The weekly player prop is starting to become a curse of sorts, after another player succumbed to injury and cost us. Fortunately, it didn’t cost a winning week.
Overall Record: 25-18-1, +5.97 units
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Uhh, what in the world has happened to the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense?
After back-to-back whoopings in which they allowed 41 points apiece (!), this group that is perennially among the league’s best now ranks 25th in the NFL.
That mark would represent the second-worst finish in franchise history, and it’s gotten so bad that even former members of said defense like Ryan Clark are obliterating the current iteration: “They’re not my beloved Steelers anymore... Nobody’s scared to face this team.” Yikes.
If you’re on the Steelers defense, how are you not moved by those comments that became national news? Doesn’t get lower.
Well, with six weeks left, there’s still time for this unit to ascend from rock bottom and that is what I’ll be banking on. At least there were some positive developments leading up to Sunday, as T.J. Watt was activated off the COVID list and Cam Heyward (illness) looks like he’s playing.
Down a few other starters already, Pittsburgh would have no shot at containing Lamar Jackson if they didn’t have Watt and Heyward. But with arguably their two most impactful players on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps the Steelers can still replicate their usual form when taking on the dual-threat QB.
As great as Jackson’s been since first becoming the full-time starter a few years ago, he’s also endured his fair share of struggles against Pittsburgh, albeit in two starts. Still, the results were telling after Jackson managed just 361 total yards through the air in those outings while registering three touchdowns to five interceptions. Most notably, the Steelers notched nine sacks across the two bouts.
Baltimore isn’t living up to lofty expectations defensively either, sitting only a few slots ahead of their eternal rivalry in the overall team rankings. However, they do sport the AFC’s top rush defense, yielding just 84.2 yards to opposing ground attacks each week.
In other words, if Pittsburgh is going to put up a crooked number on the scoreboard, that means it’ll require a huge showing from Ben Roethlisberger. Given what the future hall-of-famer has shown (88.9 passer rating) in what he just deemed his final season as a Steeler, I have no problem betting against such an outcome.
The Ravens-Steelers rivalry has emerged throughout the last two decades and is established for its regularly hard-hitting, lower-scoring matchups. In fact, since Big Ben arrived in 2004, these two heavyweights have duked it out 34 times in the regular season, seeing 28 of those games feature 45 or fewer points scored. Or more glaring, 82.4 percent of the time.
If pursuing these types of gritty encounters, you definitely want to at least secure that all-important number of 45. As a result, I recommend buying a point. Pick: UNDER 45 (-130)
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Spread: Patriots +3/Bills -3
Things can change quite quickly, right?
During the first half of the season, it was basically a given that the Bills would take the division for the second year in a row, while New England would languish and barely compete for a postseason berth.
Au contraire, the script has been turned inside out, with Buffalo now hoping to stave off the surging Pats, who have won six in a row coming into Sunday and actually hold first place at the moment.
Buffalo is still the better team, however, and that’s what makes this low spread so tempting. If this first matchup between the two AFC East residents were taking place earlier in the year, there’s no question they’d be favored by considerably more than three. I’d estimate probably by seven.
The difference could even be the weather. Temperatures are expected to be in the low-20’s on Monday night, and not only that, immense winds are anticipated, too.
Mac Jones is a Jacksonville native that played his college ball at Alabama. Conversely, Josh Allen comes from Wyoming and already has nearly four years of experience playing in the elements of Buffalo. Allen also seems to have figured out the Patriots after leading the Bills to a sweep of them last year by an average margin of 16 points.
While division supremacy currently might be up in the air to the public eye, I think there’s no question the Bills are superior. Pick: BILLS -3 (EV)
Falcons +13 —> +26
Vikings -8.5 —> Vikings +4.5
Rams -14 —> Rams -1
DEN-KC O46.5 —> DEN-KC O33.5
OK, normally a teaser leg that involves crossing zero would be one to leave out.
However, in the case of this big Week 13 matchup for the Vikings, I counter by saying it’s a wise addition given their opponent hasn’t won a single game yet. And even if the Lions pull off the upset, we can still survive if Minnesota falls by a common narrow margin of three or four. Hard to see an otherwise decisive win.
A decisive win is what should be expected in LA today, where the Rams host lowly Jacksonville. The beauty of teaser bets is we just need this heavy favorite to basically win straight up (cover one).
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ll include a large underdog as well. At first glance, that might not seem like a bright idea, being it’s the Falcons — who have already suffered two embarrassing blowouts in the last three weeks alone — but this isn’t a terrible team, plus they’re coming off a win. Let’s also take into account that Atlanta is still very much in the playoff race thanks to the extra spot.
So, it is a very meaningful game, and for Matt Ryan, there’s always extra involved personally when squaring off with Tom Brady. Maybe that’s how he’s led his squad to more than 24 points each time out facing the Bucs since Brady joined the NFC South last year. Additionally, Ryan has lost by more than 26 a grand total of two times out of his 106 career regular-season games at home. Let’s trust that.
If the teaser makes it to nighttime, we’ll deploy an over from this week’s Sunday Night Football. The Chiefs are always a threat to score 30-plus when playing in Arrowhead, and even if they fall short of that mark, Denver looks game to at least hang around, having won three of four.
Will Alexander Mattison score a touchdown?
Sooner than later, Mattison will be running through and around defenses on a weekly basis and people will gleefully declare him “Alexander The Great.”
For now, though, he’s still behind fellow stud teammate Dalvin Cook in the Minnesota backfield, and thus, he never receives any full-time work to impress.
Except in rare outings like this one, that is.
Cook is missing his third game of the season, providing Mattison a rare chance to feast on an opposing defense across an entire affair, which he’s typically done when given full reign of a running game.
In his previous four career starts, the third-year tailback collectively turned 82 carries into 346 rushing yards, not to mention hauling in 17 of 20 targets for 153 yards in the passing game. Two of those starts came against these Lions, including one earlier this year, and it was Mattison who did the mauling both times. He’s legitimately good when given the chance!
The matchup, too, can play into our favor. Detroit is winless and odds are the Vikings will be able to control this game, pointing to more work on the ground for our boy. Points should be uncorked in the process and hopefully Mattison is a part of the act. Pick: YES (-140)