We are onto the New Year and we have only two regular season weeks left. Hope you didn’t have too big of a hangover from New Year’s Eve and the College Football Playoff. We are going to be sharp early in the first sports slate of 2023.
So, clear the spreadsheets, it’s time to start 2023 in the green.
We went a modest 3-3 last week and are looking to approve of that. Getting to start the New Year with NFL football, there is nothing better. We are going to preview the top six games on the slate. We got playoff stakes/seeding on the line with Tampa-Carolina, New England-Miami, New York-Seattle, Packers-Vikings, and more.
As always, the picks are presented by Betfred Sportsbook - bet $50 on any game this weekend, get $250 in free bets. Courtesy of Betfred.
And of course, if you're in Cincinnati this weekend for the launch of sports betting in Ohio, make sure to connect with Betfred at Fowling Warehouse in Cincinnati.
Let’s break it all down.
Carolina at Tampa Bay
Spread: Tampa Bay (-3)
Tampa has been the most disappointing team in the NFL. Their ATS resembles just that Tampa is 3-11-1 ATS this season — the worst record in the league. It is 0-6 ATS when favored by more than a field goal. The Bucs just haven’t been able to create a margin this season.
Yet Tampa is favored a hair over a field goal again. Carolina has had a good turnaround story under Steve Wilks. Carolina has won four out of their last six. They have an identity with their ground and pound attack combined with their pressure defense.
I think that story comes to an end here.
Tampa does a good job stopping the run ranking 13th in DVOA. Todd Bowles sends pressure. Sam Darnold has not handled the blitz well throughout his career. Carolina has injuries in their secondary. Giving an opportunity for the Tampa passing attack to take advantage.
I’m buying the half point to get it three. But I do like Tampa to secure the win.
The pick: Tampa -3.5
Cleveland at Washington
Spread: Washington (-1)
This is a public play that everyone is on. I just don’t see how Washington loses here. The last time Carson Wentz played the Browns he threw a pick six and took five sacks in what was the beginning of the end to his tenure in Philly. Wentz has a chance to redeem himself here.
Cleveland’s defense has taken a major step back this season. They rank 30th in rush DVOA and 15th in passing DVOA. The pass rush has taken a step back from elite to above average. While Washington isn’t elite in the run game, they are a team that commits to it.
That’s the path to success here.
The Browns offense has ranked in bottom 25 in EPA every week since Watson has been the starter. I don’t see the Browns having a lot of motivation to play on the road here. While Washington’s playoff hopes are at stake.
Give me Washington to take care of business at home.
The pick: Washington (-1)
Chicago at Detroit
Spread: Detroit (-6.5)
This is my favorite bet of the week. I’m just going to ride over here. We have Justin Fields playing in a dome. The Lions averaged over 30 points per game in Ford Field. They are coming off a game where they gave up nearly 10 yards per carry. Justin Fields is a 70-yard run ready to happen at any given moment. Detroit quietly ranks fifth in scoring offense and sixth in yards per play. Chicago ranks 32nd in DVOA.
The Lions will be able to move the ball at will in this one. I see this game getting played in the 60’s. The defense will have no answers.
Give me the over here.
The pick: over 52.5
Denver at Kansas City
Spread: Kansas City (-13)
The over has hit in the last three of the Chiefs/Broncos matchups. We hit this over early in the year and are going right back to it.
The Chiefs are 10-2 over the past 12 games, with those two defeats coming to Buffalo and Cincinnati. Their defense allows tons of passing touchdowns (31) despite allowing 6.8 yards per pass attempt. The Broncos offense is going to have some life after the firing of head coach Nathaniel Hackett. I think we are going to see Russell Wilson make unscripted plays, and that’s when he is most dangerous. Let’s see how the Broncos play out of structure. This Kansas City defense is beatable. Nobody is stopping Mahomes based on the way they are playing.
Over 45 is a no brainer here.
The pick: Over 45
New York Jets at Seattle
Spread: New York (-1)
It’s the Geno Smith revenge game. A very underrated storyline going into the game. The former Jets QB, Smith has a chance to put his team closer to playoff spot while knocking out New York.
It would be a tough punch to the jaw, if you know what I mean.
Speaking of slugfest, this game is going to get uglier than a New Year's Eve game of bloody knuckles. Expect both of the offenses to struggle here. Both offensive lines are in shambles right now, especially Seattle, which suffered a key injury at right tackle last week. The Jets defensive line is not the unit you want to show up short handed against. The Jets are in the top 6 in the NFL in pressure rate while blitzing the second least amount of times in the NFL. They rank 3rd in defensive DVOA. The Jets rank 6th in red zone touchdown percentage allowed while Seattle struggles converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns posting a (52.6% red zone TD percentage. Seattle’s defense has been below average. However the Jets offense has been a mess. Although they get Mike White back at quarterback, White still ranks in the bottom 20 in terms of EPA.
Instead of taking a side we will go with the under here.
The pick: Under 42.5
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati
Spread: Cincinnati (-1)
The Betfred crew will be in Cincy Monday night. You can ask Aaron what goes through his mind to let me write. Cincinnati has been the talk of the NFL. They have won 7 straight straight overall with a league best 12-3 record against the spread this season. Now they are a home underdog here. THe biggest news going into this game is the fact the Bengals are not going to have La’el Collins. The Bengals have won despite their struggles protecting Burrow.
I still have the Bills power rated as the best team in the NFL. They rank fourth in scoring offense and second in scoring defense. The Bengals defense is improved, but Josh Allen is simply a menace. Cincinnati is an average team on the defensive side of the ball.
Where Buffalo is elite. This is an important game for the Bills to secure home field throughout the postseason. I think they take care of business here. Ride with Bills Mafia.
The pick: Bills (-1)