This Thanksgiving weekend, I'm thankful that I can't do any worse than I did last week in this column. I went 0-3 with my picks, and I'm now down on the year. Of course, just because I can't do worse doesn't mean I can't do the same, but we're trying to stay positive!
I hope your holiday weekend got off to a winning start on Thursday, or at the very least, you had some excellent food to help comfort you following any losses.
Personally, I'm feeling pretty good after taking the Texans defense or special teams to score a touchdown at +550 on Thursday against the Lions. Thank you, J.J. Watt. I hope somebody buys you tickets to see Fort Minor in concert.
Onto this week's picks!
Oh, Falcons, I just cannot quit you. You may be the death of me, but every week I'm presented with value in your games. This game opened as a pick em at most books and was quickly bet to Raiders -3. Now, I like the Raiders. I think Derek Carr has made some significant strides and is now one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the league. It's just, I'm still not ready to trust the Raiders as three-point favorites on the road. Not with a defense that ranks 24th in the NFL in DVOA. That's worse than Atlanta's, and nobody considers Atlanta to be a good defense. The Raiders also allow 2.74 points per possession on defense, which ranks dead last in the league.
Projected score: Falcons 27, Raiders 24
Best bet: Falcons +3 (-115)
2. Titans at Colts
I have a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to betting totals in the NFL. Earlier in the season, I'm more inclined to take overs. As we get later in the season, however, my attention turns to unders. Particularly in divisional matchups like this one where it's the second time these teams have met in the season. This spot is interesting because the first meeting was only 17 days before this one. These teams are familiar with one another, know what the other is trying to do, and both have a lot on the line. A Colts win would be huge for Indianapolis because while they'd only be up a game on the Titans in the division, they'd hold a tie-breaker having won both meetings. In other words, the Titans would effectively be two games behind. And if the Titans win, they're in first place. Combine the familiarity and the possibility of both teams getting a bit more conservative with so much on the line, and the under just looks enticing.
Projected score: Colts 24, Titans 23
Best bet: Under 51.5 (-110)
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3. Chiefs at Buccaneers
I know it's dangerous to say it, but I think we've seen the beginning of the decline phase for Tom Brady. Or at least an acceleration of the decline phase. He's playing in an offense in which Bruce Arians wants him to bomb the ball down the field, but his accuracy doing so has been missing. The Tampa offense still ranks eighth in DVOA, but it's been trending in the wrong direction lately, and I have a hard time imagining that Brady will be able to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and the best offense in the NFL.
Projected score: Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 23
Best bet: Chiefs -3 (-115)