Written By Billy Attridge
It’s shocking to believe Week 16 of the NFL season is actually here, every year in this league seems to fly by. With only a couple spots left for grabs (AFC Wild Card #6, NFC Wild Card #5/#6), reading and information starts becoming more important than your model and statistical analysis. This week, we focus on an AFC West game professional bettors have taken a strong stance on. We discuss the potential loss of two offensive guards for New Orleans and its impact against Tennessee? Finally, a game where the “must win” tag has caused inflation on Pittsburgh as the Jets looked to play playoff spoiler. Before investing this weekend, find out why numbers have moved and could continue to do so. It’s bittersweet, but we trek to Vegas for Week 17 look ahead lines for the final time this season.
Oakland @ LA Chargers -6.5 (-115)
If you’ve spent some time learning to read the market, then you’ll notice we have some very telling movement in the spread for this AFC West matchup. On the look-ahead line, the Chargers were installed 6.5-point favorites, and even opened at that price after Sundays games. We saw this spread drop Monday, down to as low as -5 at FoxBet.com, but on Tuesday we saw professional money dig in on Los Angeles, laying anything at -6 or better. It’s important to note as we look at these games from an analytical perspective, the value on full season numbers really dwindles, as teams are in very different places from where they were earlier in the season. Things get even murkier when you compare teams whose playoff hopes are dashed, or essentially over, even if there is a small mathematical chance they make it. The Raiders blew a golden opportunity last week against Jacksonville in their final Coliseum game, and if you’re looking through the injury reports (hint: Josh Jacobs), Oakland seems to have called it quits. The Chargers, despite fumbling the football 37 times last week, actually were a net +0.2 yards per play and out-gained Minnesota. With rumors circulating about the disconnect between Derek Carr and Jon Gruden, and the talent advantage Los Angeles has on both sides of the ball, the move on the Chargers at -5/-5.5/-6 was very real.
New Orleans @ Tennessee +3:
Once again we’ve seen a small shift in perception with two teams entering Week 16, with the Saints riding high off a record breaking Monday Night, while the Titans finally stumbled at home against the Texans. On the look-ahead line last week Tennessee was -1.5, and we have seen a MAJOR swing towards the road side, as the Saints moved all the way out to -3. New Orleans has wrapped up their division, and are now playing for a bye week, and potentially home field advantage if things break right. Tennessee is fighting for their playoff lives, with the division looking less likely and a Wild Card spot battle with Pittsburgh underway. At +3, the buy on Tennessee makes a ton of sense. Tennessee has the weapons to attack this Saints secondary, even with the addition of Janoris Jenkins, which, for all intensive purposes, is a nice get for New Orleans. On the other side of the ball, this will be Drew Brees second game outdoors in the last calendar year, and the pressure will be on as Tennessee has done a nice job stuffing ground games and forcing teams to attack their secondary, which is a bit overrated. One massive injury that few are talking about is Saints right guard Larry Warford; with Andrus Peat the left guard still questionable recovering from a broken arm, New Orleans could be down two offensive lineman. Tennessee+3 was a buy for professionals.
Pittsburgh @ NY Jets +3.5 (-115):
After their Sunday night loss, Pittsburgh hits the road in a must-win game against the Jets, who have had extra prep time following their Thursday game in Baltimore. When breaking down this matchup, we quickly see the advantage New York will have on defense. The Jets should be able to make Pittsburgh one dimensional, and force Duck Hodges to beat them through the air, where they will benefit from the return of Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams. The Jets are #1 in defensive rush success rate, and despite all the injuries on the back end of the defense, have still graded out 16th in defensive pass success rate. On the other side of the ball, one could (and should) argue New York has a more versatile offense, and may look to Le’Veon Bell quite a bit in his “revenge” game against his former team. This line is priced with the situation baked into it (Pittsburgh must win, Jets nothing to play for), and therefore has skewed what the true # should be if the Jets are motivated. With leaders on both sides of the ball (Bell and Adams) talking about coming out with their “hair on fire” for this game, its safe to assume we should get a reasonable effort from New York. We’ve seen what this team is capable of doing at home when locked in (beat Dallas and crushed Oakland).
NFL Week 17 Look Ahead Lines:
Houston -1 vs. Tennessee
Cleveland -3 @ Cincinnati
Minnesota -7 vs. Chicago
Jacksonville -1.5 vs. Indianapolis
Tampa Bay -2 vs. Atlanta
Dallas -7.5 vs. Washington
New Orleans -11 @ Carolina
Philadelphia -5 @ New York Giants
Baltimore -3 vs. Pittsburgh
Buffalo -4.5 vs. New York Jets
New England -14.5 vs. Miami
Green Bay -10 @ Detroit
Kansas City -7 vs. LA Chargers
LA Rams -7 vs. Arizona
Seattle PICK’em vs. San Francisco
Denver -4.5 vs. Oakland