NFL Week 15 betting trends, according to the oddsmakers and the general public, seem to suggest a roadshow.
But will it be?
The 10-3 New England Patriots, -9 as they visit the 1-12 Cincinnati Bengals, are receiving nearly 90% of public support at major sportsbooks, including:
The 9-4 Minnesota Vikings invade the 5-8 Los Angeles Chargers as 3-point favorites and are getting more than 90% of the action.
The 8-5 LA Rams, giving 0.5 points on the road against the 6-7 Dallas Cowboys, are obtaining nearly 90% of the spread play.
The visiting Seattle Seahawks are 10-3 and give 6 points to the 5-8 Carolina Panthers but are claiming more than 90% of the support at major books.
Road teams are being celebrated.
Notable exceptions include the Tennessee Titans.
A home favorite, they give 3 points to the Houston Texans on DraftKings and are receiving slightly more than 50% of tickets and revenue in a first-place AFC South battle of 8-5 teams.
The 10-3 New Orleans Saints, despite laying 9.5 points on the 6-7 Indianapolis Colts during Monday night, they are receiving more than 80% of the sportsbook sentiment at FanDuel. The game is in New Orleans.
Among teams popular at PlaySugarHouse, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants have opposite fan sentiment for their games, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are not favored by fans for a game in their backyard against the Buffalo Bills.
SugarHouse bettors back on Eagles
Which way will the pendulum swing?
The 6-7 Eagles are coming off an exhilarating overtime triumph against the NY Giants, saving their season, since they have not covered in their last four games. The Eagles, nonetheless, share the NFC East lead with the Cowboys and will host them on Dec. 22.
The 3-10 Washington Redskins, conversely, sport three consecutive covers but have nothing to play for except pride.
When the division rivals battle on Sunday, the visiting Eagles give 4.5 points.
One week after bettors in those states backed the Giants — accurately so because they covered as a 9-point dog in losing 23-17 — gamblers have returned to the Eagles’ bandwagon.
Stetz said the Eagles are receiving 82% of the tickets in a game that remains intriguing from a betting perspective.
The Redskins battled hard in a 20-15 setback last week in Green Bay when they were getting 12.5 points at the major sportsbooks. Washington has displayed a fiery look in its previous three games. The next three will give the Redskins an idea of what to expect from quarterback Dwayne Haskins next year.
What is the intangible in this game?
The Eagles found electricity via running back Boston Scott in their 23-17 overtime victory against the New York Giants. Scott had 16 touches for 128 scrimmage yards after replacing Miles Sanders, who was battling cramps.
How Philadelphia triumphed, obtaining game-tying and winning touchdowns on successive drives, speaks to the emotional end of this matchup.
Philadelphia opened holes for Scott and played with an attitude reflecting their dogfight for the NFC East title, which can’t be measured in the numbers. The Eagles also re-emphasized tight end Zach Ertz, who tallied the last two touchdowns, including the game-winner.
Whether the Scott and Ertz factors continue will probably decide this encounter.
For the first time all season, Philadelphia can creep ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the division, even for just a couple of hours, if they win this 1 p.m. game.
The 6-7 Cowboys host the Rams later in the day, trying to stop a three-game losing streak. Dallas is a -0.5 on DraftKings for this must-win matchup. But it’s must-win for the 8-5 Rams, too.
Their 28-12 triumph against the Seattle Seahawks last week was convincing, and they have held their last two opponents — Seattle and the Arizona Cardinals — to 19 points.
The Rams are one game out of a playoff spot, and early betting at most of the books predict they will win this game. Dallas has been horrific offensively in its last three games, despite having the weapons to succeed.
An exciting development concerns the Steelers, who have quietly won seven of their last eight games to become 8-5. “Quiet” because the games have not been high scoring and have been close.
The Steelers is a team with a third-string quarterback in Devlin Hodges and an improving defense, bolstering them into a playoff spot if the season was over now.
The Steelers are normally popular in PlaySugarHouse’s Pennsylvania realm, but, as 2-point favorites against the Bills, they took only 35% of the tickets , according to Stetz. Like Eagles’ bettors, the Steelers’ faithful have been accurate throughout the season regarding when to jump on, or off, their team.
The intangible here could be uncertainty about how Hodges will perform in a pressure game against a playoff-bound team.
Buffalo is good defensively and stands 9-4. The over/under is low at 36.5. A final score in that range suggests a Bills type of game.
A point to ponder, the Bills are much improved and a gaudy 5-0-1 against the spread on the road. That makes them one of the elite road teams in the NFL.
Big Blue woes
The New York Giants are floundering through their season, having lost nine straight and going zero for October and November for the first time in their storied history.
Still, at least they rewarded their backers with a covering effort in the loss to Philadelphia. The Giants were getting 9 points; returning quarterback Eli Manning looked sharp in the first half, especially when he hooked up with accomplished wide receiver Darius Slayton.
The Big Blue hosts the Miami Dolphins Sunday as a 3.5-point favorite at most books.
Met Life Stadium may seem like home to the Dolphins. They play there for the second straight week, after covering 5.5 points on the William Hill spread before losing to the Jets 24-22 last week.
Jason Sanders had seven field goals for Miami last week; how many will he get this week? The Dolphins have covered their last two and seven of their last nine games.
FanDuel showed the public backing Miami at 78% midweek.
With first place in the AFC South on the line between the 8-5 Titans and Texans, which intangible do bettors like more?
Is Houston due for a rebound after being spanked by the Denver Broncos at home last week? Or are the Titans, winners of four straight games, the real deal with Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback? They are 6-1 with him and, in the last four weeks, he has thrown nine touchdowns and one interception.
One reason for that is the exceptional line blocking for Tennessee, keeping Tannehill away from must-passing situations. This has also led to the emergence of Derrick Henry as a premier running back.
The Titans are “feeling it” right now, riding the momentum and emerging as an AFC team with an NFC-style that is heavily dependent upon rushing.
The even betting reflects the 3-point spread, so Texans backers must love quarterback DeSean Watson and receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The loser of this contest is unlikely to appear in the playoffs, so this will have an all-or-nothing atmosphere. The loser will have six defeats and be a playoff longshot. A rematch between these teams occurs in two weeks, but the team winning this game has a substantial upper hand.
Can the Bears do it again?
That’s three straight wins for the Chicago Bears, now 7-6, making their road matchup against the Green Bay Packers meaningful. Chicago gets between 4-4.5 points at the sportsbooks, and Mitchell Trubisky is suddenly looking better as a quarterback.
Green Bay, 10-3, has an assortment of weapons, starting with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A key to this game will be what happens whenever the Bears flush him out of the pocket, forcing him to scramble. Rodgers makes some of his most significant pass completions while he is running.
Side note: The teams are meeting for the 200th time. The Packers lead the series 98-95-6.
Tough work to do
It will be interesting to see if the Saints and 49ers can avoid a letdown after their epic affair on Sunday, which won by the Niners, 48-46.
San Francisco, 11-2, hosts the Atlanta Falcons, who have gone 3-2 after starting 1-7. The loss of Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley for the season places more double-teaming pressure on star Julio Jones.
The line is San Francisco -11 at William Hill.
New Orleans often wins at home without covering when giving lopsided odds. The Saints gave more than a touchdown to the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers earlier this season and barely won the games. Also, they were beaten by the 49ers.
The Saints are one win away from hitting the over 10.5 season-win total bet at William Hill. They will try to accomplish that against the Colts.
Winston: An ‘over’ machine
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is the best friend the over bettors have ever had.
Games like last week, in which he fired for 456 yards and four touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions including a pick 6, led to a 73-point game Tampa Bay won 38-35 over the Indianapolis Colts.
Games involving the Bucs are often the highest over/unders at the sportsbooks. At most books, this time, it’s Houston-Tennessee, 50.
The over/under is 47.5, while Tampa Bay is -3 and the over is getting about three-quarters of the FanDuel money.
The spread has been moving. Tampa Bay was -4, but it shifted to -3 at DraftKings and -3.5 at William Hill.
The Bucs have not covered as a road favorite this year and give points to the Lions, who have been playing poorly. The Bucs are 6-7, and the Lions, 3-9-1, went zero for November.
The Lions will be without receiver Marvin Jones the rest of the season.
Mahomes says he’s fit
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, injured three times this year, said he is feeling fine before the 9-4 Chiefs host the Denver Broncos as a 9.5-point favorite.
The 5-8 Broncos have kept their losses close and demolished the Texans last week. They look legitimate behind the new quarterback Drew Lock.