.

But who knew we were going to wind up with a 105-point instant classic?

Like I said, it’s tougher than solving a Rubik’s Cube.

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