EPA is Expected Points Added, ATS is Against The Spread, YPPL is yards per play, YPPP is yards per pass play.

 

2016-19 NFL Results

2016-19 NFL Best Bets are 222-166-2 (57.2%)  – 132-78-2 on Sides, 75-70 on totals, 2-3 1st-half totals, 5-9 team totals, 7-5 teasers, 1-1 season win totals.

 

2016-19 NFL Strong Opinions are 157-116-7 (57.5%) – 66-65-6 sides, 62-43-1 totals, 1-1 1st-half sides, 4-0 1st-half totals, 3-1 Team Totals, 2-1 teasers, 19-5 Post-season prop bets.

Tennessee Titans @
Houston Texans

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 101, Odds: Houston Texans +5.5, Total: 44.5

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Note: The Under was released as a 1-Star Best Bet at Under 47 points on Monday but is now out of range.

Lean – Tennessee (-5.5) vs HOUSTON

This line was Titans -3 with a total of 50.5 when these two teams met in week 15 implying the market rated Houston and Tennessee about the same. Bill O’Brien said he is playing his starters but I expect he will change his tune come game time. The Texans would be locked into the 4-seed if the Chiefs win in the early afternoon slate (~75% chance) and the market is clearly indicating we are not expecting a full effort from Houston. Meanwhile, the Titans need to win to make the playoffs.

The Texans offense will be significantly worse than they were when these teams met two weeks ago, more than enough to make up for the 3.5-point drop in the total. Will Fuller will miss this game and Houston’s offense is averaging just 5.9 yards per pass play in the games he’s been injured this season. Fuller’s absence will force Kenny Stills to the outside where he’s gained only 1.28 yards per route run and will give Tennessee’s defense extra opportunity to contain DeAndre Hopkins if he is on the field. The Titans could also benefit from the possible return of Adoree’ Jackson, who was surrendering only 0.85 yards per cover snap (15th) before missing the last 3 games. There is no reason for the Texans to play Deshaun Watson if Kansas City takes care of business but he will still get all the first team reps in practice just in case the Chiefs lose making it even more difficult for backup AJ McCarron once he’s called upon. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil ranks 5th in pass blocking efficiency but he was unable to finish last week’s game and he will probably get some rest as well. Also, starting right tackle Tytus Howard remains out.

Houston’s offense went from gaining 5.7 yards per play (11th) to 4.9 yards per play (29th) when Watson missed the second half of 2017. Our metrics have Watson valued at 7 points, Tunsil worth 1 point, and Hopkins worth 1 point. Houston may also rest some defensive starters but none of their remaining players are worth more than a half point. Our model predicts just 43.6 points after all the adjustments are made and we jumped on the under as a 1-Star Best Bet when this total was 47 points on Monday. The market quickly caught on and the total has plunged towards where it should be. I’ll lean with Tennessee based on a 90-35-1 ATS week 16 angle and teams headed for the playoffs are historically terrible ATS as underdogs in week 17.

Cleveland Browns @
Cincinnati Bengals

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 103, Odds: Cincinnati Bengals +2.5, Total: 43

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CINCINNATI (+2.5/+3) over Cleveland

It has been a disappointing season for Cleveland’s offense, particularly Odell Beckham, but the wide receiver has a chance to finish strong in week 17 as Bengals’ top outside cornerback William Jackson is potentially out with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Jarvis Landry is gaining 2.02 yards per route run in the slot (4th) but he will be locked up by nickelback Darqueze Dennard, who is surrendering only 0.64 yards per slot cover snap since week 7 when he made his season debut (4th). Browns running backs are averaging 1.4 more targets per game since Kareem Hunt’s suspension was lifted in week 10 and Cincinnati’s defense is allowing 7.6 yards per target to opposing running backs (30th). Geno Atkins ranks 9th in pass rushing efficiency among interior defenders but he will be neutralized by left guard Joel Bitonio, who is conceding less than 1 pressure per game.

The Bengals rank 28th in pass blocking efficiency but the Browns have not been able to get to the quarterback recently without edge rushers Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon. Cleveland’s defense is generating 2.5 less pressures per game as a result of Garrett’s suspension and Vernon’s knee injury. John Ross is gaining 1.94 yards per route run (23rd) but only played in 7 games while Tyler Boyd is averaging 1.83 yards per slot route run (7th). Andy Dalton has solid wide receivers but the Browns have a strong young cornerback group led by Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams.

In general, I think both of these offenses are underrated but nasty weather is expected in Cincinnati on Sunday, which could be worth more than 5 points according to our metrics. Both of these defenses are in the bottom 5 versus the run so we should see some success on the ground from Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon. Our model makes Cleveland a 1.3-point favorite, with a predicted total of 45.8, and Cincinnati applies to a 58-22-3 ATS last home game underdog situation. I’ll lean slightly with the Bengals but would pass the total since there are some under trends that apply.

Chicago Bears @
Minnesota Vikings

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 105, Odds: Minnesota Vikings +3, Total: 36

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Chicago (-3) over MINNESOTA

The Vikings are locked into the 6-seed and therefore have no incentive to play their starters. I’ll lean with Chicago based on a 90-35-1 ATS week 17 situation and the fact that teams headed to the playoffs are historically bad bets as underdogs in week 17 (the market has under-adjusted for teams sitting starters).

Indianapolis Colts @
Jacksonville Jaguars

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 107, Odds: Jacksonville Jaguars +5, Total: 42

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Note: The first half Under 21 Best Bet is now out of range but I still lean Under for the first half and/or the game.

Best Bet – *First Half Under (21) – Indianapolis (-5) vs JACKSONVILLE

Jacoby Brissett has averaged just 5.6 yards per pass play in the month of December without TE Eric Ebron. Jack Doyle is averaging 6.5 targets per game in the 4 weeks without Ebron compared to less than 4 targets per game when his fellow tight end was healthy. However, Doyle should not be the focal point of an offense as he is gaining just 1.26 yards per route run (26th). Calais Campbell and Josh Allen both rank inside the top 25 edge defenders in pass rushing efficiency and the pair will take advantage of the weaker side of the Indianapolis offensive line. Right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith have combined to surrender 80 pressures this season. Meanwhile, Quenton Nelson has not conceded a sack all year, but it looks like the All-Pro left guard could miss this game with a concussion and our metrics have him valued at 0.7 points. The Colts have the 2nd-best ground game in the NFL by our numbers and I expect Frank Reich’s offense to pound the rock against a Jaguars rush defense ranked 30th.

Leonard Fournette has 341 touches, second only to Christian McCaffrey, but the running back is one of the most overrated players in the league and has not been effective with the huge workload. Fournette is gaining only 1.08 yards per route run (33rd) and Jacksonville’s rush offense ranks 30th in efficiency. Gardner Minshew is also not looking like much of a threat after averaging less than 5 yards per pass play against a terrible Falcons secondary last week. Indianapolis nickelback Kenny Moore is in jeopardy of missing his fourth-straight game, but Dede Westbrook has been one of the worst slot receivers in the NFL averaging just 1.05 yards per route run and he likely won’t be able to exploit the Colts on the inside. Interior defender Denico Autry is recovering from a concussion, but edge rusher Justin Houston has 57 pressures (17th) and he has a favorable matchup across from left tackle Cam Robinson, who ranks 8th-worst in pass blocking efficiency.

The Indianapolis offense comes into this game overrated after scoring 38 points last week on only 5.2 yards per play. The Colts benefited from two punt return touchdowns and another punt return putting the offense in field goal range. Returns are mostly the result of luck and I expect Nyheim Hines to have a much quieter game. Our model makes Indianapolis a 3.1-point favorite with a predicted total of 38.2 points after adjusting for all of Jacksonville’s defensive injuries. Our numbers indicate playing the Under 21 (-105) in the first half is more valuable than full game Under 43 (-115). The first-half Under is a 1-Star Best Bet at 21 points or more.

Atlanta Falcons @
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 109, Odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers PK, Total: 47.5

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TAMPA BAY (-1.5) vs Atlanta

Jameis Winston averaged 6.5 yards per pass play in his first game without Mike Evans and Chris Godwin but ultimately the Buccaneers weren’t able to overcome his 4 interceptions in their 3 point loss to Houston. Winston was able to find Breshad Perriman last week for 102 receiving yards but I do not think a receiver of his caliber will continue producing at a high level even with cornerback Desmond Trufant out for the Falcons. Evans and Godwin both ranked top 10 in yards per route run and our numbers have the cluster injury worth nearly 3 points to Tampa Bay’s offense.

The Buccaneers have surrendered only 5.2 yards per pass play in 4 games starting Jamel Dean across from his college teammate Carlton Davis at cornerback. Julio Jones has 300 receiving yards the last two weeks without Calvin Ridley in the lineup but Tampa Bay’s cornerback duo will present a difficult challenge to the wide receiver. Interior defender Vita Vea has a 14% pass rush win rate (8th) and should exploit backup right guard Wes Schweitzer. Matt Ryan will be forced into underneath routes to tight end Austin Hooper, who is gaining 1.73 yards per route run (12th).

I think the Buccaneers should bring Jameis Winston back next season as he clearly has elite quarterback potential if he can get the interception rate anywhere near league-average. Atlanta needs a change at head coach as they haven’t had a top 10 defense by our metrics since Dan Quinn arrived and Kyle Shanahan’s offense was the reason they made the Super Bowl three years ago. Our model makes Tampa Bay a 1.5-point favorite with a predicted total of 46.7 points. Pass.

Washington Redskins @
Dallas Cowboys

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 111, Odds: Dallas Cowboys -12, Total: 46

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Note: Dallas was a released to subscribers as a Best Bet when the line was -11 but I still like the Cowboys even with Dak Prescott’s shoulder injury.

Best Bet – *DALLAS (-11) over Washington

This line is too low because the narrative is that the Cowboys quit on Jason Garrett and the public seems to believe Case Keenum is a major upgrade over Dwayne Haskins. However, the market does not seem to be accounting for all of the crucial Redskins injuries. Washington’s secondary will play without all five opening day starters plus four other backups will be out. If safety Troy Apke (questionable) is unable to suit up, none of the Redskins starters in the secondary will have played more than 100 snaps this season. Furthermore, Washington won’t have their best edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan again, which leaves interior defender Matt Ioannidis as the only pass rushing threat in a difficult matchup. Ioannidis has a 14% pass rush win rate (9th) but he will be neutralized by right guard Zack Martin, who has yet to concede a sack and is on track for another All-Pro season. Dallas won’t have left tackle Tyron Smith or left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, but none of the Redskins pass rushers on that side will be able to take advantage.

Washington’s offense will also be missing some important players. Right guard Brandon Scherff (out) ranks 6th in pass blocking efficiency and backup Wes Martin has no chance of staying in front of interior defender Michael Bennett, who ranks 7th in pass rushing efficiency. Terry McLaurin has been the Redskins only receiving threat with tight ends Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed out most of the year, but the rookie wide receiver is out on Sunday. McLaurin gained 2.05 yards per route run (12th) while remaining wide receivers Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims rank 73rd and 75th respectively in yards per route run.

The Cowboys offense is underrated after facing four-straight defenses ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed per play and then facing the Eagles last week with Dak Prescott’s shoulder injury. Dallas is still leading the league with 6.5 yards per play and the offense will move the ball against Washington’s defensive backups even though I don’t think Prescott is fully healthy. The Cowboys ground game ranks 4th and the Redskins have the 25th-rated rush defense, so Prescott won’t need to throw as often for the Cowboys to move the ball. The loss of Scherff and McLaurin more than offsets any potential upgrade Keenum provides over Haskins and I don’t see how Washington’s offense can reach 20 points in this game. I’m making a 3.5-point adjustment for Prescott’s shoulder and the left side of the offensive line injuries, but our model still favors Dallas by 14.3 with a predicted total of 47.0 points. Dallas is a 1-Star Best Bet at -12.5 points or less.

New Orleans Saints @
Carolina Panthers

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 113, Odds: Carolina Panthers +13, Total: 45

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Lean – CAROLINA (+13.5/+13) over New Orleans

Will Grier showed us why he wasn’t able to beat Kyle Allen for the starting job, as he averaged just 3.8 yards per pass play against an awful Colts secondary last week. Christian McCaffrey needs 67 receiving yards to become the third player ever to record 1000 rushing yards and 1000 receiving yards in the same season, but it won’t be easy in the matchup. The Saints are one of four teams allowing less than 5 yards per target to opposing running backs and linebacker Demario Davis is surrendering only 0.76 yards per cover snap (4th). Cameron Jordan has 14.5 sacks (3rd) but the edge rusher will be neutralized by right tackle Taylor Moton, who ranks 9th in pass blocking efficiency. New Orleans lost their other edge rushing threat Marcus Davenport (foot surgery), who ranks 13th in pass rushing efficiency, so the Saints aren’t likely to apply as much pressure on Grier as they normally would.

Gerald McCoy ranks 8th in pass rushing efficiency among interior defenders for the Panthers and should wreak havoc up the middle against a Saints interior line that could be without both starting guards again. I expect New Orleans to have a conservative game-plan protecting Drew Brees since they are a huge favorite. Alvin Kamara will exploit Carolina’s 31st-rated rush defense all afternoon. Michael Thomas just set the NFL record for most receptions in a season and he has a favorable matchup across from cornerback Donte Jackson, who is conceding 1.62 yards per cover snap (4th-worst).

The Saints need a win plus a 49ers or Packers loss to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. Our model makes New Orleans a 10.7-point favorite with a predicted total of 49.3 and I’ll lean with the Panthers as I think the Saints will be playing not to lose rather than playing to win big.

Philadelphia Eagles @
New York Giants

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 115, Odds: New York Giants +4, Total: 45

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Lean – NY GIANTS (+4) over Philadelphia

The Eagles will be NFC East Champions with a win in this game but it certainly isn’t a guarantee with all of their injuries. Tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson are questionable while cornerback Ronald Darby joins DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery on the injured reserve list. Philadelphia’s receiving core without Ertz, Jackson, and Jeffrey is a cluster injury worth about 3 points according to our metrics as it will be challenging for Carson Wentz to move the ball through the air with second tight end Dallas Goedert as the top option. Edge defender Markus Golden ranks 18th in pass rushing efficiency and recorded 11 pressures against the Eagles the game Lane Johnson was injured 3 weeks ago. Left guard Isaac Seumalo’s 41 pressures conceded are a league-high and he will not be able to contain interior defender Leonard Williams, who is ranked 14th in pass rushing efficiency.

Daniel Jones is coming off the best game of his career with 5 touchdowns and more than 8 yards per pass play last week against the Redskins. Fletcher Cox is one of the 9 interior defenders with at least 50 pressures this season but the Pro Bowler will be neutralized by solid right guard Kevin Zeitler, who ranks 12th in pass blocking efficiency and limited interior defender Matt Ioannidis to 2 pressures in week 16. I expect Jones to attack the Eagles poor secondary with time in the pocket like he did against Washington’s defense last week.

Philadelphia’s injuries could finally catch up to them and I think there’s a reasonable chance they lose this game outright if Ertz and Johnson are unable to suit up. Our model favors the Eagles by 4.4 points with a predicted total of 43.1 and the match-ups side with the Giants, particularly in the trenches. The situation also favors the Giants, as the Eagles apply to a 96-172-5 ATS week 17 situation.

Pittsburgh Steelers @
Baltimore Ravens

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 117, Odds: Baltimore Ravens +2, Total: 36.5

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Pittsburgh (-2) vs BALTIMORE

The Steelers need a win and a Titans loss to get into the playoffs. The Ravens have already clinched home field advantage in the AFC and will rest their starters. I have no opinion on this game.

New York Jets @
Buffalo Bills

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 119, Odds: Buffalo Bills PK, Total: 37

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Lean – NY Jets (pick) over BUFFALO

The Bills are locked into the 5-seed in the AFC and have no incentive to play their starters. The Jets apply to a 90-35-1 ATS week 17 situation and the market tends to under-adjust for teams sitting their starters.

Miami Dolphins @
New England Patriots

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 121, Odds: New England Patriots -16.5, Total: 44.5

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NEW ENGLAND (-16.5) vs Miami

Bill Belichick prefers more conservative play calling late in the year to reduce the total amount of plays for less chance of injury. The Patriots have run the ball on 42% of snaps in the first 15 weeks of the season during the Bill Belchick era, which is right around league-average. However, New England’s 49% run play rate in week 16 and 17 is the highest in the NFL since 2000. I expect the Patriots to focus on the ground game and protect Tom Brady, especially with right tackle Marcus Cannon banged-up. Backup tackle Marshall Newhouse ranks 10th-worst in pass blocking efficiency. Miami’s rush defense ranks 9th but they likely won’t play as well this week. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan was added to the injured reserve last week and he is the Dolphins best rush defender with a 10.4% run stop rate (4th).

Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well the last month against some soft pass defenses but he likely won’t have any success on Sunday. Fitzpatrick averaged just 2.6 yards per pass play with 3 interceptions in week 2 versus New England’s secondary. DeVante Parker is gaining 2.37 yards per route run since week 10 when Preston Williams went down (7th), but he will be blanketed by Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots need a win to lock up the first round bye. Our model makes New England a 16.2-point favorite with a predicted total of 48.8 but I’m staying off the total in this game because I believe the Patriots will be conservative with their play calling.

Green Bay Packers @
Detroit Lions

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 123, Odds: Detroit Lions +12.5, Total: 43

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Best Bet – *DETROIT (+12.5) over Green Bay

Lean – Under (43.5)

This line is a classic example of the market overreacting to one prime time game after the Packers destroyed the Vikings last week. Minnesota closed as a 5.5-point favorite on Monday night implying the market had the Vikings clearly better than Green Bay. The Lions closed as an 11.5-point road underdog in Minnesota just 3 weeks ago. Now, we’re seeing the Packers as larger favorites despite the game being played in Detroit. This number is clearly over-inflated even if you believe Green Bay and Minnesota are now equal, as a team that was an 11.5 point road dog at Minny would be a 6.5 point home dog to an equally good team. Detroit is a bit worse than they were a few weeks ago but our model favors the Packers by just 7.7 points.

The Packers will lock up a first round bye with a win but I expect them to take a conservative approach to avoid injuries against an inferior opponent while also playing not to lose rather than to win. Green Bay’s ground game ranks 3rd best in the league but the Lions have the 3rd-rated rush defense. The Packers likely won’t have success running the ball when they are trying to kill the game in the second half. David Blough has a nice opportunity for a backdoor touchdown if Detroit trails late and the most likely outcome for this game is the Lions losing by 10.

Green Bay locked up the NFC North last week and are now overvalued. Our model favors the Packers by just 7.7 with a predicted total of 40.6 points. Detroit is a 1-Star Best Bet at +11 or more and I’ll lean Under the total.

Los Angeles Chargers @
Kansas City Chiefs

Sun, Dec 29 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 125, Odds: Kansas City Chiefs -8.5, Total: 45.5

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KANSAS CITY (-8.5) vs LA Chargers

Patrick Mahomes is throwing for a yard less per pass play in 3 career games versus the Chargers than his career average because Los Angeles’s defense is well suited to take away Kansas City’s strengths. Tyreek Hill is gaining 2.47 yards per route run (5th) and Travis Kelce leads all tight ends with 1205 receiving yards, but both guys could struggle on Sunday. Casey Hayward is surrendering just 0.65 yards per cover snap (5th) and he will limit Hill on the outside while Desmond King’s speed at nickelback won’t allow Hill to thrive in the middle either. The Chargers have allowed just 6.2 yards per target to opposing tight ends with excellent safety Derwin James in the lineup, which is significantly lower than overall tight end average of 7.5 yards per target. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has only conceded 1 sack all season and he will neutralize edge defender Joey Bosa, 8th in pass rushing efficiency.

Philip Rivers loves to throw to his running backs and Austin Ekeler is gaining 2.85 yards per route run ranking 4th among all players. The Chiefs have struggled defending pass-catchers out of the backfield this year and Ekeler recorded 105 receiving yards when these teams met in Mexico City, but there’s reason to believe Kansas City’s defense could be better this time around. The Chiefs are now playing Ben Niemann at second linebacker and he is has been a half yard per cover snap better than Damien Wilson.

Kansas City has reason to play their starters in this game because they could get a first-round bye if the Patriots lose. Alternatively, the Chiefs could fall to the 4-seed if they lose and the Texans win. Our model favors makes Kansas City a 7.6-point favorite with a predicted total of 46.7 points.

Arizona Cardinals @
Los Angeles Rams

Sun, Dec 29 1:25 PM PT

Rotation: 127, Odds: Los Angeles Rams -7.5, Total: 44.5

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LA RAMS (-7.5) vs Arizona

The Rams have been eliminated from the playoffs and could be resting their players in week 17, according to Cameron DaSilva of RamsWire. I do not know how long Sean McVay will play Jared Goff and other key players even if they are announced active. Jalen Ramsey is already ruled out. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray has been called a true game time decision and it is unknown how many snaps he will take even if he starts. I imagine the Cardinals will want to be conservative with their franchise quarterback in a meaningless game.

San Francisco 49ers @
Seattle Seahawks

Sun, Dec 29 1:25 PM PT

Rotation: 129, Odds: Seattle Seahawks +3, Total: 45.5

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Lean – SEATTLE (+3/+3.5) over San Francisco

The advanced spread for this game was pick but now we’re seeing the market implying San Francisco has more than a 60% chance of winning due to Seattle’s perceived injury disaster. Seattle’s 6th-rated ground game will take a hit without Chris Carson but he isn’t a factor in the receiving game and thus isn’t worth more than a half point. The Seahawks defense allowed 51 combined points to Carolina and Arizona, but they will likely be much better on Sunday with the probable return of edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney and cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Clowney has a 25% pass rush win rate (7th) and Griffin is surrendering only 0.84 yards per cover snap (9th), but both missed the last 2 games. Left tackle Duane Brown’s injury will be the most significant as he has conceded only 1 sack all season and we have him valued at 0.8 points. Backup tackle George Fant will have a hard time containing edge defender Nick Bosa, ranked 7th in pass rushing efficiency.

The 49ers will earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win or San Francisco could be relegated to the wild card round with a loss. Seattle’s injuries are overblown and they are healthier from a player value standpoint than they have been the past couple weeks. The Seahawks are 17-5-1 ATS in night games under Pete Carroll as Seattle’s excellent home field advantage is intensified slightly in prime time. Our model favors the 49ers by 2.8 points, with a predicted total of 45.5 points, but I’ll lean with Seattle on the basis of a 90-35-1 ATS week 17 situation that applies to the Seahawks.

Oakland Raiders @
Denver Broncos

Sun, Dec 29 1:25 PM PT

Rotation: 131, Odds: Denver Broncos -3, Total: 41

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Note: The Under in this game was released to my subscribers on Monday when the total was 42 points. The Under is out of Best Bet range at less than 41 points but I’d consider it a Strong Opinion at Under 40.5 points.

Best Bet – **Under (42) – DENVER (-3.5/-3) vs Oakland

Derek Carr is gaining just 5.7 yards per pass play when a defensive coordinator has already seen Jon Gruden’s scheme and I expect Vic Fangio to be well-prepared on Sunday. The Raiders got a boost with Hunter Renfrow returning to the lineup as he recorded 107 yards last week, but it is unlikely the inside receiver will find any success in this matchup. Denver’s nickelbacks are surrendering only 0.70 yards per cover snap in the slot this season and just held Danny Amendola to 21 yards last week. Edge defender Von Miller ranks 4th in pass rushing efficiency and he will wreak havoc with starting right tackle Trent Brown out. Brown conceded just 11 pressures in 11 games this season and backup Brandon Parker ranks 4th-worst in pass blocking efficiency the last three weeks. Shelby Harris ranks 17th in pass rushing efficiency among interior defenders and he could exploit Oakland on the inside if left guard Richie Incognito is forced to miss another game with an ankle injury. Josh Jacobs will likely be back in action this week further motivating the Raiders to run the ball.

The market is overrating Drew Lock because the rookie quarterback is 3-1 in his first 4 games. Lock has thrown for less than 6 yards per pass play in every start except against Houston where his wide receivers combined for 190 yards after the catch. The Broncos are averaging 105 yards after catch in the other 14 games. Raiders interior defender Maurice Hurst ranks 9th in pass rushing efficiency and will cause problems in the middle if starting right guard Ronald Leary misses his 4th game with a concussion.

Oakland has not been completely eliminated from the playoffs and I expect the Raiders defense to make it difficult for Lock with four games of film to study, as rookie quarterbacks tend to tail off in performance after their first few games. Our model favors the Broncos by 3.1 points, with a predicted total of just 36.5 points. The Under is a 2-Star Best Bet at 41.5 or higher and a 1-Star play at 41 (Strong Opinion Under 40.5). Denver does apply to a 90-35-1 ATS week 17 situation and I’d lean with the Broncos at -3 at -110 odds or better.