Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions: Bears -2.5 – 4/5
The Lions benefitted from Riverboat Ron’s risky approach on Sunday afternoon. If Cam Newton could’ve hit a wide-open Jarius Wright, Rivera would’ve been lauded, and Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions would be coming into this game on a four-game losing bounce.
Chicago still have plenty at stake this year. They top the NFC North on 7-3, a huge win over the Vikings at Soldier Field pushing them two games ahead of their chasers in the division.
The trade for Khalil Mack has pushed their defence into the realms of the elite defences – whatever that means anymore – and certainly got to Minnesota late on Sunday. Two interceptions, one fumble recovered and a pick-six shows the kind of pressure they’re generating.
There are a few clouds hanging over this game for them though. Mitch Trubisky looks like he’ll miss the game. Some think Matt Nagy’s system is making him look better than he is. Chase Daniel filling in for him could go some way to confirming that it is.
The quick turnaround from Sunday night is another impediment to their chances. It’s the first time since 1970 that a team playing late on Sunday has been asked to play an early Thursday game.
While that’s not ideal, there’s little to recommend about Detroit. It won’t be easy coming down of Sunday’s high, but Chicago should be able to cover a field goal handicap here.
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys: Over 40.5 Total Points – 20/23
The ‘Skins are still reeling from Alex Smith’s horrific injury on Sunday. His play up to that point against Houston was par for the season – very mediocre.
Colt McCoy now deputises for the $71m guaranteed Smith. He’s probably one of the better back-ups in the league, but still it would raise questions over the Washington offence going forward.
It’s terrible timing for Jay Gruden’s 6-4 team. They’re top of the NFC East, but their opponents on Thursday are nipping at their heels.
The Cowboys injected their offence with some much-needed playmaking ability when they traded for Amari Cooper. He’s made some plays, but is also opening space for others, Ezekiel Elliott prime among them. He had another monstrous game last Sunday. He totalled over 200 yards from scrimmage and a TD as the ‘Boys ground their way 5-5 with a 22-19 win in Atlanta.
The defence is a big story for them too though. Leighton Vander Each continues to impress in his rookie campaign and their pass-rush is terrifying.
So it’s not ideal that Washington’s makeshift line have a rusty QB making his first start since 2014 on Thanksgiving.
That goes some way to explaining the total points line here of 40.5. McCoy didn’t look awful against JJ Watt and co last week, and the Cowboys should post a decent score, so I’d fancy the over at 10/11.
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints: Alvin Kamara To Score 2+ Touchdowns – 23/10
With this New Orleans team, you’re waiting for the comedown game, but they just keep rolling on.
They’ve covered the spread in their last eight games, and if you were inclined to take the -13 points I’d drop my usual objection to double-digit handicaps, but it’s their running-back who offers good value here.
Kamara’s presence has turned around this whole franchise. Sure, Mike Thomas’ ESP-like connection with Drew Brees since Marques Colston departed is huge, but it’s the second-year running back who turned this offence into the rounded unit that’s ripped through the league.
He’s an unappealing 2/9 to score one TD here because he has 15 in their 10 games so far. He’s had at least two touchdowns in five of them. He went scorless when these teams met in Atlanta in week three, but the rate of depletion among the Falcons defence was only gearing up at that stage. They’re much weakened since, and they’re very susceptible against the run.
Nick Chubb and Zeke Elliott have rolled over them in consecutive weeks.
The NFC South has a reputation for being a bit wild. The shambolic Bucs are the only team to have beaten the Saints this year, for example, so you couldn’t rule out a Falcons flurry even if their postseason hopes are all but gone. However, even their usually potent offence has stalled in the last month. Totals of 16 and 19 points in their last two games have done huge damage after they recovered to 4-4.
I couldn’t argue against taking the Saints -13 given their scoring rate – their punter’s had 19 kicks all season – but I’d prefer to take a bigger chance for a better reward. If the Saints are winning by more than two scores, the likelihood is their star back’s scoring.
*All odds correct at time of posting