The 17-week gauntlet of the NFL regular season is over and, well, we all survived. In this space, we experienced mild success and the season finale was relatively kind to us. Still, the task is never done and, as Wild Card weekend approaches in earnest, the focus is on finding value in the point spread (often by fading the public with vigor) within an intriguing four-game slate.
Before we get to the picks for this week — now in reduced form given the shortened slate — let’s take a glance at what the regular season had in store in terms of the results.
- Week 17: 3-2
- 2018 Season: 44-38-3
Come get these winners.
Dallas Cowboys (-2) over Seattle Seahawks
As you can gather, we’re skipping Colts/Texans, simply because both numbers feel right and there isn’t much value to be had. With that out of the way, there are a number of conflicting factors with Cowboys/Seahawks. Normally, I’m on the side of fading public teams and the Dallas Cowboys are the very definition of a public team. In this spot, though, only about half of the tickets are on Dallas and the Seahawks have the feel of a very trendy underdog. In terms of actual analysis, the Cowboys should be able to run the ball in this spot and, kind of quietly, Dallas has been tremendous on defense when dialed in this season. Moreover, the home-field advantage is big here, as Seattle simply isn’t the same team away from their own building, which brings us to the small home favorite to take us to the window.
Los Angeles Chargers (+3) over Baltimore Ravens
Despite their loss to Baltimore a few weeks back, the Chargers are better than the Ravens. Lamar Jackson has revitalized Baltimore but this is a quick rematch against a team that has seen him already and that leans in favor of Los Angeles. Finally, we’re getting the better quarterback and the more talented roster here. It would be better if you can get the full field goal (not available everywhere but it’s not tough to find) in what could be a low-scoring battle but, quite honestly, I’m expecting an outright winner.
Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens UNDER 20.5 points in the first half
We’re doubling up here and that means going to the well on a first half under. The stage is set for this one and, despite the low total, it still makes sense. These are two teams that just saw each other, so there should be no secrets, and Baltimore has been taking the air out of the ball with the running game in the Lamar Jackson era. Things could open up after halftime but, in the early going, this feels like a rock fight, and that is doubly true with a team from L.A. playing an early-day kick-off in Maryland.
Philadelphia Eagles (+6.5) over Chicago Bears
This isn’t my favorite play of the week by any means but, since we want to give out as many winners as possible, Philly is the side. I expect Chicago to win the game but this feels like a slug-fest of the highest order, particularly with the improved nature of the Eagles defense. It is definitely worth noting that Philly’s resurgence has come against a less than stellar slate of opposing offenses. In the end, this number is just a bit too big when considering the Mitchell Trubisky effect. It would’ve been great to get 7 on the opener but 6.5 feels right.