BEST GAME – Los Angeles Rams at Arizona (-3) (Monday night)
Los Angeles 8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS
Arizona 10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS
Any team which puts more than 28 points a game on the board every weekend figures to be in Super Bowl contention, but what is most impressive about the Cardinals is the fact that they rarely turn the ball over. Like almost never. This past Sunday’s win over Chicago marked the fifth straight game in which Arizona was turnover-free. The Cards now have a chance to essentially put the NFC West in the duffle bag. The Rams, coming off a win over Jacksonville in what is as close to a bye week as it gets, need to avoid sluggish starts which led to three consecutive November losses. As the home team, Arizona gives the obligatory 3 points in this one, but there’s a real possibility that this contracts to 2.5, so Cardinal backers might want to hold off betting until at least mid-week.
WORST GAME – Seattle at Houston (+7.5)
Seattle 4-8 SU, 6-6 ATS
Houston 2-10 SU, 5-7 ATS
Like an empty-nest marriage that crumbles when the kids leave the house, it looks like the Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson union is headed for a breakup this off-season. Nine years of NFC West dominance has come to end in the Pacific Northwest, the losing has taken its toll and it’s hard to see management bringing back the old gang for another rodeo next season. You’ll pardon the Texans if they don’t attend the divorce party, as the lowest-scoring team in the NFL has problems of its own to deal with – namely offense, defense, and special teams. Houston’s shutout loss at home this past Sunday was evidence enough for early bettors to back the Seahawks despite the 7.5 line.
BIGGEST SPREAD – Chicago at Green Bay (-12.5)
Chicago 4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS
Green Bay 9-3 SU, 10-2 ATS
The Packers have had control of the NFC North for a few months now, and all that remains for them is to compete for playoff seeding. The Bears, who are a five-alarm fire disguised as a football team, should accommodate Green Bay. Full speed ahead in the Land of Cheese and Beer, where Aaron Rodgers has its eyes on the Super Bowl and another MVP Award now that the league is not going to bother him for fibbing about his Covid vaccination status. As of early this week, no one seems to know if Justin Fields’s aching ribs will keep him sidelined, though early bettors don’t seem to care and are heavy on GB.
SMALLEST SPREAD – San Francisco at Cincinnati (-1)
San Francisco 6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS
Cincinnati 7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS
Blowing a two-score lead and losing in Seattle has taken a lot of the air out of the Niners’ balloon, and made this game pretty much a must-win if they want to play beyond mid-January. San Francisco rarely wins in Seattle, and SF made just enough mistakes to guarantee another loss there. The Bengals, meanwhile, are still very much alive in the playoff hunt despite their loss to the Chargers last weekend. The concern in the Queen City is QB Joe Burrow, who is nursing an injury to his throwing hand.
LARGEST TOTAL – Buffalo at Tampa Bay (52.5)
Buffalo 7-5 SU, 6-5-1 ATS, 6-6 O/U
Tampa Bay 9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS, 6-6 O/U
As if things aren’t bad enough (3-4 since Columbus Day) for Buffalo after tumbling to the brink of being on the outside looking in at the playoffs, they have to take on Tom Brady the week after a loss to the Patriots. Talk about seeing ghosts. Monday night’s loss to New England in a howling wind can be tossed out, but losing to Brady & the Bucs could prove damaging to the psyche of the team, its fans, and the entirety of western New York. Tampa Bay figures to do the heavy lifting in this one for Over bettors.
SMALLEST TOTAL -- Detroit at Denver (42)
Detroit 1-10-1 SU, 8-4 ATS, 4-8 O/U
Denver 6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS, 2-10 O/U
No one likes to go up against a team that is winless late in the season, but Detroit’s win over Minnesota took Denver off the hook in that regard. The Broncos are free to do what they do best – play solid defense, dominate field position and force the Lions to go on long drives that they have generally been not been able to do. Under players on Denver have cashed time and again this season, and Detroit scores on average fewer than 17 ppg.