Soon Christmas will be upon us and presents will be under trees, the smell of cookies will fill kitchens, and teams will begin to clinch playoff spots in this NFL season.
With so many close division races it's going to be an exciting end to an unusual football season and we're for it. Lamar Jackson and Myles Garrett were just a few of the players that have been added to the Covid-19 Reserve list this past week. The Ravens had enough players added to it that their game with the Steelers was moved from prime time on Thanksgiving to Sunday.
Hopefully we won't continue to see this trend increasing as it puts the season in jeopardy, but for now here are FindBet's power rankings for Week 12 (updated to account for the two Thanksgiving Day games) based on what we've seen so far this year.
32. New York Jets (0-10, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - Now that Thanksgiving has passed, Jets fans are hoping for a Christmas miracle before the end of the year. No team wants to finish 0-16, but it looks like there's a real chance.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9, Last Week 31, +/- 0) - Nine straight losses and Mike Glennon is replacing Jake Luton at quarterback this weekend.
30. Detroit Lions (4-7, Last Week 20, - 10) - Detroit was picked apart by Deshaun Watson in the early Thanksgiving day game. Until the Lions' passing attack gets back on track they will have a hard time putting together wins.
QB's Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) & Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) exercising Social Justice support during th… https://t.co/DiY8BY4qrJ— DEE SPORTS GUY (@DEE SPORTS GUY)1606413421.0
29. Chicago Bears (5-5, Last Week 27, - 2)
28. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7-1, Last Week 21, - 7) - The loss of Joe Burrow for the rest of the season is a major blow. What's worse is that his status will be in question for the start of next season as well. Let's hope for a speedy recovery for the young QB.
27. Denver Broncos (4-6, Last Week 28, + 1)
26. Dallas Cowboys (3-8, Last Week 29, + 3) - It's time to stick a fork in the Cowboys season. Mathematically they're still in the hunt for the division, and thus the playoffs. But this team just looks like something is wrong and Ezekiel Elliott hasn't been a factor outside of a 100 yard rushing performance last week.
#Cowboys’ RB Ezekiel Elliott has lost 5 fumbles this season. Melvin Gordon has lost 4. No other RB has more than 2.— NFL Update (@NFL Update)1606433603.0
25. San Francisco 49ers (4-6, Last Week 22, - 3)
24. New York Giants (3-7, Last Week 26, + 2)
23. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1, Last Week 18, - 5) - Washington moving ahead of the Eagles in the division dropped Philly five spots this week.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (3-7, Last Week 25, + 3)
21. Atlanta Falcons (3-7, Last Week 17, - 4)
20. Carolina Panthers (4-7, Last Week 23, + 3) - Not having a healthy Christian McCaffrey this season has been disappointing not only for fantasy managers, but the Panthers probably feel like CMC's typical production could've helped them to another win or two improving their playoff chances.
Christian McCaffrey has played in 3-games this season. Week 1 -28.5 Week 2 - 24.8 Week 9 -37.1 points in PPR He… https://t.co/ZvvwPJicpi— Ray G 🏁 (@Ray G 🏁)1605815340.0
19. Houston Texans (4-7, Last Week 24, + 5) - Finally we got to see Deshaun Watson put on the cape and put up a Superman kind of performance. Houston smashed the Lions on Thanksgiving behind four touchdown throws from their quarterback. If they can continue to get this level of play from Watson, maybe they're not done just yet.
Deshaun Watson's last six games: 141/200 Comp/Att (71%) 1,750 Pass Yards 16 Total TD 0 Turnovers Lighting it up 🔥 https://t.co/sujRWdlIrB— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter)1606435629.0
18. New England Patriots (4-6, Last Week 24, + 5)
17. Washington Football Team (4-7, Last Week 30, + 13) - Washington picked up a convincing win on Thanksgiving against Dallas and has put themselves atop the NFC East.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (6-4, Last Week 11, - 5) - Even though the Raiders lost to the Chiefs last week, they kept it competitive and have played extremely well the past three weeks. Derek Carr has been very good this year and is developing a rapport with his deep threats in Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs.
15. Minnesota Vikings (4-6, Last Week 14, - 1)
14. Baltimore Ravens (6-4, Last Week 9, - 5) - Riding a two game losing streak the Ravens have allowed the Browns to jump ahead of them in the AFC North standings. Lamar Jackson was added to the Covid-19 Reserve list on Thanksgiving and will likely be unavailable for the rescheduled game with the Steelers on Sunday.
Breaking: Lamar Jackson has tested positive for COVID-19, per @RapSheet https://t.co/5oAEotR44A— Sports Illustrated (@Sports Illustrated)1606437877.0
13. Miami Dolphins (6-4, Last Week 10, - 3)
12. Los Angeles Rams (7-3, Last Week 16, + 4) - The win over the Bucs on Monday Night Football is the Rams' best win of the season. It's moving them from the category off borderline playoff team into the realm of legitimate contenders.
11. Cleveland Browns (7-3, Last Week 15, + 4) - The Browns have moved into second place in the AFC North and continue to win by any means necessary. They boast one of the best one-two punches at running back now that Nick Chubb is back from injury to pair with Kareem Hunt. Myles Garrett was added to the Covid-19 Reserve list and his status is up in the air for now.
Tackling @nickchubb21 is hard, we get it. 📺: @NFLonFOX https://t.co/7ZJgXaJY5K— Cleveland Browns (@Cleveland Browns)1606077448.0
10. Tennessee Titans (7-3, Last Week 12, + 2)
9. Arizona Cardinals (6-4, Last Week 6, - 3)
8. Buffalo Bills (7-3, Last Week 7, - 1)
7. Indianapolis Colts (7-3, Last Week 13, + 6) - The Colts have scored over 30 in wins over the Packers and Titans the past two weeks. On the defensive side of the ball Indianapolis is one of the best in the league. Only the Ravens, Steelers, and Rams have allowed less points by opponents on the year.
Take a deep breath. We're 7-3. https://t.co/53QNCR1rTA— Indianapolis Colts (@Indianapolis Colts)1606092815.0
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4, Last Week 5, - 1) - The good news for the Buccaneers is that Antonio Brown looks to be settling into the offense quickly. The bad news for the Buccaneers is that Tom Brady has been extremely inconsistent throughout the 2020 campaign and last week was one of the down weeks.
5. Seattle Seahawks (7-3, Last Week 8, + 3) - Russell Wilson and the Seahawks got a much needed win against the Cardinals to at least put a hold on a bad stretch in the season for them. Once Chris Carson is able to return to the backfield, the added stability at the RB position should help get the offense back on track.
Chris Carson in his first full practice since he sprained his foot a month ago. Big step for #Seahawks… https://t.co/UBcYTDPpNF— Gregg Bell (@Gregg Bell)1606250901.0
4. Green Bay Packers (7-3, Last Week 3, - 1)
3. New Orleans Saints (8-2, Last Week 4, + 1) - Taysom Hill filled in for Drew Brees nicely last week, and with the suspected injuries being confirmed earlier this week it looks like Hill will need to keep up the good run of play for a few weeks more.
Leaving with leftovers #Thanksgiving https://t.co/8Vtck3Q13I— New Orleans Saints (@New Orleans Saints)1606425241.0
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1, Last Week 2, +/- 0)
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0, Last Week 1, +/- 0) - The Steelers remain undefeated after an easy win over Jacksonville. Their Week 12 game with the Ravens was supposed to headline on Thanksgiving in prime time, but Covid cases have forced the game to be rescheduled to this weekend. Without Lamar Jackson, the Ravens could struggle even worse than they did in the two teams' first matchup in Week 7.
Chase Claypool 31 yard TD from Ben Roethlisberger #Steelers https://t.co/xXY8czw2VJ— BlitzburghUSAVideos (@BlitzburghUSAVideos)1606194662.0
It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.