Rams @ Packers (-6.5/45.5)
Weather: A chance of snow showers and freezing drizzle before 7 am, then a chance of snow showers. Cloudy, with a high near 34. North northwest wind 9 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. A slight chance of snow showers before 7 pm, then a slight chance of snow showers after 1 am. Cam Akers Over 16.5 rushing attempts -112 (FanDuel)
Since Akers became the featured back late in the season, his rushing attempts were as follows: 21, 29, 15, 21, 28. That’s an average of 22.8 attempts per game, with four of five exceeding 17 carries. The biggest concern is that in their lone loss during that stretch, he only had 15 carries. They are currently 6.5 point underdogs. One thing that was clear about the Rams in their game against the Seahawks is that Goff still isn’t right. He hasn’t played particularly well in cold weather games and has a surgically repaired thumb this go-round, so I think that McVay may be a bit more stubborn with the ground game. In the past five games, the Packers saw their opponent’s RB1 carry the ball for 10-31-0, 7-24-0, 14-59-0, 23-98-0, and 22-69-1 (15.2 average), so there is no guarantee that the Rams will stay ground-heavy, but given the weather and Goff’s limitations, I think Akers will see his typical 20 totes. Throughout the season, the Packers have seen opposing teams’ RBs average 21-92-1. Akers is currently the Rams’ best player, so I believe they will continue to feature him. Cam Akers longest reception over 9.5 yards -118 (FanDuel)
In the aforementioned five-game stretch, Akers’ long reception is as follows: 22, 16, 0, 38, 44. In my opinion, the Rams don’t target him nearly as much as they should, but he’s shown his trademark explosiveness when given the opportunity. The Packers have allowed a RB a 10+ yard reception in 10 of their 16 games. RBs average approximately 5.5 catches on 7 targets against the pack for 48 yards with an average reception length of 8.5 yards. ***BONUS*** Davante Adams (+100) to have more receiving yards than Woods, Lazard, Tonyan, Higbee, Jones, MVS, Everett, Akers (Bet Builder)
Ravens @ Bills (-2.5/49.5)
Weather: A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. West wind 8 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. (Night) A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. Chance of precipitation is 40%. JK Dobbins Over 57.5 rushing yards -112 (FanDuel)
Dobbins was worked in a bit slowly this season. Looking at his past seven contests, he’s gone 15-70-1, 11-71-1, 13-53-1, 14-64-1, 11-77-1, 13-160-2, and 9-43-1. That’s good for an average of 12-77-1. He reached 58+ yards in five of those seven contests. He faces a Bills defense that allows opposing RBs to average 22-100-1. In their most recent five-game stretch, Melvin Gordon went 11-61-2 (long of 14), Sony Michel 10-69-0 (long of 29), and Jon Taylor 21-78-1 (long of 20). They shut down the Steelers and Fins. The Bills allow 4.6 YPC, which ranks in the bottom 25% of the league. The Ravens average 195 rushing yards per game, which leads the league. Their 5.6 YPC also leads the league, and in their last three, they’ve averaged 6.9 YPC. The Bills have done a nice job slowing the QB run; they only allow an average of four carries for 19 yards per game. They’ve only allowed two quarterbacks to exceed 50 rushing yards in a game. While I would be hesitant to bucket Lamar into that group, I believe the Ravens could rely even more heavily on Dobbins and Gus. I don’t watch a ton of NFL, but one thing I’ve noticed about the Bills is that they don’t appear to be the fastest group, and that could be a real issue if JKD can get to the edge. The Ravens have run for 249, 404, and 236 yards in their last three contests. Lamar has never played a football game in the snow, while Dobbins played his college ball way up north in Ohio, where there is surely snow on the ground for 365 days a year. Gabriel Davis Over 26.5 receiving yards -112 (DraftKings)
Over Davis’ past seven contests, he’s gone for 3-79-1, 3-68-1, 3-19-1, 2-18-0, 3-33-0, 2-107-1, and 4-85-0. Since the rookie has acclimated to the league, that’s a rough average of 3-58-1 per game. Five of those seven contests have seen him eclipse 27 receiving yards, and just last week, he showed that he’s one of the most reliable targets on the Bills’ roster (4 catches on 4 targets for 85 yards). While Stefon Diggs should draw most of the defenses’ attention, Davis should continue to have win-able 1v1 matchups on the outside. While there can be concern or pessimism surrounding Jackson’s ability to handle the conditions, the same cannot be said for Allen. Playing his collegiate football in Laramie, Wyoming, Buffalo is where the snowbird locals head to during the winter for some hot wings and fun in the sun. Allen has the arm talent to cut the ball through the most blustery of winter conditions. Davis has recorded a 27+ yard reception in five contests this year, making his potential routes to cashing this bet vast.
Weather: The National Weather Service is calling for wind gusts as high as 20 mph on winds of 6 to 11 mph. 42 degrees, partly cloudy, no precipitation in the forecast.
Nick Chubb Over 12.5 receiving yards -118 (DraftKings)
Nick Chubb Over 14.5 receiving yards -108 (FanDuel)
Don’t look now, but the ill-used collegiate receiver has proven himself quite capable as a pass-catcher in the NFL. Over his past seven games, Chubb has recorded the following receiving lines: 3-32-0, 1-26-0, 2-21-0, 2-16-0, 5-38-0, 0-0-0, and 4-69-1. That’s an average of 2.4-28.9-0 per game. In six of his last seven games, he has eclipsed 15 receiving yards and is fresh off of a 4-69-1 game. As two score underdogs, the Browns may elect to go to air a bit more than usual. Getting Chubb the ball in space is likely one of their best options in this contest. Against KC, backs have averaged six catches for 53 yards each game. Over their past five games, opposing teams’ backs have recorded the following rec lines against the Chiefs: 1-11-0, 11-108-0, 6-75-2, 9-78-0, 8-70-1. They’ve collected 35 catches on 48 targets in that stretch, for an average of 7-68. We need 1/4 of those yards from Chubb to cash in this game. While Kareem Hunt is better known as the pass-catching threat from this backfield, he averaged 2.4-23.7-0 through the air over the past seven games. That is five yards less per game than Chubb, yet his posted total is 5-7 yards higher than Chubb in this contest, and he’s unlikely to be on the field for as many snaps. I wouldn’t bet against Hunt getting 20+ yards here either; I point that out to illustrate what I believe is a market inefficiency. I actually ended up taking some Hunt Over 17.5 receiving yards -114 as well on Bet Builder. In two recent losses, he had 6-77-1 (7 targets) and 3-41-0 (5 targets). I believe this duo could surpass 50 yards.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-3/52)
Weather: Dome. Any wind gusts to smell of vomit, rum, and excrement.
Alvin Kamara Over 35.5 receiving yards -118 (FanDuel)
In his two contests against the Bucs this year, AK posted receiving lines of 5-51-1 (8 targets) and 5-9-0 (6 targets). He’s carried the ball a total of 21 times for 56 yards. That is consistent with the suffocation that the Bucs have performed on opposing teams’ runners. They’ve held 12 teams’ RBs to 60 rushing yards or less this season. Teams have proven better suited to use their backs as pass catchers, where the Bucs average 6 catches and 40 yards through the air. The Bucs have shown they generally improve against divisional backs via the air in the second time facing them, but I’m betting on Kamara’s probable volume in this contest. Over the past four games, Kamara has been a mixed bag as a receiver. He’s gone for 7-44, 3-40, 3-17, and 2-17. While he may be trending in the wrong direction, I’m making an assumption (Dangerous, I know) that the Saints will still want to feature Kamara in this contest and that their best opportunity to do so will be as a pass-catcher. In his playoff career, AK has done the following as a receiver: 1-10, 4-62, 4-35, 11-96, and 8-34. That’s a rough average of 6-47 per game in the playoffs. This is more of an informed hunch play than the majority of the others I’ve made this weekend, so take it for what it’s worth.
Jared Cook Over 2.5 receptions -118 (FanDuel)
Jared Cook Over 30.5 receiving yards -112 (FanDuel)
I highlighted it last week, but Tampa Bay is amongst the league’s most generous teams to opposing tight ends. They allow a seasonal average of 5-54 against the big fellas. Over the past seven games, opposing teams have targeted their TEs 59 times, and they’ve made 41 catches for 421 yards. That’s an average of 5.9-60.1 per game in that span. In the two games against the Bucs this year, Cook recorded 5-80-0 and 2-30-0. His last six games have seen him go for 3-28-1, 3-37-1, 2-29-0, 3-82-0, 4-43-1, and 4-40-0. That’s five of six games with 3+ catches and four of six with 31+ yards. The game against the Bucs, where Cook was held to 2-30-0, was a resounding 38-3 win by the Aints. I suspect this game will be a closer contest, and the market agrees, with the point spread being a FG in favor of the home town team. As of my writing this, Cook’s status for the game is uncertain. He’s dealing with the old man back (Who isn’t at age 33?), and there is a built-in buffer against him being inactive, in which case both bets would be refunded (In this case, the Kamara bet likely gets stronger). The nightmare scenario is that he plays but aggravates it early in the contest, but I’m willing to gamble a little bit given how soft I believe these numbers are. Full disclosure: I believe my bets on the Saints’ guys are the highest risk in my weekend bucket.