NFL Tipsheet Week 16: Back the Saints for some Christmas cheer

Drew Brees
Drew Brees should be better at home

Mike Carlson returns for the penultimate week of the regular season of the NFL. See what bets he's putting up before Christmas...

"Meanwhile the Saints, while not getting their usual efficeincy from Drew Brees, have won games ugly if necessary."

There is a nice satisfaction that comes from seeing your best bet come through the week before Christmas, what with shopping and all. The Vikes took care of Miami as I thought they would, and even better, the Dolphins obliged me by not scoring another point after they'd reached 17 early in the second half, getting me and hopefully us a payoff on the team total under 17.5. The hapless Cardinals also cooperated by pushing their game with Atlanta over 44 points, though the Falcons did most of the work, as I'd hoped they might, themselves.

The surprises were Dallas not being able to stay close to the Colts in Indy, and the Steelers/Pats winding up 17-10, a game where the Patriots' D really surprised by being efficient and the Pats' O really surprised by being really bad.

Recency bias is a powerful factor in NFL odds-setting, and as we shall see, there may be some recency bias involved in this week's picks.

Remember, they are offered in the true Christmas spirit, ho ho ho, whether you have been naughty or nice. Iron Mike is a non-judgemental Santa. Of course Santa's best bet, say, Rudolph in the 11:59 at the North Pole, is usually a lock.

Saints come marching in

Best Bet: New Orleans -5.5 at 19/20 vs Pittsburgh

Here's where recency bias may help you out. The Steelers were beaten by Denver, Oakland and the Chargers before getting that win over a struggling Patriots team, and helped by 14 penalties against the usually penalty-phobic Pats.

Meanwhile the Saints, while not getting their usual efficeincy from Drew Brees, have won games ugly if necessary. I think that with their run game, with their improved D, and with Brees probably playing better at home, they are a TD better than the Steelers.

Cleveland providing value

Value Bet: Cleveland -10 at 21/20 vs Cincinnati

I said at the start of the season the Browns were an eight-win team. I hadn't fully thought Hue Jackson through, but as soon as they jettisoned Hue and Todd Haley they turned their season around, and won some of those games they had the chance to win but Hue coached them out of it. But this is a game that is eminently winnable for the Browns and unless the Bengals produce to save Marvin Lewis' job, I still like the Browns' D and Baker Mayfield to keep it above 10.

If you don't like that, you can get the same parlay on Indianapolis (-10 at 21/20) vs NY Giants: I think the Colts' swarming D can do the same thing to Saquan Barkley that they did to Zeke Elliott last week, and Andrew Luck ought to be able to find some room behind the Giants' secondary.

Defensive charge

Outside Bet: Chargers vs Baltimore First Half Total Points, Under 22 at 5/6

This one ought to be a defensive battle, at least for the first half, and there should be a feeling out process involved as Philip Rivers tries to get the measure of the Ravens D and while the Chargers' D is rested and pursuing Lamar Jackson. This could be another 4th quarter Chargers charge, but if I am right, it won't matter to this bet.

Or you might consider Buffalo (+13.5 at 19/20) at New England. I think the Pats ought to pull this one off, but Buffalo is a tough defensive team and running quarterbacks can give New England's slow defense fits. With Josh Gordon leaving the team on Thursday, it's as if the last psychological straw has been laid on the team, and as Bill Belichick might have said after last week's game: 'we're on to Christmas'.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles