Every week I’ll dissect various narratives that affect NFL betting lines. This is vital, considering that most bettors digest these same narratives weekly. The betting public is larger than ever. While that’s exciting, it also means sportsbooks can lure and fool action junkies into taking a lousy wager based on repeated narratives purported by the media. My job is to ensure these narratives do not trick you.
At +800, the Bengals are a solid value to win the Super Bowl.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals, a younger team than most, already look like a perennial title contender. Week after week, they’ve found ways to win games against formidable opponents. Taking on the undeterred, unflappable attitude of Joe Burrow, Cincinnati responds like they’ve been in pressure situations for a decade. Entering Week 16, they’ve won six games in a row and might be the most dangerous team in the upcoming AFC Playoffs. Looking back at some of those victories through the past six weeks is even more impressive than I thought.
After an embarrassing defeat against the Browns on Halloween, the Bengals responded with a 42-21 thrashing of the Panthers. Now that we’ve seen how feisty Carolina can be, that’s a more impressive win. In road games against Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay, they fell behind on the scoreboard early. It didn’t matter. Burrow and a stout defense adjusted and found themselves ahead at the final whistle. And perhaps most impressively, they outlasted the mighty Kansas City Chiefs at home in a game that Mahomes and his squad must’ve circled on their calendar. Andy Reid’s team sought vengeance in that contest, their disappointing defeat in last season’s AFC title game still on their collective mind, but again it didn’t matter. Burrow had one of his cleanest games of the season (126.6 QB rating), and the Bengals beat Kansas City 27-24 in the jungle.
It’s the kind of grit and makeup of a championship team, but this may not be the best time to bet on Cincinnati to win it all.
The next two weeks may be their biggest challenge yet. In Week 16, the Bengals travel to New England to face an angry Patriots team that needs to win out to make the playoffs. Then in Week 17, the Bengals host the Bills, the AFC’s No. 1 team and the favorite to win the Super Bowl. If Cincinnati loses either one of those contests, that’s when I’d look at their futures bet to win Super Bowl LVII.
Under-bets are still hitting over 55% ATS this season; that’ll continue in Week 16.
At the time of writing this article, sportsbooks posted 9/16 games with totals of 40.5 or less. That’s astounding, but it’s for good reason. The biggest part of that equation is the weather. Strong winter storms continue to blow through huge sections of the United States, and with that comes cold, precipitation, and, most of all– wind. Strong winds are the single greatest threat to high-scoring games, not snow or rain or sleet. Strong winds limit field goal kickers and quarterbacks from playing to their full potential, forcing teams to prioritize ball control and field position. If that sounds more like an Army-Navy game than an NFL contest, you’re not off in your assessment. Let’s take a look at some of the more ominous weather conditions in Week 16. Keep in mind– since 2000, games with freezing temperatures (below 32 degrees) and winds above 15 mph average 37.9 ppg. More of that incoming this weekend:
- Lions at Panthers: 28 degrees, 13 mph winds, gusts up to 23 mph
- Saints at Browns: 14 degrees, 28 mph winds, gusts over 60 mph, 30% chance of snow
- Texans at Titans: 18 degrees, 12 mph winds, gusts over 20 mph
- Falcons at Ravens: 22 degrees, 14 mph winds, gusts up to 33 mph
- Bills at Bears: 9 degrees, 20 mph winds, gusts over 32 mph
- Bengals at Patriots: 24 degrees, 14 mph winds, gusts up to 20 mph
- Raiders at Steelers: 10 degrees, 13 mph winds, gusts up to 29 mph
On top of all that, there are a ton of games with huge playoff implications. Since teams are highly motivated, most of these contests will feel more like playoff games than regular season matchups. And with a playoff-like feel comes stingy, hard-hitting defense. Buckle up, friends! Week 16 may not be kind to your fantasy teams, but it’ll be full of wild, unpredictable, and adverse weather conditions. You just got to love football!
The Green Bay Packers are still fake-news; don’t bet on them against Miami (-3.5).
My co-head of betting, Ryan Reynolds, has said this plenty, and I concur – if the Packers find a way to make the playoffs, they are a very dangerous team. Consider yourself warned.
I’m not getting overly excited, I promise. It’s not like I’m a Packers fan, and I realize that Green Bay just beat the Bears and Rams in their last two games– that’s not exactly the upper-echelon of the NFL, nor is it a singular reason to get excited about Green Bay’s potential. Still, the Packers have all the ingredients to beat any team in pro football. A look at their recent win against the Cowboys in Week 10 is a great example.
Green Bay finally showed its championship potential when it hosted Dallas six weeks ago. Aaron Rodgers played a clean game (14/20, 224 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs), one reminiscent of his MVP seasons, but the biggest difference was what they did in their run game. The Packers ran for 207 yards on one of the best defenses in the NFL. Aaron Jones ran for 138 yards himself, and AJ Dillon added another 65 yards on the ground. What was once thought of as one of the best one-two-punches in any backfield finally showed its potential again in Week 10, and it made all the difference. And it simplified everything. Green Bay had 18 fewer plays than Dallas in that contest (79-61), but they still controlled the ball for more time (35:55 to 30:59). That forced Dak Prescott into uncomfortable situations, which led to two Prescott interceptions and more opportunities for the home team. It was the kind of physical, gritty, technically sound football we were all expecting from this perennial playoff team.
And after last week’s Monday Night Football, we saw Aaron Rodgers smiling again in his postgame interview. He was laughing and joking about his new star receiver, Christian Watson. He was sneaky-confident when asked about their chances of still making the playoffs. More than anything, it felt like Aaron was having fun again.
It’s all a sign that Green Bay is starting to come together and show more cohesiveness and chemistry than what we saw in the early, clunky parts of their season that led to losses against teams like the Giants, Jets, Commanders, and Lions.
Green Bay’s secondary is still as talented as any group in football. Their offense is showing more and more signs of growth, and they still have one of the best quarterbacks to ever play at the position. Don’t be surprised if the Packers cover or win straight up in Miami this weekend. If they do make the postseason, no NFC team will want that matchup.
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