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
Cleveland at Cincinnati
Line: Bengals -5.5
Analysis: I expected the battle of Ohio to be Bengals -7 or maybe -7.5, especially with the Bengals at home and playing as well as any team in the NFL at the moment. I’m stunned this is only -5.5, which is down from -6 earlier in the week. Apparently, money is coming in on Cleveland. Injuries are not a factor, but history is on the Browns’ side, so perhaps that’s the reason. Cleveland won the first meeting, demolishing Cincinnati 32-13 five weeks ago. Cleveland has also won five straight games in this series, including all in the Joe Burrow era. Browns’ backers will rightfully out the excellent rushing game contrasted with the Bengals mediocre defense, especially against the run. Let me agree with that premise that if the Browns rush for ~200 yards and win the time possession battle, they cover, and perhaps even win outright. However, two huge tipping points make me favor Cincy. First, it seems clear there’s a drop off at QB with Deshaun Watson back in the lineup. He wasn’t just rusty last week, Watson was in fact — awful. I realize when a team pays a player a shitload of money, they’ve got to start him. We’ll see if Cleveland’s gamble on Watson pays off, which will take time to prove. But right now, Watson isn’t anywhere near NFL midseason form. The Browns escaped this deficiancy last week because they played awful Houston, probably the NFL’s worst team (and Cleveland scored two defensive touchdowns which was the margin of victory). Let’s just say Cincinnati should be a far more formidable test. If the Browns fall behind, I’m glad to fade the cover rising on Watson’s arm playmaking abilities. Cincinnati has also won four straight since they lost to the Browns, and at 8-4 show no signs of the usual Super Bowl loser hangover trend that’s plagued many such teams. If anything, the Bengals now look stronger and more balanced this season. Even in their four losses, three of those came on last-second FGs. So, this has been a hot-performing team, getting healthy again, and now peaking at the right time, which is in December. Since losing their opener, Cincy is 4-0 SU and ATS at home. After beating both the Titans and Chiefs the last two weeks, facing the Browns will be a step down in class. I also see the Bengals with some added motivation in this game, with a clear opportunity to seize control in the AFC North (Cincy is tied with the Ravens at 8-4) and a chance to move into a first-round bye situation with a little help.
The Pick: Cincinnati Bengals -5.5 (-110)
NY Jets at Buffalo
Line: Bills -10
Analysis: The first data point for any Buffalo game in December is the weather. Sunday’s forecast calls for temperature in the mid-30s, an 80 percent chance of freezing rain, and some wind. The rain could be problematic (snow isn’t really a factor in totals betting, unless there’s a lot of it), which is something to watch for. The Jets (7-5) should have won/covered last week at Minnesota, despite a spotty game by White (0 TDs, 2 INTs, 54 pct. completions) — including just one TD inside the red zone. They would have won were it not for some horrific play-calling late in the game (question–why do teams throw the ball on the opponent’s 1-yard line?). While the Jets’ defense is certainly for real, uncertainty about White in big game pressure and serious questions about the Jets’ decisions and offensive schemes keeps me away from the strong temptation to take them plus the generous number of points. But, I’m not laying double digits either. Not in a division matchup. Buffalo (9-3) will be eager to avenge a 20-17 road loss to NYJ last month then they were held to just 317 yards – the fewest gained all year by the Bills. A win makes the path to the division title much easier and also gives Buffalo a slim advantage as the AFC’s #1 seed. A loss completely changes things. For the Jets, this is almost a playoff game (that loss to Minnesota last week was a killer). The problem for the Jets is, they are catching Buffalo at a bad time…. (1) revenge-minded (2) on a three-game win streak, and (3) with extra rest (Bills played last Thursday). Back-to-back road games don’t help the Jets, either. Rather than a bet on the spread or total, instead, I do see value in a PROP on this game, which is Mike White’s passing yards to go OVER. Clearly, the Jets are comfortable with White under center, allowing him to throw the ball. He threw 57 times last week. Both of his starts this season yielded higher-than-average passing yardage numbers, 315 and 369, respectively. The game spread indicates the Jets are likely to be playing much of the game from behind, which means White is likely to be forced into throwing more, and if the Jets are way behind, that’s a great setup for trash yards. The PROP on White is to pass for more than 240.5 — which looks very doable. Buffalo ranks #17 in the NFL against the pass, and has shown some tendency to let opposing QB put up good numbers (DET and MIN, most recently).
The Pick: Prop–Mike White OVER 240.5 passing yards (-115)
Jacksonville at Tennessee
Line: Titans -3.5
Analysis: Typically, a 7-5 first-place team playing at home would be a significant favorite versus a struggling 4-8 opponent going nowhere in the standings. But the line here is only -3.5. Why? Answer–it’s hard to get a pulse on the Titans. They’ve been outscored 240-219 this season. They just fired their GM, in midseason, which is practically unheard of. Yet, Tennessee is also 8-4 ATS this season, one of the NFL’s best records, and has a reputation for being underrated in betting markets. Perhaps their success stems from playing in a terrible division, which allowed the Titans to pad their wins and look better than they actually are. Nonetheless, these are the late-season games the Titans usually win. So, what the hell is going on with this pointspread? Tennessee does play lots lot of ugly, low-scoring games. So, all data points combined — the number is probably correct. / Betting UNDER 41 is tempting. But do we really want to do that with a #22-ranked defense (Titans) facing a #26-ranked defense (Jacksonville)? / Maybe. JAX QB Trevor Lawrence is “questionable but expects to play.” So, he’ll play. What’s problematic about the Jaguars is their shitting the bed last week in Detroit, getting destroyed by 26 points. That’s a team with problems, losing by that margin (and the Lions’ defense is awful). Slight lean to the UNDER. But I’ll pass on making a bet.
The Pick: No Action.
Philadelphia at NY Giants
Line: Eagles -7
Analysis: Did the Eagles right their ship last week when they wiped the field with the Titans? Maybe. Philadelphia (11-1) looked really average and very lucky for the past month, that is, until Week 13’s demolition of playoff-bound Tennessee by a whopping 25 points. That victory was a major statement. Philadelphia seemed to be sleepwalking through midseason, doing just enough to win, but struggling to cover increasingly larger spreads as betting markets began adjusting for the team with the NFL’s best W-L record. Now in Week 14, here’s a shot to punch a division rival in the jaw and almost certainly lock up the #1 seed as fewer games remain. As to betting the Eagles, I wish this line was 6 or 6.5, but -7 is probably going to keep me off the favorite. / As for the Giants, I was surprised by their effectiveness last week vs. Washington. Even much-maligned QB Daniel Jones played a terrific, mistake-free game. Home for another week vs. their division rival, the Giants are certainly capable of keeping this game close. I’m skipping the side and total but I think there’s enough firepower on the Giants’ offense to crack the team total in the first half, which is 9.5 points. Note: Rain in the forecast.
The Pick: NY Giants–Team Total First Half OVER 9.5 (-115)
Minnesota at Detroit
Line: Lions -2
Analysis: There’s been lots of talk in betting circles about the outlier line on this game, where a 5-7 team is favored vs. a 10-2 opponent. If you practice the old adage “don’t bet teams, bet numbers,” then Minnesota is the obvious pick by any metrics. However, the market is tilted heavily toward Detroit in this game, and I think there’s a valid justification for a wager on them laying the points. Let’s start with Detroit, winners of 4 of their last 5, and the lone loss was a last-second heartbreaker to Buffalo (no shame in that). What’s more important is the confidence, which we see on the Lions’ sideline for the first time in years. Detroit appears to be playing “their” game, and is racking up impressive stats as the team continues to improve with each game. This doesn’t mean the Lions are a superior team to the Vikings, but they are streaking and get a chance to make another big step forward by beating the team all but certain to win the division and be one of two teams to enjoy a first-round playoff bye. The Lions destroyed the Jaguars last week, stay at home, and should be in a good spot to continue playing well. / Conversely, I’m not sure there’s any urgency here for the Vikings. A loss here means very little, since it’s unlikely for any team to catch them as the #2 seed, and they’re probably not going to surpass the Eagles. So, is Minnesota really going to put everything into this game? I don’t see that happening. The Vikings have won a lot of close games this season, including a razor-thin victory over the Lions earlier in the season. The Vikings rank a dreadful #31st in YPG, which bodes well for an explosive Lions offense that ranks #7. The Lions are going to move the ball. Playing at home, with more urgency (the Lions could back into the playoffs if they run the table), against a division rival, loaded with confidence is enough to make me lay -2. I don’t like going along with popular perception, but Detroit should have more to play for and has proven its ability to compete vs. any team in the NFL.
The Pick: Detroit Lions -2 (-110)
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Line: Steelers -1.5
Analysis: Let’s start with the Baltimore Ravens, the worst 8-4 team in NFL history:
RAVENS = FRAUDS
What a schlock of shit. They get outplayed for 59 minutes by the 3-9 Broncos who can’t score on anybody. The week before that, Baltimore loses outright to the 4-9 Jaguars. A week prior to that, the Ravens luckbox their way to an ugly 13-3 home win against the shit 3-9 Panthers (the game was tied 3-3 early in 4Q). This isn’t all on Lamar Jackson, who is out for 2-3 weeks, including this game against the Steelers. The Ravens are an average team that’s caught just enough breaks along the way to be in first place tied with the Bengals. They’re #14 in offense YPG and #14 in defense YPG — like I said, average. Against the spread, the Ravens are money burners, just 4-7-1 this season. You can probably tell I’m fading these frauds, especially with Tyler Huntley playing as the backup QB. Baltimore struggled the last three games, and now plays a revamped Pittsburgh defense that really stepped up since the return of 2021 “Defensive Player of the Year,” T.J. Watt. I expect Baltimore’s troubles to continue, as they won’t be able to get away with sloppy play and mistakes in a division road game against a resurgent team that’s won 3 of its last 4 games (defeat was a one-score loss to Cincy). Pittsburgh probably found their new QB, as well with Kenny Pickett (no INTs last three starts) playing better each game. The Steelers are making an impressive late-season push. It might be too late to make the playoffs, but they’ll be a solid test at home versus a hobbled, underachieving division rival. Since Pitt’s Week 9 bye, they’re 12th in overall efficiency, second in rushing, and seventh in defense. Moreover, if Jackson was struggling to jump-start the sputtering Ravens’ offense, how is Huntley going to use these same parts and get the engine running? Give me Pittsburgh minus the small number.
The Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -1.5 (-110)
Houston at Dallas
Line: Cowboys -17.5
Analysis: The Cowboys can probably name the final score here. This is the highest spread of the NFL season, and rightly so. The last time the Texans went on the road was a few weeks ago when they played in Miami and got pummeled by the Dolphins, which led 30-0 at halftime. Houston staged a trash-yardage comeback in the second half, losing by 15 at the end. But that could have just as easily been a 40-point loss for the Texans. Houston also regressed last week, especially on offense, which gave up more points (two defensive TDs) than they scored. Dallas doesn’t let up like either of their last two opponents, evidenced by their 33-point 4Q last week at home against Indianapolis. NFL teams used to lay off in the 2H when up big, but some teams keep hitting the gas and it looks like Dallas is in this mindset, perhaps wanting to continue building confidence heading toward the playoffs, where the Cowboys always crash and burn. So, we can probably dispel fears that the Cowboys will relax, if leading. The Cowboys love to run up points and did so in big wins versus the Bears, Vikings, and Colts since QB Dak Prescott’s return from injury. However, I’m skipping either side or total. / Instead, what I like is a PROP in this game, which is the interception total for Houston QB Davis Mills at .5 (basically-will he or won’t he throw an interception). We must lay -215, which seems higher. However, Mills has thrown an interception in 5 straight games, and 7 of his 8 starts. He has four games with multiple interceptions this season. No doubt, Mills facing a tougher defense with Dallas, ranked #3 overall, and #2 in takeaways (with 20). Given that Houston will be behind in much of this game based on the spread, Mills will be forced to pass, and we can bet with some confidence that he’ll toss at least one pick. Mills also averages 37 pass attempts per game, which is higher than average (especially for a team that doesn’t generate many drives and runs the second-fewest offensive plays in the NFL). Again, playing from behind, under pressure, versus a top defense, on the road — he’s likely good for an interception. This is a good bet, even at the lay price.
The Pick: Prop-Mills Davis Interceptions OVER .5 (-215)