Early betting lines for NFL Week 16 suggest it’s very likely the Rams will be eliminated from playoff contention before Christmas.
The Rams would have to sweep their last two games, at San Francisco and at home against Arizona, and the Minnesota Vikings would have to lose their last two games, at home against Green Bay and Chicago, for the Rams to sneak into the final NFC wild-card spot.
Early money lines show the Rams are only about 30% to upset San Francisco on Saturday (5:15 p.m., NFL Network), while the Vikings are only about 35% to lose to the Packers on Monday night (5:15 p.m., ESPN). So, betting math shows a 90% probability of elimination this weekend.
The Rams opened as underdogs of 6.5 points at San Francisco, which is also in a must-win situation after getting shocked by Atlanta as a double-digit favorite. The corresponding money-line split of -280/+240 pegs a no-juice percentage breakdown near 70/30 for a 49ers win. Minnesota opened as a 4.5-point favorite against Green Bay. The corresponding money-line split of -200/+180 registers near 65/35 for the Vikings.
The Rams would have to win out to create a push with their target of 10 wins.
The Chargers also had a win target of 10 and have fallen way short with a 5-9 record.
Game-by-game bettors are 9-5 backing the Rams this season, a team largely underrated on a weekly basis while overrated for the full season. The Chargers are 4-8-2 against the spread, second worst to the Chicago Bears at 4-10.
— USC hasn’t been drawing much support against Iowa in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27. The point spread has USC as an underdog of 1.5 or 2 points, depending on the sportsbook. The over/under has settled at 52. It’s an interesting test for total-points handicappers, as USC’s games averaged 61 points, Iowa’s just 37.
Professional bettors will continue to wait on possible personnel developments involving either program. They don’t want to find out about suspensions after placing their bets. The public tends to wait until game day to bet the college bowl sides and totals.
— USC’s basketball team moved to 9-2 with a win Sunday over Long Beach State. But at 87-76, the Trojans didn’t cover the 17-point spread. USC fell to 5-6 against the spread.
— UCLA wasted an opportunity to impress the selection committees with a 75-61 loss Saturday at Notre Dame as a 6.5-point underdog. Portions of the national telecast went viral thanks to the antics of Bill Walton and Digger Phelps. The Bruins are now 7-4 straight up, 6-5 against the spread, but outside the top 110 teams nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings. They play again Saturday against North Carolina in Las Vegas after the four-loss Tar Heels were shocked by Wofford, 68-64, on Sunday as 12-point favorites.
— In the NBA, the Lakers extended their straight-up record to 24-3 Sunday with a 101-96 win at Atlanta. That margin failed to reach the very high point spread of -12. The Lakers are still moneymakers for the season at 16-11 against the spread. They next play Tuesday at Indiana and then in a long-anticipated matchup with Eastern Conference favorite Milwaukee on Thursday (5 p.m., TNT). The Bucks also entered the week 24-3 straight up.
The Clippers wrapped up a mostly successful Eastern swing with a lethargic loss at lowly Chicago on Saturday. They still went 4-2 straight up and against the spread, concluding the trip 20-8 and 16-12. The Clippers play at home Tuesday against Phoenix, then close out a fantastic national TV doubleheader Thursday against Houston (7:30 p.m., TNT).
— In the NHL, the Kings and Ducks will be back on the ice Tuesday after weekend wins. Anaheim (-140) beat the New York Rangers, 4-3, in overtime Saturday, bringing its record to 14-15-4. The Ducks are down about five units for bettors against game-by-game money lines but are up half a unit against the puck line (alternate prices at plus or minus 1.5 goals). They begin a four-game Eastern swing Tuesday in Philadelphia.
The Kings (-120) won 4-2 Sunday at Detroit, which also cashed against the -1.5 goal puck line for a nice +190 payoff. They’re down just under five units for the season against money lines, just under 4.5 units on the puck line with a 14-18-3 record. A six-game road swing continues Tuesday in Boston.
Jeff Fogle writes for VSiN.com.