If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected, and Week 15 was a clear example of that.
The Jets not only won a football game, but did so as 17.5-point underdogs against the Rams! Then, on Monday Night Football, the Bengals upset the Steelers as 14-point underdogs. To sum it up, it was a wild week with unexpected outcomes!
With that, let us examine my model’s projections for every game in the Week 16 slate. My model is able to calculate a team’s chances of winning by using Pro Football Focus grades and coaching adjustments, and from there, calculating the gap between the two teams before covering it into a win probability. In the past, that win probability was used to project a spread, and from there, it served as more a model to pick against the spread.
However, this was never my goal with the model. Rather, I want it to be able to project the estimated margin of victory by each team. Luckily, I have now transformed my model to calculate how much better a team is than average on a neutral field, and from there, those totals can be used to project how much one team will beat another by. Now, I can provide reasonable expectations for you all on how a game should turn out.
If you had been interested in the betting aspect of this model, however, fret not! You can still utilize the difference in margin of victory and spread to find the best values from a spread perspective, while my model now projects recommended money lines and over/under totals. After we go through all the games, I will go over the model’s top bets of the week, so you will want to stick around until the end!
Also, home-field advantage has been non-existent this season in terms of point differential, so for more accurate projections to made, there won’t be any points added to help home teams.
With that addressed, let us get to the Week 16 slate! This week, we a game on Christmas, three Saturday games, and several games with major playoff implications.
NOTE: Model will be updated with injury updates, power ratings calculated with injuries in mind
*Odds via Vegas Insider
Minnesota Vikings (6-8, 14th) at New Orleans Saints (10-4, 10th)
Vikings Win Probability: 47.09989297%
After losing to the Bears, the Vikings are guaranteed to not have a winning record. However, this is still a team with a lot going for them. Their offense ranks 5th in yards/play, as Kirk Cousins has continued to connect with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who form the top-performing receiver duo in the NFL. Right now, they have the more explosive offense in this matchup, and their young cornerbacks are also starting to play better.
Saints Win Probability: 52.90010703%
The Saints possess the far superior record and point differential in this game, and are the better all-around team. Their defense did as well of a job defending the Chiefs as any defense has, and a decent amount of their offensive struggles were due to poor third-down luck. The hope is that Drew Brees will be healthier and not as rusty in this game, which would allow this team to flourish.
Projected Winner: NO by 1.75
Spread: NO (-7)
Projected Spread: NO (-0.96)
Moneyline Value: MIN
Over/Under Total Projection: 52.73 (Real O/U= 51.5)
Without Michael Thomas and with Brees not healthy, this is a very compromised Saints team, and the Vikings are not a team to be taken lightly. Between the market’s undervaluation of Minnesota, while not adjusting for New Orleans’ injuries properly, there is a lot of value to be had with the Vikings here. I would not be surprised if they win this game outright. After all, they have the better quarterback and better receiving corps, and when that is the case, you should not be a seven-point underdog.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5, 7th) at Detroit Lions (5-9, 30th)
Buccaneers Win Probability: 86.89109338%
When the Bucs were down 17 points to the Falcons, it looked like another disappointing performance by a team with so much talent. However, by scoring 31 points in the second half, they quelled those concerns. A matchup against the Lions is exactly what the doctored ordered in order for them to continue to move the ball with ease, especially if Tom Brady continues to mesh better with his receiving corps. All of a sudden, they are the offensive-minded team they were expected to be.
Lions Win Probability: 13.10890662%
Don’t look now, but Matthew Stafford has quietly been the best quarterback in the NFL over the second-half of the season. His big-time throw rate of 4.8%, compared to a 1.89% turnover-worthy play rate, as well as an 81.6 Pro Football Focus grade tells you all you need to know. Now ranked with the tenth-best offense, per PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades, they should once again score 24+ points in this game.
Projected Winner: TB by 14.59
Spread: TB (-9.5)
Projected Spread: TB (-12.18)
Moneyline Value: TB
Over/Under Total Projection: 51.1 (Real O/U= 54)
For as well as Stafford is playing, it is essentially a one-man show in Detroit right now, and he isn’t even the best quarterback in this game. The Bucs have thrived when it comes to dominating against lesser-talented teams this season, and the Lions certainly qualify. I’m not expecting this game to be particularly close, though it is hard to ever count out Stafford to make things interesting.
San Francisco 49ers (5-9, 13th) at Arizona Cardinals (8-6, 16th)
49ers Win Probability: 53.27006595%
The 49ers may be the best 5-9 team out there. Despite all of the adversity they have dealt with, they have been competitive all season long, and still have a top-15 offense and defense, per PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades. Head coach Kyle Shanahan remains an offensive mastermind, as San Francisco actually ranks is averaging the same amount of yards/pass attempt as the Cardinals, and rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk is playing off-the-charts right now. Turnovers (they rank 31st in turnover margin) have killed them, but that is an unstable metric, and they have been on the extreme end of it over the past two weeks.
Cardinals Win Probability: 46.72993405%
The Cardinals have looked rather pedestrian in recent weeks, but last week’s win against the Eagles was very encouraging in terms of their offensive performance. Kyler Murray finally looked healthy, and it showed- he passed for over 400 yards and earned an 82.8 PFF passing grade, his highest grade of the season. They are also the team with far more motivation in this game, which cannot be understated.
Projected Winner: SF by 1.75
Spread: ARI (-5)
Projected Spread: SF (-1.08)
Moneyline Value: SF
Over/Under Total Projection: 49.3 (Real O/U= 49)
My model cannot get off the 49ers train! Their turnover luck is something that should regress positively for them, and then there is this: these offenses are similar, but San Francisco has the far superior defense. Thus, the 49ers are the better team?
CJ Beathard isn’t the quarterback that is going to spark confidence, but this is Kyle Shanahan, who had Nick Mullens near the top-ten in yards/pass attempt. The Cardinals remain an extremely flawed team, and I think they should be on upset alert this week. After barely scraping by the Eagles, who aren’t a good football team by any means and are certainly worse than San Francisco, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them get exposed here by a much-better coached team. Either way, I don’t see them winning by 5+ points.
Miami Dolphins (9-5, 17th) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-7, 24th)
Dolphins Win Probability: 66.57038543%
If the Dolphins win out, they will make the playoffs. With a defense that ranks first in yards/play, their identity is clearly on that side of the ball, which makes sense since they have a defensive-minded head coach in Brian Flores. Against a Raiders team without much in the way of separators, I could see them thriving, particularly if Flores uses Xavien Howard or Byron Jones to limit star tight end Darren Waller. The real storyline here, however, is Tua Tagovailoa and the offense. Tua is coming off of the best game of his career, and with the emergence of Lynn Bowden Jr., as well as the return of Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki, I have no doubts that they will be able to score a lot of points against a putrid Las Vegas defense.
Raiders Win Probability: 33.42961457%
Even without Derek Carr, the Raiders have a very respectable offense. Marcus Mariota played tremendously in the place of Carr, and against a team that runs a lot of man coverage, his athleticism could give them a distinct edge. Miami isn’t loaded with outside receiving talent, which could limit the exploitation of their lack of cornerback depth, and their improving pass rush should generate pressure against a subpar offensive line. Any Jon Gruden-coached team is going to fight hard, particularly in prime time, and they still have the better offense in this game.
Projected Winner: MIA by 6.21
Spread: MIA (-3)
Projected Spread: MIA (-5.47)
Moneyline Value: MIA
Over/Under Total Projection: 50.27 (Real O/U= 47.5)
Despite their 9-5 record, the Dolphins haven’t been the more-talented team in several of their games this season. This doesn’t qualify, however, and they are also the far more superior team. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was Tagovailoa’s best game of his young career, which would be a joy to watch in primetime. In fact, between Tagovailoa and Mariota, the quarterbacks make this game incredibly enticing!
SUNDAY, 1 PM ET
Cleveland Browns (10-4, 11th) at New York Jets (1-13, 32nd)
Browns Win Probability: 91.511%
Here come the Browns! Winners of five of their past six games, Cleveland is suddenly within one game of the division, and are surely going to make the playoffs. Their offense now ranks second in PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades, while Baker Mayfield has earned a PFF passing grade of 81 or higher in four of the past five games. Unlike a typical Kubiak-style offense, the Browns play-action concepts are built to take shots down the field, which has allowed them to be remarkably explosive. I could see them dropping 40 points against the Jets, who rank last in PFF coverage grade.
Jets Win Probability: 8.489%
The Jets have won a football game! Yes, I know this is a sad time for their fans, who were set on Trevor Lawrence, but Justin Fields and Zack Wilson are terrific quarterbacks who can help move your franchise in the right direction! Let us see if Sam Darnold can build off of one of the better performances of his career.
Projected Winner: CLE by 16.2
Spread: CLE (-9.5)
Projected Spread: CLE (-13.7)
Moneyline Value: CLE
Over/Under Total Projection: 49.6 (Real O/U= 47)
Ironically, I see this as a letdown spot for the Jets. The Browns aren’t much worse than the Rams, and have the better offense, so should the spread be 8 points lower? With the way Cleveland is playing right now, I’d gladly take them to win this game by multiple scores, particularly since I don’t have much faith in Darnold having back-to-back strong performances, given his overall track record. As long as this spread doesn’t reach ten points, I see some value with the Browns, which my model agrees with.
New York Giants (5-9, 29th) at Baltimore Ravens (9-5, 8th)
Giants Win Probability: 15.9803191%
The Giants may not be talented, but they certainly play hard. As old-school as this sounds, their ability to defend the run could be a good fit against the Ravens, though if Colt McCoy is starting, or even if Daniel Jones plays, there isn’t much reason to think they keep this game close.
Ravens Win Probability: 84.01965809%
Earlier in the season, the Ravens offense looked stale. Ever since Lamar Jackson returned from the COVID-19 list, however, their offense has looked much more like it did last year. Their rushing attack has been far more diverse and explosive, as they are generating 0.05 expected points added/rush attempt, an exceptionally high amount. They shouldn’t have any issue against the Giants, and if they have to pass, they’ll certainly be able to move the ball through the air against a poor secondary. To top it off, their heavy blitzing against New York’s offensive line and a quarterback (whoever starts) that holds onto the ball too long could lead to this game getting ugly in a hurry.
Projected Winner: BAL by 13.38
Spread: BAL (-10)
Projected Spread: BAL (-11.23)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 44.2 (Real O/U= 45)
With the way the Ravens are playing right now, this game could get ugly in a hurry. I see no edge that the Giants have whatsoever, while Baltimore is likely even better than my model’s ranking for them indicates. Then again, the Jets beat the Rams last week, so who knows at this point?
Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1, 28th) at Houston Texans (4-10, 23rd)
Bengals Win Probability: 36.662541179%
The Bengals seemed absolutely lifeless a week ago, but they were rather impressive in their ten-point win over the Steelers on Monday Night Football. With a 90 overall defense and coverage grade from PFF, they were fantastic all-around defensively, and quietly, they have the 12th-best defense, based on PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades. Their revived pass rush, led by Carl Lawson, could cause problems for Deshaun Watson if he holds onto the ball as long as he has since losing Will Fuller. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has enough offensive weapons to score against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Texans Win Probability: 63.37458821%
Deshaun Watson versus Ryan Finely. Need I say more? Limiting the Steelers is one thing, containing Watson is another. This Texans team has been within inches of beating the Colts in two of the past three weeks, so they clearly are better than their overall record. The quarterback mismatch here is far too significant to ignore.
Projected Winner: HOU by 3.36
Spread: HOU (-8)
Projected Spread: HOU (-4.41)
Moneyline Value: CIN
Over/Under Total Projection: 45.27 (Real O/U= 46)
With the far superior quarterback, the Texans should win this game. However, in what world should they be an eight-point favorite against anyone? After all, if Watson could single-handedly carry them, they’d have a lot more than four wins. It’s very sad that they have wasted such a ridiculously-productive season from him, and here’s hoping a new general manager and head coach can get them back on track. As for this game, I think this game is far closer than the spread would indicate, moreso due to Houston’s incompetence than any faith in the Bengals.
Chicago Bears (7-7, 20th) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-13, 31st)
Bears Win Probability: 81.65%
It may not seem like it, but the Bears are right in the thick of the playoff race! Thus, they are going to be motivated to steamroll past the Jaguars, and they should be able to. Sure, their offensive success – 30+ points in each of the past three games – have come against poor defenses, but Jacksonville’s defense ranks last in yards/play. After Gardner Minshew was pressured on over 50% of his dropbacks last week, I’m also expecting Chicago’s pass defense to ambush him as well.
Jaguars Win Probability: 18.35%
Never count on Minshew! The Jaguars do have some playmakers offensively, and they may have the more reliable quarterback. All it takes is Mitch Trubisky committing a couple of turnovers, and it’s hard to ever rely on a defensive-first team to take care of business as a clear favorite.
Projected Winner: CHI by 8.92
Spread: CHI (-7.5)
Projected Spread: CHI (-10.39)
Moneyline Value: CHI
Over/Under Total Projection: 44.82 (Real O/U= 47)
This is the game the Bears should easily win, which is exactly why they’ll lose! Seriously, if there is one random upset that could happen this week, I have a gut feeling it could be this one- Mitch Trubisky being a 7.5-point favorite feels like a disaster waiting to happen.
My model, on the other hand, sees a major talent gap between Jacksonville and Chicago, and doubts that the Jags will be able to score points. I speak for all Jacksonville fans when I say that this is the outcome they certainly are hoping for; could you imagine winning and losing the #1 pick just one week after being gift-wrapped it by the Jets?
Atlanta Falcons (4-10, 15th) at Kansas City Chiefs (13-1, 1st)
Falcons Win Probability: 36.1594616%
If the Falcons could just have games end in the first half, they could win the Super Bowl! They are one of the best scripted teams in the league, yet when the second half comes around, they fall apart! Matt Ryan has played well this season with an 84 PFF grade and 4.45% big-time throw rate, and even without Julio Jones, he was able to pick apart the Bucs last week. Theoretically, they should be able to score enough points to somewhat hang with Kansas City.
Chiefs Win Probability: 64.87216818%
No team is close to the Chiefs right now. The Saints played as well as a defense can against them, and they still scored 32 points. At this point, it’s almost unfair.
Kansas City leads the league in yards/play and is averaging more than twice the amount of expected points added/pass play that the Falcons are. Atlanta isn’t exactly the type of disciplined team that is going to contain this high-powered offense, nor will they be aggressive enough to go all-in to beating the Chiefs by not settling for field goals and going for it on fourth down. Even if they did, Kansas City is simply too good right now.
Projected Winner: KC by 10.86
Spread: KC (-10.5)
Projected Spread: KC (-4.91)
Moneyline Value: ATL
Over/Under Total Projection: 55.04 (Real O/U= 53.5)
The spread and model projection line up with this game, which should be a high-scoring affair in which Kansas City is often ahead my multiple scores. The blowout possibility of this game is massive, though this could play out similar to when the Chiefs hosted the Panthers- far closer than anyone could have expected.
My model thinks Atlanta’s money line has some value here as a long-shot bet, but I am not going to be endorsing this. The though of them having an early lead, just to blow it, is something I cannot get out of my head, and I couldn’t imagine the pain for anyone who would have their money line if that happened!
Indianapolis Colts (10-4, 9th) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3, 12th)
Colts Win Probability: 51.83482184%
The Colts may not be a flashy team, but they have to be one of the most functional ones in the NFL. Outside of their one blowout loss to the Titans, they have been incredibly consistent week-to-week, which speaks to the job Frank Reich has done as their head coach. In the battle of aging quarterbacks, it’s Phillip Rivers who is the far superior quarterback, and behind a strong offensive line, I’m guessing Pittsburgh’s pass rush doesn’t play a huge role here. Plus, they are by far the more progressive team, and their fourth-down aggressiveness could be critical for them in what should be a close game.
Steelers Win Probability: 48.1657816%
At some point, the Steelers are going to turn this around, right? Their third-down success rate has been unsustainably low in their three-game losing streak, and they should come out angry after losing to the Bengals. Until we see something from this offense, which lacks any big-play ability or creativeness, it’s hard to get on board with them right now.
Projected Winner: IND by 1.16
Spread: IND (-1.5)
Projected Spread: IND (-0.61)
Moneyline Value: PIT
Over/Under Total Projection: 44.78 (Real O/U= 45)
The Steelers lack any sort of explosion, excitement, or any semblance of an ability to score points. Then again, Indianapolis is heavily reliant on their rushing attack, which plays to Pittsburgh’s strengths, nor are the Colts going to be able to overly exploit any of the Steelers’ weaknesses. It’s hard to imagine Pittsburgh generating yardage after the catch against a sound tackling team who plays a lot of off-zone coverage, but if Rivers has a typical “dud” performance, which he has been susceptible to this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Steelers get a win when everyone is ready to give up on them.
SUNDAY, 4 PM ET
Denver Broncos (5-9, 22nd) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-9, 21st)
Broncos Win Probability; 49.60665367%
Although the Broncos were demolished by the Bills, who hasn’t been? Just the week before, they were coming off of a nice win over the Panthers, and Drew Lock’s big-time throw rate is over 6%. Turnovers will continue to be his downfall, but if he gets lucky for a game, Denver has a great chance to win, and the Chargers always find ways to lose; they blew a massive lead the first time these two teams played together.
Chargers Win Probability: 50.39334633%
Justin Herbert is playing tremendously right now. He is not only producing big plays, but he is limiting his mistakes, which is the difference between him being successful and Lock being arguably the league’s worst starter. Denver has been ravaged by cornerback injuries, so just like in their loss to Buffalo last week, they could get exposed by the Chargers’ explosive passing attack. Any game in which they can benefit from help, which should come via a Lock interception, is a game they should win, given the amount of talent they have.
Projected Winner: LAC by 0.13
Spread: LAC (-3)
Projected Spread: LAC (-0.13)
Moneyline Value: DEN
Over/Under Total Projection: 41.22 (Real O/U= 48)
These two teams are as even as it gets. Thus, I’m surprised it isn’t closer to a pick-em, as any game between AFC West teams not named the Chiefs should be. Both of these teams have gone out of their way to lose games in the worst way possible this season, making this as unpredictable as it gets. Ironically, this is actually a huge game for draft position, and a sixth win would place the winner out of the top ten.
The best value from this game is easily the over/under total. The Broncos have one of the league’s worst offenses, while the Chargers’ conservative style of play prevents them from maximizing on their potential. Add in that both of these defenses are above-average, and the under just makes too much sense.
Carolina Panthers (4-10, 27th) at Washington (6-8, 19th)
Panthers Win Probability: 28.78947759%
Tied for fourth-best against the spread, the Panthers have been as pesky as it gets this season. They have just two losses by more than one score this season, which is a testament to their offense, which ranks 11th in yards/play. With more playmakers and a better passing offense than Washington, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them continue to be difficult to put away.
Washington Win Probability: 71.121052241%
By all indications, Alex Smith should be able to play in this game. If that is the case, Washington has a lot going for them here. Even with Dwayne Haskins, they managed to almost beat the Seahawks, and before that had won four straight games. They quietly have one of the best defenses in the NFL – their pass rush and pass coverage have been off the charts – and do a great job limiting yardage after the catch; that is how Carolina generates a majority of their offensive production. Also, who is going to cover Terry McLaurin?
Projected Winner: WSH by 7.15
Spread: WSH (-2.5)
Projected Spread: WSH (-7)
Moneyline Value: WSH
Over/Under Total Projection: 45.28 (Real O/U= 44.5)
Should this spread be so low? Washington is 4-1 with Alex Smith as the starter, and now has a positive point differential. Meanwhile, the Panthers have won just one of their past nine games. Plus, Washington is the one with a lot to play for here, and with both offenses being similarly average in terms of talent, Washington is the only team with a specific strength. Yes, it’s their defense, but in what should be a low-scoring affair against a team lacking overall roster talent, that could actually be what makes the difference.
Los Angeles Rams (9-5, 6th) at Seattle Seahawks (10-4, 5th)
Rams Win Probability: 49.42817936%
The Rams suffered the most embarrassing loss of the seasons by gifting the Jets their first win of the season, but letdown games happen. It’s important to remember that many believed they’d win the NFC just one week ago, and it is likely they were looking ahead to this game against the Seahawks. Los Angeles absolutely had their way with Seattle the first time these two teams met, and once again hold a distinct coaching advantage.
Seahawks Win Probability: 50.57182064%
If we know anything about the NFL, it’s that divisional matchups rarely play out the way they did the first time. Whereas Jared Goff needs a perfect game script to succeed, Russell Wilson has the ability to overcome any sort of adversity and guide his team to victory. That’s what he’ll need to do here, but with the division on the line, how can you doubt him? The better offense usually beats the better defense.
Projected Winner: SEA by 0.4
Spread: SEA (-1.5)
Projected Spread: SEA (-0.19)
Moneyline Value: LAR
Over/Under Total Projection: 50.53 (Real O/U= 47.5)
This should essentially be a pick-em. It’s crazy that the NFC West can’t have a team separate from the rest, but that sets up a thriller here. The Rams have generally done well against the Seahawks with Sean McVay picking apart a rigid defensive scheme, but it’s hard to ever trust Goff over Wilson. I wouldn’t recommend betting this game at all, but it will be exciting to watch! Will Los Angeles come in with a similar plan as the first matchup? Will Wilson put the team on his back? There is a lot to take in here!
Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1, 26th) at Dallas Cowboys (5-9, 25th)
Eagles Win Probability: 49.22604706%
The Eagles have been a completely different team since transitioning to Jalen Hurts under center. Hurts’ athleticism really opens up the offense, which is why they’re not only having success running the ball, but getting more results from their playmakers through the air as well. The Cowboys defense represents an easy test for Hurts, and if it wasn’t for poor special teams, they probably would’ve beaten the Cardinals.
Cowboys Win Probability: 50.77395294%
Just when you thought you could dismiss them, the Cowboys are playing like we expected them to when Dak Prescott went down with a season-ending ankle injury. In each of the five games since he returned from the COVID-19 list, Andy Dalton has earned a PFF passing grade above 69.5, and the team’s excellent receiving corps is playing much better. Heck, with Ezekiel Elliot not playing, they finally opened up their offense even more. I have more confidence in them moving the ball through the air than the Eagles, who have benefitted from a lot of late-down luck over the past two weeks.
Projected Winner: DAL by 0.16
Spread: PHI (-2)
Projected Spread: DAL (-0.26)
Moneyline Value: DAL
Over/Under Total Projection: 45.75 (Real O/U=49)
I’m as much of a proponent as Hurts as you’ll see, but I think we’re overreacting to his performance the past two weeks. His 4.2% turnover-worthy play rate isn’t showing up in the box scores, and any regression from their late-down conversion rates could be costly to them. Dallas isn’t going to get any support from the betting markets after multiple poor primetime performances, yet they have the more reliable offense, so I’d be inclined to side with them. Still, this is an NFC East battle, which means one thing- expect the unexpected.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Tennessee Titans (10-4, 4th) at Green Bay Packers (11-3, 3rd)
Titans Win Probability: 49.01873814%
Right now, the Titans have the #1 ranked offense, based on EPA/play and PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades. How do you stop them? Ryan Tannehill, AJ Brown, and Corey Davis are quite the trio to rely on in the passing game, and they’re also generating 0.03 EPA per rush attempt. The Packers aren’t exactly a defense built to deal with the tenacity of Tennessee’s playmakers, and when you have the best-performing offense in the NFL, a lot is on your side.
Packers Win Probability: 50.98126186%
If I had an MVP pick, I’d give it to Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay is actually generating slightly more EPA/pass play than the Titans, and should score with ease in this game. Meanwhile, the Titans struggle greatly in pass protection, so if the Packers can force them into obvious drop back situations, their pass rush could generate pressure on Tannehill. With how Tannehill has performed under pressure this season, that could be incredibly bad news for Tennessee.
Projected Winner: GB by 0.74
Spread: GB (-3.5)
Projected Spread: GB (-0.33)
Moneyline Value: TEN
Over/Under Total Projection: 55.55 (Real O/U= 56)
Let’s compare these two teams:
PFF Offense Ranks: TEN- 1st, GB- 4th
PFF Defense Ranks: TEN- 18th, GB -17th
EPA/pass attempt: TEN- 0.33, GB-0.34
EPA/rush attempt: TEN- 0.03, GB- Negative 0.09
What is the difference between these two teams? Heck, they even run the same style of offense! Yes, Rodgers is better than Tannehill, but I think the Titans have better playmakers and more roster depth, so in the end, these two teams are pretty evenly matched. Thus, although many have labeled this as an easy win for Green Bay to nearly lock up the #1 seed, I think it is far from that. My model slightly leans towards the Packers, but no one should be surprised if Tennessee showcases their elite offense in primetime here.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Buffalo Bills (11-3, 2nd) at New England Patriots (6-8, 18th)
Bills Win Probability: 62.06019438%
That’s right, the Bills are the second-best team in the NFL. How could they not be? They have a top-seven offense and defense, per PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades, and continue to be the smartest organization in the NFL. They’ve created quite the foundation for Josh Allen to succeed, with a lot of early-down passes, play-action concepts, and a diverse group of receivers, and I love their overall disregard for the running game. New England will come into this game without top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and right now, simply cannot move the ball through the air at all.
Patriots Win Probability: 37.93980562%
Yet, thanks to a rushing attack led by Cam Newton that is generating positive EPA/play, the Patriots have had a more than respectable offense. Their rushing ability is a good fit against a Bills defense that ranks last in PFF run-defense grade, while Jakobi Meyers could exploit some of Buffalo’s issues defending slot receivers. Allen remains somewhat volatile, so if Bill Belichick schemes up the right gameplan, New England certainly could pull off a surprising win here.
Projected Winner: BUF by 7.8
Spread: BUF (-7)
Projected Spread: BUF (-3.8)
Moneyline Value: NE
Over/Under Total Projection: 50.37 (Real O/U= 45)
A touchdown is a lot for the Patriots to ever be underdogs by, so I wouldn’t be rushing to back the Bills. However, Buffalo is playing out of their minds right now, and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. They’re a progressive organization with a fantastic passing attack and a well-run defense, and for that reason, they have ascended to being the second-best team in the NFL. The matchups slightly favor New England, though, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see Belichick get one last laugh in a division in which the balance of power has shifted dramatically.
If you are going to bet this game, bet the over. The Bills are going to score points in this game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see New England have a better offensive performance than expected. These two teams combined for 45 points, with the Patriots driving late in the red zone, in the pouring rain earlier in the season, so I can see why my model believes this over/under total is too low.
Best Model Picks
Although my model is more of a projection model than a betting model, we can still use it to identify the best value picks. To do so, I calculated the average difference from Vegas’ lines and the model’s projections, as well as the standard deviation. Thus, all of these picks are listed because they are one deviation over from the average difference.
- SF (+5) at ARI
- CLE (-9.5) at NYJ
- MIN (+7) at NO
- SF (+200) at ARI
- TB (-420) at DET
- ATL (+425) at KC
- DEN at LAC (Under 48)
- BUF at NE (Over 45)
All odds are updated from Vegas Insider as of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Additionally, all advanced metrics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus. Remember, these are based on blind projections, so when it comes to betting on games, please bet responsibily and realize that as a small-sample size sport, anything can happen within one game of football! Hey, that’s the fun of it all; enjoy a great week of football!