Let’s dissect four opening lines in Week 13 and offer up some picks as the 2017 Regular Season heads down its homestretch in a season that will most definitely see some new teams participating in the Playoffs.
This NFC showdown and possible NFC Championship Game preview looks weird with Minnesota (9-2 SU) getting 3 points (all presumed Homefield points) in this game against Matt Ryan and the defending NFC champion Falcons (7-4 SU) in Atlanta on Sunday (FOX, 1 pm ET). With a win, Minnesota will stay in the race for NFC Home-field Advantage with the Eagles (10-1 SU) and maybe the Saints (8-3 SU), while a Vikings Loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium -- not yet an advantage for hosts Atlanta (3-2 at Home) -- would seemingly give Carson Wentz and Philadelphia inside track for that NFC Home-field advantage in the Postseason.
With the kind of dominating Defense (17.7 ppg, #4) that Everson Griffen and the Vikings showed in carving up the Lions on Thanksgiving, expect points to come hard for future Hall of Fame WR Julio Jones and Atlanta in a game which should probably be lined Atlanta -1 or even a Pick ‘em (Even). With Case Keenum suddenly the QB for the Vikings (14/1 to win Super Bowl, Bovada) and players like TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Stefon Diggs and WR Adam Thielen (1,005 Receiving yards) all clicking with Keenum, Minnesota definitely has a new and confident feel to its play but probably found this accidental evolution in the wrong NFL Regular Season with Philadelphia and New Orleans also breaking out.
Looking at the series Trends, we can see that the Vikings are 3-1-1 ATS the L5 meetings with the last last encounter between these two coming in Minneapolis in Week 4 of the 2014 Regular Season with the Viking winning outright as 5½-point Home Underdogs at TCF Bank Stadium, where the franchise played for two seasons (2014-2015) until their beautiful, big new home (US Bank Stadium) was being constructed. But more than the buildings have changed in the last four years and both of these teams are very different (and competitive) animals compared to seasons past.
With Wentz (2,430 Passing yards, 25 TDs), the Eagles (6/1 to win Super Bowl, Bovada) have found their QB for The Future while the Vikings now have a nice problem in suddenly having the NFL Roster with three QBs on it (Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford). With a loss hurting Atlanta so much here, one can see why linemakers have opened this betting number and perceived equalizer at (Atlanta minus) 3, but the way the Falcons (+21 Point Differential into Week 12, 3rd place in NFC South) have looked lately, this seems like a good spot in which to maybe back the Road Underdog Vikings (W7 straight) on the Moneyline as they fight with the Eagles and Saints for that Home-field Playoffs Site edge. Site matters, especially in January.
Denver Broncos -1 at Miami Dolphins
This number looks strange because it seems the devolving Broncos shouldn’t be favored over anyone on the Road this season, except maybe the Cleveland Browns (0-11 SU), but with Dolphins starting QB Jay Cutler injured and probably ready to call it a career (again), we see QB-seeking Denver being made the small chalks here at Hard Rock Stadium in a game where points may be extremely scarce and where betting the Total Under (38 Over -106, Pinnacle) might be a wise early idea.
The Broncos (500/1 to win AFC, 5Dimes) have actually been Road Favorites twice this 2017 NFL Regular Season, as 3-point Favorites in Buffalo in Week 3 (BUF 26 DEN 16) and as small 1-point Road chalks at the Chargers (LAC 21 DEN 0), so 0-2 SU and ATS in that role this year and a weird scheduling spot against a similar hurting historic team in the Dolphins (4-6, L5 straight) who both wish they had a dude like Case Keenum seemingly hidden on their Rosters. Another reason this number looks strange is that Denver had L6 SU and ATS heading into their Week 13 game against the Raiders (OAK -3½, 41, BetOnline). So when has a team that’s lost 7 straight games been installed as Road Favorites when not playing the Browns? Answer: When Matt Moore is your starting QB and your team is also teetering on having to use “next year” in their vocabulary and riding a 5-game Losing Streak of their own.
These two don’t play often but the series Trends show Miami is a profitable 7-1 ATS the L8 meetings and the Dolphins are 3-1 ATS the L4 meetings in Miami. But this is such a weird scheduling spot, with both having seemingly little to play for and with Moore possibly making his third start for the Fish with Head Coach Vance Joseph and the Broncos (3-8 SU) and possibly Paxton Lynch (who replaced Brock Osweiler who replaced Trevor Siemian) at starting QB. Seeing Denver as a favorite definitely looks weird, but sometimes the linemakers have to make somebody the Favorites in this Week 13 game from the Sunshine State on Sunday (FOX, 1 pm ET).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Pick'em) at Green Bay Packers
This game fits the same mold as the Broncos-Dolphins affair, with the Home team’s starting QB injured (Aaron Rodgers) and a mediocre to below average replacement (Brett Hundley) in his stead playing a team having a very disappointing season (Buccaneers) who has somehow been installed as the Road Favorites, making the betting number appear weird for this game from Lambeau Field on Sunday (FOX, 1 pm ET). Imagine a crappy team from Florida going to Wisconsin in December and being a chalk. Well, you don’t have to imagine it brother, it’s reality in the Here and Now and Tampa Bay (1-4 SU Road) has actually been a Road Favorite twice this Regular season because of host’s starting QB problems with Mike Evans and the Buccaneers having been 2½-point Road Favorites against the Cardinals in Glendale in Week 5 (AZ 38 TB 33) and 1½-point Road Favorites downstate in Miami in Week 12 (TB 30 MIA 20) with both Carson Palmer and Cutler injured and out for those meetings.
And after W2 straight SU and ATS, Jameis Winston (Questionable) and Tampa Bay (4-6 into Week 12) were probably playing their biggest game of the Regular Season in Week 12 at Atlanta (ATL -10½) -- with a 4-7 SU Record and darkness or a 5-6 Record and hope and light the eventual Heaven-or-Hell reality the visitors -- and seeing the Buccaneers (1000/1 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes) ending up losing, 34-20, meaning Motivation to stay alive will be less of a factor for Tampa Bay heading in here to Cheeseland.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Seattle Seahawks
If you looked at this number Preseason (Philadelphia -4), you would assume that Seahawks QB Russell Wilson just had to be injured right? Wrong, Starbucks breath. The Eagles done just got real good Bubba, that’s all. Say what? The Eagles are now “Good” and the Seahawks are now just “Average,” and don’t enjoy that same 12th Man advantage it once had? Yes. That is what I am here to tell you. The line maker know it now. The Eagles are better birds than the Seahawks, now. We have reached that point where the NFC Lake Turnover is occurring with the Vikings, Eagles, Saints and Rams apparently replacing the Packers, Cowboys, Cardinals and Seahawks as teams to beat. And with the Eagles (6/1 to win Super Bowl, Bovada) still having not allowed a TD in the 1st Quarter this 2017 NFL Regular Season, then it’s also important to recognize how well the Defensive units of these Eagles (W9 straight), Vikings, Saints and Rams have contributed to these team’s’ successes this year. We all notice Offense and the names while the Defense are often the reason these teams even make it to the Playoffs and win their betting backers money.
Looking back at previous perceptions, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook made the Seahawks 7-point Home Favorites for this matchup in their renowned 2017 NFL Games of the Year, showing an 11-point difference in what they thought might happen then to what they think might happen now. This Philadelphia team is really, really good and with Carson Wentz and have the perfect guy to build around and to believe in. He’s the real deal folks, but anyone watching Wentz play at North Dakota State already knew that. Grit don’t grow on Trees, Pablo, and it can’t be made with a 3D printer. Grit is human and grit is earned.
With the Trends here showing the Eagles to be 0-3 ATS the L3 meetings with the Seahawks, it would normally be hard to recommend baking Philadelphia in such a desperate spot against host Seattle, but the ease at which the Eagles score compared to the cavity-filling pain is seems Seattle has had to go through to try to score Points these past several seasons certainly justifies this number and it wouldn’t surprise to see some early Sharp money on Zach Ertz and the Eagles, driving this number up some, especially with they how they played against Chicago on Sunday, rolling to an easy 31-3 victory (PHIL -13½, Intertops), and granting Rookie QB Mitch Trubisky the host Bears 3 courtesy pity points for just showing up.
NFL Free Picks: Vikings +3, Eagles -4Best Lines Offered: Pinnacle