The most depressing time of the year is upon us. Weekends of 60+ football games are long gone. We’re in the final week of 16 NFL games. We’re in the home stretch of college bowl games and the NCAA four-team playoff is upon us. The cold depressing winter is given a jolt of warm air by NFL playoff football and the ramping up of college basketball conference play along with alcohol – lots and lots of alcohol. But still, we get no more chances to bet on bad football teams at 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday or the always welcome surprise of an 8:00 a.m. start on a Sunday in London.
We have a long wait until us and our fellow degenerates get the next best week of gambling – NCAA basketball conference tournament week. With that said, we need to take advantage of the week ahead and a full slate of pro and college football action. We’re coming off another plus week at the Roundtable – 3-2, following a two week 9-1 run. I’m cool with 12-3 three week stretches and I’m sure you are as well. Pgoy is coming in hot going for his fifth straight winner and Sean and Joe are keying in on one particular game (that I also fully endorse each of their plays) that will give bettors tons of options. Nick and I have some winners for you again this week as well.
I want to suggest following all of us on Twitter as well. We’ll all be throwing tweets out about the games going on and giving out other plays that we like as the start times approach. As we dwindle down in the volume of games to play, our best advice is likely going to come closer to kickoffs as line movements, injury reports, and industry trends will all play a bigger role as lines become much tighter. And while you are at it, make sure you are following @TheLoop_Sports and @typical_chicago.
Patrick’s Pick: (@TCFPGoy; 4-2) New York Jets (O/U 45) @ New England Patriots (-13.5) (Sun. 12/30 – 12:00pm CST)
That’s now FOUR in a row for your boy and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. We shouldn’t have had to sweat it as much as we did late in the game (Bengals/Browns) last week as the Bengals put on a 4th quarter surge to try and screw us but the Browns prevailed and the total stayed under 45. I said 26-12 it was 26-18, but hey nobody’s perfect. Now, on to Week 17.
We had an under last week and we are going to hunt down an under again for this week and look at the total in the Jets/Patriots game. Earlier in the week this game opened at 48 and is now down to 45, a significant move yes, but not significant enough I don’t think. If you’re a Jets fan, don’t watch, or go out and start your Sunday Funday at about 9am so you can be passed out for the duration of this game because this has snooze-fest written allllllll over it.
For the Jets its simple, this team completely blew their wads last week after having Aaron Rodgers and the Packers seemingly dead to rights in the 4th quarter up 15 only to give up the tie in regulation and later lose it in OT. After having their hearts ripped out of their chest by one of the greats last week they now have to go into Foxborough to face the GREATEST of all time and they are gonna want no part of this one. The Jets only average 16ppg on the road this season and scored just 13 the last time these 2 teams met in week 12 when that game was at home. After suffering a tremendous let-down last week and nothing to play for this week I’d be surprised if the Jets show much life in this one.
For the Patriots it’s also simple and it’s a spot that they are all too familiar with: win and lock up a first-round bye for what seems like the 25th year in a row. Last week we saw the Patriots start to make a shift in their play calling as the playoffs are approaching and make an effort to not show to much on offense. New England RAN the ball almost twice as much as they threw it (47 runs to 25 passes) against a Bills defense that ranks 3rd overall in DVOA and had tremendous success controlling the game and pace as they out-possessed Buffalo 35:38 to 24:22. New England is going to be the definition of vanilla on offense in this one. Run the ball down the Jets throats who rank 25th against the run and secure the victory. Nothing fancy, nothing creative, just boring football. The only thing sexy about this game is gonna be Tom Brady‘s wife (am I right?) I’ll say; Pats 24 Jets 10.
Pick: UNDER 45
Joe’s Pick: (@abes34; 1-5) Cleveland Browns (O/U 41) @ Baltimore Ravens (-5.5) (Sun. 12/30 – 3:25pm CST)
If you have been following me this year, you will know it’s been a rough run. Last week was an absolute joke in losing the Wake Forest-Memphis over. Between drilling the necessary field goal, to having a timeout called, then a false start, then ultimately a missed field goal, I was ready to lose my shit. The only successful kick out of that finish was the one to my junk.
Anyway, as I have learned in my time in this world, you have good runs and bad and you are only one win away from starting the good. And this week I am looking directly at the AFC North match-up in Baltimore. The Ravens have won five of six and are fresh off a dismantling of the Los Angeles Chargers who had been making a case for being the best team in the AFC. The defense is maybe only slightly behind the Bears in terms of stature in the NFL and has allowed just 22 points in the last two weeks. And since rookie QB Lamar Jackson has taken over the quarterbacking duties, the Baltimore ground attack seems unstoppable. That is a late-season recipe for success if I have ever seen one. I don’t see Cleveland being able to muster up enough offensively to make this much of a game and the ability of the Ravens to control the clock will suffocate the young up-and-coming Browns.
I’d even take this one as high as 6 or 6.5 – just keeping under the key 7 point number. Baltimore should have no problem controlling the flow in this one with a relatively easy low-scoring win.
Pick: Baltimore -5.5
Sean’s Pick (@Sean_Trader; 6-3) Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
I am sticking with the same game as Joe but looking at a couple other bets with value here. Joe mentioned plenty about the Baltimore defense and their vaunted running attack. The Browns also have a solid defense but are not nearly as stout against the run – the Baltimore offensive specialty. With that, is the ability to control the clock and wear down an opponent. The Ravens will not be letting up in effort as they do need a win to secure a playoff berth. The Browns are relegated to a spoiler role at this point and while they have been playing much better especially offensively under OC Freddie Kitchens, I don’t think it’s going to be enough to rack up points.
Here’s where the value lies though – you need to keep an eye on the final numbers. I am suggesting going with the first half under and game under but the final lines are going to dictate where to place your money. If the first half line (currently 20.5) gets up to 21, I think you are safe with a 50-50 play on both. If it stays at 20.5, go ahead and do a ratio of 65-35 with the higher portion of your action on the game under as I like that play much more overall.
Pick: Under 41
Bonus Pick: 1st Half Under 20.5 (go harder if 21 or more)
Matt’s Pick (@schools_01; 4-3): Oklahoma Sooners (O/U 77) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (-14) (Sat. 12/29 – 7:00 pm CST; CFP Semi Final – Capital One Orange Bowl)
This is by far the most intriguing matchup of the week in either level of football. Future pros fill both sidelines. Swaggy Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is the perfect opponent for his Bama counterpart, Nick Saban. The top two Heisman candidates in quarterbacks Kyler Murray, the winner of the award, and Tua Tagovailoa go toe-to-toe. High powered, nearly unstoppable offenses will cause this game to go well into the four-hour mark. I simply cannot avoid dabbling into this one. A sneaky prop bet to look for is the number of times baseball is referenced with Murray – whatever number you find, take the over because the Murray/baseball/football story-line going to be the most beaten down dead-horse in recent memory.
I can’t help myself in this game though. I don’t see any way Alabama is remotely slowed down by a putrid Oklahoma defense. In addition, I don’t think Tagovailoa is going to be slowed down by the ankle injury suffered last month in the SEC Championship win over Georgia. Even if he is hobbled, Jalen Hurts proved he is more than capable of getting the ball into his many playmakers’ hands led by wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Jaylen Waddle. The ground attack led by Damien Harris, Joshua Jacobs and Najee Harris should be able to exploit the big play as have most teams racking up yards and points with ease against the Sooner defense. I am banking on Bama covering 50 of the necessary 77.
That’s just 28 points necessary from an Oklahoma team averaging a shade under 50 points per game on the season. They also rack up over 575 yards per game. As talented as Bama’s defense is, they did show some warts against Georgia, who doesn’t have the offensive firepower Riley’s Sooners do. I think the Crimson Tide will overwhelm Oklahoma for most of the game, but the Sooners will have some success moving the ball and racking up points in stretches. Add all that to the fact that according to The Action Network the under is receiving 56% of the betting action while only netting 33% of the money rate. That shows a tendency of the sharps and professionals hitting the over. This one has the makings of a track meet and 77 points shouldn’t be too much to ask for in this one.
Pick: Over 77
Nick’ Pick (@PetroTLS; 41-36-4): Chicago Bears (O/U 40.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings (-5) (Sun. 12/30 –7pm CST)
There’s been speculation around the Chicago media that the Bears would be best sitting their starters on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. On Wednesday, Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy said that the team would play their starters in Minnesota and wouldn’t hold back against the Vikings.
At one point the Bears were +6.5…now? They sit at +5, which is still a number I can get behind. All of the Bears losses this season have been close. Sunday’s game should be no different, even if Nagy decides to pull a few starters like Trubisky or Mack. The only thing I don’t like is the popularity of the Bears this week.
According to the Action Network, 70% of bets are coming in on the Bears. I usually like to avoid public favorites, but it’s hard to ignore the Bears this week, who will be playing for a second-round bye.
Pick: Bears +5 (Look for sharp money to come in on the Vikings, then double down on the Bears again).
Follow the Roundtable guys on Twitter: @PetroTLS; @schools_01; @TCFPgoy; @RealJeffKerr; @Sean_Trader; @abes34; @TheChalksTLS