Let's take a look at Sunday's seven early NFL games, starting at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT....
Disclaimer: Opinions are those of Nolan Dalla. All information here and the comments provided on this website are for entertainment purposes only. I do not intend nor advise readers to make any wagers. Ultimately, you must make your own decisions about if to gamble, how much to wager, and which bets to make.
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2022 NFL WAGERING RECORD
ALL PICKS POSTED HERE AT POINTSPREADS.CA
Atlanta at Washington
Line: Commanders -4.5
Analysis: The Atlanta Falcons are like week-old leftovers festering in the fridge. You’re tempted by hunger, but do you really want to take a chance at getting sick? If you’re seeking confidence, this is a nauseating team to put your trust in. So, of course — I’m going to bet on them. My recommended wager is taking Atlanta Team Total OVER 9.5 points in the first half. I know, the game hasn’t even started, and I’m already feeling ill. I wouldn’t touch Atlanta for the full game, especially given that Washington has won five of their last six games (and is 5-0-1 ATS) and continues to overachieve against slow-to-react betting market projections. But this looks like a soft number for a 1H team total. While the Falcons remain dirty betting birds, there’s also an edge gap here. Yes, Atlanta is a woeful 1-4 SU on the road this season, and clearly performs much better at home. On natural grass (Washington), they’re 0-3 SU. Moreover, I still can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth of the Falcons taking a monster-sized shit on my betting bankroll when they failed to even show up at Carolina two weeks ago (fucking Carolina!), and at Cincinnati before that. Looking at their team stats, I need a mask. But the Falcons do rank slightly above average as a first-half team, averaging 11.6 PPG1H. Washington’s defense allows an average of 10.3 PPG1H. Obviously, the tipping point here for a wager is catching a win on the key number “10,” so there’s value betting OVER 9.5 vigged at -110. Concerns about the Falcons’ horrible defense don’t matter here, since Washington scoring points could trigger a more aggressive play-calling by the Falcons. Both teams really need this game badly. Incredibly, a Falcons’ win could catapult them into first place in the awful NFC South. And for all of Atlanta’s faults, they do rank #7 in the NFL in points scored this season. Note: Rain is forecast on Sunday, but temperatures should be mild, with minimal wind.
The Pick: Atlanta Falcons Team Total-First Half OVER 9.5 (-110)
Baltimore at Jacksonville
Line: Ravens -4
Analysis: First-place 7-3 Baltimore has won 4 straight games and is 4-1 SU on the road this season. They should roll into the playoffs with perhaps 11 or 12 wins, and if they stay hot might even clinch home-field advantage as the AFC’s top seed. That’s a very real possibility. The Ravens have a clear path to an easy division title since each of their next six games is versus losing teams. In fact, the Ravens get an early Christmas present since their next six games include opponents with a combined 20-41 W-L record, which is the easiest schedule in the NFL. Unfortunately, Baltimore does way too often play down to their level of competition, as evidenced by what we saw in last week’s ugly 13-3 win (non-cover) versus Carolina (the game was tied 3-3 entering the 4th quarter). Still, Jacksonville is no prize either — losers of six of their last seven games, including a dreadful 1-6 ATS mark in that same stretch. That ugly 1-6 ATS blemish will keep me off the Jaguars, a team I’d typically grab as a home underdog at this price. Baltimore’s sluggish offensive struggles mean we can’t lay the points here. The Ravens’ offense hasn’t lit up a scoreboard since Week 3. Let’s also note the Jaguars’ underrated defense is better than expected for a losing team, surrendering just 25 more YPG on average than the Ravens, and 20.5 PPG, about the same points allowed as Baltimore’s defense, giving up 19.9 PPG. Coming off the bye week won’t hurt the Jaguars either. There are way too many conflicting angles here to make a confident pick on a side. I even researched some passing and field goal props, but couldn’t come up with anything. However, what does stand out is the total, just a little high at 44. I’d have this at 42. Both teams should rely heavily on the run since the Jags are #6 in the NFL in YPG, while Baltimore’s rushing attack ranks #2. This should keep the game clock moving. These two teams also have a history of playing lower-than-average coring games, hitting the UNDER in 6 of the last 8 contests.
The Pick: Baltimore-Jacksonville UNDER 44
Chicago at NY Jets
Line: Jets -6
Analysis: This game is likely to be a contest of backup quarterbacks — one of which makes you belch out “who the fuck?” and the other makes bleat out, “oh fuck!” After a horrid performance last week at NWE, including possibly losing the confidence of his teammates in postgame comments in which he tossed everyone in a Jets uniform (except himself) under the bus, high draft pick soon-to-be former-Jets quarterback bust Zach Wilson was benched for this game. So, he’ll make $850,000 over the weekend to hold onto a clipboard for three hours, and meanwhile, how’s your job going? What’s really surprising is the 6-4 Jets, still very much in the playoff hunt (really, they are), turned to third-stringer Mark White and skipped over Joe Flacco like he’s Aunt Bea’s cold green bean casserole at the last Thanksgiving family dinner. Presumably, lead-legged Flacco is so far down the Jets’ depth chart, he’s going to be shining Wilson’s shoes while he holds the clipboard. These QB issues mean we have no clue what to expect from the already anemic Jets offense; And despite all this, they’re nearly a touchdown favorite, which all goes to show what the football betting universe thinks of Trevor Siemian. Reportedly, Bears QB Justin Fields won’t start due to a shoulder injury, which basically turns the Chicago Bears offense into the hilarious scene from This is Spinal Tap where the lead guitarist quits and the band replaces the entire setlist with jazz fusion fronted by a bass player named Derek Smalls. Oh, and the bass player this week is Siemian, whose NFL career stats read like an EKG machine at Whispering Pines. Check and see if the thing is plugged in. Siemian started four games for the Saints last season, all that misery, after being run out of Houston and Denver and told never to come back. He went 0-4 in those starts. But hey, other than that Trevor played great! It’s difficult to handicap a bonkers game like this for obvious reasons. Fields is such a huge game-changer, especially given how well he’s played in the last 5 games. The Bears are a different team without him. However, we don’t know what to expect from the Jets, either. So, the value is probably with the underdog, especially in the first half when game plans should be simple and straightforward. In a very low totaled game (38.5), points should be at a premium, so getting +3.5 in the first two frames looks like a gift, even if we’re attaching the Bears to the bet. Rain is expected (100 percent chance in the forecast, as of Friday night), which adds to points being a bonus. I really like getting the hook on the 3. There is one more intangible: We’ve seen trickery before in QB starts, and there’s a chance Fields plays. Yes, it’s a small chance, but that would certainly boost the value of this bet.
The Pick: Chicago Bears (First Half) +3.5
Cincinnati at Tennessee
Line: Bengals -2.5
Analysis: Over the long course of my sports betting life and career (first bet 1970….up to the present), I put the O/U on the number of bets I’ve lost at +/- 16,462. Okay, let’s juice the OVER to -115. The most painful loss I ever suffered was an easy and obvious pick — a whopping $39,000 cash bet kick in the balls lost on an NFL game about 15 years ago. Fast forward. A game with these two teams (CIN at TEN) was the second-worst loss ever, emotionally speaking, I mean. I’m referring to last year’s divisional playoff game won by Cincinnati 19-16 when they beat Tennessee in this same stadium. Indeed, that was the (second) most frustrating NFL game that I’ve ever bet, and the excruciating way it played out still upsets me nearly a year later. In that abomination of a fiasco, I had the Titans on the moneyline for a sizable figure and watched as Tennessee seemingly tried to do everything within its power to lose that game. The coach blew it. The QB blew it. The RBs blew it. The WRs blew it. When they should have run–they passed. When they should have passed–they ran the ball. They were 1/8 on 3rd down conversions for the entire fucking game! One for eight! They sacked the Bengals quarterback a dozen times, and still fucking lost! Derrick Henry looked like he was on the take. If he got touched by a defender, he immediately fell to the ground like a soccer player doing a phantom pretend act. It was a baffling final score that made no sense to me whatsoever. I was so disgusted by the spectacle then–that now and can’t even bear to see these two teams take the same field again. Call it PTSD. My sports betting Vietnam. So, I won’t bet on this game. I won’t watch it. Way too many bitter memories. If anyone knows a therapist who works cheap, please message me.
The Pick: I have zero interest in this game — pass.
Denver at Carolina
Line: Broncos -1.5
Analysis: I read a fascinating stat someplace that said if the Denver Broncos had scored just 18 points in each game this season, they’d be 9-1 right now. This is a Super Bowl-caliber defense and pissant PeeWee Herman League offense. What a combination. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, not with QB Russell Wilson signed as the free agent savior and Nathanial Hackett (ne Buddy Hackett) making the coaching decisions. It’s been a total shitshow in Denver. No team outside of the LA Rams has been a greater disappointment, but at least the Rams have a valid excuse of injuries. The Broncos have no excuses. What’s mystifying to me is the play and decision-making by Wilson, who has not been using his legs to buy time. For years, Wilson was one of the NFL’s best QBs at buying extra time rolling out of the pocket, and also provided a duel run threat. I can’t tell if it’s age, coming off an injury, a new offensive system, or just some change of heart. But this is an unrecognizable player from the perennial MVP candidate we’ve been watching for a decade. Rarely would it be justifiable to throw in the towel on a player of this cost and caliber, but the Broncos have reached that stage, in my view. Last week’s 16-point tally at Tennessee coming off the bye week was the final straw for an offense that’s cracked the 20-point mark in just 2/10 games this season. It doesn’t matter who they play — good team or bad — Denver’s offense is dead and buried. With the NFL’s #3 ranked defense and such a bad offense, Denver’s totals should be low. But this O/U is as low as any NFL game gets, barring really inclement weather. At 36, I don’t recall any NFL total this low in years. Denver games have gone UNDER in 9/10 this season, but most of those totals were in the 40s. Now, the markets have adjusted. Carolina has been just as much a mess, but few expected much from this team. The coaching staff was housecleaned, QB Baker Mayfield was benched after a terrible game last week in Baltimore, and now Sam Darnold (who started 9 games for the Panthers last season) is making his 2022 debut as Carolina’s third different starting quarterback in as many weeks. In a game where points should be tough to come by, I see value in taking points where we can find them. Perhaps the best bet is Carolina in the first half, getting +1.5, though that number is juiced up to -135. I love getting the win on a Denver 1-point halftime lead. Would anyone be surprised by a 7-6 or 10-9 score? The Panthers at home with a defense that’s played very well the last two games, seems like a gift getting points, particularly in a shorter time frame. Carolina is also 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games and 2-0 SU at home with the interim coaching staff. The Panthers are also 3-1 ATS as a home underdog this year. Let’s also credit the Panthers for not allowing a TD in the first half of their last two games, and they faced ATL and BAL in those games, both of which are well above average in rushing offense. Denver averages just 3.9 YPC running the ball, one of the worst figures in the NFL, which means the Broncos might be forced to throw more than they like. Give me the Cats plus the points.
The Pick: Carolina (First Half) +1.5 (-135)
Houston at Miami
Line: Dolphins -14
Analysis: The Texans have reached the point of their season when they’re playing out the string, evaluating talent (or lack thereof), and trying to figure out what their identity will be going forward. Oddly, this makes them a dangerous team when not taken seriously. From the pointspread on this game — Miami is favored by two touchdowns — no one is taking Houston seriously. QB Kyle Allen has been announced as the starter in this game in place of somebody we’ll never hear from again likely bound for the Arena Football League, and since things couldn’t possibly be worst for the Texans offense, there’s only one direction to go. Yeah, down. Somehow, they’d dig deeper. After all, this is the Texans. Houston ranks #32, dead last in total offense, which has smelled worse than an old pair of Ted Cruz’s brown shoes. It’s impossible to bet wager money on Houston, unless you get drunk off betting the hardways in craps. That’s basically where Houston is at, right now. Versus any other opponent, we might be justified in taking the generous points, since there’s always some chance the Dolphins won’t take this game as seriously as the monster schedule coming ahead (Miami faces a brutal gauntlet of teams in the final six weeks). The Dolphins come in fresh and healthy here at home off a bye week, and in their three previous games the Dolphins have rolled up 105 points. Hence, it seems Miami can just name the final score here. Nonetheless, Houston’s stats and awful record aren’t helped any by having faced five straight winning teams–who are a combined 36-18. One more little-known fact: Kyle Allen’s NFL stats aren’t bad. If Miami gives a half-assed defensive effort, Houston will probably cover and exceed some offensive expectations. Normally, I’d pass on a mismatch like this, but based on some instinctive suspicions here — I’ll make a pick anyway. I see Houston exceeding 16.5 on their team total in this game. Allen has a few starts under his belt, and the change at QB should spark some effort from the offense. Let’s add that Miami, even though they’re 7-3, they’ve outscored opponents by only a tiny margin this season, 252-241. The Dolphins have held just 2/10 opponents under the 17-point mark all season long. So, I think the Texans will get some cheap points here, at least enough to exceed a very low team total of 16.5. Moreover, if Miami rolls up points (and they should), that probably sets up some relaxation by the defense, which often happens often in blowout games. We’re also paying low vig, at just -105, and fading popular opinion that Houston’s offense sucks. Yeah, Houston’s offense sucks, but sometimes the intangibles make it worthwhile to go contrarian, and here’s a good spot to do so.
The Pick: Houston Team Total Full Game OVER 16.5 (-105)
Tampa Bay at Cleveland
Line: Buccaneers -3.5
Analysis: Here’s a possible trap game for Tampa Bay, laying more than a FG on the road despite being a dreadful 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games. The Bucs are also 1-4 ATS coming off the bye week in the last five seasons. With QB Tom Brady, Tampa Bay is just 5-7 ATS as a road favorite. Hence, the Bucs look like the obvious sucker play. However, I’m not betting on Cleveland plus the points either, even though that’s a very tempting prospect. Instead, I see value in a PROP on this game, which is Browns QB Jacoby Brissett to exceed some passing numbers. First, this should be the final start by Brissett, since controversial Deshaun Watson is expected to return to the lineup in Week 13 (vs. Texans) following his suspension. That’s a perfect opponent for Watson to rekindle some confidence, especially versus his old team in Houston. That also leaves us with a stealth opportunity to take advantage of no one paying attention to Brissett, who — for all his lack of sparkle — has still produced some solid numbers. He’s 18th in QB ratings among all starts, with an impressive 65 pct. completion rate, with 11 TDs and just 5 INTs. Brissett won’t make the Hall of Fame, but he doesn’t make many mistakes, either. What Brissett is really good at is getting trash yards and stats, piling up numbers that make him look better on paper than the 3-7 record he’s produced as a Cleveland starter. What really stands out is the PROP on Brissett’s passing yards, just 207.5. That’s low for any QB, let alone one who’s played as well as Brissett this season. And if you look at his 10 starts, Brissett has gone UNDER that 220 just once, and that was in Week 1. He’s coming off a 324-yard game against Buffalo (with 3 TDs) last week, so the Browns won’t be afraid to let him sling the ball again. Brissett’s QBR is also 100+ in 3 of his last 4 starts, so he’s played well of late. While Tampa Bay does field the NFL’s #8 ranked defense (total yardage allowed) and #5th ranked pass defense, they also will face one of the league’s best rushing teams (Browns average 150 YPG rushing and 227 YPG passing). This forces the Bucs to play the run a little more, setting up more opportunities for Brissett. I’m also leaning to Brissett’s completions OVER 18.5, since he does complete a high percentage of passes, and is likely to be playing from behind at some point based on being an underdog (teams that trail usually throws the ball more in catch-up mode). Brissett’s receivers are also healthy. In what should be his final start, Brissett also has a little added motivation to make this game count, so that intangible adds to my support for his OVER on passing props. If you’re really aggressive, also consider Brissett OVER on passing attempts, at 29.5. If you’re super aggressive, the OVER 1.5 TD passes also pays +185. I’ll stick with just the OVERs on yards and completions, but all four bets could hit under the right circumstances (or lose, of course). Note the weather conditions, which call for rain and temperatures of 48 degrees. A little rain is fine. But do be careful about really bad visibility, which is always possible in Cleveland this time of year.
The Picks: PROP: J. Brissett OVER 207.5 yards passing (-115) / PROP: J. Brissett OVER 18.5 pass completions (-115)
Note: I’ll post more games analysis and picks ASAP — Check back later.
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