Our fantastic December form continued last weekend in week 15. Of the best two bets NY Jets was void, finishing exactly on the 3 point handicap while Arizona covered with considerable ease against the Eagles. Our treble selection, the Green Bay Packers, also covered meaning a 3/1 payout because of the void game. The also tipped NY Giants lost the game but covered the handicap at plus 5.
Less success in the anytime touchdown scorer markets. Demaryius Thomas did score at generous odds of 6/4 but Lamar Miller had a stinker against the worst rush defence in the league while AJ Green left the game injured about halfway in.
Weeks 16 and 17 are notoriously difficult in terms of betting. With many of the playoff places decided we end up with a number of dead rubbers between teams with little left to play for. Those who have secured their playoff spot can often limit the playing time of their starters in order to protect them for the offseason while others who have underwhelmed all season suddenly start to up their game in the hopes of landing a big contract in the offseason.
Carolina Panthers -7 @ 11/10 vs Atlanta Falcons
One of those teams who have already tied up their playoff spot are the 14-0 Carolina Panthers. However don’t expect them to rest on their laurels in this one as victory here will guarantee them home field advantage throughout the playoffs and put them within one game of achieving the perfect 16-0 season. Head coach Ron Rivera has already announced this week that he will play all his starters and don’t expect them to be pulled unless the Panthers are leading this one comfortably. Last weeks 3 point victory over the Giants, a game they could have and probably should have lost will serve as a timely warning against complacency.
Since winning their opening 5 games of the year to match their divisional rivals the Falcons have been in free fall. Last weeks victory over the Jaguars ended what had been a 6 game losing streak. At 7-7 they still have a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs. However it is an extreme long shot at this stage requiring them to win both their last two games and the Vikings and Seahawks to lose both of theirs. While last week saw an improved performance this is still the same team who suffered a 38-0 blowout defeat in Carolina just two weeks ago.
Given that this time they homefield advantage and a certain level of pride in facing a divisional rival I don’t envisage the score in that region. However given their lack of a pass rush against Cam Newton who is the likely MVP this season the Panthers minus 7 is a very confident pick.
Pittsburgh Steelers -10 @ 10/11 Vs Baltimore Ravens
It’s extremely rare to see me like any team that is giving up double digits on the handicap market especially considering the fact that they are on the road to a divisional rival. However given just how good this Pittsburgh offence is playing it’s hard not to like them in this spot. It’s their last 6 games they have put up 34, 33, 45, 30, 30 and 38 points. Last week they became the first team all year to score 30 or more against the much vaunted Denver defence. They have also won their last 10 December games, covering the spread in 9 of those.
Here they will face a Baltimore team who are simply waiting for this season to end. Their year has been blighted by injuries with 19 players placed on season ending IR already. This week cornerback Jimmy Smith is questionable to play which if he doesn’t will be very bad news facing this elite receiving unit. There is the notion that The Steelers secondary is susceptible against the pass but in reality it has only been when facing elite Quarterbacks. Whomever gets the start at QB for the Ravens here, Jimmy Clausen or Ryan Mallet certainly doesn’t qualify as one.
Baltimore has lost its last two games by 20 points plus and this has blowout written all over it.
Incidentally I’ve also been investing in Pittsburgh for the Super Bowl outright over the last number of week. They are not as of yet guaranteed their playoff spot but should make it and I don’t think any team will want to play then come the postseason.
For those wishing to boost this to a 7/1 treble, I also like the Arizona Cardinals(-4.5) to dispose of the Green Bay Packers This should be a shootout but with the Packers stuttering offence, Arizona should cover in the end. Meanwhile the NY Jets have a more fluid passing attack than in many a season and are worthy of support plus 3.5 points or even to gain the victory outright against the New England Patriots.
Anytime Touchdown Scorers
Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars) @ 10/11 Vs New Orleans Saints
Robinson is having a career high year and has 11 TD catches in the last 10 games. He now gets a dream matchup against a Saints secondary that has conceded the second most passing TDs in the league. At almost evens he’s a must back here.
Martavis Bryant (Pittsburgh Steelers) @ Evens Vs Baltimore Ravens
Bryant has been held scoreless in 3 of the last 4 weeks. However the three defences to stop him have been the Seahawks, the Bengals and the Broncos, three of the best on the league. Expect a return to the ends one this week against a weak Baltimore secondary.
Again if you want to risk bringing it up to a treble you could do worse than Green Bays Randall Cobb (11/10) against the Arizona Cardinals. The Packers will need to throw the ball to keep up in this one and luckily the Cardinals can be thrown upon. With Cobb mainly lining up in the slot he will avoid Patrick Peterson in coverage and should have a productive day.
Hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and best of luck.