Last week's 4-3 performance was the most frustrating winning betting week I've had this year. Here's the breakdown of the games we lost:
Vikings -4.0 vs. Giants: The Vikings were up eight on the Giants with three minutes, only to give up a touchdown before kicking a game-winning field goal to win 27-24.
Falcons +6.5 at Ravens: The Falcons were losing the whole game but had a chance to score a touchdown to cut the deficit to a field goal in the closing minutes. They failed to convert in the red zone and instead kicked a field goal of their own to make the score 17-9, which is how the game ended. I didn't get to watch this game but I read that there were several questionable calls made against Atlanta, including a holding call that brought back a Cordarrelle Patterson TD run.
Packers at Dolphins Over 50.0: These teams combined for 33 points in the first half and 40 points through three quarters. Unfortunately, Tua Tagovailoa got concussed at the end of the first half and threw an interception on three straight drives in the fourth quarter. That, combined with a Packers offense that stalled consistently in the second half, led to a final score of only 26-20. (Meaning Miami went totally scoreless in the second half.)
As you can see, what ended as 4-3 could have very easily been our first 7-0 week of the season. I was very right about the four games I got correct. The Texans beat the Titans outright, Philadelphia and Dallas combined for 74 points, and the Bucs-Cardinals and Colts-Chargers games both never threatened the over.
Speaking of the Bucs, we've now successfully hit all five of the five Locks of the Week featuring Tampa this season. I wanted to include them again this week, but I also don't want to risk tainting that stat this time around.
Our season record is now 61-43 and the Lock of the Week is 11-5. We have two more weeks of the regular season to make a push toward an even better win percentage, and I have a great feeling about the seven picks I'm giving out for Week 17.
Let's get to it.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Over 45.0
Denver has become fully derailed at this point. They fired their head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, and while players have tweeted their support for Russell Wilson, I'm not sure how many of them actually believe it. The Chiefs are still fighting for the top spot in the AFC for a first round bye in the playoffs, so I don't see Kansas City letting up at all against their division rivals. This Broncos team just allowed 51 points to Baker Mayfield and the Rams last week on Christmas Day and have surely had their morale and confidence drained after all that has transpired this week. 13.5 is too many points for me to feel confident betting the Chiefs to cover, but they might mess around and get over the point total by themselves. We'll probably just need 10-to-14 points from Denver in the worst case for the game to easily go over.
Miami Dolphins +2.5 at New England Patriots
I don't see there being a big drop-off at all with Teddy Bridgewater replacing Tua for Miami. This isn't a knock against Tua at all, but I think the Dolphins probably would have beaten the Packers last week if he hadn't (admirably) tried to battle through the concussion he suffered in the second quarter of that contest. The Dolphins are the better team from top to bottom and the Tyreek Hill-Jaylen Waddle combo can make any QB look good. I don't imagine the Dolphins will need to score all that many points to beat the Pats, who rely on their run game. I know they've been on a bit of a skid, but I like Teddy to come in and get a win to secure a playoff spot for Miami against New England.
Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants Under 39.0
This is a very low point total, but the Colts will be lucky to touch double digits with Nick Foles starting and Jonathan Taylor out. Indy's defense actually played pretty well for most of their game agains the Chargers last Monday night, but Foles just doesn't have what it takes anymore to play quarterback at a high level. And neither do either of the two other QBs on the active roster. Five of New York's seven home games this season have stayed under the point total, and Indianapolis have scored a measly six points in last six quarters. The Giants won't need to score much to win this one and can sort of milk the clock with Saquon Barkley to coast to a playoff berth with a 20-6 victory at home.
San Francisco 49ers -9.5 at Las Vegas Raiders
As bad as you think Denver's locker room is right now, Las Vegas might be the one organization that's worse. Not only has Josh McDaniels benched Derek Carr for their final two games, he won't even be with the team for the remainder of the season. I get the business move of preventing a potential injury, but it's just very odd what's going on with Carr and the Raiders front office. As a result, Jarrett Stidham will make his first start as a Raider against a mighty 49ers defense which ranks first in the league in both yards and points allowed per game. It feels like the whole team has given up in Vegas, and they really have nothing left to fight for anymore this season. San Francisco is 12-3 against the spread this year, including 6-1 ATS on the road, and have won seven straight games - most of which haven't been particularly close. This one could get ugly.
New York Jets -1.5 at Seattle Seahawks
Rejoice Jets fans, Mike White is back! Mike White has somehow captured the hearts of New York, and while he's only 1-2 as a starter this season, his losses came in close games against two of the league's best teams in Buffalo and Minnesota. The Jets are amazingly still right in the playoff mix and can actually control their own destiny if the Dolphins beat the Patriots in the 1:00 EST slot. New York has dropped four straight, but the benching of Zach Wilson in favor of White should provide a spark after poor QB play for the previous few games. Seattle is a bottom tier defense who ranks 29th in terms of both yardage and scoring. I like the Jets to win by about a touchdown.
Minnesota Vikings +3.0 at Green Bay Packers
I gotta be honest, I'm pulling for the Packers to win out and potentially clinch a playoff berth (should Washington lose one of their last two). I just think the NFL postseason is better when the best quarterbacks are playing, and Aaron Rodgers is still one of the league's best. Unfortunately, I don't see Green Bay winning this week. Partially due to Minnesota's propensity to win close games this year. The Vikings are an extremely impressive 11-0 in one score games this season. That shows that they aren't just winning games by getting lucky - they're a legitimately good team, even if most people don't want to admit it. I'd say there's almost no chance the Packers run away with this one, so they'll have to defy the odds and season trends to hold off Minnesota in Lambeau. I won't put it past Rodgers to accomplish that, but the Vikings as 3-point underdogs against a Packers team that has struggled for most of the season is a bet that's too good to pass up.
Lock of the Week: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Under 41.5
Neither team here can score. Arizona has totaled more than 16 points just once in their last five matchups, while Atlanta has scored 18 points or fewer in their last four. The Cardinals are down to their 4th string quarterback, David Blough, as injuries have clipped Kyler Murray, Colt McCoy, and Trace McSorley over the last three weeks. This will be Blough's first start of the season, and if you thought Arizona's offense was bad without Kyler, just wait until you see them this week. Desmond Ridder has been very underwhelming in his first few starts in the NFL and the Falcons can't get out of their own way offensively with dumb mistakes and penalties. Furthermore, this will be J.J. Watt's next to last game in the NFL so he'll be eager to cause problems on defense for the Cardinals. This feels like a 16-13 kind of game.
Written by Nick Swatson