PATRIOTS at RAMS
This “Thursday Night Football” showcase is a rematch of Super Bowl 53. The Patriots (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS) have won two straight and four of their last five, most recently crushing the Chargers 45-0 on Sunday, easily covering as 2-point road dogs. Meanwhile, the Rams (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) have won three of four and just beat the Cardinals 38-28, covering as 2.5-point road favorites. This line opened with the Rams as 6.5-point home favorites. Pros have pounced on the Patriots plus the points, which has dropped the line to 5. New England has value as a short road dog + 6 or less (47-25 ATS, 65%) and a dog with a line move in their favor (52-31 ATS, 63%). The Patriots won't have to travel for this one as they are staying in Los Angeles and practicing at UCLA after playing the Chargers. Sharps also have targeted this Under, dropping the total from 45.5 to 44.5. Both teams are 8-4 to the Under. Prime-time Unders are 23-14 (62%) this season.
TITANS at JAGUARS
This is an AFC South mismatch, at least on paper. The first-place Titans (8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) are looking to bounce back from a 41-35 loss to the Browns last week, losing outright as 4-point home favorites. On the flip side, the Jaguars (1-11 SU, 5-7 ATS) own the NFL’s second-worst record and are looking for a top draft pick. Jacksonville just fell to the Vikings 27-24 but managed to cover as a 10-point road dog. This line opened with Tennessee as a 7.5-point road favorite. The public is rushing to the window to lay the points with the Titans in a bounce-back spot. However, despite this lopsided betting, the line has remained frozen at 7.5, signaling some liability on the home dog. If you see this line fall to 7, it will indicate further wiseguy money on the Jags. Jacksonville has value as a home divisional dog (14-9 ATS, 61%). The total is 53. Both teams are profitable to the Over, with the Titans 9-2-1 and the Jags 7-5.
COWBOYS at BENGALS
There are no playoff implications in this one as these teams are now playing for pride and a high draft pick. The Cowboys are coming off a short week, having just played the Ravens on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the Bengals have dropped four straight and seven of their last eight, most recently falling to Miami 19-7 and failing to cover as 10-point road dogs. This line opened with Dallas as a 3-point road favorite and we've seen respected money back the Cowboys and fade the Bengals, pushing the line up to -3.5 or -4. The Cowboys have value as a road team with a line move in their favor (60-47 ATS, 56%). The Under could also be in play. The total is 43.5 and the forecast calls for mid-30s with 10-mph winds. Referee John Hussey has historically favored Unders (57%). Over their last four games, the Bengals have scored only seven points, 17 points, nine points and 10 points.
CARDINALS at GIANTS
These NFC opponents are trending in opposite directions. The Cardinals (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS) started 5-2 but have gone 1-4 since. Arizona has lost three straight, including a 38-28 loss to the Rams last week, failing to cover as 2.5-point home dogs. On the flip side, the Giants (5-7 SU, 8-4 ATS) have quietly been on a roll. After starting 1-7, New York has won four straight games and leads the NFC East. Last week the Giants shocked the Seahawks 17-12, winning outright as massive 10.5-point road dogs. The lookahead line on this game had Arizona listed as a 3-point road favorite against Colt McCoy and the Giants. But we've quickly seen pro money back the streaking Giants, dropping the line to 2.5. Keep an eye on this line as it may go off the board and reopen at a new number if Daniel Jones returns. The total is 45. The Under may be appetizing as the weather calls for 10- to 12-mph winds. Both teams have been great to the Under this season, going 7-3-1.
TEXANS at BEARS
This nonconference matchup features teams on the outside looking in at the playoff race. The Texans (4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS) had their brief two-game winning streak snapped last week, falling to the Colts 26-20 and failing to cover as 3-point home dogs. On the flip side, the Bears (5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS) are in a tailspin, having lost six straight. Last week the Bears lost to the Lions 34-30, losing straight up as 3-point home favorites. This line opened with Houston as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public sees the Bears as an auto-fade at the points. However, despite a majority of bets backing Deshaun Watson and the Texans, we’ve seen this line fall from Houston -2.5 to -1. Some shops are even touching a pick-'em. This signals respected money buying low on the Bears as short home dogs. Dogs with a line move in their favor are 52-31 ATS (63%) this season. The total has ticked down slightly from 46 to 45.5. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 30s and 10-mph winds.
BRONCOS at PANTHERS
These teams have identical records and are going nowhere. The Broncos (4-8 SU, 7-5 ATS) have dropped two straight but hung tough in a 22-16 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday night, covering as 13-point road dogs. On the other hand, the Panthers (4-8 SU, 7-5 ATS) are just 1-6 over their last seven games, most recently falling to the Vikings 28-27 but covering as 3-point road dogs. This line opened with Carolina as a 4-point home favorite. We’ve seen an adjustment toward the Broncos, with respected money hitting Denver and dropping the line to 3.5. Denver has value as a short road dog + 6 or less (47-25 ATS, 65%) and a dog with a line move in their favor (52-31 ATS, 63%). Carolina has a rest advantage in this one as the Panthers are coming off a bye. They are also expected to welcome back star running back Christian McCaffrey.
VIKINGS at BUCCANEERS
These NFC contenders are trending in opposite directions, but if the playoffs started today, both would be in with Tampa Bay the No. 6 seed and Minnesota the 7th. The Vikings (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS) have turned it on, going 5-1 over their last six games. Last week Minnesota took down Jacksonville 27-24, although the Vikings failed to cover as 10-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Bucs (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) are in a bit of a tailspin. After starting 6-2, Tampa is just 1-3 over their last four games. The Bucs have lost two straight and most recently fell to Kansas City 27-24, although Tampa covered as a 3.5-point home dog. This line opened with Tampa Bay as a 6.5-point home favorite. The public is split and the line hasn’t budged. The next move is critically important. If you see it fall to 6, that signals pros grabbing Minnesota and the hook. If it rises to 7, that would mean some respected money is laying the points with Tampa. Minnesota is 4-1 ATS on the road. The Bucs have a rest advantage coming off a bye. The total has dipped slightly from 52.5 to 51.5. Both teams are profitable to the Over, with Minnesota 8-3 and Tampa Bay 7-5.
CHIEFS at DOLPHINS
If the playoffs started today, Kansas City would be the No. 2 seed n the AFC and Miami would be the No. 6 seed. The Chiefs (11-1 SU, 6-6 ATS) have won seven straight and just beat the Broncos 22-16 on Sunday night, although they failed to cover as 13-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Dolphins (8-4 SU, 9-3 ATS) started the season 1-3 but have gone 7-1 since, most recently beating the Bengals 19-7 on Sunday and covering as 10-point home favorites. This line opened with Kansas City listed as a 7.5-point road favorite. The public is all over Patrick Mahomes and Co. However, despite two-thirds of bets laying the points, we’ve seen Kansas City stay frozen at -7.5 or even fall to -7. This indicates sharp money buying low on the Dolphins plus the points. December home dogs of + 7 or more have covered roughly 56% of the time over the last decade. We've seen the total rise from 48.5 to 49. The forecast calls for clear skies and 80-plus degrees in Miami, ideal conditions for offense.
COLTS at RAIDERS
This is a huge game as both teams are desperate for a win to stay in playoff contention. The Colts (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) have won three of their last four and just took down the Texans 26-20, covering as 3-point road favorites. Meanwhile, the Raiders (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS) snapped a two-game skid Sunday with an improbable last-second win over the Jets 31-28, although they failed to cover as 7.5-point road favorites. This line opened with Indianapolis as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public is split and doesn’t know which team to back. Whenever some respected money has come in on Indianapolis and pushed the line to -3, we’ve seen sharp buy back on the Raiders + 3 at home, dropping the line back to 2.5. It seems as though there is some indecision among pros preferring Indy -2.5 or Vegas + 3. We could be looking at a high-scoring game, as the total has been bet up from 50.5 to 51.5.
JETS at SEAHAWKS
This nonconference matchup features the biggest number on the board. The Jets (0-12 SU, 4-8 ATS) remain the only winless team in the NFL and just suffered a heartbreaking 31-28 loss to the Raiders, losing in the final seconds but still managing to cover as 7.5-point home dogs. Meanwhile, the Seahawks (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 17-12 loss to the Giants on Sunday, losing straight up as 10-point home favorites. This line opened with Seattle as a 14-point home favorite. Respected money seems to think this line is a bit high, as we've seen it drop to 13.5. The Jets have value as a dog with a line move in their favor (52-31 ATS, 63%) this season. Also, double-digit dogs are 13-9 ATS (59%) this year. Historically, double-digit dogs have been even more profitable late in the season (December or later). Sharps also have taken a liking to this Under, dropping the total from 47.5 to 46.5. Keep an eye on the weather. The forecast could bring some rain and 5- to 10-mph winds.
PACKERS at LIONS
This NFC North grudge match pits rivals at opposite ends of the division standings. The Packers (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) lead the division and have won two straight, crushing the Eagles 30-16 last week and covering as 7.5-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Lions (5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS) snapped a two-game skid with a 34-30 win over the Bears on Sunday, winning outright as 3-point road dogs in Darrell Bevell’s first game as interim coach. This line opened with Green Bay as an 8.5-point road favorite. This public has no problem laying the wood with Aaron Rodgers. However, we’ve seen this line tumble from 8.5 to 7.5. This signals some respected money coming in on the Lions plus the points. Detroit has value as a home divisional dog (14-9 ATS, 61% this season) and a dog with a line move in their favor (52-31 ATS, 63%). Historically, late-season home dogs + 7 or more have been a profitable bet. This is also a revenge game for the Lions, who lost to the Packers 42-21 in the opener. Keep an eye on star Lions receiver Kenny Golladay, who could make his long-awaited return to the lineup. The total is 55. Super-high totals of 55 or more are 12-6 (67%) to the Under this season. This also matches a profitable late-season divisional Under trend.
FALCONS at CHARGERS
These nonconference opponents are playing out the string. The Falcons (4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS) have lost two of their last three and just fell to the Saints 21-16, failing to cover as 2.5-point home dogs. Meanwhile, the Chargers (3-9 SU, 4-7-1 ATS) are 1-5 over their last six games and just got pummeled 45-0 by the Patriots, losing as 2-point home favorites. This line opened with Atlanta as a short 2-point road favorite. The public sees two bad teams and doesn't know which to take. But despite the even ticket count, we’ve seen Atlanta jump from -2 to -2.5, signaling some respected money laying the points with the Falcons. Road teams with a line move in their favor are 60-47 ATS (56%). Atlanta also has value as a short nonconference favorite with a high total (50). High totals benefit favorites as they are expected to score more points, making it easier for the favorite to cover. If this line gets to 3, expect some buyback on the Chargers at the key number. Los Angeles has buy-low value as a dog off a blowout loss of 20 points or more (16-11 ATS, 59% this season).
SAINTS at EAGLES
It’s studs vs. duds in this NFC matchup. The Saints (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) are the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have ripped off nine straight wins, most recently beating the Falcons 21-16 on Sunday and covering as 2.5-point road favorites. On the other hand, the Eagles (3-8-1 ATS, 4-8 ATS) have lost four straight and just fell to the Packers 30-16, failing to cover as 7.5-point road dogs. This line opened with the Saints as 6.5-point road favorites. The public is happy to fade the struggling Eagles, and early respected money hit the Saints, driving the line up to -7. The next move is critical. If you see this rise to 7.5, that will indicate further Saints support from sharps. But if this falls to 6.5, that will signal pros buying back on the Eagles as a home dog catching a key number. The Eagles have contrarian value, and home dogs of + 7 or more have been profitable in December. This big X factor here is rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts, who will make his first career start for Philadelphia with Carson Wentz sent to the bench. Wiseguys have also hit this Under, dropping the total from 45.5 to 44.
WASHINGTON at 49ERS
These NFC opponents have the same record, but all the momentum is with Washington. Washington (5-7 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) has won three straight and just shocked the undefeated Steelers 23-17, winning outright as 6-point road dogs. Meanwhile, the 49ers (5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS) are watching their playoff chances slip away after falling to the Bills 34-24 on Monday night, losing outright as 1.5-point favorites. San Francisco is just 1-4 over their last five games. This line opened with the 49ers listed as 4.5-point “home” favorites (this game will be played in Arizona). We’ve seen a big adjustment toward Washington here, with respected pro money hammering Ron Rivera’s team plus the points (+ 4.5 to + 3). Washington has value as a short road dog + 6 or less (47-25 ATS, 65%) and a dog with a line move in their favor (52-31 ATS, 63%).
STEELERS at BILLS
Bettors are in for a treat with this marquee game on “Sunday Night Football.” If the playoffs started today, Pittsburgh would be the No. 1 seed and Buffalo No. 3. The Steelers (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS) just suffered their first loss of the season on Monday night, falling to Washington 23-17 and losing straight up as 6-point home favorites. On the flip side, Buffalo (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) has won two straight and five of its last six, including a 34-24 win over the 49ers on Monday night as 1.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Pittsburgh as a 2.5-point road favorite. Pro money immediately pounced on Buffalo as a short home dog and flipped this line all the way to Bills -2.5. Essentially, wiseguys have flipped Buffalo from a dog to a favorite. If you like Buffalo but are worried about laying 1.5 points in what could be a close game, the Bills are roughly -125 on the moneyline. Pittsburgh has value as a buy-low inflated dog off a loss. Prime-time dogs are 25-13 ATS (66%) on the season. Short road dogs + 6 or less are 47-25 ATS (65%). We’ve also seen this total drop from 47.5 to 47. Prime-time Unders are 23-15 (61%) this season.
RAVENS at BROWNS
This “Monday Night Football” showdown features AFC North rivals jockeying for playoff position. The Ravens are coming off a short week, having just played the Cowboys on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the Browns are rolling. Cleveland has won four straight and just beat the Titans 41-35, winning outright as 4-point road dogs. The early lookahead line opened with the Ravens as 2.5-point road favorites. But we’ve seen a steady diet of respected money back the streaking Browns, driving this line down to a pick-’em. This is a revenge game for Cleveland, which took a 38-6 beating from Baltimore in the season opener. Keep an eye on this total. It's 45.5 and there are several late-season division Under system matches here. Weather could also be an issue as the forecast calls for low 30s temperatures with 10- to 15-mph winds. Referee Bill Vinovich has historically favored Unders (59%). Prime-time Unders are 23-15 (61%) this season.