Hot & Not Report – Week 16Editor's Note: Don't miss out on NFL Winners on VegasInsider.com from Matt Blunt. Click to win!
Week of December 16th
After last week's piece dealt with what to expect from the CFB Playoff, it's back to the NFL version of the game this week with only two weeks left.
With the regular season almost complete, plenty of focus will be on the teams trying to grab one of those four remaining playoff spots that have yet to be clinched in the league, and rightfully so. But as is always the case in this league, division matchups during the final two weeks will go a long way in determining who gets those spots, and what seeds everyone ends up with, so that's where I'd like to start for this week's piece.
(Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS)
Division home favorites are 7-3 ATS and 9-1 SU the past three weeksIt's been quite the run for chalk layers who are at home facing a rival since Week 12 saw teams in that role get blanked (0-3 ATS). Since then it's been a great run for these home favorites in division games, as Tennessee's outright loss vs Houston yesterday was the only time a division home favorite didn't win the game the past three weeks.
The other two ATS losses were the New York Jets 22-21 win over Miami in Houston (NYJ -5) and Philly's 23-17 OT win over the Giants last Monday (Philly -9), but throwing down on those teams on the Money-Line or in a ML parlay still came through. And when you consider that the average margin of victory by the seven home teams that did win SU and ATS the past three weeks clocks in at 16.5 points per game, there is no size of chalk that you shouldn't at least consider backing.
Given that Week 17 is the one where every team is in divisional action, this may be an angle you want to put on the back burner until then, but Week 16 does offer a few spots where this is applicable.
It all starts on with Saturday's triple-header, as the 49ers host a Los Angeles Rams team with San Francisco currently laying -6 in the market. With the Rams playoff hopes all but dashed with that loss to Dallas on Sunday, motivation becomes a big time issue with L.A. this week, and chances are that number is only going to rise. The Rams know their season is all but finished, while the 49ers are looking to get that top spot in the NFC (and NFC West title) back in their grasp. Laying the 6 points now if you like the 49ers is something you should strongly consider.
Prior to that Saturday Night Football game, we've got the New England Patriots laying nearly the identical number (-6.5) at home against the Bills that day. Motivation won't be an issue for either side as the AFC East title is still up for grabs, and both teams have already clinched a playoff spot regardless of what happens the next two weeks. Obviously a win for Buffalo in this game would be huge for their psyche going into the playoffs, never mind the chance to host a playoff game, but recent trends regarding these division home favorites doesn't do them any favors. That being said, if the Patriots are going to be the side you are looking at, it probably doesn't hurt to wait, as this number is more likely to drop then rise. Plus, who knows if it'll come out that the Patriots had staffers doing more filming of opponents for them this past week.
Flipping things over to the rest of Week 16's card, other divisional home favorites include Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5) vs Oakland in a game where both sides likely don't give a crap, Washington (-2.5) vs the New York Giants, Seattle (-9.5) vs Arizona, and Minnesota (-4.5) vs Green Bay on Monday Night Football.
The first two games in that list are ones where you'll probably want to find a few more pieces of supporting evidence to consider backing the Chargers or Redskins, but it's quite conceivable to think that the Giants and Raiders are ready to pack things in for 2019. That's an angle worth considering there as well.
But the latter two games are much more intriguing, as Seattle will know what they need to do based on San Francisco’s result on Saturday, and Minnesota would clinch a playoff spot and still be alive for the NFC North crown with a win over the Packers. Those are two sides with plenty of motivation to grab dominant wins, and as of now, they've be the only way I'd look.
Backing 'Unders' in non-conference games: Only one winning week since Week 5Non-conference games have long been a spot where 'over' bettors look to cash a few tickets, and for the bulk of this season that's exactly what has happened. Just blindly taking 'overs' when you've got a AFC team going up against a NFC team has produced a 22-17 Over/Under record overall. That's not phenomenally good by any means, but considering every week outside of Week 13's 1-3 O/U record has been at least break-even at worst (ie 1-1 O/U or better and not counting the juice), that's a pretty good angle to at least start with when you begin to break down the week's card.
Week 15's slate saw 'overs' in non-conference games go a perfect 3-0 O/U – with the Indy/New Orleans game pending – and all three of the winners in those games put up at least 36 points. When those winners include the likes of Arizona and the N.Y. Giants putting up that kind of production, you can see that it's an angle that isn't isolated to average or above average teams.
Week 16 is the last week of the year we get these non-conference tilts, so this is the last opportunity to use this approach. Of the teams involved in this angle for Week 16, many of them have nothing to play for this year other then personal pride, but given that statistics do go a long way in terms of contract negotiations for guys, padding numbers for offensive guys in this particular spot is something to consider as well.
This week's games include: Detroit at Denver (38), Jacksonville at Atlanta (45.5), New Orleans at Tennessee (51), Carolina at Indianapolis (46.5), and Kansas City at Chicago (45).