Three NFL Games and Three Bets for Saturday

NFL Dec 17, 2022


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.



112  Wins

77  Losses

0  Pushes



[SAT] Indianapolis at Minnesota
Line: Vikings -3.5
O/U: 47.5

Analysis: Here's the first of three games played on Saturday. I'm surprised the spread is only -3.5 (down from -4 early in the week). Minnesota is clearly the Rodney Daingerfield of the NFL -- they get no respect. Yeah, there are valid concerns when betting on the Vikings. It's hard to take Minnesota seriously as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, given they hardly ever dominate their opponents and frequently win games by small margins (6-6-1 ATS).  But the biggest problem with Minnesota is a horrible pass defense that ranks #32 and dead last in the NFL.  However, the surprising Vikings are 10-3 SU this season and will win the NFC North in a cakewalk.  / Accordingly, several few factors will compel me to bet on Minnesota -3.5 this week: (1) Coming off a loss, Minnesota should be motivated by a rebound mindset.  There was no shame in losing a close divisional game at Detroit last week.  And now, they face a much softer opponent.  (2) Credit the Vikings for being 6-1 at home this season, with the lone loss being a blowout defeat to Dallas.  The Colts are a team Minnesota should defeat.  Assuming we agree Detroit is a decent team, the Vikings have faced six straight tough opponents--now, they step down in class.  (3) So, Minnesota's pass defense sucks; well, that would be problematic if Indianapolis had a potent passing attack, but they don't.  In fact, the Colts are well below average and rank 31st in scoring (ahead of only Denver).  (4) The Colts have lost 6 of their last 7 games and have scored fewer than 20 points in all eight of their losses this season.  Their only win was versus the inconsistent embarrassment known as the Raiders.  (5) Finally, the Vikings are playing mistake-free football during most weeks. That's not the case with the Colts, who ranked #31st in takeaways on defense and are the NFL's worst team in turnover differential.  So, as long as the Vikings don't implode, it will be tough to see the Colts keeping the score within a FG, let alone pulling off the upset. Indy is 5-8 ATS this season, but does have slim playoff hopes, which might keep them fighting in this game.  But Minnesota's weapons, with perhaps the best 1-2 duo in receivers (Jefferson and Thielen), should allow the Vikings to get on the scoreboard numerous time.  The Colts could still be feeling the sting of giving up 54 points in their last game (at Dallas).  I don't know how a bad team recovers from that in yet another road game versus an explosive playoff-bound opponent.

The Pick:  Minnesota Vikings -3.5 (-110)


[SAT] Baltimore at Cleveland
Line: Browns -2.5
O/U: 38

Analysis: Last week, I badly underestimated the Ravens (9-4) and especially backup QB Tyler Huntley, who went into Pittsburgh and drilled the Steelers in an outright win and a cover as a small dog. It wasn't that impressive on the scoreboard, but Baltimore won that game characteristic of what we used to associate with Baltimore -- a tough team that doesn't win fancy, but just wears down opponents and wins the battle in the trenches.  That's probably the game plan again, especially since Baltimore has injuries to both of its QBs.  Huntley reportedly cleared concussion protocol (Friday night).  Still, head coach John Harbaugh hasn't yet named a starter.  Whatever happens with the Ravens' situation pregame, I think it's clear we can expect heavy running combined with defensive pressure that's certainly capable of getting another "W."  Aside from the hiccup at Jacksonville a few weeks ago, the Ravens' defense has been outstanding -- allowing just 14-9-3-13 in the other four games.  / Weather in Cleveland, expected to be around 30, with possible snow, and steady winds (15 mph, with gusts to 35 mph), should hurt both passing games.  The UNDER 38 is tempting in this matchup, but the stronger bet is probably on a player prop. / After missing 6 weeks, RB J.K. Dobbins returned from injury last week and played a terrific game.  He took 15 carries and gained 120 yards, good for 8.0 YPC.  That was versus a pretty solid Steelers' defense, and he'll get an even easier test this week versus the NFL's #22-ranked rushing defense.  With QBs still uncertain for the Ravens, bad weather, a weak rushing defense, and Dobbins coming off a great performance (but not so many carries he's worn down), we can probably expect him to repeat similar numbers.  Incredibly, Dobbin's TOTAL RUSHING YARDS O/U is only 47.5.  Perhaps this player has simply stayed under the radar and his injury skewed the market.  Nonetheless, the Ravens are likely to feed him the ball, and won't want Huntley (or Jackson) taking the ball with their QB situation so fragile -- meaning more carries for Dobbins.  The Browns have allowed 129 YPG, and those numbers were skewed by some horrible rushing teams in the mix (Houston, Tampa Bay, LA Chargers).

The Pick: Prop--J.K. Dobbins OVER 47.5 Rushing Yards (-115)


[SAT] Miami at Buffalo
Line: Bills -7
O/U: 43

Analysis: As I wrote last week, the first metric in any December game in Buffalo is the weather, so let's start there. Snow. Snow. Snow. That's the Saturday forecast. Snow doesn't necessarily translate into a low-scoring game. Plenty of snowy games have sailed over in the past, partially due to slippery fields (which can favor receivers). What we look at closely are wind and visibility. The total opened at 44 and has dropped to 43. By game time, assuming it's still coming down, this number could drop further. I think there's still some value in UNDER 43, since we're capturing a key number in totals betting. So, if you bet this, do it fast. It's unlikely the total rises. Even with ideal conditions, the Bills have been a solid UNDER bet this season -- going 10-3 to the low side of the number, averaging -4.6 points fewer per game than projected. Miami has a reputation as a high-scoring team, but is only 6-7 this season to the OVER, so betting these two teams blindly in all the UNDERs nets a 17-9 result. / I admit to being fearful about betting an UNDER given what I've seen from the Miami defense in recent weeks. That unit looks horrible. Fortunately, the soft Miami defense is offset by the near-total collapse of Miami's once-potent offense. It's a mystery as to what happened to one of the NFL's highest-scoring teams, which has scored just 34 points in its last 10 quarters -- 3.4 points per qtr. Now, moving outdoors into bad weather conditions, it's hard to see Miami's slumping offense suddenly coming to life. / Miami looks like a horrible bet given history: They’re 1-9 SU and 2-8 ATS in their last ten games at Orchard Park. Miami is also a dreadful away team, 0-5-1 ATS in their last six away games. A third straight road game here, all against winning teams, also hurts the Dolphins, who probably know they're wild-card bound, and will be happy to get back to Miami and close out the season with two of their final three games at home. I'm not sure how much the "revenge" motive plays here, but Buffalo was upset by Miami earlier in the season in one of the most lopsided nonsensical outcomes in recent memory--Miami won 21-19 despite being outgained in yardage 495-212. Be careful about betting Buffalo, however. Bills are 1-5-1 ATS since their bye week. My final thought is -- weather should be a factor and most certainly should hurt Miami, which hasn't been scoring many points anyway under good conditions. The total seems a little high given Buffalo's strong UNDER trends. Division games tend to be lower-scoring anyway, which also helps.

The Pick: Miami / Buffalo UNDER 43 (-110)