The Final Week: Sunday's NFL Picks (Late Games)

NFL Jan 02, 2021

The 2020 NFL regular season ends on Sunday.  

Recommendations on the EARLY GAMES (1 pm EST starting times) were posted previously.  This Part 2 of the weekly analysis will include a look at the 4 pm EST games, plus the Sunday Night Football match-up.

Note that all lines and totals are based on numbers currently available at SPREADS.CA.  See those odds here:

Jacksonville at Indianapolis – Here's the biggest spread on the board this week.  Indy is favoured by two full touchdowns and laying -900 on the moneyline, which seems justified.  The fading Jags have lost their last three – by 24, 26, and 27 points – and didn't break with 17-point margin in any game.  The Colts had been on a streak prior to the Pittsburgh loss last week.  It's tough to lay -14 in any NFL game, but this appears to be an exception.  Better yet, consider teasing the Colts down from 14 to -8.  That's probably less of a sweat.  An interesting sidebar to this game is the Colts lost the season opener at Jacksonville, which was the Jags only win this season.  They'd love to bookend the Colts with double upsets, but that's unlikely to happen. Recommendation:  Tease Indianapolis down from -14 t0 -8.

New Orleans at Carolina – The Saints looked utterly unstoppable in their 52-point romp over Minnesota on Christmas Day and now some had extra time to prepare for a game that could potentially earn them a first-round bye.  Nonetheless, Carolina showed they're still fighting evidenced by an outright win at Washington last Sunday as a small underdog.  The Saints laying -6.5 on the road looks like a trap.  An intangible to a possible Panthers' upset win (or cover, at least) is QB Teddy Bridgewater, the ex-Saint who is now starting for the Panthers.  Yes, this is a possible upset here, and a very attractive underdog getting points.  Recommendation:  Bet Carolina +6.5 and on the Moneyline.

Las Vegas at Denver – The Raiders faded badly down the stretch, so it will be difficult to see how they get up for this division road game.  They lost two close games which were both winnable, so the mindset of Las Vegas is certainly open to question.  Denver is even more inconsistent and difficult to predict.  The Raiders did thump the Broncos by 25 points five week ago.  Back then, the Raiders looked like a playoff contender.  But now, they're stumbling into a cold weather outdoor finale, and that's not the type of situation we want to back with our money.  Instead, the OVER 51 might be worth a serious look.  The Raiders have been an OVER machine all season, going 11-4 to the high side of the number, including their last four games.  Denver's offense is a concern for OVER bettors, but the way the Raiders are giving up yards and points, this could be a breakout game for Lock and company.  Weather not expected to be an issue with 45 degrees at game time.  Recommendation: Bet OVER 51

Seattle at San Francisco – The surging Seahawks still have a chance to earn a first-round bye if they can win, combined with both the Packers and Saints losing, and they won't know those two outcomes since the other games are played in the same time slot.  This game takes place at neutral site (Phoenix) due to restrictions in the San Francisco Bay area, so while it might seem like a road game for both teams, the Niners are quite familiar with this field and will have played here in 4 of their final 5 games.  Seattle's defense has been the big turnaround here, allowing 17 points or fewer in five straight games.  It's tough to see where the 49ers points will come from given their Seahawks healthy condition and they way they're playing at the moment.  The UNDER looks to be worth a shot.  Caution:  Be careful about betting Seattle since they've dropped five straight road games versus the spread. Recommendation:  Bet UNDER 46

Tennessee at Houston – This seems like a complete mismatch, since Houston has lost four straight games and is one of the NFL's most disappointing teams and now the Texans face an opponent playing for the division title.  It might be worth waiting to bet this game since either a Miami or Indianapolis loss (earlier) would give the Titans a playoff berth.  But if both of those teams win, it sets up the Titans for a must-win situation.  Tennessee is obviously the superior team, but it's always a concern laying points in division games on the road.  The wiser play, especially if Miami and Indianapolis both win, is to tease Tennessee down from -7.5 to 1.5.  It's hard to see the Titans coming in here with so much on the line, and losing outright to an opponent that's mailed it in for the season and is likely to clean house with the lame duck coaching staff. Recommendation:  Tease Tennessee down to -1.5

LA Chargers at Kansas City – Don't be fooled by the strange pointspread here.  Kansas City has locked up a first-round bye and home field throughout the AFC playoffs.  So, this is an off day for many starters.  This sets up an almost perfect scenario to take the young team that will use this contest to inspire some confidence heading into the offseason.  The Chargers have won and covered in four straight, so there's already good reason to like the visitors in this game.  Let's just add the Chiefs have failed to cover in 7 straight (one push), so all the stars are lined up for the Chargers to win a meaningless game, unless you take the -3.5 and get the cover. Recommendation:  Bet Los Angeles Chargers -3.5

Green Bay at Chicago – The Packers need to win here to lock up home field advantage in the NFC, but the Bears have been feisty their last three games and could play spoiler.  Chicago can get the final Wild Card spot with a win, so this amounts to a playoff game for the home dogs.  Unfortunately, they face their toughest rival.  The Packers have won five straight.  The big concern with taking the Bears is the lack of quality teams they've defeated – all three recent wins were versus bad teams (Jacksonville, Minnesota, and Houston).  In fact, the Bears have beaten only one team season with a winning record (versus Tampa Bay, a one-point win).  The reason for a wager on the favoured Packers is easy – superior team, on a roll, with something to play for, and probably not laying enough points. Recommendation:  Bet Green Bay -4

Arizona at LA Rams – This might as well be a playoff game for both teams.  The winner advances.  The loser stays home.  Unfortunately for the Rams, QB Goff is out, which means they're in a terrible spot.  Darrell Henderson has a high ankle sprain. Cooper Kupp tested positive for COVID-19 and will also miss the season finale.  Those three players lead the Rams in passing, rushing, and receiving, leaving L.A. without three of its top offensive players.  For this reason, the line flip-flopped to Arizona -3.  The Cardinals don't inspire us as favourites, however.  The gutless loss at home to San Francisco last week exposed some problems on both side of the ball for this team that's faded badly in the second half of the season.  Hard to make a case for betting on either side in this game, but since the Rams are so banged up at skill positions, it might be worth consideration to wager on the Cardinals and lay the points.  Recommendation:  Bet Arizona -3.5

SNF:  Washington at Philadelphia – Washington's season is on the line.  A win, and they're in the playoffs.  A loss, and they're out.  This is the perfect game to end the most unpredictable season, with a team that came out of nowhere to potentially win the division that's not only been in a state of turmoil, but also lost multiple quarterbacks.  Alex Smith might start.  If not, they might hire an Uber driver.  It's that dire for Washington, which has a good enough defense to win here, but which has monumental issues on offense.  Yet with all their questions, the Eagles might be in an even more uncertain position.  Philadelphia embarrassed themselves in the Dallas loss last week and have nothing at all to play for.  It's tough to see how the Eagles rise to the occasion in this spot, given their season ended with the Dallas defeat.  The tipping point is the injury situation for Philadelphia.  Nine Eagles players are out, some with COVID.  So, this team will be banged up and just as big a mess as the Washington Football Team.  Let's count on the Washington defense to carry the road favourite to a win and a cover.  But it might be ugly.  Recommendation:  Bet Washington -3.5