Feeling fresh off the back of our winner last week? Thought so. I hope every one of my readers has a festive holiday season, whatever way you choose to enjoy it. Your presents will most likely be middling, but at least your NFL action won’t be. Maybe we should top up those funds after a big Santa Claus-shaped hole hit those wallets of yours.
There is not over a touchdown between these teams and this line will only shorten. I understand it’s a very hard place to go – where the offense is forced into a silent count and the temperature isn’t quite a pleasurable as the Arizona home comforts, but seriously? David Johnson cannot be stopped by any linebacker or safety hybrid in the game. He alone could cover this spread for the Cards. I understand they’ve maybe been the biggest disappointment of the entire season, but they’ve so many offensive weapons that this tie will be alive deep into the fourth quarter.
Seattle are a success story and they overcome adversity, so I’m not suggesting the pressure of a potential bye-securing win will be too much to handle for them, but it will add some nerves – especially to that offensive line. Good luck blocking Calais Campbell if he gets in your head.
Okay, three ingredients are crucial here: the Texans are sticking with Tom Savage, the Cinci run game is finally motoring and Andy Dalton isn’t under any pressure. Let’s dissect.
Tom Savage is in – making his first career start ahead of a guy his organisation paid $72 million for. As solid as he was last week, he’s had all week to think about this one. The Bengals have been poor on the defensive side of the ball this year, but their defensive co-ordinator Paul Guenther’s strength is disguising coverages; Savage’s biggest issue at Rutgers and Pittsburgh was pre-snap reads.
With Cincinnati finally being able to run the ball, they can balance their offense against a very stout secondary that quite frankly looks appalling on paper. The play of AJ Bouye in particular has been a real highlight in a season where a perceived weakness has become a strong point for the Houston franchise.
Andy Dalton has no bottle – any stray cat can tell you this. But now he’s free to express himself and actually show off his talent like he does (frustratingly) on so many occasions when he’s not worried about implications. The W goes back to Ohio with the Even money underdogs.
See first leg above: genuinely. Now, Dallas are the real deal – don’t get me wrong, but they’re surely out now to protect their prized possessions when a playoff berth is certain. Big ‘Zeke won’t be running full pelt, and Dak Prescott is far more likely to throw the ball away when being compromised by edge rushers. The Lions need to win, and that extra determination should see them at least get within a touchdown of the Cowboys. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see them win – but let’s not be greedy here.
Detroit Lions (+7.5) at 10/13.
Matthew Stafford had worked his way into the conversation for a Pro Bowl place in my book. Without the towering presence of Megatron to fall back on, he has to think about his throws; monitor his check-down options and go through his progressions. He’s becoming an actual quarterback at the age of 28. Hooray for the Motor City.
This week’s treble: Arizona (+7.5), Cincinnati (to win) & Detroit (+7.5).