OK, we finally had a great week! 4-1! Could have been 5-0 if the NY Jets didn't decide to take a major dump on national TV on their own turf. My goodness was that an embarrassment!
For the season we are 33-31-1 for the Big Five Bets based on the Westgate Casino & Sportsbook Supercontest point spreads. For all games, we are 105-87 against the spread. We started strong and we think we'll finish strong!
So without delay, here are the five teams we are rolling with this week.
Before we analyze the games involving these five teams, it should be noted that all of those teams' defenses rank in the top 5 according to the GE model. Given that the weather elements won't be too kind at many NFL stadiums, we feel it is best to go with teams that are adept at winning the war in the trenches. It also should be noted that there are 7 divisional games which we are avoiding. Divisional games at this point of the season are just too difficult to predict given that this is probably the second time these teams are seeing each other and there is a lot at stake with just 4 weeks to go in the regular season.
Here is our analysis.
Denver is an underdog at Tennessee by 1 point but the GE model has them favored by 0.86 points. Not a huge delta but the model still likes Denver to win. A bigger reason why we are rolling with Denver is their experience and phenomenal road record against teams with non-winning records during the John Elway/Von Miller era (starting in 2011). The Broncos are 25-4 on the road against teams with non-winning records. That is amazing! That is how champions perform and of course the Broncos are defending Super Bowl champions and have been a playoff team and championship contender for pretty much every year since 2011. The Titans are a rising team and are well rested after having a bye week. The problem is that they are still green and learning how to win big games. The Titans home record is 3-3 with three of those wins coming against sub-par competition and three of those losses against good teams. In fact, the combined record of the opponents they have beaten at home is 8-28. On the flip side, the opponents who have beaten the Titans in Tennessee have a combined record of 22-15. The Broncos are 8-4 with three of those losses coming against division rivals and one against a very good offense in the Falcons. As long as the Broncos can stop DeMarco Murray with lots of disguises on defense (something the Broncos are very capable of doing), the Broncos should win and that is all we need with a +1 spread.
Arizona is another underdog on the road by 1 point in Miami but the GE model has them favored to win by 3.98 points. Now that is a huge delta and in fact it's the 2nd largest differential of all games this week. This is great value. We also like Arizona to win in Miami given the injuries the Dolphins are dealing with on both the offensive and defensive lines. This should bode well for Arizona running back David Johnson who is on pace for an epic season with 1000 rushing yards and 1000 receiving yards in sight (only two others, Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk, have pulled that off). He will shred the Dolphins defense just how Joe Flacco shredded them last week. The Dolphins will also have a hard time moving the ball with Patrick Peterson on Devante Parker and a strong defensive front for Arizona against a battered offensive line for Miami. In fact, Football Outsiders has the Arizona run defense ranked at #4 and they are even better in the 2nd level and open field which is where Jay Ajayi tends to thrive. With that strength of Miami neutralized, the Cardinals should be able to end their road woes with a victory in South Beach.
Minnesota is favored to win in Jacksonville by 3 points but the GE model has them winning by 8.10 points, good for the largest delta of the week. We all know the Vikings have struggled since starting the season 5-0. However, the Jaguars are just plain awful. They can't score more than 20 points and as long as the Vikings can get 20 points against a mediocre Jaguars defense, we should get the cover. Keep in mind that the Vikings allow the 4th fewest points this season at 209 points or 17.42 points per game and in fact helped their average by limiting one of the top offenses (Dallas Cowboys) last week to 17 points. The Jaguars score the 5th fewest points in the league with just 224 points or 18.67 points per game. With the Jaguars season lost again and the Vikings vying for a playoff spot, we think the Vikings play a game similar to what Denver did in Jacksonville last week. It also helps that the Vikings have three extra days of rest and that the Jaguars have a plethora of injuries to the offense. Vikings could easily win by double digits in this one.
We move onto the afternoon games and we will go with Seattle. The Seahawks are favored to beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field by 2.5 points and the GE model backs that up with an expected point differential of 3.13 in favor of Seattle. Not a huge delta but consider the history between these teams as well as how Green Bay has fared against strong competition this year. First of all, Russell Wilson is 3-1 against the Packers and knows how to win big games, regardless of location or weather (which could be nasty this Sunday). Wilson is also 17-3 in regular season games after Thanksgiving and 8-2 on the road in such games. Of course Aaron Rodgers can win big games too but his defense won't do him any favors. This is the second and biggest reason we don't like Green Bay. The Seattle offensive line has had issues and the Packers have done a fine job of stopping the run but 5 players on the Packers defensive front are dealing with injuries. In fact, 4 linebackers in Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 defense may not play in this game or will be limited. Thomas Rawls is a solid back and after having a great game on Sunday Night against Carolina, he could keep that going. The weather at Lambeau will be conducive for running the ball and we all know the Packers can't run it well but Russell Wilson and Thomas Rawls can. The Seahawks back field also has experience in inclement weather with Wilson playing college ball in Wisconsin and Rawls in Central Michigan. The Seahawks defense is still very strong even without Earl Thomas and should be able to mitigate the Packers passing game. This game will probably be close but the Seahawks can dictate the tempo of this game. Lastly, we like Seattle since the Packers simply don't do well against good football teams this year. The Packers are 6-6 but six of those victories came against teams with a combined record of 32-40. The Packers allowed just 102 points to those teams which is very good. On the flip side, the packers six losses came against teams with a combined record of 42-29-1 and they allowed nearly double the points (200 points or 33.33 points per game to be exact). That is awful. The Seahawks offense is very balanced with Pro Bowl type players at QB, RB, WR, and TE. The Packers nice little run of 2 straight wins will end this Sunday.
We have been hit or miss with Monday Night Football games but we can't resist the Ravens. They are an underdog on the road by 7 points to New England but the GE model has them losing by 3.77 points. Pretty good value and if there is a team that can beat New England on its turf, it's the Ravens. The Ravens have a very strong defense and the offense came to life last week. We expect New England to win this game but not by 7. With no Rob Gronkowski, the Ravens should be able to limit the Patriots scoring opportunities. In fact, the Patriots have averaged 32 points per game this season with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski in the lineup but just 22.17 points per game when one or both are missing. The Ravens happen to allow the 2nd fewest points in the league (tied with New England coincidentally). We all know that Bill Belichick is the master at taking away the best offensive weapon on the opposing team and that should not be too hard given the Ravens offense for most of this season has been average. That still shouldn't matter when the Ravens love to play a "grind it out" type of game with a solid field goal kicker like Justin Tucker who is perfect for the year with PATs and FGs. He also happens to be 8 for 8 with field goals of 50 yards or more. Again, this game should be close and we will take the 7 points the sportbooks are giving us with the Ravens.
OK, there you have it! Consider parlaying the morning teams like Denver, Arizona, and Minnesota and then press your winnings on Seattle and the following day on Baltimore. If we go 5-0, you owe me a steak dinner! LOL!
Here are the other games we like for this week with some comments.
Oakland +3 (No cover but I think we got screwed here.)
Buffalo +1.5 (Considered them in the Big Five Bets.)
Philadelphia +1 (Stay away from these divisional games!)
San Diego +1.5 (Also considered them in the Big Five Bets.)
Cincinnati -5.5 (Cleveland is awful and may get worked in this one.)
Chicago +7.5 (The GE model is very close to this spread but the Bears can stay in this game within a TD.)
Houston +6 (This game should be close and very entertaining.)
New York Jets +2.5 (49ers can win this one with the Jets losing a day for MNF and travel but we would rather take a dog in a matchup between bottom feeders.)
New Orleans +2.5 (The Saints can keep this game close and should be very entertaining.)
Atlanta -6 (The Falcons are strong on the road with wins in Oakland and Denver and nearly winning in Seattle but the Rams offense may come to life in this one.)
Dallas -3 (The Giants are pretenders and will continue to get exposed by the NFL elite.)
Good luck with all of your plays this week!