What a treat we have from the NFL this week. With College Football not filling its usual Saturday spot the NFL has stepped up in a big way, with not one, not two, but three games. What makes it all the better is that all three games have significant playoff implications. Of the six teams playing Sunday, just one is not actively part of the playoff picture, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The other five teams are competing for the highest stakes, be that divisions, first-round byes, home field advantage, or simply to make the playoffs.
Here are this week’s NFL Picks:
Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 1:00 pm EST
1u – Houston Texans -3 @ -115
- Per Statschecker, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 0-5-1 ATS at home
- Per Statschecker, the Houston Texans are 5-2 ATS on the road
This matchup is fascinating, with one of the hottest offenses around and a Texans team looking to clinch the AFC South squaring off. My initial instinct was to raise an eyebrow at the Texans being favorites. The Buccaneers have won their last four games, having scored an average of 34.75 points per game in that span. However, there are two caveats. Firstly, look at the teams they have beaten; the Falcons, Jaguars, Colts and Lions is hardly a murderer’s row, and all four came into the game with records of .500 or below. In fact, the Buccaneers have only beaten one team with a winning record this year, the Los Angeles Rams back in Week 4. Secondly, they have now lost both of their primary weapons in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Breshad Perriman stepped up last week, but can the notoriously unreliable receiver do it twice in a row? I have my doubts.
A concern here is that the Texans are just 1-5 ATS as favorites this season. However, all six of those games have been at home, where they have been abysmal this year, going 2-5 ATS. On the road they have been a force to be reckoned with, taking down two very good teams in the Chiefs and Titans. Over their last four games they have averaged 24 PPG, which while mediocre compared to the Buccaneers, has come against significantly better defenses than the Buccaneers have faced. I just have too much concern that the Buccaneers injuries catch up to them, in a stadium they have struggled in this season.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots | 4:30 pm EST
1u – Buffalo Bills +6.5 @ -110
- Per Statschecker, the Buffalo Bills are 6-0-1 ATS on the road
- Per Statschecker, the Buffalo Bills are 5-0-1 ATS as underdogs
Betting on the New England Patriots ATS used to be money. Since 2010 they are 56-34-1 ATS at home as favorites, 59-35-1 at home in total, and a whopping 108-69-3 ATS overall in that time. Betting a team that covers 60% of the time made for some pretty easy money, but things have somewhat flipped this season. The Patriots are just 8-6 ATS this season, and just 3-3 at home. This is not the same Patriots team, and when you combine it with how good this Bills team has been as underdogs and on the road this season. The Bills offense is by no means incredible, but I cannot see how a Patriots team that has scored 20 points just twice since their bye week and ranks 19th in yards per game will score enough points to cover a spread of nearly a touchdown.
1u – Under 36.5 Total Points @ -110
- Per Statschecker, the under is 11-3 in Buffalo Bills games and 9-5 in New England Patriots games
- Per Statschecker, just one Bills road game and two Patriots home games have seen the over hit this season
Everything tells me to take the under in this game. The combined overall numbers of the under going 20-8, and the combination of the Bills on the road with the Patriots at home seeing the under hit 75% of the time are hard to argue with. My only real concern here is that one or both of these quarterbacks throws a back breaking interception against these very good defense, which would drive this game to hit the over. This series has generally been low scoring, with just one of the last five having over 36 points scored.
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers | 8:15 pm EST
1u – San Francisco 49ers -6.5 @ -108
- Per Statschecker, the San Francisco 49ers are 9-5 ATS this season
- Against teams with pass rushes ranked in the top half the Rams have scored just 56 points in four games
This game has so much on the line. A loss for the Rams eliminates them, but a loss for the 49ers would leave them facing an uphill battle to secure a first-round bye or home field advantage. Therefore, there is motivation for both teams, which is important. If the 49ers had nothing to play for, I would actually consider this a good spot for the Rams. However, while the 49ers pass rush has tailed off recently, they should have too much upfront for the Rams. It is no secret in the NFL that Goff struggles under pressure, and with the Rams offensive line struggling this year, that has been extremely apparent.
By Ben Rolfe