With Christmas in the rearview mirror and 2023 on the horizon, we're certainly winding down in the NFL's regular season with just two weeks left. Last week we had a number of solid hits as we were right on with the Jaguars and Bengals, and we were even right in our analysis by taking the Eagles, albeit not covering. However, we did miss on the Lions in a big way as they were run over by the Carolina Panthers.
This week, we'll look to sharpen up as we rocket toward the postseason and have a handful of best bets that coincide with some serious playoff implications. Let's dive into all of it starting with my five locks of the week.
Locks of the Week ATS: 38-39-4
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
The Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Colts, so I don't think we'll need to worry about them possibly having their eye off the ball against an inferior opponent. New York has also been among the best teams in the entire NFL to bet on this season as they are 11-4 ATS coming into Week 7, which is the second-best mark in the league. Meanwhile, they host an Indianapolis team that looked lifeless against the Chargers as the Colts ushered in Nick Foles under center. They are expected to roll with him the rest of the season and he could be under siege against the Giants front that features Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence. This season, the Colts rank 28th in the NFL in adjusted sack rate.
Projected score: Giants 24, Colts 13
The pick: Giants -5
Bills at Bengals, Monday
The No. 1 seed is up for grabs in this matchup as Buffalo could secure home-field advantage with a win coupled with a Chiefs loss. Meanwhile, Cincinnati also has an outside shot at the No. 1 seed and a win could give them the head-to-head tiebreaker over Buffalo. The Bengals have been the top team to bet on this season as they own an NFL-best 12-3 ATS record coming into Monday night where they are getting a point at home. They have covered in seven straight games and are facing a Bills team that is 1-4 ATS in its last five games against teams with a winning record. The season-ending injury to starting tackle La'el Collins does give me some pause backing the home dog, but Joe Burrow's been playing at an MVP level that's hard to ignore. Since Week 3, he's completing 70% of his throws and has a league-best 107.7 passer rating. I'll ride the hot hand of Cincinnati here.
Projected score: Bengals 27, Bills 24
The pick: Bengals +1
Panthers at Buccaneers
The NFC South could be determined in this matchup as a Bucs win would clinch them the division. However, if Carolina wins this game and its regular-season finale against New Orleans, they'd hold the crown and head into the postseason. As remarkable as this sounds, considering the turnover the Panthers have faced this season, they are playing better ball than the Bucs at this stage of the year. They ran over the red-hot Lions to the tune of 320 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. While Tampa Bay also got an OT win last week, it was hardly an inspiring showing from a team that continues to look lost offensively.
Since Week 12, Carolina has averaged 26.5 points per game and 187 yards on the ground, which has helped them to a 3-1 record. Over that same stretch, Tampa Bay has gone 2-3 and is averaging 16.6 points offensively, and has turned the ball over 11 times. The Panthers have more of an identity than the Bucs at the moment and I like them to win this game outright.
Oh, did you know that the Bucs are the only team in the NFL without an ATS win at home (0-6-1) this season?
Projected score: Panthers 23, Bucs 20
The pick: Panthers +3
Cowboys at Titans, Thursday
This game means virtually nothing to Tennessee, but their regular-season finale against Jacksonville does. So, will Mike Vrabel consider resting some of his players to gear up for that make-or-break game in Week 18? It's not out of the realm of possibility and the double-digit spread suggests that he might.
We already know that Ryan Tannehill is not going to play and it'll be Malik Willis under center for the Titans against arguably the top defense in the league in the Cowboys. The rookie could be facing pressure all night as the Tennessee pass-block grade ranks dead last in the NFL, while Dallas grades as the second-best pass-rushing group in the league. The Cowboys also still have a shot at winning the NFC East after beating Philadelphia last week and should be firing on all cylinders.
So, you have one team with nothing to play for on a short week with a must-win game on the horizon going against another that has a shot at the No. 1 seed in their conference. The Cowboys are the play here as they come away with a big win.
Projected score: Cowboys 33, Titans 16
The pick: Cowboys -10
Jets at Seahawks
Mike White is back as the Jets starter after missing the previous two weeks due to injury and his return couldn't come at a more critical time. New York is still in playoff contention, but a loss in Seattle would send them packing. With White under center, the offense has run infinitely smoother than it did with either Zach Wilson or Joe Flacco. White's offense averaged 21.7 points per game under his starts and posted 420.3 yards of offense per game, which was third-most in the NFL over that stretch. Meanwhile, the Jets defense is allowing just 18.8 points per game this year and is facing a Seahawks offense that crashed back down to earth over the last six weeks. Since Week 10, the Seahawks' points-per-game average ranks 19th in the NFL and they have failed to cover in each of those contests. In a must-win game and their best quarterback back under center, I'll lay less than a field goal with New York.
Projected score: Jets 24, Seahawks 21
The pick: Jets -2.5
Rest of the bunch
Cardinals at Falcons
Projected score: Cardinals 21, Falcons 17
The pick: Cardinals +4
Bears at Lions
Projected score: Lions 30, Bears 23
The pick: Lions -6
Broncos at Chiefs
Projected score: Chiefs 30, Broncos 17
The pick: Broncos +13.5
Dolphins at Patriots
Projected score: Patriots 27, Dolphins 21
The pick: Patriots -2.5
Saints at Eagles
Projected score: Eagles 28, Saints 17
The pick: Eagles -7
Browns at Commanders
Projected score: Browns 23, Commanders 21
The pick: Browns +2
Jaguars at Texans
Projected score: Jaguars 27, Texans 21
The pick: Jaguars -4
49ers at Raiders
Projected score: 49ers 28, Raiders 21
The pick: 49ers -6
Vikings at Packers
Projected score: Packers 27, Vikings 23
The pick: Packers -3.5
Rams at Chargers
Projected score: Chargers 27, Rams 21
The pick: Rams +6.5
Steelers at Ravens
Projected score: Ravens 23, Steelers 21
The pick: Steelers +3