MERRRRRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL. I hope you all had a good day yesterday, I had a fairly lazy one, dinner cooked by the Grandmother-in-law as it might be the last one she’s capable of, then catching up with the Witcher in the evening while keeping an eye on last nights games.
Not a whole lot to talk about on the present front, such is the way when you’re old, hopefully I’ll pick out a few winners to gift us some profit tonight.
Last night saw the Packers scrape to another win against a Covid-depleted side, beating the Ravens and Browns without half their teams by a combined 3 points isn’t great, but it does mean they’ll be the #1 seed for another week regardless of results today. The loss for the Browns means they’re stuck on 7 wins, and will be two games behind in division (unless the Ravens/Bengals tie) with two remaining, they need a Cincinnati win.
The late game saw the Colts beat the Cardinals without most of their offensive line, especially after losing Eric Fisher during the game, I managed most of the first half, it wasn’t pretty, interupted by false starts on seemingly every drive, but they reach 9-6, further cement the 5th seed and keep up the pressure on the Titans although winning the division is realistically not going to happen. The Cards went 1-3 over the last month as they stumble towards the post-season, it probably means 5th seed for them and a re-match against the Rams if things go as expected tonight.
If you like DFS then obviously have a read of Tom’s preview at NFL-DFS.com. I am hoping to extend over there next year, again, all depends on time, but things are in the off-ing to concentrate more on this side of my life so will see how that all goes.
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Baltimore Ravens -7 @ Cincinnati Bengals: 41.5
A potential AFC North decider takes place in Cincinnati as the Bengals take on the utterly fucked up Ravens, if the Bengals win they go a game ahead with the tie-breaker over the Ravens, a Ravens win evens the seies and the Bengals have to win at least one of their Chiefs and Browns games to have a chance of taking the division.
The Ravens have no players left, they’re down to Josh Johnson, third choice QB after Tyler Huntley landed on the Covid list. Johnson threw for 300 and 3 against the Colts in garbage time (the last 3 qtrs of that game was garbage) for the Jets earlier in the year, and had 4 snaps against the Bengals when they played the Jets , so he has seen a little bit of action this year and looked pretty good in fairness. He’s mobile and has a decent arm, so I’m not completely writing them off.
It does look like Marquise Brown will be playing, he and Andrews are the only real weapons to stop on offense, Andrews has 21 receptions for 251 yards and 3 TDs in their last two games as Huntley was playing and peppering his most reliable target in the middle of the field. Brown also had 10 receptions last week, for a mindblowing 43 yards. That’s hard to do.
They have injuries all over the rest of the roster from OL to CB to LB to pass rush. It’s been a horrible year for them yet they still have their destiny in their own hands in division, the coaching has been brilliant barring a few weird 2-point calls in recent weeks which has hurt them.
So, if the Bengals don’t win the division this year they’ve only got themselves to blame, the decimation of other squads across the league and their relative health has been a huge advantage and fortunately (according to Joey B) there’s nothing to do in Cinci so the risk of mixing with the infected is lowered.
They smashed the Ravens on the road earlier in the year, and that was a far healthier team than the one they’re up against tonight. Joe Burrow is one of PFF’s highest rated QBs of the season, even above Justin Herbert, and he has been brilliant this year.
They have a top trio of WRs who chip in each week, although Chase will be hoping for a big game after 201 yards against the Ravens earlier, he’s only had 289 in the 7 games since that match. It doesn’t matter to the team too much as Higgins has been on fire and Boyd moves the chains. CJ Uzomah also had a big game against the Ravens, he adds some catches when needed.
Joe Mixon suffered a twisted ankle in their game agianst the Broncos, but it seems he’ll be fine to go, I kinda hoped he’d be limited and they’d go more pass-heavy instead of trying to constantly establish the run, but it is what it is. Samaje Perine has had a few good games in relief.
They’ve been very good defensively, you tend to build to stop the main threat in your division and that was Lamar Jackson. They’ve been very good against the run this year, playing a backup with little tape may cause them issues as was proven when Mike White had his game against them.
The unknown of Josh Johnson is the main worry for my Bengals team, but they have to win and really should do. They should really cover as well but the Ravens have surprised me despite all the injuries and I wouldn’t be shocked if it was kept closer than expected. The total is low, I’d have to take over if I was forced.
Buffalo Bills +1 @ New England Patriots: 43.5
Another potential division decider is the main Sky game for the evening as the Bills take on the Pats in much more favorable weather than they faced off against each other in just a couple of weeks ago. A win for the Pats pretty much secures the division and takes them to double-digit wins but a win for the Bills will put them above their rivals thanks to divisional records (that opening day loss to the Dolphins could cost the Pats).
These are the top 2 rated defenses according to DVOA, the Pats have had the 27th toughest schedule, the Bills the 31st. So it’s safe to say they’ve not exactly had a tough time of it this year.
The Bills have made a season of destroying terrible teams and struggling against the better teams they’ve faced. The win against the Chiefs in week 5 the highlight for their season, but losing to the Jaguars really showed anything can happen.
They needed to get a run game sorted out as the lack of that for a lot of the season has really hurt them and it looks like they’ve landed on Devin Singletary as the main man after 22 carries from him last week, admittedly under 4 yards per carry, but still, they needed to get some threat on the ground other than Josh Allen running it.
It was inevitable that Allen dropped off from his form last year and it’s happened, he’s still pretty good but the connection with Stefon Diggs hasn’t been the same this year. He has enjoyed playing with Gabriel Davis in recent weeks but he’s out with Covid this week. Emmanuel Sanders started the season well, he’ll be back here and looking to bounce back to some form, while Dawson Knox gets a lot of endzone targets and should get the same here.
Obviously the Pats are one of the best coached teams in the league and constantly running in a tornado the last time these two met won the match then, it should be a different case here, but Mac Jones has been fine in his debut year, 17th in yards, 16th in TDs, 13th in QBR. He’s fine.
The run game has been the main point of attack for them and they’ll have Damien Harris back as Rhamondre Stevenson steps out due to Covid. Harris should get the bulk of the load with Bolden and Taylor mixing in a little if needed.
They’re without Nelson Agholor in the passing game but Kendrick Bourne has got through protocol to become available. Bourne has come on in recent weeks so is an important piece for them. If you want to take a TD scorer though it has to be Hunter Henry with 9 TDs this year including 2 last week. He and Jonnu Smith have about 40% of the teams redzone targets this year as they hit the big lads near the endzone.
They have been good defensively, playing the Bills in fair weather will be interesting.
As you might have noted I’m still not really buying the Pats. I think the Bills win, won’t be touching the total though.
Detroit Lions +6.5 @ Atlanta Falcons: 42.5
A little less to talk about from now on. The Lions upset the Cardinals in the one of the biggest shocks of the season last week, Craig Reynolds earned himself a proper spot on the active roster after his 112 yards on the ground, doing it for little folk everywhere.
Jared Goff is unlikely to play as he’s on the Covid list, Josh Reynolds and D’Andre Swift are both questionable, Swift and Jamaal Williams both practised this week though so could return.
The Falcons have the 2nd worst point differential in the year, getting wiped out by good teams, yet still have a shot of the playoffs. Matt Ryan, Kyle Pitts and er, Russell Gage should be able to move the ball tonight though.
Cordarrelle Patterson is arguably the most important individual for his team in the league, he’s been a revelation this year.
Falcons win, Cover, under on the total
Jacksonville Jaguars +1.5 @ New York Jets: 41.5
How can the Jets be favored against anyone? Play the Jags.
The Jags might be rid of Urban Meyer, but they’re still terrible. James Robinson is the only player of note for them. Trevor Lawrence is meant to be good.
The number 2 pick on the other side of the ball hasn’t been great either. Michael Carter might get more carries after returning to do nothing last week with, he and Coleman had 8 carries each in their loss.
Check prices on Kroft and Griffin (well, Griffin is on IR apparently, so Kroft 13/2). There’s little to talk about here. Jets win, cover, under.
Los Angeles Chargers -10.5 @ Houston Texans: 46
The Chargers are without Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams, they should still win though. Justin Jackson should get most of the carries, but look for Rountree and Kelley to have a few touches too.
The Texans have started surprisingly well in recent weeks with Davis Mills at QB, but Brandin Cooks is out and he’s their only talented player.
I’d probably say the Texans cover, but it’s a firm avoid. Under on the total my lean.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Minnesota Vikings: 49.5
The Rams have the division in their control after the Cardinals lost last night. After a rough month or so they’ve rebounded with 3 wins in a row including two in division against the Cards and Seahawks. Matthew Stafford has looked better, and his connection with Cooper Kupp seems unstoppable, Kupp should be breaking all the records this season with the extra game. He added another 136 yards and 2 TDs last weekend.
Outside of Kupp you’re looking at Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham in the passing game, while Darrel Henderson and Sony Michel have been getting it done on the ground, Michel the main man in recent weeks with Hendo coming back from injury, both are adept through the air as well.
The Vikings are the best 7-7 team? Kirk Cousins has played well on the whole, although his INT last week was one of the weirder you’ll see this season, it’s a 1pm ET game, so he should look good and has got his team out to a 7 point lead in every game this season.
They are without Dalvin Cook, but Alexander Mattison fills in well usually and will get all the work here. Adam Thielen looks like he could be back which is big for them in the passing game, he and Justin Jefferson have shown again they’re one of the best partnerships in the league.
I’ve no idea. Two teams who have burnt me regularly this season. I think the Rams win, but I wouldn’t be surprised either side, lean over the total.
New York Giants +10 @ Philadelphia Eagles: 40.5
Jake Fromm starts for the Giants, he looked pretty good in limited time last week, should mean more for Kenny Golladay as he lobs it up for him. 3 from 8 targets last week for the big lad, this could be his week… or maybe not, the Giants aren’t good.
The Eagles are the better team on both sides of the ball, should run all over them here. Sanders will get all the yards and then Hurts will score the TDs. Very frustrating if you own Sanders in fantasy.
Goedert and Smith the only players to note in the passing game.
Eagles win, should cover but it’s a big one. Realistically you should go Giants and Under, but I don’t want anything to do with them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -9.5 @ Carolina Panthers: 43
The Bucs had a lot of injuries last week, Godwin out for the season, Fournette probably missing the rest of the regular season and Mike Evans missing this game. Gronk will play and Antonio Brown is returning after his suspension which helps Brady but there’s a chance he throws another paddy this week if they struggle against a fair Panthers defense.
The Panthers are starting Cam, he’ll have a good first drive, probably rush one in, then turn to shit and they’ll bring in PJ Walker to make Cam look like he’s not that bad after all.. although. Sam Darnold may be back and you’d have to imagine he’ll be above Walker in the pecking order, either way, it’s not good. DJ Moore should play. I had the Panthers finishing 2nd in division and making the playoffs. They haven’t been good.
I can’t take the Bucs covering with the injuries, but they should win and keep up pressure in the chase for the #1 seed. Lean under, although it’s a low total.
Chicago Bears +6.5 @ Seattle Seahawks: 42
Big Dick Nick.
The Seahawks are shit. They need a lot of change in the summer.
This game is only worth passing attention due to the well-endowed Superbowl winner, he might bring a bit of spark to the Bears, but realistically. It’s not worth watching.
Denver Broncos -1 @ Las Vegas Raiders: 41
Realistically neither are making the playoffs, although mathmatically it’s still possible. The Broncos have Drew Lock starting, they’ll look to run the ball a lot with Gordon and Williams showing well despite being stymied last week.
The Raiders can’t go downfield, really struggled to beat a Nick Mullens Browns team last week, Darren Waller is still out.
Who Carrs? I guess I think the Raiders win as home dogs.
Pittsburgh Steelers +10 @ Kansas City Chiefs: 45.5
When in doubt, rant about the Steelers…
HOW THE HELL HAVE THE STEELERS HIT 7 WINS? One of the worst teams in the league to watch, they have a solid defense and if TJ Watt is playing as he will be, they’re always in with a chance in games. He should probably win defensive player of the year, he should have done last year and he’s better this.
Offensively they’re hideous. I hope every week to see the news that they’re bringing back Ben Roethlisberger at QB. The run game isn’t good (18 yards on 12 carries), Najee is wearing down after a lot of carries, the passing game goes through an overweight geriatric who struggles to toss the ball 2 yards sideways reliably. Diontae Johnson will get the targets, I think Chase Claypool still plays for them. Pat Friermuth is a big loss for them after getting concussed last week. Zach Gentry the TE1 there now. Yikes.
The Chiefs are the #1 seed having won 7 in a row now, they’ve had some covid issues this week but it looks like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce will both play. They are pretty much the offense. 22 of Mahomes’ 31 completions and nearly 340 of his 410 yards went to the pair last week as they beat the Chargers.
The defense has been the key for them in this run, only allowing more than 20 points once in those 7 wins, the win against the Chargers last week.
Chiefs win, should cover, under on the total. I was hoping for Pitt u17 points, but it’s 16.5 and a no-go.
Washington Football Team +10 @ Dallas Cowboys: 47
Hmm, these two met a couple of weeks ago, the Cowboys getting out to a big lead before letting Washington back into it. Taylor Heinicke left that game through injury, but he’ll be back here and should be fine. He’ll be wanting to avoid Micah Parsons who spent most of that game in the backfield.
They’ll be hoping Antonio Gibson plays, JD McKissed his season goodbye as he headed to the IR last week so they’re down to rookie Jarret Patterson if Brown misses out. Shockingly Curtis Samuel probably misses through injury, so they are thin on offense and the defense has some omissions too, Landon Collins and WJ3 both ruled out.
If the Cowboys offense can’t do well here then they really are in trouble, they’ve secured a playoff spot but Dak hasn’t been good in recent weeks. They have all their weapons available and should be looking to put on a show. Tyson Smith missing is important though, they’re a much worse team without a perfect offensive line.
Cowboys win, I’d take Wash to cover if forced.
Boxing Day Bets (2 pt stake unless stated)
- Bills Moneyline – 1/1 (most)
I should probably just say TE Scorers, I wasn’t trying to go entirely that position, but that’s where the value seems. Knox and Henry at 2/1 and above is nearly an auto bet for me, same for Andrews. Ham worth a punt with no Cook, Golladay has been targeted a lot since the OC change and Kmet has been hyped all week.
- Dawson Knox – 13/5 (Betfair)
- Hunter Henry – 23/10 (WillHill)
- Mark Andrews – 12/5 (Betfair)
- James Robinson – 11/10 (WillHill)
- CJ Ham (vikings) – 17/1 (Betfair) – 1 point stake
- Kenny Golladay – 7/2 (365/PP/Betfair) – This is the week!
- Cole Kmet – 11/2 (365)
- James Washington – 11/1 (365) – 1 pt stake – I can’t ignore the standout price with Friermuth out.
- Tee Higgins o4.5 receptions – 1/1 (365/Skybet)
- Melvin Gordon o8.5 rec. yards – 20/21 (365)
- Tyler Kroft o18.5 rec. yards – 10/11 (365, 5/6 at Skybet/Hills)
Hope you all had a good Christmas and the rest of the holidays go well for you.