• Bet the rested Colts (-1.5) to attack a leaky Buccaneers defense: The Buccaneers’ defense ranks 29th in expected points allowed per dropback after another poor showing in Week 11.
• Bet the Ravens to cover the first-half spread (-2.5) against the Chargers: The Ravens tend to let teams hang around and even win games outright that they shouldn’t. They go from a top-five offense in first-half EPA per play to a below-average offense in the second half of games.
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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
If you are betting on NFL spreads, it’s best to do it early. After reviewing each line on the PFF Forecast Podcast, we are here to share our favorite early bets to make before the market catches on and lines move.
We went 39-30-4 last year and are sitting at 18-16 (+1.7 units) this season after a 2-1 week. Make sure you don’t miss anything by joining in on the action with the PFF Betting Discord.
If you are wondering why we bet early, here is a great primer.
Indianapolis Colts (-1.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• The Buccaneers’ defense ranks 29th in expected points allowed per dropback after another poor showing against the San Francisco 49ers in which Brock Purdy may as well have been throwing against air, completing 21 of his 25 passes for 333 yards (13.3 yards per attempt) with three touchdowns. Buccaneers star linebacker Lavonte David sustained a groin injury in this game and was ruled out, as were starting outside cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean.
• The Baker Mayfield we’d grown accustomed to seeing showed up in Sunday’s outing against the 49ers. He was charged with four turnover-worthy plays after initial reviews, and the two turnover-worthy throws that weren’t picked off were worse than his interception.
• We get the Colts and head coach Shane Steichen off a bye week versus Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers on normal rest, exacerbating an already significant coaching mismatch. The Colts just played a very good run defense in New England and struggled to move the ball on the ground in that game, able to ultimately overcome the challenge with a win, but we trust that Steichen won’t run the ball 24 times at less than three yards a clip once again. Further, a Buccaneers secondary that plays more off coverage and bail technique presents fewer problems for Colts pass-catchers than New England’s coverage unit did.
Teaser: Cleveland Browns (+7.5) @ Denver Broncos with Detroit Lions (-1.5) vs. Green Bay Packers (-120)
• This is a Wong Teaser, which happens when each side you tease crosses both the numbers three and seven, as is the case here with the Browns moving from +1.5 to +7.5 and the Lions moving from -7.5 to -1.5. Because three and seven are the most common end-of-game point differentials, crossing those numbers gives the bettor more outcomes for which each side wins.
• The Browns are starting rookie backup quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but the strength of the team continues to be their ability to run the ball. The Broncos have benefited from fumble luck over the past three weeks (seven fumbles recovered) but rank last in the NFL in yards per run play allowed (4.8). This sets up well for a return to normalcy for the Broncos, who have run off four straight wins in nail-biting fashion.
• The Lions laid an egg at home against the Bears in Week 11, and Jared Goff had perhaps his worst game of the year, throwing three interceptions and what should have been a pick-six in the low red zone. That said, the Bears play a ton of Cover 2, which is Goff’s kryptonite, and the Packers deploy a much different scheme, relying primarily on Cover 3.
Baltimore Ravens (-2.5 1H, -110) @ Los Angeles Chargers
• The Ravens are, by far, the better team in this game and will also be coming off nine days of rest compared to the Chargers’ six. Lamar Jackson has arguably been playing at an MVP level, ranking sixth in PFF passing grade. The Ravens’ offense is once again the best rushing attack in the NFL, ranking first in expected points added per rush and rushing success rate.
• Before Week 11, Baltimore had generated the most explosive plays in the NFL. And while the Chargers’ scheme tries to emphasize preventing such gains, they have allowed the fourth-most explosive plays on defense. The Ravens may not have left tackle Ronnie Stanley in this game, but Chargers edge defender Joey Bosa is expected to be out for the foreseeable future, which is a huge blow to their pass rush and run defense.
• We are going with the first-half spread because the Ravens tend to let teams hang around and even win games outright that they shouldn’t. They go from a top-five offense in first-half EPA per play to a below-average offense in the second half of games. The Ravens are also 9-2 against the spread this season in the first half of games and are 5-0 against the spread on the road in the first half.