Our best bets column took a break over Thanksgiving, so our overall best bets record is still 29-21. Let’s start picking.
Jets +3.5 over Vikings
I love the Jets to cover and win outright in this matchup. The Vikings at 9-2 aren’t as good as their record indicates. That’s not to say Minnesota doesn’t deserve a division title, but several of their wins came from crucial injuries on their opposition’s roster. For one, the Vikings defeated the Dolphins when Miami was forced to start Skylar Thompson. Minnesota also came back against the Detroit Lions only after D’AndreD’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown exited with injuries. And had Josh Allen been 100 percent and not a game-time decision, there is a solid chance Minnesota doesn’t win.
Still, not to take anything away from the Vikings, the Jets are a superior squad. Their defense ranks at the top of the league in the least amount of points and total yards per game. Their secondary, led by Defensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner Sauce Gardner has been shut down in recent weeks, and their front seven has been brutal to opposing RBs.
In the two occasions the Vikings squared off against elite secondaries this season, they were embarrassed twice – by the Eagles and Cowboys. Expect more of the same here. Jets QB Mike White provided the offense the spark they needed last week, and New York should be able to put up points on the board against the Vikings’ mediocre defense. The Jets pull off the upset.
Titans +4.5 over Eagles
The Titans dropped a close contest to the Bengals last week, but I like their chances this weekend against the Eagles. I won’t go so far as to predict the upset, but I love getting the points with an underrated Tennessee defense. The Titans particularly excel against the rush, ranking third in the league in the least amount of rushing yards allowed. That should bode well for the Titans in limiting Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts’ potent running ability. While Hurts has been more than efficient in passing this season, he won’t have as much time in the pocket to complete passes downfield, given the Titans’ dangerous front seven. Hurts has enjoyed more time in the pocket than any other QB this season, but Tennessee should be able to apply enough pressure to force him to get rid of the ball early.
Conversely, the Eagles’ defense is less effective against the run. That should enable Derrick Henry to pound the ball and turn in another 100+ yard day. Ryan Tannehill has also been solid at QB since his return from injury and has established a great rapport with explosive rookie Treylan Burks in the past few games. Expect Tannehill to spread the ball between Burks, Robert Woods, and Westbrook-Ikine as an alternative to the run.
There’sThere’s no doubting the Eagles are one of the best teams in the league, but this is a tough matchup for them. Philly has struggled against good defenses this season, most notably in their loss to Washington and their close 17-16 win over the Colts. This game should be no different, and the absence of injured TE Dallas Goedert should also magnify that. The Titans will cover, but be prepared for a potential upset.
Lions +1 over Jaguars
I honestly believe the wrong team is favored in this situation. Many public bettors have jumped on Jacksonville following their upset with the Ravens. If you listened to my podcast last week, the Jaguars were one of my top plays as they match up very well against a Ravens team that has struggled to close out games this season. However, this contest bodes in the Lions’ favor. Detroit’sDetroit’s defense has been much improved the past few weeks, and they almost pulled off the Thanksgiving Day upset of the Bills. Rookie DE Aidan Hutchinson has shined for Detroit, and he should be able to apply plenty of pressure on Trevor Lawrence and force him to commit mistakes.
On the other side of the ball, the Lions’ offense continues to be a juggernaut. Jared Goff has been steady as the starting QB, and Amon-Ra St. Brown has emerged as one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL. The rushing duo of Jamaal Williams and D’AndreD’Andre Swift remains one of the tops in the NFC, and the offense continues to put up points even without TE T.J. Hockenson, who was traded to the Vikings before the deadline. Given the Jaguars’ ability to score as well, I expect this game to be a back-and-forth affair, but the better team will emerge victorious, and that is the Lions. Take Detroit.
49ers -4 over Dolphins
To no one’s surprise, the public heavily backs the Dolphins in this contest. After all, the Dolphins have been electrifying this season behind third-year QB Tua Tagovailoa, who has emerged as a frontrunner for MVP. Add the wideout tandem of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, along with Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. in the backfield, and Miami ranks near the top of the league in total offensive points and yards per game. However, the Dolphins’ recent string of victories has come against teams at the bottom of the NFL in all defensive categories – the Texans, the Bears, and the Browns.
The 49ers’ defense is on a different echelon than any defense the Dolphins faced all season. The best in the league in the least amount of points and yards allowed per contest, San Francisco can dominate opposing offenses and force turnovers. They get to the QB quickly, and their secondary guards well against the top receivers in the league.
This may seem like many points to lay to a team with the second-best record in the AFC. Still, the Niners’ offense will be able to expose the weak Miami offense behind QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Christian McCaffrey, and WRs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. I love the 49ers here. Lay the points.
Seahawks -7 over Rams
I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this one. Who are the Rams going to field on Sunday? Matt Stafford likely will not suit up, and WR Cooper Kupp, WR Allen Robinson, and DE Aaron Donald have already been ruled out. That is quite the injury report for a team that has struggled all season.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, have been one of the most surprising stories of the season. Although they have dropped consecutive games, their offense continues to pour out the points. Geno Smith is in line to win Comeback Player of the Year, and RB Kenneth Walker is in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year. I don’t see the Rams reaching double-digits in this one. Seattle, all the way.