Listen, this is an NFL betting column, but I need to blow off some steam about fantasy football. I play in two leagues. In one of those leagues, I'm 9-2, the highest-scoring team in the league, and cruising to a playoff berth with ease. Of course, this has often been the case for me in that league, and I've never won it. I've made the playoffs four straight seasons and have had either the best or second-best record in the league, but I've lost in the first round in three of those four seasons. Last year I reached the title game, where I lost by 45. But while that frustration is likely to continue, it's my other league that's driving me insane.
Long story short, I am the third-highest scoring team in the league this season. While our first-place team is crushing it, my team has scored only four fewer points than the second-highest scoring team in the league. Our league leader is 8-3, and the second-highest scoring team is 7-4.
I'm 5-6, and in recent weeks I've lost Calvin Ridley and Chris Carson. A few weeks ago, I swung a trade, getting Lamar Jackson for Joe Burrow and Josh Jacobs. Then Lamar gets sick and misses a game, I have to turn to Derek Carr off the waiver wire, and he puts up nine points for me as I lose by five. If I had Lamar Jackson, I likely win, and I'm 6-5 and very much in the playoff race. Instead, I'm 5-6, and while I'm only two games out of a playoff spot, there are four other teams ahead of me at 6-5 or 7-4. I need a hug or another 3-0 week with my NFL bets.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
Titans at Patriots: Titans +6.5 (-110)
I've made a habit of fading Mac Jones and the Patriots as favorites, but that's not the impetus behind this play. I have come to accept that Jones is not just playing well for a rookie QB, but playing well, period. No, this play is based more on Mike Vrabel's track record as an underdog and his track record against his former team.
Since taking over the Titans ahead of the 2018 season, Vrabel's team has been an underdog 36 times and gone 22-13-1 ATS. This season the Titans have been dogs seven times and are 6-0-1 ATS in those games. The Titans have also faced the Patriots three times under Vrabel, and they're 2-1 both straight up and ATS. Both of the outright wins came as underdogs. Plus, while the Titans are banged up, and the offense has struggled without Derrick Henry, the further removed they are from the loss of Henry, the better idea they have of what works and what doesn't. I don't think the Titans are the Super Bowl contenders they were with Henry, but they're still a strong team and one capable of staying within a touchdown of this Patriots squad.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Titans 20
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Steelers at Bengals: Steelers +4.5 (-110)
Following a 24-10 win earlier this season, the Bengals have won two straight against division-rival Pittsburgh, a remarkable feat for Cincinnati. The Bengals had lost 11 straight and 19 of 22 before picking up that win last December. If they win again this week, it'll be the first time they've won three straight against Pittsburgh in too long of a time that I could find! Seriously, I was able to go back to 2003 but couldn't find one.
Anyway, while I think the Bengals can win this game, and I respect what they've accomplished so far, I have this spread being closer to a field goal than 4.5 points. The Steelers haven't won either of their last two games, but they've looked more dangerous offensively lately, and I think this is a matchup they can exploit.
Prediction: Bengals 26, Steelers 23
Rams at Packers: Over 47.5 (-110)
The Rams offense has been in a funk. After lighting the NFL up for the first two months of the season, they managed only 26 points in two games against the Titans and 49ers before last week's bye. Well, I think the bye will do a lot of good for this Rams team that has had to work in new players on both sides of the ball and now faces the Packers in what will be a massive game for NFC playoff seeding.
Of course, the Packers offense is humming itself. Green Bay ranks 12th in the league in points per drive at 2.29, but it had its best performance of the season last week in a 34-31 loss to Minnesota. I think this game will look a lot like that one, and while it might not get up to 65 total points, it should reach the 50s, which is more than enough to get us over the total.
Prediction: Packers 28, Rams 24
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