If CeeDee Lamb didn’t get hurt leading up to halftime, the column was looking at a 4-0 week. Instead, we took an otherwise delicious 3-1 showing going into Thanksgiving. Let’s be thankful for not having action on any of those wacky games and opting to wait till the weekend.
Overall Record*: 23-16-1, +5.65 units
*Each over/under bet graded to win 2 units; everything else for 1 unit
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
Another week, another glaringly curious total involving the Green Bay Packers.
This one has more substance than last week’s blunder by the linesmakers (our Packers-Vikings over bet last week won by 18 points), however. First, this will be a typical latter-season Lambeau Field special, littered all over by the “elements.”
Yes, frigid temperatures are to be expected, though fortunately not the extreme type that turned Tom Coughlin’s cheeks red. In addition, this will probably be the toughest challenge to date this season for Aaron Rodgers (toe). Not only is he playing while a bit dinged up, but the future hall-of-famer is also about to entangle with one of football’s best defensive units.
As I’ve asked before regarding the select few QBs of Rodgers’ stature, does it really even matter? This is Aaron Rodgers we’re talking about. The toe injury clearly didn’t affect him a week ago when he diced the Vikings for 385 yards — his highest amount in more than two years — not to mention four touchdowns compared to zero pick. Yeah, err, I’d say he’s alright.
And I don’t think there’s any defense that can stop Rodgers right now as he’s in this take-no-prisoners rhythm, which he should at least sustain into next week’s bye. Additionally, this is the preferred setting for the 17-year veteran. Rodgers is obviously really, really good no matter where he plays but it’s always interesting to note that his career passer rating at home (108.6) is significantly higher than on the road (99.8). Relatively speaking, that’s one of the starker home-and-road-split inventories among all NFL QB’s.
Let’s not forget that harsh anticipated weather. Now, considering that Matthew Stafford spent all but one of his 13 seasons playing at least half his games per year indoors, you’d think he wasn’t built for the cold but he’s proven otherwise
In fact, according to an article on Sports Betting Dime, Stafford actually averages more yards per (285.1) than any other starting quarterback in games featuring temperatures of 40 degrees or lower dating back to 2010. Interestingly, the Rams have churned out the fewest total yardage on average (269.5) in such games — but that was led by Jared Goff.
Stafford represents a major upgrade and is playing with the best supporting cast he’s ever had (these Rams are deeper than any of the Calvin Johnson offenses), including arguably the top wide-out going right now in Cooper Kupp. Of course, Odell Beckham Jr. should be a major factor, too.
Of all three NFC North rivals from his time in Detroit, Stafford actually put up his best numbers opposite Green Bay. His experience at Lambeau along with his track record in these conditions can be immensely helpful to drive up this score.
Oh, and where does Rodgers rank on that aforementioned list of signal-callers in cold-weather contests, you wonder? He comfortably sits fifth dealing 259.3 yards through the air, and in the process, the Pack are first in total yardage (388.1) in these bouts. Points are bound to come.
Pick: OVER 47 (-110)
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Spread: Browns +3.5/Ravens -3.5
The Browns are turning into a true Jekyll and Hyde club. Some weeks they’ll portray a genuine Super Bowl contender. Others they’re almost falling to the Lions.
That was last week, a near defeat to a winless team only seven days after getting absolutely dissected by 38 points in New England. The week before, though, they notched an impressive 25-point road victory over a real quality Bengals group.
Cleveland’s inconsistency has been maddening and potentially illustrates that they’re really not just there yet as a viable player in the playoff picture. However, their opponent this week on Sunday Night Football, the Ravens, is most easily one.
Although Baltimore hasn’t been exactly lighting the world on fire these last two games, the firepower is still there for Lamar Jackson to return to MVP form like he was prior to the season’s halfway point. He’ll surely appreciate the matchup.
In his time as QB1, Jackson’s etched a career 112.0 passer rating against the Browns — his highest such mark against any club whom he’s faced more than two times. Furthermore, he’s connected on 10 touchdowns to only two picks while also remaining very active on his feet in collecting 73 rushing yards per meeting.
Most notably from his five starts opposite Cleveland, Jackson’s gone 4-1 en route to hanging up 33.4 points on the scoreboard. If he can just come close to that, something that’s usually the case at home, I don’t see the Browns keeping up.
Pick: RAVENS -3 (-135)
Steelers +3.5 —> +16.5
Giants +4 —> +17
ATL-JAC U45.5 —> U58.5
Packers +1.5 —> +14.5
With there being no favorite by more than a touchdown, the theme of this week’s teaser is sniffing out underdogs that can at least hang around and be competitive.
Well, we can instantly put a checkmark next to the Packers, who are actually getting more than two touchdowns in this proposition. When has Aaron Rodgers fallen by a pair of touchdowns at home? And even if he does here, that’s still good.
The Steelers can usually be trusted when containing a sizable amount of extra points as a dog, especially in a big divisional game like this one. They, too, are being afforded more than a couple of endzone trips, and given how close these Steelers-Bengals rivalry matchups typically are, attaching Pittsburgh is wise.
Another divisional bout finds its way into our teaser in the form of the Giants. This underdog choice is a lot dicier considering Daniel Jones won’t have Kadarius Toney (quad) and Sterling Shepard (quad) at his disposal. However, Big Blue still sports a competent offense, and as a result, I can envision this being one of those Eagles-Giants clashes. Nine of their last 11 meetings ended by 10 points or fewer.
Finishing our selections is a total from one of the Week 12 slate’s dreariest games. Have you seen the Falcons lately? On offense, they’ve been brutal, plating just 41 points total since Halloween in their four games without Calvin Ridley. That’s barely more than 10 points on average. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are the Jaguars, which can help ensure this inflated under.
David Johnson Over/Under 2.5 Receptions
When Mark Ingram was shipped off back to New Orleans a month ago, Johnson did not seize control of the backfield like everyone thought. In fact, he actually received fewer touches the very next week!
We were burned by this prop in that exact game but I can’t see such an outcome playing out once again. Not after Houston just cut ties with Johnson’s former backfield mate Phillip Lindsay, freeing up even more looks for the former Cardinal.
As it is, Johnson has been getting featured lately more regularly, nabbing 16 touches in his last outing. That mark also includes 13 rush attempts, and while we’re focusing on his receptions prop, it’s still an indication of heavier usage of the veteran.
Johnson is usually active in the passing game anyway, garnering at least four targets in the majority of his games this season. Whenever Tyrod Taylor has been the signal-caller over a full contest, that’s notably been the tailback’s floor each time
Taking on a poor defense that yields more targets (8.8) and catches (7.2) to running backs each week than all but one other team, you have to like Johnson’s outlook. Most salivating, that number to top is low.
Pick: OVER 2.5 Receptions (-138)