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NFL Best Bet - Week 16

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Since I started discussing these weekly best bets in Week 14, I’ve had two very easy winners in games that were essentially cashed by halftime. Week 14 saw the Seattle/Arizona game sail over the total by half for the first win, while last week’s New Orleans -3.5 was basically clinched at the break with the Saints leading 24-0. New Orleans closed that game out to the tune of 41-0 as Tampa Bay easily played their worst game of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to pocket a few easy winners like that, but not all of them will be that easy. However, here’s hoping this week’s play is.

Minnesota vs. Houston (-7.5, 45)

This is a game where there are playoff implications for both teams although the situation is rougher for the Vikings.

Houston locked up the AFC South division last week and is one win away from securing a first-round bye. The Texans would still love to maintain top spot in the conference so the road to the Super Bowl goes through them and that would mean getting one more win in the final two weeks. Favored by more than a TD this week there is a better than average shot they get that W this week, but Minnesota is a desperate team that is clinging to their postseason hopes.

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Minnesota currently sits in the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC and with the Texans and Packers left, they will need to play their best to get in. Running back Adrian Peterson is looking to break the single-season rushing record and despite opposing defenses know he will be fed the ball he still puts up monster numbers every week. But for Minnesota to come out of this game with the victory, Christian Ponder will need to step up and beat up on this secondary that is banged up and has allowed opposing QB’s to pass for 13 TD’s in their past five games. Those contests include the likes of Jake Locker, Chad Henne and Matthew Stafford, not exactly the cream of the crop this year.

However, the side is not what I’m looking at here because I believe it is too close to call. The total however shouldn’t be that close as I think it is too low here given all the emphasis many are putting on how much running will be going on. Let’s just say Arian Foster and Peterson are given 25+ carries each and bleed the clock that way. These are still the two leading rushers in the NFL this year and either guy could go the distance at any time. The skill of both backs will have the defenses crowding the line looking to stop them which means it opens up things downfield for the QB’s to take some shots. That is precisely what I envision Schaub and Ponder doing and both should have some success.

Houston is 35-16 O/U in their last 51 against a winning team and won’t have any issue with trading points with the Vikings here because they know they are the better team. The Vikings can’t simply rely on their defense and AP to get this job done and that means other guys have to step up and make plays. They are 10-4 O/U the past 14 years in Week 16 and you’ve got to believe they are brimming with confidence after putting up 36 points last week.

Take the over.

  
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