Written By Billy Attridge
With only three weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s go-time for teams still in the playoff race, but this is the NFL, and bettors should be wary about “must-win” spots. We check in on one of those matchups in the NFC East, as Philadelphia travels to Washington as the Eagles fight for the division crown. Will offenses rule the day in the AFC South showdown between Tennessee and Houston? There’s been movement in both directions on the Minnesota and Los Angeles total, but what is the true position by professional bettors? Before investing this weekend, find out why numbers have moved and where games are heading. As always, we reveal Vegas look ahead lines for Week 16.
Philadelphia @ Washington +5 (-110):
The Birds came from behind on Monday Night Football to survive an overtime scare against the Eli-led New York Giants, but it wasn’t without sacrifice. Alshon Jeffrey (out for year) and Lane Johnson (week to week) left the game with injuries and are likely out on Sunday against Washington. With the status for WR Agholor, DE Barnett, and RB Jordan Howard uncertain, Philadelphia is severely limited on the offensive side of the ball. Prior to their game Monday night, Philly was favored by 6 points, but when the game re-opened Tuesday at FoxBox.com, there was a 1.5-point adjustment down to 4.5 before ultimately settling in the 5 range. Expectation for Philadelphia before the season was sky-high, as they closed at 10.5 Wins on their season-long total, but with the rash of injuries on both sides of the ball throughout the year, this has been an extremely disappointing season. Yet, the current number seems to have the aforementioned “expectation” built in. Remove the away teams name, their pre-season expectation, and look purely at the current roster (as well as their season long metrics), there is no way Philly should be laying more than a field goal in this spot. While Washington still operates its offense like it were 1993, Dwayne Haskins has shown slight improvement the past 3 weeks, and it’s tough to envision the Eagles having much success on offense.
Houston @ Tennessee Over 50 (-110):
Huge movement on this total, as FoxBox.com opened 47.5 early in the week and now it sits at 50 and trending higher. Digging into this game, the move towards the over makes complete sense. While division games late in the season with playoff implications tend to be played a little tighter, this applies more towards teams playing each other for the second time. This is the first meeting between Houston and Tennessee this season, so we can remove that element from the equation. Let’s start by looking at both secondaries; Houston ranks 19th in defensive pass success rate, but were shredded last week and continue to have major issues on the back end. Against Denver, they continually rotated different sets of cornerbacks throughout the game, and couldn’t find success anywhere. Starting CB Bradley Roby and Jonathan Joseph were on the bench in the second quarter, and their post-game comments seemed quite frustrated with the rotational system utilized by Bill O’Brien. With Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill on absolute fire, this is not the time to be experimenting with your secondary. On the other sideline, Tennessee ranks 23rd in defensive pass success rate, and that comes against the 5th easiest schedule of passing offenses faced. That should be worrisome as Deshaun Watson and the 5th best passing team in success rate comes to town. The move on the over was extremely real, let’s see if it hits the key number of 51.
Minnesota @ LA Chargers Over 45 (-110):
The total opened 46 at FoxBox.com, dropped to as low as 44 offshore early in the week, and recently found support at that key number towards the OVER. This total particularly is a perfect example of why having your own numbers is critical to success if you’re investing in the sports betting market. If you followed the betting screen blindly, early indication would leave you to believe Under 46 was a very real position. While there was professional money behind it, we have to examine the intent of the early week position. At 44, a key number, we saw an immediate buy to the over, and once Adam Theilen was listed as “probable” this started to leak out even more. Both offenses rank Top 10 in overall offensive success rate, and are now benefiting from having their full arsenal of weapons. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler provide arguably the best 1-2 punch combination in football, and they should find success against a Vikings defense that is 30th in defensive rush success rate and 27th in defensive pass success rate. Despite the talent and Zimmer defensive brand, Minnesota continues to get shredded against good offenses. On the other side, the Vikings should have success against the Chargers 23rd ranked rush defense, and while the Chargers have gotten healthier in the secondary, Minnesota has a bevvy of playmakers to adjust and find openings. Expect Kirk Cousins solid play to continue, and this total should also continue to climb.
NFL Week 16 Look-Ahead Lines:
San Francisco -6.5 vs. Los Angeles Rams
New England -6.5 vs. Buffalo
Tampa Bay -1 vs. Houston
Denver -6.5 vs. Detroit
Los Angeles Chargers -6.5 vs. Oakland
Atlanta -6.5 vs. Jacksonville
Tennessee -1.5 vs. New Orleans
Washington -3 vs. New York Giants
Pittsburgh -3 @ New York Jets
Miami -3 vs. Cincinnati
Indianapolis -6.5 vs. Carolina
Baltimore -7 @ Cleveland
Philadelphia PICK’em vs. Dallas
Seattle -9.5 vs. Arizona
Kansas City -4 @ Chicago
Minnesota -4.5 @ Green Bay