The NFL is bringing gifts in Week 16 in the form of a tripleheader this Monday, including a possible Super Bowl preview between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. We also get some divisional games as the Chiefs and Eagles are big home favorites against the Raiders and Giants.
- Chiefs Over 27.5 Points (+110) at Bet365
- Giants-Eagles Under 43.5 Points (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
- Ravens Over 9.5 1st Half Team Points (-115) at Bet365
Chiefs Are Close to Figuring It Out
The Chiefs were able to end their little losing streak with a 27-17 win in New England that was hardly perfect, but it did show the team made some progress with a 300-yard passing game despite little contribution from Travis Kelce.
But the Chiefs are going to have to clean up the mistakes to get where they want. The Raiders just feasted on turnovers against the Chargers to score 63 points last week, but they were held scoreless by the Vikings just 4 days before that.
The Chiefs are a 10-point home favorite with a total of 42.5 points. We are looking at their team scoring total (over/under 27.5 points).
Monday, December 25, 2023 – 01:00 PM ET at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Chiefs Still Making Mistakes but Getting Closer
The Chiefs scored 27 points in New England last week, a number you can never really argue about when facing Bill Belichick. But the game was probably still a bit disappointing as the Chiefs lost the turnover battle (2-1) again, and they even watched kicker Harrison Butker miss his 1st field goal of the season.
But there were encouraging signs. Rashee Rice continues to grow as a rookie wideout and the new No. 1 receiver in this offense. Mahomes found a way to throw for over 300 yards with Travis Kelce only having 28 yards. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire had his best game of the season in filling in for Isiah Pacheco.
But there were some annoying mistakes again. On both of Mahomes’ interceptions, the pass hit his receiver in the hands, but one was wrestled away for a pick, and the other was another egregious drop by Kadarius Toney, who somehow still gets snaps in this offense.
If the Chiefs can clean up those mistakes and play more snaps to their best players (read: not Toney), then they should become a formidable offense just in time for the playoff run.
What Is the Vegas Defense Now?
It is hard to make sense of what the Raiders are defensively. Maxx Crosby (13.5 sacks) plays hard every week, but the rest of the roster leaves little to be desired. But a few strong games have moved the Raiders up to No. 9 in points allowed even though their yardage ranking (17th) is mediocre.
The Raiders have allowed just 3-of-14 opponents to go over 27.5 points this year, but the Chiefs were one of them. The Chiefs scored 31 points on what was essentially 9 drives for one of their best games this year.
The Raiders have only played backup quarterbacks since their bye and the game against Mahomes. They held the Vikings with Joshua Dobbs scoreless into the 4th quarter before Nick Mullens came in and put together a game-winning drive. Then despite the 63 points against the Chargers, they did technically give up 3 touchdown passes to backup Easton Stick in his 1st NFL start.
The 5 takeaways against the Chargers sure look like an outlier when the Raiders have 9 games this year where they had 0-or-1 takeaways. The Raiders are still 26th on 3rd down and 26th in the red zone, so the situational play has not been strong either.
Look, Mahomes is 10-1 against the Raiders and has led the Chiefs to at least 28 points in all 11 games, including 10 games with at least 30 points. We can talk about the Chiefs not looking the same offensively this year, but they kind of looked like the team we expected in Week 12 when they scored 31 on these Raiders.
We’ll trust the Chiefs to get the job done and score over 27.5 points in this one.
Can Eagles Pad Sack Total vs. Giants?
The Eagles have finally completed their gauntlet of a tough schedule, a 6-game stretch that featured playoff teams from last year and playoff hopefuls this year. The Eagles were 3-3 during this run, but they come into this one having lost 3 games in a row, with the latest in Seattle the most disappointing yet.
But the Giants are a good opponent to rebound against. The Eagles are a 10.5-point home favorite with a total of 43.5 points. We are focusing on the under.
Monday, December 25, 2023 – 04:30 PM ET at Lincoln Financial Field
Eagles Need Pass Rush to Eat
One of the biggest declines in the league this year is the Philadelphia defense. While it had some issues at times last year, it was an elite pass-rushing unit that thrived with 70 sacks. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon left to coach Arizona, Javon Hargrave joined the 49ers, and despite drafting likely Defensive Rookie of the Year Jalen Carter, the Eagles have not come close to matching last year’s success.
But giving up a 92-yard touchdown drive after the 2-minute warning to Drew Lock in Seattle was the lowest point yet. The Eagles did a fine job defensively prior to that drive, but D.K. Metcalf embarrassed them on that one, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba made a great catch on the touchdown.
The good news is the Eagles get the Giants at home this week, and they owned this Brian Daboll-coached offense in each matchup last year. A new part of the matchup is rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito. He’s had his moments this year, but he is also taking a sack on over 17% of his dropbacks, a rate that would make former Philly great Randall Cunningham blush in the year 2023.
The Eagles must get home and sack this quarterback many times behind this putrid line of the Giants that has already allowed 76 sacks. The Giants have been held to 17 points in 11-of-14 games this year. It would be a rough look for the Eagles to not do better than that too.
Philadelphia Not Clicking on All Cylinders
You could argue the Philadelphia offense has looked broken since the bye week, starting with the Kansas City game where Jalen Hurts threw for 150 yards and took many sacks. They seem uncertain of their game plans, they have too many horizontal plays, too many deep shots in bad moments, and Hurts may not be 100%.
Hurts reportedly had a flu-like illness against the Seahawks, so hopefully he will feel better by the time this game comes around. But it is hard to trust this offense right now after not seeing it break 20 points in 3 straight games.
The Brotherly Shove is still working wonders, but they have to get into short-yardage situations before they can run that. The regular passing game just has not been clicking, and the usage of tight-end Dallas Goedert has been off all year. They also haven’t developed any wide receiver past the top duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
We know the Giants are a blitz-happy group that will likely be coming for Hurts in this one. He can escape that with designed runs and scrambles, but this may not be an ideal week for the passing game to get back on track.
The nice thing about this one is that even if the Eagles snap out of it and win 30-10, that’s good enough for the under to hit too. But in addition to trusting the Giants to struggle to score, we’ll also count on the Eagles not hitting their stride again and giving fans more things to be angry about.
As if they don’t have enough in Philadelphia with the No.1 seed and possibly the NFC East slipping away.
Ravens Need Fast Start in San Francisco
For only the 2nd time in his career, Lamar Jackson is an underdog of at least 5 points in an NFL game. He is trailing Brock Purdy in the MVP odds at the sportsbooks, but he can make up some real ground with a huge performance against the best defense in the NFC, if not the NFL.
The conventional wisdom may be to say that the scripted 49ers come out scoring and the run-based Ravens struggle on the road, but we are purposely going against our gut and taking a chance that the Ravens are going to surprise the 49ers with an impressive opening half.
The over for the team total at halftime for Baltimore is only 9.5 points, and that is what we are going to focus on the Ravens being able to score.
Monday, December 25, 2023 – 08:15 PM ET at Levi’s Stadium
Ravens Can Overcome Injuries
Injuries are starting to pile up for the Ravens in the last month, but they are built to overcome these. The first big injury was tight end Mark Andrews, who has been Lamar’s most trusted target over the years.
But after Andrews was injured on the opening drive against the Bengals, the Ravens still scored 34 points that night, 37 at home against the Rams, and they have reached 20 points on the road against the Jaguars and Chargers.
Part of this continued success is that Isaiah Likely is a very good backup who can do the No. 1 job at tight end. He has back-to-back games with 70 yards and a touchdown, which is a good sign for this offense going forward.
But the Ravens also lost running back Keaton Mitchell to a torn ACL against the Jaguars. He was looking like the team’s speed back and averaged 8.4 yards per carry with an absurd rushing success rate of 68.1% on his 47 runs this year.
It is a disappointing injury for the offense that runs the ball more than anyone, but the Ravens are used to plugging in different backs in this offense. They still have Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, and obviously Jackson can contribute a lot to the ground attack that has produced at least 106 yards in every game this season.
49ers Face Unique Test
Facing Jackson is a unique test because there is no one like him. He can get hot as a passer, as the Lions found out the hard way this year. But he is also incredible on scrambles and designed runs, and he usually runs in a way that leads to him getting out of bounds and not taking a bit hit. This is why he can usually run so many times in a game and stay upright.
The 49ers’ run defense is going to be tested unlike maybe no other game this year. The 49ers are usually always leading, so they have faced the fewest run plays in the league. But they are only ranked 19th in yards per carry allowed (4.3).
Last week, the Cardinals rushed for 234 yards on the 49ers, by far the most the defense has allowed this year. While Arizona obviously still lost the game by 16 points, it did lead to 29 points for them. It wasn’t all garbage-time production either. The Cardinals reached 13 points by halftime.
San Francisco’s defense is great but not impossible to crack this year:
- Drew Lock led the Seahawks to 10 points in the 1st quarter alone in Week 14 in San Francisco
- Joe Burrow and the Bengals scored a pair of touchdowns in the 1st quarter in San Francisco in Week 8
- Kirk Cousins and the Vikings had that great 1st half in the upset win when they scored 16 points by halftime.
- The Rams scored 17 points by halftime against the 49ers in Week 2.
The Ravens will challenge the 49ers in a way few teams can.
Baltimore has scored at least 10 points by halftime in 11 straight games. The last time it failed to do so was against the Colts in Week 3 thanks to a couple of lost fumbles in the half.
The Ravens no doubt have some self-destruct qualities to them, but they usually do it after they take a multi-score lead as they usually have in most games with Jackson since 2022 started.
In a game between the top 2 scoring defenses, we are going to trust the road team to impress people with over 9.5 points. Justin Tucker is still money as a kicker from almost any distance, and you never know when the Ravens will go for a 4th down to extend a drive for a touchdown.
NFL Pick: Ravens Over 9.5 1st Half Team Points (-115) at Bet365
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