What is worth looking at from a betting perspective? And what are the best plays to help you make smart wagering decisions?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum and Anita Marks, fantasy and sports betting analyst Eric Moody, and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz offer their insights into the games with tips and picks.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
On Christmas Day, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers try to stay alive in the NFC playoff race in Miami against the Dolphins (-4, 50). Can the Dolphins bounce back after their close loss in Buffalo or are you siding with Rodgers and the Packers?
Fulghum: I want to love the Packers here, but it’s a really tough spot. Miami will have a 48-hour rest advantage and home field, to boot. Rodgers has also (for inexplicable reasons) struggled tremendously playing football games in the state of Florida. If anything, I would default to playing the under in this game. That’s always scary with the explosive play ability of the Miami offense, but both of these teams are quite deliberate on offense, using much of the play clock every snap and lowering overall play volume in their game environments.
Marks: Give me the Packers and the points! Rodgers is 14-9 ATS as a dog, and the Packers have covered eight of their last nine games. Offensively, they are the healthiest they have been all season — with a full air raid arsenal, and AJ Dillon passing concussion protocol. Miami’s defense is spent — having played 250 snaps the last three games, and their offense has been sputtering — ranked 21st in that time span as well.
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The Christmas night game features two reeling teams in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. Do you trust Tom Brady and the Bucs (-7.5, 40.5) to lay the points or are you taking the home ‘dog?
Kezirian: I am playing the Bucs in a six-point teaser with Baltimore. Tampa has its issues and is the worst cover team in the league, but Arizona is starting a third-string quarterback. Trace McSorley makes his first career start, and it’s on a team that may fire its coach. If the Bucs can’t get the win, then they should just pack it in.
Schatz: Our DVOA ratings still like the Buccaneers as the best team in the NFC South, and we particularly like the passing game, even though conventional wisdom says it has been terrible for weeks. Tampa Bay still ranks 12th in passing DVOA, although the offense is dragged down by a running game that ranks 30th. Even while the Bucs have been struggling over the last four games since their bye week, we have Tampa’s pass offense ranked 17th. Oh, and we still have the Tampa defense in the top 10. Now compare this to Arizona, which is 30th in offense and 27th in defense for the year. That’s before we get to the Cardinals being stuck with their third-string quarterback, McSorley. He’s going to have a really hard time with this Buccaneers’ defense. Among other things, McSorley likely can’t attack their weakness in the deep middle part of the field. I do trust Brady and the Bucs to lay the points, although that’s trusting the Bucs’ defense against McSorley more than it is trusting Brady and his receivers.
Moody: My recommendation is to bet on the under. The Buccaneers rank 28th with 17.6 points per game while the Cardinals rank 18th with 20.9 points. Arizona will also have to start third-string quarterback Trace McSorley. An offensive bonanza doesn’t appear to be in the cards for this game. In terms of run blocking and pass blocking, the Buccaneers’ offensive line has struggled all season. Brady and Tampa Bay’s inconsistent offense could be disrupted by the Cardinals’ defensive front. The under has hit in 10 of the Buccaneers’ last 14 games.