NFL Odds, Picks: Giants vs Vikings Among Expert’s 3 Christmas Eve Best Bets

NFL Odds, Picks: Giants vs Vikings Among Expert’s 3 Christmas Eve Best Bets article feature image

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniel Jones.

  • Chris Raybon has picked three sides for the 1 p.m. ET slate of NFL games on Christmas Eve.
  • Raybon is on a season-long heater in the NFL, with an ROI greater than 30% over the last month.
  • Check out Raybon's Christmas Eve best bets below.

For the latest NFL odds, click here.

NFL Picks for Week 16

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Giants vs. Vikings
Lions vs. Panthers
Texans vs. Titans

Giants +4
Best Book
1 p.m. ET

Chris Raybon: The Vikings are still being overvalued because of their record (11-3), which they’ve amassed despite being outgained by 44.6 yards per game.

Despite the disparity in talent between the two games, the Giants have been the better team, ranking 22nd in overall DVOA compared to the Vikings in 25th. There’s a slightly bigger disparity when you look at weighted DVOA, which values recent games move and has the Giants 21st and the Vikings 26th.

The Giants defense plays the league’s highest rate of man coverage, which Kirk Cousins has struggled against. He's averaging 7.2 yards per targeted pass attempt against man compared to 8.3 against zone. The Giants also blitz at the highest rate in the league (40.7%), and beating the blitz has been a major issue for Cousins as well. His Pro Football Focus grade of 52.7 when blitzed ranks 36th of 39 qualified quarterbacks, and he suffers dropoffs in efficiency across the board.

  • Cousins when not blitzed: 68.4% completion percentage, 7.5 yards per attempt, 95.7 rating
  • Cousins vs. blitz: 55.6% completion percentage, 5.6 yards per attempt, 80.4 rating

It’s not just the blitz that has given Cousins issues. He has struggled against pressure from a four-man rush, as well, with his passer rating dropping to 79.4 when pressured.

Despite their blitz-happy identity, the Giants are now up to fourth in overall pressure rate (24.5%) thanks to a now-healthy front four featuring Kayvon Thidbodeax and Azeez Olujari on the edge and Leonaerd Williams and Dexter Lawrence on the interior. New York should be able to have success against a Minnesota offensive line that has allowed Cousins to be pressured on 37.0% of his dropbacks, which is seventh-most.

This is a big reason the Vikings are just 22nd in offensive DVOA and 22nd when weighing recent games more heavily. Williams and Lawrence in particular should be able to wreak havoc on the interior against right guard Ed Ingram and center Austin Schlottman. Ingram is a struggling rookie who has graded out 68th at PFF among 75 qualified guards in pass protection. Schlottman is an undrafted fifth-year pro making his third start of the season in place of Garrett Bradberry (back) who has allowed nine pressures over his first two starts.

The Vikings will still move the ball here, but pressure should help the Giants get stops in key situations. This has been the formula all season, as New York ranks fourth in red-zone conversion rate allowed (50.0%) and fifth in third-down conversion rate allowed (34.9%).

It’s surprisingly the Giants offense that has been the more efficient one among these two, clocking in at 14th overall and 12th when weighting recent games more heavily. The Vikings defense, meanwhile, is 20th overall and trending down, with a 24th-place ranking in weighted DVOA. The Vikings defense has allowed opponents to move the ball at will — their 5,589 total yards allowed are a league-high — but has managed to stay afloat at times due to creating the ninth-most turnovers (29), which doesn’t bode well against a Giant offense that is tied with Philadelphia for the league lead with just 13 giveaways.

One of the main reasons the Giants don’t turn the ball over is the play of Daniel Jones, who leads the league with a 1.0% interception rate.

Jones has only thrown one interception in six road games this season and has been one of the best quarterbacks to back on the road throughout this career. Per our Action Labs data, 15-5-1 (75%) ATS as a road underdog in his career, including 12-1 (92%) ATS as road dog by fewer than 8 points.

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Under 43.5
Best Book
1 p.m. ET

Chris Raybon: This is one of the higher totals of the week, as the forecast calls for temps “only” 11 degrees below freezing and average wind speeds of “only” 11mph, though I think it’s too high not based on the weather, but rather because both defenses are trending up, with the Panthers are 10th in DVOA on defense since Week 10, and the Lions are 15th (though it’s worth noting the under is 6-3 in games started by Jared Goff in temps below 40).

The Lions defense has made a stunning turnaround since altering their scheme and firing defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant ahead of Week 9, improving not just against the pass but across the board. Here are their per-game numbers before and after making the change:

  • Weeks 1-8: 32.1 points, 421.3 total yards, 0.75 turnovers
  • Weekd 9-15: 19.9 points, 375.7 total yards, 1.71 turnovers

The Lions went from giving up 154.9 rushing yards per game in their first seven games to 112.0 in their last seven, which is big against a Panthers offense that has called a designed run 51.0% of the time since interim coach Steve Wilks took over. And even that may be selling the Lions short in this matchup, as 45% of the rushing yardage Detroit allowed since Week 9 is to opposing quarterbacks, as they faced a daunting slate of top scramblers, including Justin Fields and Josh Allen.

Against running backs since Week 8, the Lions have allowed just 56.3 yards on 17.6 carries per game, good for a stellar 3.2 yards per carry allowed.

Sam Darnold is not much of a threat on the ground — he’s averaging 3.0 carries for 11.7 yards — and will have to contend with a Lions defense that blitzes at the sixth-highest rate (31.6%) when he drops back to pass. Darnold has struggled when the defense sends extra rushers, with his 59.8 PFF grade versus the blitz placing him 38th among 48 quarterbacks with at least 20 blitzed dropbacks.

Although this isn’t one of the worst weather games of the week, it’s worth noting that the Lions offense has seen a massive dropoff when going on the road this season, regardless of conditions.

  • Home: 32.1 points, 341.7 total yards, 0.75 turnovers
  • Road: 18.7 points, 401.4 total yards, 1.33 turnovers

The Lions played a good defense in the Jets on the road last week, but it’s still worth noting that although they scored 20 points, they were a Kalif Raymond punt return and a Jets busted coverage on fourth and inches away from potentially scoring only six points (nine if you include Michael Badgley’s missed field goal). The Lions don’t figure to put up a massive number against a Panthers defense that is allowing just 13.0 points per game at home since Wilks took over.

Neither offense figures to get an assist from the officials, as Shawn Hochuli’s crew has called 3.0 offensive holding penalties per game, most of any crew and nearly a full penalty per game more than the league average of 2.19. Per our Action Labs data, the under is 41-29-3 (59%) all-time in games officiated by Hochili. That includes a 8-5 (62%) mark this season and a 23-5-1 (82%) mark when the total is below 45.

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Best Book
1 p.m. ET

Chris Raybon: Malik Willis simply handed the ball to Derrick Henry 32 times for 219 yards and two touchdowns against what was at the time the league’s worst run defense to come away with a 17-10 win in these teams' first matchup, but it could be more of a struggle this time around. The Texans have since improved in run defense and are 10th in DVOA against the run since Week 10.

What’s more, the Titans placed center Ben Jones (concussion) and guard Nate Davis (ankle) on IR this week. Both are big losses, as Jones had a PFF grade of 72.6, eighth of 39 qualifiers at center, and Davis had a PFF grade of 70.6, 18th of 86 qualifiers at guard. The duo joined left tackle Taylor Lewan (knee), which means more than half of Tennessee's starting offensive line is now on IR.

The Titans are also dealing with a bunch of injuries on defense. They ruled out cornerback Krisitan Fulton (groin), linebacker Dylan Cole (ankle) and placed cornerback Terrance Mitchell (hamstring) on IR this week. They also recently lost linebacker David Long (ankle), who graded out 14th of 80 linebackers at PFF.

With injuries on both sides of the ball, this is far from a gimme for the Titans, especially with Willis again starting in place of the player with the most significant injury (Ryan Tannehill; ankle). Tennessee averaged just 17.0 points per game and 48.5 net passing yards in Willis’ two starts and now face a suddenly feisty Texans team that nearly upset the Cowboys (27-23 loss) and Chiefs (30-24 loss) in the last two weeks.

The total for this game is in the mid-30s, which makes the underdog even more valuable. Per our Action Labs data, underdogs of more than a field goal with a total of 47 or less are 64-37 (63%) ATS this season, covering by an average of 2.2 points per game.

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