Week 17 of the 2019 NFL season was kind to us from a handicapping perspective, even if the final game of 2019 didn’t swing our way in the final seconds. Still, the regular season was an unmitigated success with a 49-41-1 record and, with the playoffs on the horizon, it is time to attempt to build on that upward trajectory.
The postseason brings reduced slates and, as such, the margins can be very slim. Still, there are opportunities to take advantage of the number (and the public). In this space, we’ll aim to do just that during Wild Card Weekend.
Before we get to the slate, let’s take one more glance at the season-long progress.
- Week 17: 3-2
- 2019 Season: 49-41-1
Come get these winners.
Houston Texans (-2.5) over Buffalo Bills
The public seems to be leaning to Buffalo and, honestly, I get it. The Bills probably have the better team if you remove the quarterback position, and Buffalo’s defense is legitimately imposing. On the flip side, Houston has the best player on the field in Deshaun Watson and, with J.J. Watt set to return, the Texans might be able to put up a bit more resistance defensively. Josh Allen has been better this season, but it’s not enough to make me take him on the road against Watson.
New England Patriots (-5) over Tennessee Titans
You’ll almost never see me lay more than a field goal in this space, but it has to happen here. Tennessee is picking up some steam as a public team and New England was disastrous in their Week 17 flop against Miami. That sequence allows for value on the Patriots in a game where they should probably be laying seven points or more. I don’t love it here, because New England’s offense is legitimately problematic. I also can’t take this short number, so we will lay it and hope Belichick pulls some magic.
New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans UNDER 44 points
This isn’t my favorite slate of totals but, in attempting to give the people what they want with a fifth play, we land here. New England’s defense should be able to load up against Derrick Henry with confidence, in part because the Patriots can hold up against AJ Brown on the outside. I have a hard time seeing the Titans putting up a big number here and, as noted above, New England’s offense is troublingly non-explosive. You’ll want to get the full 44 but it feels a touch high to me.
Minnesota Vikings (+8) over New Orleans Saints
If this was sitting at seven or lower, I’d have a hard time endorsing it. The Saints are the better team and New Orleans is one of the few places in the NFL where home-field advantage legitimately matters at a high level. I do think the number is a bit out of control, though, and that is especially true if Dalvin Cook is good to go at something approaching 100 percent. Minnesota should be able to move the ball and, despite some terrifying stuff from the Saints offense lately, the Vikings have enough to keep it close or sneak in the backdoor late. Oh, and everyone in the world is on New Orleans.
Philadelphia Eagles (+2) over Seattle Seahawks
We backed Seattle in Week 17 and, frankly, I’d do it again despite the unfavorable result. This is something different, though, with an overvalued Seahawks team going on the road as the favorite in round one. Injuries for the Eagles do scare me because, well, they are very depleted. Still, the number is wrong in my estimation and it gives me even more confidence when seeing more than 80 (!) percent of the tickets on the Seahawks. Give me the frisky home underdog. I think Philly wins on the field.