‘With the 2018 NFL regular steamrolling toward a fast and furious finish in both conferences, now is a perfect time for another round of betting favorites you should not let pass for the coming week’s worth of NFL action. With Week 16 on hand, three favorites look like value-packed picks that all have the chance to cash in against their underdog opponents. Now, let’s find out who they are!
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 20, 2018
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
What: Buffalo Bills (5-9) at New England Patriots (9-5)
When: Sunday, December 23, 2018, 1:00 PM ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Clear: 2°C | 35°F
Wind: 6 MPH W
Stadium Type: Open Air
The Bills put up a great effort to get past Detroit 14-13 last weekend despite failing to cover the chalk as a 2.5-point home favorite. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen was solid in passing for 204 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions while Buffalo’s defense shut the Lions out for the first quarter – and entire second half. The Bills average just 15.4 points per game to rank 31st in scoring while giving up 23.8 points per contest defensively (18th).
The Patriots will be incomplete and all-out desperation mode after losing each of their last two games including their surprising 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady looked pedestrian at best in passing for 279 yards with one touchdown and one stunningly awful interception.
Still, though, 61 percent of public bettors like the Pats to win this one by at least two touchdowns to cover the big spread and I completely agree – along with 61 percent of public bettors. The Bills have gone 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games against their AFC East division rivals, 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games overall and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in the month of December.
Conversely, the Patriots have gone 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against their AFC East rivals and a blistering 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games against a team with a losing road record. Sheer desperation – plus the combination of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick – will be too much for the rebuilding Bills to deal with in this one!
Predicted Score: Buffalo Bills 14 | New England Patriots 28
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
What: Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) at Detroit Lions (5-9)
When: Sunday, December 23, 2018, 1:00 PM ET
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Chance Moderate Snow: 0°C | 33°F
Wind: 7 MPH W
Stadium Type: Dome
Minnesota snapped a two-game losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive for another week by absolutely thrashing Miami 41-14 last weekend to easily cover the chalk as a 7.5-point home favorite. Running back Dalvin Cook rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns and Kirk Cousins passed for 215 yards with two TD tosses and one pick. Minnesota’s defense kept the Dolphins off the scoreboard in the first and final quarters and limited quarterback Ryan Tannehill to 108 passing yards. The Vikings are averaging a modest 23.1 points per game (17th) while allowing 22.0 per contest defensively (12th).
The Lions continued their downward spiral by losing to lowly Buffalo 14-13 last weekend to fall to 2-6 over their last eight games. Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 208 yards with one touchdown and one pick, but the Lions were shut out in the second half and saw their 13-7 lead entering the fourth quarter disappear on Josh Allen’s 42-yard TD strike early in the fourth quarter. Detroit averages an uninspiring 20.3 points per game (25th) while allowing 23.8 points per contest defensively (19th).
Detroit has nothing left to play for – and again – I contend they made a poor choice for a head coach in Matt Patricia, but hey, that’s just me. Anyway, the Lions have been a complete mess on offense and just short of that defensively, even though Patricia is New England’s former defensive coordinator and was supposed to immediately improve Detroit’s defense.
Minnesota has a lot to play for and they looked a whole lot different – and better – on offense last week after firing former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and replacing him with quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, who immediately instituted a more run-based offensive approach last week against the Dolphins.
Outside of all that, Minnesota has gone 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a losing home record, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game and 13-5-1 ATS in their last 19 games against a team with a losing record. Conversely, the Lions are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against their NFC counterparts and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game. The Vikings are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road dates against the Lions. This one is a no-brainer. Minnesota wins and covers the spread despite being on the road!
Predicted Score: Minnesota Vikings 30 | Detroit Lions 17
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers
What: Chicago Bears (10-4) at San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
When: Sunday, December 23, 2018, 4:05 PM ET
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Clear: 14°C | 58°F
Wind: 2 MPH NW
Stadium Type: Open Air
Chicago has recorded a pair of statement-making wins the last two weeks by mauling the Rams 15-6 two weeks ago and shutting down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers this past weekend to pick up a 24-17 win as a 5.5-point home favorite. Blossoming quarterback Mitch Trubisky passed for 235 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions while running back Jordan Howard rushed for 60 yards and one score on 19 carries. Chicago’s defense held Rodgers without a TD pass while picking off the future Hall of Famer once. The Bears a healthy 27.4 points per game to rank sixth in scoring while limiting the opposition to just 18.9 points per game to rank third in points allowed.
San Francisco has picked up two straight stunning victories the last two weeks by beating desperate Denver 20-14 two weeks ago and getting past equally desperate Seattle 26-23 in overtime on Sunday. The Niners avenged a 43-16 beatdown loss to Seattle in Week 13 and stopped the Seahawks from clinching a postseason berth with the shocking win. Quarterback Nick Mullens passed for 275 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions and the Niners avoided a comeback loss after losing their 20-13 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Niners average a modest 21.5 points per game (22nd) while allowing 26.6 points per contest defensively (26th).
I know the San Francisco 49ers have shown some tremendous fight in beating two teams with legitimate playoff hopes, but my prediction for this contest is that Chicago avoids a letdown by shutting down young (and impressive) quarterback Nick Mullens and getting another solid performance out of Mitch Trubisky and Jordan Howard.
The Bears are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games, 6-1 ATS in their last seven against their NFC counterparts and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS win. San Francisco is 7-15 ATS in their last 22 home games, 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games against a team with a winning road record and 1-5 ATS in their last six games against their NFC counterparts. Keep it simple and go with the overwhelming 69 percent of public bettors that are backing the Bears to cover the chalks as a manageable 4-point road favorite.
Predicted Score: Chicago Bears 27 | San Francisco 49ers 17