If you’re thinking of betting the Rams or Chargers this weekend, we don’t have to look far for reasons to save your money for holiday gifts.
The Rams, 6.5-point underdogs at the 49ers on Saturday night, are technically still alive for the NFC’s last wild-card spot. They must win their last two games while Minnesota must lose its last two. So, they’re in a must-win situation. But remember what we wrote last week about those teams — and the fact that the Rams were run over by the Cowboys 44-21 when they supposedly needed the game more.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are out of the playoffs, but several people say they’re a good bet. Why? Because this could be Philip Rivers’ last home game, and it seems plenty of people agree as the Chargers have been bet from 5.5- to 7-point favorites Sunday against the Raiders. But remember that a lot of people were saying the same thing last week about the Raiders in their last game in Oakland — and they proceeded to lose 20-16 to the Jaguars.
Instead, my best bet from these two games is the Raiders-Chargers, taking the over (45) for the same reason we recommended the Chargers-Jaguars over two weeks ago. This is a defense-optional game between also-rans, and neither defense has the motivation — or ability — to offer much resistance.
Here are the five underdogs I like in NFL Week 16:
Bills (+6.5) at Patriots (Saturday)
I should have grabbed the Bills +7 when this line opened, but I’m still backing the Bills. I’ve been impressed with Buffalo’s defense since its 16-10 loss to the Patriots in Week 4, when the Patriots had only one offensive TD, the other coming on a blocked punt return. If anything, Tom Brady and the New England offense have regressed since then. I expect another low-scoring game that comes down to one score.
N.Y. Giants (+2.5) at Washington
The Redskins have certainly been more competitive in the last month, with upsets of Detroit and Carolina, a cover at Green Bay and a terrible bad beat against the Eagles. But I still don’t think they should be favored, especially against a Giants team that also has been playing better lately and beat them 24-3 in Week 4. Whether it’s Eli Manning or the return of Daniel Jones (which is looking more likely), I’ll take the Giants as short road underdogs.
Cleveland (+10) vs. Baltimore
Yes, the Ravens are awesome and 7-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last eight games. And, yes, the Browns are the biggest underachievers this season. The Browns, however, are likely to get up for this game against their biggest rivals and, despite their records, can certainly match up against them, as they showed in beating them 40-25 in Week 4. Chalk bettors will say revenge is a reason to lay the points with the Ravens, but they really don’t have the incentive. Their main goals are to win straight up to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and get out of this game healthy.
Philadelphia (+2.5) vs. Dallas
We know the Cowboys ran over the Rams 44-21 in a win they didn’t really need, while the Eagles were lucky to beat the Redskins, 37-27. But that’s kind of why I’m taking the Eagles in this battle for the NFC East lead. Their championship pedigree has shown through as they’ve been able to pull out wins even when not playing their best. This should be a battle to the final gun, and I’d much rather trust Doug Pederson than Jason Garrett.
Green Bay (+5.5) at Minnesota
I guess the Vikings are favored by this much since they need to win, while the Packers could lose and still win the NFC North with a win over the Lions in Week 17. But I think the Packers will take care of business. Objectively, I have this as a coin flip to win straight up, so I’ll gladly take the bonus points, as this should come down to a field goal. The Packers won the first meeting 21-16 in Week 2 as Aaron Rodgers stood out early and Kirk Cousins choked late with a red-zone interception. I wouldn’t be surprised by the same result.
LAST WEEK IN THE TIMES: 2-3.
Dave Tuley writes for VSiN.com.