Jason’s 2018-19 NFL picks record through Week 17:
8-13 ATS, 0-2 ML (minus-2.90 units), 4-8 Totals
It’s tough out there for a Contrarian. There’s only so much betting value to be squeezed out of these NFL picks, and a lot of that value is in the preseason. Then you’ve got 17 weeks of walking through the desert before you reach the Promised Land: the NFL playoffs. This is when the betting public starts throwing their money around. For us, it’s harvest time. Let’s go straight to this perfectly Cromulent pack of Wild-Card Weekend games.
If the football wizards at FiveThirtyEight have it right with their projections, the NFL odds for the Wild-Card Games are supertight – except for Sunday’s game (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC) at Soldier Field between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears. Nate Silver’s horde of Visigoths have Chicago as a 3-point favorite, well short of the –5.5 or –6 you’ll pay for the Bears at press time. We’ve gone over what makes the Eagles so valuable in this situation, but for a quick update, we can tell you that QB Nick Foles will start Sunday after bruising his ribs in Week 17. Let’s hope he stays healthy and fulfills The Prophecy.
Since the spreads for the other Wild-Card Games line up so closely with the projections, we’ll need to make our remaining Contrarian picks against the total – which almost always means taking the UNDER. That’s definitely the play for Saturday’s matchup (4:35 p.m. ET, ABC) between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans. The total for that game is up from 47.5 points to as high as 49, but USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin (to whom I will refer more often) projects a combined final score of 45.76. We’ll buy that for a head of cattle.
The other Saturday game has the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Dallas Cowboys in what should be a low-scoring affair; Sagarin has these two teams combining for 44.26 points. But what’s this? The total opened even lower than that at 41.5 points. Naturally, the sharps jumped on the OVER like vultures, pushing the total as high as 43.5 at press time. But if you can still grab the OVER at 42.5 by the time you read this, it’s worth a shot – although it’s not an actual Contrarian pick.
That leaves Sunday’s game (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS) between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens. The total has dipped from 42 to 41.5 at most books, with a light sprinkling of 41. Sagarin projects this one at 42.32 points, so we’re on the right track for another OVER – and it might even be a true Contrarian pick this time. Consider a small wager if they get down to 40.5 points, and as always, may the prolate spheroid be with you on your travels.