NFL Odds & Picks: The 7 Spreads & Totals To Bet Sunday
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers
NFL Odds & Picks
Vikings -10 vs. Jaguars
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET | More Odds
Matthew Freedman: Not since his first season with the Vikings in 2014 has head coach Mike Zimmer had a losing record. But at 5-6, Zimmer has disappointed in 2020 — his team is barely in the running for the final NFC wild card.
But this is a get-right spot for them.
Since 2014, Zimmer is an A-graded 66-40-1 against the spread (ATS) for a 21.1% return on investment (ROI).
With his elite ATS record, Zimmer has exhibited all sorts of regular-season edges throughout his tenure:
- At home: 34-19-1 ATS | 24.8% ROI
- As favorite: 38-23-1 | 21.4% ROI
- Outside of division: 45-21-1 | 32% ROI
These trends make sense within the context of who Zimmer is as a coach and what kind of team the Vikings have been under him: Zimmer is a focused, no-nonsense, risk-adverse, process-oriented, defense-directed “manager,” and the Vikings have historically been a disciplined team that doesn’t often make big mistakes.
They don’t waste the natural advantage they have at home. They don’t play down to the level of their underdog opponents. They don’t present a known and easy challenge to teams that aren’t familiar with them.
This week, the Vikings are in a “solar eclipse” spot with all of Zimmer’s historical edges lining up. As non-divisional home favorites, the Vikings are 19-7-1 ATS (41.4% ROI).
As for the Jaguars, opponents have been profitable against them each year of the post-hype era following their near-Super Bowl run back in 2017.
- 2018 (16 games): 9-5-2 ATS | 22.6% ROI
- 2019 (16 games): 9-7 ATS | 9.3% ROI
- 2020 (seven games): 6-5 ATS | 7.4% ROI
In total, opposing teams are 24-17-2 ATS (13.8% ROI) against head coach Doug Marrone’s Jags since 2018.
I would bet them to -10 (-110).
Colts-Texans Under 50.5
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Raheem Palmer: I make this total 50.5 points, and while there’s not a substantial edge from a numbers perspective, the matchup tells a different story.
Deshaun Watson has been playing lights out and leads a Texans offense that is fourth in expected points added (EPA) per play and sixth in explosive play rate with 11% of offensive plays going for 20 or more yards (per Sharp Football Stats). Excluding their weather-suppressed offensive performance against the Browns in Week 10, the Texans are averaging 30.16 points per game since firing Bill O’Brien in Week 5. And it’s Watson who has completely carried an offense that’s dead-last in rushing efficiency and averages just 3.8 yards per carry (29th in the NFL).
Unfortunately for the Texans, they lost wide receiver Randall Cobb to a toe injury and Will Fuller was suspended for six games after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The Texans also parted ways with Kenny Stills last week. Those three combine 142 targets, 102 catches, 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns, which is 45.7% of the team’s total passing yards and half of their receiving touchdowns. The Texans will attempt to replace this production with Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, rookie Isaiah Colter and practice squad receiver Steven Mitchell.
The loss of Fuller is particularly problematic — he was their big play receiver who could stretch the field. Watson’s EPA splits with Fuller vs. without Fuller paint a grim picture (including postseason):
It’s likely that we’ll see the Texans use more 12 or 13 personnel. so Darren Fells, Jordan Akins or Pharaoh Browns could see more snaps and targets. This isn’t particularly encouraging for this offense in terms of explosion, and given their lack of run game, we should see this unit take a step back.
With the Colts putting up their worst defensive performance in last week’s 45-26 loss to the Titans, we should see a bounce back performance with the return of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and defensive end Denico Autry. While you could argue their eighth-ranked defense has been overrated, last week’s performance was an anomaly based on the absences of Buckner and Autry — we should expect a return to form this week.
Philip Rivers is perhaps the NFL’s toughest quarterback and once played in the 2008 AFC Championship Game just six days after suffering a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee. He’ll have to live up to that reputation as he’s playing with a serious toe injury he suffered after attempting to block Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith.
The Colts will also be missing left tackle Anthony Castonzo (MCL), which is huge when considering Rivers struggles since suffering his toe injury. Backup Le’Raven Clark struggled after Castonzo left last week’s game and Rivers completed 7-of-9 passes on the first two series and finished the rest of the game 17-of-33. With the Texans’ defense ranking 27th in defensive rushing efficiency and giving up a league-high 4.9 yards per carry and 154.7 yards per game, we should see a run-heavy attack from the Colts.
Falcons +3 vs. Saints; Under 46.5
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Mike Randle: The Falcons will face the Saints for the second time in just three weeks, and now as 3-point home underdogs.
In their first matchup, the Saints surprised everyone by starting Taysom Hill at quarterback over Jameis Winston. Hill passed for 233 yards and ran for 49 yards with two touchdowns. But notice that Hill did not throw a passing touchdown in that game.
The Falcons defense has been much improved since Raheem Morris took over as interim head coach. Over their last three games, Atlanta has allowed an average of just 19 points with three sacks per contest. With three weeks to prepare for Hill, expect the Falcons to put forth their best defensive performance of the season.
Atlanta is expected to welcome back Julio Jones, who left the first game against New Orleans with a hamstring injury. The presence of Jones has a major effect on quarterback Matt Ryan’s efficiency.
Since firing head coach Dan Quinn, Atlanta has gone 5-2.
Atlanta is one of the few teams to have success limiting star running back Alvin Kamara. In their last meeting, Kamara actually scored the first touchdown in his career against the Falcons, yet he rushed for only 45 yards on 13 carries (3.5 yards per carry) and failed to tally a single reception.
I would love to get 3.5 points, but I’ll take Atlanta at -3 — this is another low-scoring game, with the Saints league-best defense being matched by the improved Falcons defense under Morris. If not for Hill’s rushing ability, the first game would have seen a total under 30 total points. If you’re nervous without the 3.5 points, I encourage a teaser at Atlanta + 9 with the under 52.5-point total.
The Falcons still have playoff aspirations, but need this game to stay in the hunt. I am taking the points and the under in this bitter NFC South rivalry.
Cardinals +3 vs. Rams
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Sean Koerner: My power ratings project the Cardinals as 1-point favorites, but it’s clear that Kyler Murray is playing at less than 100% with his injured throwing shoulder, so I adjusted my projection to Rams -1.5.
It seems like an over-adjustment to move the spread four points as the market has done here. The Rams have gone 2-2 over their past four games despite Jared Goff turning the ball over 10 (!) times over that stretch, and it’s difficult to back a turnover-prone quarterback as a 3-point road favorite.
Let’s hope Murray’s shoulder is closer to 100% on Sunday. Buy the Cardinals to +3, but no further.
Rams -2.5 at Cardinals
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Michael Arinze: The Rams were 1-point favorites when lookahead lines were released last week. Our public betting data shows that more than 50% of the bets are on the Rams along with 70% of the money, which helps explain why the Rams are now as high as a 3-point favorite at some sportsbooks (shop real-time lines here).
I agree with the line move: The Rams should be in a foul mood after last week’s loss to the 49ers on a last-second game-winning field goal.
The Rams have done especially well this season when coming off a loss. They’ve yet to lose consecutive games and are 3-0 straight up in this spot and 2-1 against the spread. Call it the Sean McVay factor. because the Rams are 11-5-1 against the spread off a loss during his tenure, per our Bet Labs data.
The reality is that the Cardinals look out of sync: They’re 1-3 over their last four games and their one win came via a Hail Mary. They could easily be winless in their last four games.
Part of their strength earlier this season has been the utilization of Kyler Murray in the run game. However, over the last two games, Murray’s rushing yards and attempts have dropped dramatically. He’s been battling a shoulder injury and recently has looked less comfortable in the pocket. That’s not a good sign with Aaron Donald and the Rams coming to town.
This series has been a one-sided affair of late and I don’t see any reason why that would change this Sunday:
Packers -7.5 vs. Eagles
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Brad Cunningham: Aaron Rodgers is possibly having the best season of his career through the first nine games — his 8.2 yards per attempt average is his best mark since 2014 and his 33 passing touchdowns are already more than his total from last season.
Rodgers’ performance has the Packers inside the top-five in both passing success and explosiveness. And his connection with Davante Adams is one of the best in the NFL — Adams is getting more than 10 targets per game and averaging 9.17 yards per target (top five in the NFL).
The Packers aren’t a one-trick pony, either. They’ve been running the ball for 4.4 yards per carry and rank sixth in rushing success. Aaron Jones is finally healthy, too, so the rushing attack should only improve.
Meanwhile, Carson Wentz is an absolute dumpster fire: He’s throwing the ball for only 6.0 yards per attempt, the fourth-lowest among qualified starting quarterbacks. The Eagles are also 30th in passing success and 31st in passing explosiveness.
Sure, you can throw on this Packers’ secondary, but I doubt Wentz will be able to have much success — especially after he wasn’t able to produce much through the air against the Seahawks, one of the worst secondaries.
For the Eagles to have success, they’re going to have to run the ball. The Packers allow 4.6 yards per rush attempt and are 18th in defensive rushing success. If they’re able to feed Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, control the clock and keep Rodgers off the field, the Eagles have a shot at winning this game. But I have the Packers projected as -11.67 favorite, so there’s value on them at -7.5 at FanDuel.
Patriots +106 at Chargers
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET | More Game Info
Brandon Anderson: Welcome to Mismatch Island.
By all accounts, the Chargers are more talented than the Patriots. Justin Herbert has had an incredible rookie season and is clearly the better quarterback than Cam Newton right now. Austin Ekeler is back at running back, and Keenan Allen has more talent than all the Patriots receivers and tight ends combined.
The Chargers have more talent, on paper — but there are not one, not two, but three (!) key mismatches that heavily favor the Patriots in this one.
The first should be very obvious: The coach. On one sideline, you’ve got Anthony Lynn, who literally invents new ways to lose close games every week. On the other, it’s the greatest coach of all time, Bill Belichick. This game is pretty close to a coin flip, which means it’s expected to be close late.
You want your money on the Chargers when the camera pans to Lynn late?
The other mismatches are less obvious but just as significant. The Patriots aren’t particularly good at much, but they’re outstanding at two things: Running the football and playing special teams. By Football Outsiders’ DVOA, New England ranks fourth at both rushing offense and special teams. It’s their only two strengths. And hey guess what the Chargers are really bad at? They rank 31st in run defense and dead last in special teams.
The wrong team is favored here. Some books have already moved this toward a pick’em, and it’ll probably get there by kickoff. At Chargers -1.5, the line is off by more than a field goal, and I’m happy to take the moneyline at +EV.
In a game between two mediocre teams, you’ve got to rely on those three huge mismatches to decide which way to go. And in a game that should be close, pick the one with the hidden advantages on special teams and coaching that will give them that extra edge all along the way.