NFL Picks & Prop Bets: Rams To Cover Spread, Packers-Bears Under & Four Player Props
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Khalil Mack, Aaron Rodgers
One way I find betting edges is by comparing the odds to my NFL Power Ratings — if there’s a notable difference between, I’ll make a bet. (By the way, you can access our consensus model ratings with our NFL PRO Projections.)
Each week of the season, I’ve highlighted the biggest of those edges — and we’ve got two more for the regular-season finale.
I detail which side of the Rams-Cardinals spread I’m on and how I’m betting Packers-Bears total below. I’ve also included my four favorite player prop bets for Week 17.
NFL Picks & Prop Bets
Rams +3 vs. Cardinals
The Rams will be without Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp for a Week 17 matchup with playoff implications on both sides: The Rams can clinch a berth with either a win or a loss by the Bears (to the Packers). And the Cardinals have to win to make the postseason.
Handicapping this game hinges on how many points Goff and Kupp are worth. My player ratings project Goff is worth about 3-3.5 points while Kupp is worth about a half-point. The Rams might’ve had an easier time adjusting their game plan had only Goff or only Kupp been out, but since they’re both out at the same time, their value is amplified. And as a result, I’ve adjusted my Rams power rating down five full points.
The Rams were 4-point favorites in lookahead lines, which was in-line with my Week 16 power ratings. However, the market has adjusted this game a full seven points to Cardinals -3 in the wake of the Goff and Kupp news. But that seven-point swing means this line crossed the key number of 3 … twice. That would be a massive overreaction even if the Cardinals were at full health, but they’re not.
Kyler Murray is dealing with a leg injury that nearly prevented him from playing this week. He’ll likely be playing at less than 100% and could be limited as a runner. When he was limited with a shoulder injury in Weeks 11-13, the Cardinals went 0-3 straight up and against the spread.
Now the Cardinals will also be without wide receiver Christian Kirk, who isn’t valuable, but the Cardinals could be in serious trouble if either Larry Fitzgerald and/or Chase Edmonds also miss, creating a cluster injury situation for a team with very little depth at running back or wide receiver.
Rams backup quarterback John Wolford has yet to make an NFL start, but he has played in several preseason games and started for the Arizona Hotshots in the AAF. He’ll play game-manager here, and head coach Sean McVay should have a game plan that doesn’t ask Wolford to do much.
Instead, the Rams will likely lean on their fifth-ranked defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA to win this game. They should be able to keep a limited Murray in check, could be without a couple of his secondary weapons, which could be an issue if Jalen Ramsey can shut down DeAndre Hopkins.
Packers-Bears Under 51.5
This is inflated for a total I’m projecting closer to 47.5 points.
I would speculate that the market is overreacting to the Bears scoring at least 30 points in four straight games, but that’s not quite as impressive when you look at how those opponents ranked in defensive DVOA: Lions (32nd), Texans (30th), Vikings (18th) and Jaguars (31st). And while the Packers (15th) are only a league-average defense, they should be more effective slowing down Mitch Trubisky and the Bears.
The Packers welcomed center Corey Linsley back last week — a huge boost to the offensive line — but the line suffered another massive blow when David Bakhtiari tore his ACL in practice this week. I’m docking their team and total rating about a half-point as a result — it could take the line a game or two to adjust to his absence, which couldn’t come at a worse time against Khalil Mack and Co.
This matchup has the slowest projected pace of Week 17, with the Bears rankings 24th in seconds per play in situation neutral pace and the Packers 31st (per Football Outsiders).
There are enough factors that make me confident in my projected total being four points lower than the market as of late Saturday. I’m banking on a January game at Solider Field to yield fewer than 51 points here and would bet this all the way down to 49.5 (shop real-time lines here).
Cowboys RB Tony Pollard Over 7.5 Rec Yards (-112)
With the path to winning the NFC East open if Washington loses to Philly on Sunday night, this is a must-win game for Dallas, which means Ezekiel Elliott should see a full workload while Pollard is more likely to give Zeke a breather on passing downs.
Pollard has a consistent 33% routes run rate over the past several games, which would give him about two receptions on average, so I like the over on his yardage — but every yard counts in this market, so be sure to shop for the best line. FanDuel has the best (7.5) as of Saturday night.
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson Over 75.5 Rec Yards (-112)
I’ve made a killing betting on Jefferson’s over at certain points throughout this season. The market caught up to his props a few weeks ago, however, this is one more opportunity for us to take advantage.
Jefferson will break Anquan Boldin’s record for most receiving yards by a rookie (set in 2003) if Jefferson goes for more than 110 yards on Sunday. My projection model would set his median expectation right around this number, but we should factor in the motivation to top 110 yards here.
Jaguars QB Mike Glennon Under 232.5 Pass Yards (-115)
This would be a good number if we were confident that Glennon was to take every snap in this game. But would it be reasonable to assume a 5-15% chance that either Gardner Minshew or Jake Luton comes in at some point? I think so, and there is a massive hidden edge in this prop as a result.
Even if Glennon does play all 60 minutes, he’ll be without wide receiver D.J. Chark and facing a Colts defense playing in a must-win game.
Kyler Murray Under 36.5 Rush Yards (-112)
Murray’s rushing production took a big hit from Weeks 11-13 when dealing with a shoulder injury — he went for 15, 31 and 15 yards over that span.
Shouldn’t we expect a similar dip in production (if not more) with him playing through a leg injury? I think so.