MINNESOTA VIKINGS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
This late-afternoon showdown on Christmas features NFC opponents looking to snap two-game skids. The Vikings (6-8 SU, 6-8 ATS) fell to the Bears 33-27 last week, losing outright as 3-point home favorites. Minnesota is technically still alive for a playoff spot but would need to win out and get some serious help to sneak in. The Saints (10-4 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) lost to the Chiefs 32-29, pushing as 3-point home dogs. New Orleans has clinched a playoff spot and is currently the second seed, though it could fall to No. 3 by losing once if Seattle wins out. This line opened with New Orleans listed as a 7.5-point home favorite. The public is all over the Saints, expecting a bounce-back cover against the struggling Vikings. However, despite this lopsided support, the line has fallen from Saints -7.5 to -7. This signals some sharp reverse line movement on the Vikings, specifically getting the hook (+ 7.5). Minnesota has value as a road dog off a loss (56% ATS this season) and a dog with a line move in its favor (60% ATS). The total is 52. Both teams have been great to the Over this season, with the Vikings 9-4-1 and the Saints 9-5.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at DETROIT LIONS
This NFC matchup is the first of three Saturday games (1 p.m. ET). The Bucs (9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS) have gotten back on track and won two straight, including a come-from-behind 31-27 win over the Falcons last week, though Tampa Bay failed to cover as a 6-point road favorite. The Bucs are the No. 6 seed in the NFC but could rise to fifth if they win out and the Rams stumble down the stretch. The Lions (5-9 SU, 6-8 ATS) have lost two straight and four of their last five, including a 46-25 loss to the Titans last week in which they failed to cover as 8.5-point road dogs. Detroit has been eliminated from playoff contention. This line opened with Tampa Bay listed as a 7.5-point road favorite. Pros and Joes have rushed to the window to back Tom Brady and the Bucs, which has pushed this line up from -7.5 to -9.5. If this reaches the key number of 10, expect some buyback on the Lions simply out of principle. Saturday road teams are 2-0 ATS this season and about 60% ATS over the last decade. The total is 54. Both teams are profitable to the Over this season, with Tampa Bay 8-6 and Detroit 9-5.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS at ARIZONA CARDINALS
This NFC West grudge match is the second of three Saturday games (4:30 p.m. ET). The 49ers (5-9 SU, 5-9 ATS) have had an awful second half of the season, losing three straight and six of seven. San Francisco fell to the Cowboys last week 41-33, failing to cover as a 4-point road favorite. The 49ers have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Cardinals (8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS) have won two straight and just took down the Eagles 33-26, covering as 6-point home favorites. Arizona occupies the seventh and final NFC playoff spot but needs to keep winning to fend off the Bears. This line opened with the Cardinals listed as 3.5-point home favorites. Pros and Joes have taken a liking to Arizona, driving this line up to -4.5. The 49ers have value as road divisional dogs and short road dogs + 6 or less (64% ATS this season). Wise guys are also eyeing the Under, as the total has fallen from 50 to 49. This would match a profitable late-season divisional Under trend.
MIAMI DOLPHINS at LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
This AFC showdown is the third and final Saturday game (8:15 p.m. ET) and has huge playoff implications for both teams. The Dolphins (9-5 SU, 11-3 ATS) are 8-2 over their last 10 games and just beat the Patriots 22-12, easily winning outright as 1-point home dogs. Miami owns the seventh and final AFC playoff spot, but Baltimore is right behind. The Raiders (7-7 SU, 7-7 ATS) are crumbling at the wrong time, losing two straight and four of their last five. Las Vegas fell to the Chargers 30-27 on Thursday night, losing outright as a 3-point home favorite. The Raiders are technically still alive for the playoffs but must win out and get serious help to snag the last spot. This line opened with the Raiders listed as 2-point home favorites. But we’ve seen lopsided action come down on the Dolphins, flipping Miami all the way to a 3-point road favorite. Some sharp buyback has hit Vegas at the key number of + 3, dropping the line back down to 2.5 at some shops. Vegas has value as a contrarian inflated home dog in a heavily bet prime-time game. Marcus Mariota is likely to start at quarterback with Derek Carr nursing a groin injury.
CLEVELAND BROWNS at NEW YORK JETS
These AFC opponents enter with differing motivations. The Browns (10-4 SU, 6-8 ATS) have won five of their last six and just took down the Giants 20-6 on Sunday night, easily covering as 6.5-point road favorites. Cleveland occupies the fifth AFC seed, but the Colts, Dolphins and Ravens are close behind. Cleveland also has an outside shot at catching the Steelers in the division if the Browns win out and Pittsburgh stumbles. The Jets (1-13 SU, 5-9 ATS) are tied for the worst record in the NFL and have long been eliminated from the postseason. However, New York shocked the Rams 23-20 last week, winning its first game of the season as a 17-point road dog. This game opened with Cleveland listed as a 10-point road favorite. The public is hammering the streaking Browns, yet we’ve seen some respected money back the Jets plus the points, dropping this line to 9.5. The Jets have value as contrarian dogs getting big points at home. December home dogs + 7 or more are 5-1 ATS this season and about 57% ATS over the last decade. Some sharp money also has hit this Over, jacking up the total from 45 to 47.
CINCINNATI BENGALS at HOUSTON TEXANS
This AFC matchup holds little weight as the teams have a combined 7-20-1 record and have long been eliminated from playoff contention. The Bengals (3-10-1 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) have the third-worst record in the NFL but are riding high after shocking the Steelers 27-17 on Monday night as 14.5-point home dogs. The Texans (4-10 SU, 5-9 ATS) are tied for the fourth-worst record in the NFL and just fell to the Colts 27-20, though they covered as 7.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Houston listed as a 9-point home favorite. Respected money seems to think the line is a bit high, and Bengals backers have dropped this number to 8. Cincinnati has value as a dog with a line move in its favor (60% ATS this season) and a late-season dog of a touchdown or more. Houston holds a rest advantage, and Cincinnati is playing on a short week. Keep an eye on the quarterback spot. The Bengals will likely start Ryan Finley again if Brandon Allen can’t go.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS
These AFC powers are gearing up for playoff pushes but are trending in opposite directions. The Colts (10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS) have won three straight and just took down the Texans 27-20, though they failed to cover as 7.5-point home favorites. Indianapolis owns the sixth AFC seed but could move up to No. 4. Indy could also fall out of the playoffs by losing out if the Dolphins and Ravens win out. The Steelers (11-3 SU, 8-6 ATS) were once undefeated but have lost three straight, most recently falling to the Bengals 27-20 on Monday night as hefty 14.5-point road favorites. Pittsburgh is the third seed but could slip if it continues to lose. The early lookahead line on this game was Steelers -3 at home. However, heavy action has flocked to the Colts, flipping this line to Indy -1.5. The Colts hold a rest advantage as Pittsburgh is coming off a short week. The Steelers have buy-low contrarian value as they are now a home dog the public doesn’t want to touch. The next move is most meaningful. If this line falls toward a pick-’em, that will signal respected Steelers action. If it rises closer to -3, that will indicate further Colts confidence from pros. We could also be looking at a lower-scoring game as the total has been bet down from 46 to 45.
CHICAGO BEARS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
This nonconference game is a massive motivation mismatch. The Bears (7-7 SU, 7-7 ATS) have won two straight and just beat the Vikings 33-27, winning outright as 3-point road dogs. Chicago is still alive for a playoff spot and can sneak in if it wins out and gets some help. On the other hand, the Jaguars (1-13 SU, 6-8 ATS) have lost 13 straight and just got crushed by the Ravens 40-14, failing to cover as 12.5-point home favorites. Jacksonville has long been eliminated from the playoffs but just leapfrogged the Jets for the No. 1 pick in the draft. This line opened with Chicago listed as a 7-point road favorite (some lookahead lines were closer to -4.5). Pros and Joes have hammered the Bears, pushing this line up to -7.5. Jacksonville is a top contrarian pick and has buy-low value as a December home dog of a touchdown or more (5-1 ATS this season) and a dog off a blowout loss of 20 points or more (59% ATS this season). If you’re looking to back the Bears, they are in a prime teaser spot. You could take them from -7.5 to -1.5 and pass through the key numbers of 7 and 3.
CAROLINA PANTHERS at WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
These NFC opponents are in completely different situations. The Panthers (4-10 SU, 8-6 ATS) started 3-2 but have since gone 1-8, most recently falling to the Packers 24-16, though they covered as 9.5-point road dogs. Carolina has been eliminated from playoff contention and owns the fourth pick in the draft. Carolina fired GM Marty Hurney after last week’s loss to Green Bay. Washington (6-8 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) saw its four-game winning streak snapped in last week’s loss to the Seahawks 20-15, though it covered as a 6-point home dog. Washington owns the fourth seed in the NFC and can win the division if it beats Carolina and the Giants lose to the Ravens. This line opened with Washington listed as a 2.5-point home favorite. We haven’t seen much movement yet but could be looking at a quick adjustment depending on whether Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins will start for Washington. Carolina has value as a contrarian dog and a short road dog + 6 or less (64% ATS this season). Teddy Bridgewater is 7-3 ATS this season as a dog and 24-6 ATS (80%) as a dog in his career.
NEW YORK GIANTS at BALTIMORE RAVENS
These nonconference foes are trending in completely different directions. The Giants (5-9 SU, 8-6 ATS) have lost two straight and got crushed by the Browns 20-6 on Monday night, failing to cover as 6.5-point home dogs. New York is still alive in the NFC East but needs to win out and get some help. The Ravens (9-5 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) are getting hot at the right time and have won three straight, including a 40-14 beatdown of the Jaguars last week, covering as 12.5-point home favorites. Baltimore is looking to leapfrog the Dolphins for the final playoff spot. This line opened with Baltimore listed as a 9.5-point home favorite. The public, along with some early respected money, is hammering the red-hot Ravens, driving this line up to -10 or even closer to -11 at some shops. The Giants will have value as contrarian double-digit dogs and road dogs off a loss. However, New York is also on a short week and might once again turn to Colt McCoy if Daniel Jones can’t go. The total is 45. The Giants are one of the best Under teams this season (10-3-1). The Ravens are 7-7.
ATLANTA FALCONS at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
This nonconference game features teams on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Falcons (4-10 SU, 6-8 ATS) have lost three straight and just coughed up another big lead in a 31-27 loss to the Bucs, though they covered as 6-point home dogs. Atlanta has long been eliminated from the playoffs and owns the fifth pick in the draft. The Chiefs (13-1 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) have the best record in the NFL and have won nine straight, most recently beating the Saints 32-29, pushing as 3-point road favorites. The Chiefs are the top seed in the AFC and marching toward another Super Bowl. This line opened with Kansas City listed as an 11.5-point home favorite. The public is once again hammering the Chiefs, yet this line has dipped to 10.5 across the board, signaling some liability on the Falcons plus the points. The Falcons have value as contrarian road dogs, double-digit dogs (58% ATS this season) and dogs with a line move in their favor (60% ATS). If you like the Chiefs, you could tease them down from -10.5 to -4.5, which gets you through two key numbers (10 and 7). Pros have also hit this Under, dropping the total from 54 to 53.5. The forecast calls for 15-mph winds at Arrowhead.
DENVER BRONCOS at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Not much is on the line in this AFC West matchup, with both teams eliminated from the playoffs. The Broncos (5-9 SU, 8-6 ATS) have lost three of their last four and just got waxed by the Bills 48-19, failing to cover as 6-point home dogs. The Chargers (5-9 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) have won two straight and just beat the Raiders 30-27 in overtime, winning outright as 3-point road dogs. This line opened with the Chargers listed as 3-point home favorites. The public is relatively split, but we’ve seen the -3 for the Chargers get juiced up to -120, signaling some liability on the home favorites. Los Angeles has a rest advantage as it last played Thursday while the Broncos played Saturday. If this line gets to 3.5, expect some buyback on Denver getting the hook. The Broncos have value as short road dogs + 6 or less (64% this season), divisional dogs (59% ATS) and buy-low dogs off a blowout loss of 20+ points (59% ATS). A flood of respected money has hit this Under, dropping the total from 50 to 48.5. The Under matches a profitable late-season divisional Under system.
LOS ANGELES RAMS at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
This NFC West heavyweight bout is one of the most consequential games on the Week 16 slate. The Rams (9-5 SU, 8-6 ATS) were leading the division but suffered a huge letdown last week, losing to the Jets 23-20 as 17-point home favorites. Los Angeles occupies the fifth spot in the playoffs but could catch Seattle by winning. The Seahawks (10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS) are getting hot at the right time, winning two straight and four of their last five. Seattle beat Washington 20-15 last week, though failing to cover as a 6-point road favorite. Seattle has clinched a playoff spot but needs to keep winning for seeding purposes. This line opened with Seattle listed as a 2.5-point home favorite. The public is all over Russell Wilson and happy to fade the Rams after their bad loss to the Jets. However, despite this lopsided support, the Seahawks have fallen from -2.5 to -1.5. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the Rams. Los Angeles has value as a dog with a line move in its favor (60% ATS this season), a divisional dog (59% ATS) and a short road dog + 6 or less (64% ATS). The total is 47. Both teams have been profitable to the Under, with the Rams 10-4 and Seahawks 8-6. These teams met in Week 10, and the Rams won 23-16.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES at DALLAS COWBOYS
This NFC East grudge match has huge implications as both teams are still alive and fighting to catch Washington for the division crown. The Eagles (4-9-1 SU, 5-9 ATS) are only 1-5 in their last six and just fell to the Cardinals 33-26, failing to cover as 6-point road dogs. However, Philadelphia has looked much more competitive over the last two weeks after benching Carson Wentz in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts. The Cowboys (5-9 SU, 4-10 ATS) were once left for dead but have since won two straight, most recently beating the 49ers 41-33 and winning outright as 3.5-point home dogs. This line opened at roughly a pick-’em. Some shops even opened Dallas as a short 1-point home favorite. However, we’ve seen a massive wave of Eagles money pour in, flipping this line to Philadelphia -2 or even -2.5. Expect some buyback on Dallas if it reaches the key number of + 3. The Cowboys have value as home dogs with an inflated line. Home divisional dogs are 62% ATS this season. The Cowboys will be one of the top contrarian plays of the week as the betting public is hugely lopsided in favor of Philadelphia. The Eagles beat the Cowboys 23-9 in Week 8.
TENNESSEE TITANS at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Bettors are in for a treat with this “Sunday Night Football” matchup between nonconference elites. The Titans (10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS) have won two straight and four of their last five, including a 46-25 beatdown of the Lions last week, easily covering as 8.5-point home favorites. Tennessee sits as the No. 4 seed in the AFC but needs to keep winning to fend off the Colts. Similarly, the Packers (11-3 SU, 8-6 ATS) have won four straight and just beat the Panthers 24-16, though they failed to cover as 9.5-point home favorites. Green Bay holds the top seed in the NFC but needs to keep winning to hold off the Saints and Seahawks for the first-round bye. This line opened with the Packers listed as 4-point home favorites. Sharp money has sided with the Titans, dropping this line down to 3.5 or even 3 at some shops. Tennessee has value as a prime-time dog (61% ATS this season), a short road dog + 6 or less (64% ATS) and a dog with a line move in its favor (60% ATS). The total is 56. The Titans are one of the best Over teams this season (10-3-1). Green Bay is 7-7. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 20s and 15- to 20-mph winds at Lambeau Field. Prime-time Unders are 59% this season.
BUFFALO BILLS at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
This Monday night showdown features AFC rivals in unfamiliar situations. The Bills (11-3 SU, 9-5 ATS) have won four straight and are 7-1 over their last eight games. Last week Buffalo crushed Denver 48-19, easily covering as a 6-point road favorite. The Bills are the second seed in the AFC and need to keep winning to fend off the Steelers, Titans, Browns and Colts. The Patriots (6-8 SU, 6-8 ATS) have lost two straight, including a 22-12 loss to the Dolphins last week, failing to cover as 1-point road favorites. New England has been eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since Bill Belichick’s first year in Foxborough in 2000. This line opened with the Bills listed as 6.5-point road favorites (the early lookahead was Bills -4.5). The public and some early sharp money have pounced on Buffalo, pushing this line up to -7. The Patriots have buy-low value as home divisional dogs (62% ATS this season), prime-time dogs (61% ATS) and December dogs of a touchdown or more (5-1 ATS this season). New England will also be one of your top contrarian plays of the week as the public is absolutely hammering the Bills. The total is 46. The Bills are one of the best Over teams this season (10-4), while the Pats have been great to the Under (10-4). Prime-time Unders are 59% this season. This also matches a profitable late-season divisional Under system. The Patriots lost to the Bills 24-21 in Week 8.