NFL Spread & Total Bets: Raybon’s Pick for Sunday Night Football
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Smith.
- Underdogs on three-loss streaks (like the Giants) cover at a 58% rate. Unders in Seahawks games are hitting at a 9-3 rate since October.
- Senior betting analyst Chris Raybon explains why those are two of his top five picks for Week 17.
- Raybon is 416-325-19 (56.1%) all-time on NFL bets he's tracked in the Action app.
NFL Spread & Total Bets
Cowboys at Giants
This is a true coin-flip game, but the line is being shaded toward the Cowboys due to recency bias.
Over the past three weeks, the Giants have lost three in a row to teams that are a combined 28-17 (.622), while the Cowboys have won three in a row against teams that are a combined 14-29-2 (.326). But the Giants scored a season-high 34 points in their first meeting with the Cowboys, and should be expected to rebound, just as underdogs on three-loss streaks have tended to do in the past.
Steelers at Browns
The Browns could guarantee themselves a playoff spot with a win, but added incentive doesn’t tend to lead to improved against-the-spread (ATS) performance.
Last season, the Steelers beat the Browns, 20-13, with Devlin Hodges starting at quarterback and without key players such as James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Maurkice Pouncey and Stephon Tuitt. And the Steelers team that takes the field on Sunday will be no worse than the 2-13 Jets squad that upset the Browns last week.
According to our Action Labs data, Mike Tomlin is 37-19-2 (66%) ATS as an underdog in his career, including 12-3-2 (80%) without Ben Roethlisberger.
Tomlin is also 9-8 straight-up as a moneyline underdog without Roethlisberger, and I went with Pittsburgh as a moneyline underdog in this week’s Action Network NFL Betting Podcast, so I wouldn’t hesitate to place a small wager on a longshot upset.
I would bet the Steelers down to +7.5 (shop real-time lines).
Cardinals at Rams
There’s every reason to expect an extremely low-scoring game here.
The Rams (fifth) and Cardinals (10th) are in the top-10 of Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA.
The Rams are also without quarterback Jared Goff (finger), forcing them to start 2018 undrafted free agent John Wolford, who has never before appeared in an NFL regular-season game. Wolford will be without wide receiver Cooper Kupp (reserve/COVID-19), who leads the Rams in receptions (92) and receiving yards (974), as well as leading rusher Darrell Henderson (IR, ankle). Emerging rookie running back Cam Akers (questionable, ankle) also won’t be at 100% if he’s active at all.
Jalen Ramsey gives the Rams the NFL’s best answer for DeAndre Hopkins, and No. 2 wide receiver Christian Kirk was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday.
The Rams should be able to limit a Cardinals offense that’s been out of sorts for most of the past month-and-a-half. After averaging 425.4 total yards per game over their first nine games, the Cardinals have averaged just 351.7 over their past six. Against a banged-up 49ers defense at home last week, Arizona managed just 350 total yards and 12 points.
Seahawks at 49ers
The market has been slow to adjust to the Seahawks.
Since averaging a combined score of 65.7 in September en route to a 3-0 over record, the Seahawks are 9-3 toward the under since with their games falling short of the total by 3.5 points on average.
The dip in scoring has been even more pronounced since Week 10, when the Seahawks started reigning in #LetRussCook. In Weeks 1-9, Seattle passed on first and second down 59.1% of the time. Since Week 10, that figure has dropped to 52.5%.
This also coincides with the acquisition of defensive end Carlos Dunlap and the return to health of safety Jamaal Adams, which has provided a major boost to the Seahawks’ pass rush. Since Week 10, the average final score in their games is Seahawks 22.7-15.0 for a combined total of 37.7 points.
San Francisco has George Kittle back, but he’ll likely continue to play on a pitch count (he played 60% of the snaps last week), and the 49ers lost another weapon in wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (ankle) while Deebo Samuel (hamstring) remains out.
Left tackle Trent Williams — the No. 1 tackle in the league according to Pro Football Focus — will also miss with an elbow injury, leaving Beathard extremely short-handed at key spots.
I bet the under at 46.5 but like it down to 43.5 points.
Washington at Eagles
As I mentioned a few weeks ago when breaking down the NFC East, this Washington team has taken on the resilient personality of head coach Ron Rivera (battling cancer) and Smith (battled back from a life-threatening leg injury).
This is not a team I would bet against to come out on top of the NFC East, and all the Football Team needs is a win here to accomplish that.
Interestingly enough, however, is that the Washington’s penchant for off-the-field comeback stories has also carried over on the field. With an average scoring margin of +7.1, Washington has been the best second-half team in the NFL this season, but they’ve needed it — their -7.1 first-half margin is third-worst.
According to our Action Labs data, Washington is just 3-12 ATS in the first half this season, failing to cover by an average of 5.1 points per game.
With its starting quarterback, top running back and top wide receiver banged up, I expect Washington to come out slow once again, rationing the snaps of Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin (if active) while trying to remain within striking distance.
I would expect Washington’s best performance to come in the second half, where it is 13-2 ATS this season.
Given these trends, I would look to back the Eagles in the first half (down to a pick’em) and then Washington on the second-half line and/or live (pick’em or better).