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Here is what I wrote in this space last week about my NFL betting picks: “It finally happened. Fifteen straight weeks of avoiding a losing record, but regression finally hit us. And when regression hits, it hits hard.”
Boy, does it ever. We followed up our first losing week of the season with our first winless week of the season. Not great. Still, I stand by the analysis. Yes, the Eagles pick was flat-out wrong.
But the Lions and Bears scored 34 points in the first half and then 48 points through three quarters before playing to a 3-point fourth quarter.
And, for the second week in a row, Kenny Pickett broke our hearts with a game-winning drive in a match we led for essentially the entire second half. Such is gambling life.
Still, because we built up such a strong early-season record, we’re at 61% winning (38-24) for the year. Not bad at all.
Week 17 NFL Betting Picks (0-3)
Philadelphia Eagles -6.5 over New Orleans Saints ❌
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Over 52 points ❌
Baltimore Ravens -2.5 over Pittsburgh Steelers ❌
Week 18 NFL Betting Picks
Saturday Teaser: Jacksonville Jaguars PK over Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders Under 58.5 points
I’m going to start a little unconventionally here. When you’re on a losing streak, it’s time to change things up. I like the Jags to win on Saturday and reach the postseason. Why? They’re a lot better than Tennessee and they’re at home. I lean towards them at -6 but with so much on the line, I feel better about them winning outright.
Jacksonville is the better team, by a lot
They’re nearly two tiers better than the Titans who are now playing a quarterback who was on an NFL practice squad — and not the Tennessee practice squad — two weeks ago. Jacksonville already beat Tennessee by two touchdowns on the road and that was when Ryan Tannehill was starting.
The Titans have the league’s worst pass blocking and the Jaguars front is strong. Josh Dobbs is going to be harassed in this game and I think that means sacks and potential turnovers. On the flip side, Tennessee’s pass rush is just OK and they didn’t sack Trevor Lawrence once in the first meeting. If they can’t get to Lawrence, he’s going to pick them apart, again.
I know Mike Vrabel is very good off a bye. He’s 9-1 on extended rest in the regular season (either a bye or Thursday Night Football the week prior) in his career as Titans head coach. However, that’s slightly misleading. Yes, last week was a quasi-bye because Tennessee rested its starters. But it wasn’t an actual bye.
Plus, the one loss he suffered already came this season against the Bengals following Tennessee playing on Thursday. The win off the bye this year came against the Colts. Plus, the Titans had an actual bye in the playoffs last season and then proceeded to lose at home to Cincinnati. This is essentially a playoff game.
Plus, I think the edge is mitigated going against Doug Pederson, a guy who won a Super Bowl with Nick Foles. I think he sets Lawrence up for big success here.
Chiefs-Raiders total is already too high, let’s get some insurance by teasing up this NFL betting pick
OutKick’s Geoff Clark wrote a detailed piece on why the total in Saturday’s afternoon contest is too high. I like teasing it up even further for some insurance. Geoff’s analysis is excellent, plus I would add this: the most common totals in NFL betting over 50 are 51, 55 and 57. By getting this number to 58.5, we get above all of those so we pass several key numbers, making this a good value tease.
Minnesota Vikings -7 over Chicago Bears
OK, so Minnesota doesn’t have much to play for, so this is a little scary. That’s especially true since the Vikings aren’t nearly as good as their record indicates. But this comes down to one thing. Nathan. Peterman.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Nathan Peterman is the second-worst player I’ve ever seen start at quarterback in the NFL. The worst is Kendall Hinton, a wide receiver who was forced to quarterback the Denver Broncos when COVID knocked their entire QB room out for a game.
Some things to know about Peterman that I wrote earlier this week for OutKick:
“The last time Nathan Peterman started a football game in the NFL [was] November 4, 2018. It’s been over 1,500 days since that game.
“Since that fateful day, Peterman has attempted a grand total of 11 passes. For his career, the now-28-year-old career backup has three touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. His passer rating is 32.2.
“…If he had simply had spiked the ball on every, single career snap he would have a higher passer rating [39.6] than he does now.
“In his four starts (all with Buffalo), Peterman is 1-3. The average score of those games is Bills 12, opponents 37.”
Yes, even with a win mixed in there, Peterman’s teams are still outscored by 25 points. If you take out that victory and just look at the average score in his defeats, it would be Opponents 47, Bills 12.
It honestly appears as if Chicago wants to lose this game. And, they should. Head coach Matt Eberflus doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy of losing his job after one season and a Bears loss coupled with a Texans win means Chicago would have the #1 pick in the draft. It actually behooves the head coach to lose this game. Plus, it’s just smart money to go against Peterman with NFL betting picks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2.5 over Atlanta Falcons, 1st Half
Tampa Bay has nothing to play for in this one, which is why they’re such big underdogs to an inferior team. However, head coach Todd Bowles claims they’re not going to rest their starters. Do I think he’s being entirely truthful? No I do not. I am sure the starters will start, but probably won’t play the second half. Because of that, I’ll play the first half line, something I typically don’t do.
Tampa is the better team and the Falcons really, really stink. Desmond Ridder really, really stinks. Marcus Mariota quit on the team after he got benched and I don’t think that’s a sign of a healthy locker room. This is the last game of Atlanta’s season and it seems they are ready to be done.
Even if hero Blaine Gabbert DOES enter the game in the first half — or even starts — he’s better than David Blough. That’s who Atlanta beat last week. By 1 point. Here’s the list of QBs the Falcons have played over the past five weeks: David Blough, Tyler Huntley, Andy Dalton, Kenny Pickett and Taylor Heinicke. They are 1-4 in those games.
I think the Bucs will easily keep this game within range throughout the contest and they might just outright win. While Brady and Bowles have their eyes on a bigger prize, a loss in this game would give the team a losing record for the season. Tom Brady has never had a losing season in his career and has never won fewer than 9 games in a regular season. Don’t underestimate them wanting to go into the playoffs with a winning record and a three-game win streak. And with starters likely to play at least the first half, we get the better team as an underdog. Great value.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Under 38 points
The Indianapolis Colts have scored 13 points over the past two weeks combined. The Houston Texans have scored 22 points over the past two weeks combined. So if you added up all the points both of these teams scored in Weeks 16 and 17 combined (35 points), you still stay under the 38 points they have to combine for to hit the over in this game.
The Texans are rotating QBs at this point, giving most of the snaps back to Davis Mills, who was benched earlier in the season, while mixing in Jeff Driskel.
The Colts are finally going back to Sam Ehlinger but only because Nick Foles got hurt. In Ehlinger’s two starts, the Colts scored 19 points total. He also played the second half last week and the team managed 7 points.
So, 26 points in five halves of football. He has led the team on two touchdown drives. One of them started on the opponents 24-yard line. The other came when the team was down 31-3 in the second half.
And, believe it or not, these teams have about average defenses. The Colts defense is actually slightly above average the Texans defense is just below. But they have the worst offenses in the NFL. By a wide margin. Literally, go look at the EPA chart I posted in the Jaguars handicap. This pair is essentially in their own offensive tier. I’m not sure they could have set the under low enough for me not to take it.
Interesting NFL betting picks angle to think about…
This is not an official pick, but something to think about. The Cincinnati Bengals-Baltimore Ravens game might not matter much to Cincinnati. There is talk that the NFL is leaning towards cancelling the Bengals-Bills game rather than resuming. If they do that, Cincinnati already has the AFC North clinched and they can’t earn the #1 seed in the AFC. The Bengals might have information about this that we do not have.
But if that is the case, I do believe the Ravens have a strong incentive to win, even if they can’t win the division. Why? If Baltimore wins and the Chargers lose, then Baltimore moves to the #5 spot in the AFC. In that case, they would play the winner of Tennessee-Jacksonville instead of having to … well, probably stay in Cincinnati and play the Bengals again. Or perhaps the Bills. Or the Chiefs. The Ravens ML is currently +260, so Vegas clearly thinks they will not win. I think the odds should be lower than that.
Now, to really leverage that information, let’s look at the Chargers. Currently, they are underdogs (+125) at Denver. Why? Because Vegas believes their game won’t mean anything. If Cincinnati wins, it doesn’t. But, if we hit the Baltimore moneyline, suddenly the Chargers now have the same incentive to win and face the AFC South winner. That line would certainly change and make Los Angeles the favorite. A parlay of Ravens ML and Chargers ML currently has odds of +710.
So, if we hit that Ravens bet at +260, suddenly we have a parlay with +710 odds that only needs the Chargers to win outright. The Chargers, now needing a win to get the 5-seed, will probably go from +105 underdogs to around -200 favorites. At that point, you could hedge by betting the Broncos ML, try to middle it by taking the Broncos plus the points or just let your bet ride on LA. Either way, that’s an option to leverage two results that are correlated to get some value on a parlay.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ