December 18, 2016
There are two NFL picks.
#1: Take San Francisco 49ers +14 spread against Atlanta Falcons for 3% of the bankroll.
The 49ers opened the season with a 'W' but have since lost 12 in a row! To say they have played poorly would be an understatement, and yet at the same time, they are being spotted too many points here and that presents wagering value. We don't expect them to walk out of Atlanta with a victory but we do see them putting up a fight and staying with this generous point-spread one way or another. This is a group that has still shown its character in recent losses and often not given up until the final play even when trailing by big margins. Even if this is a blowout, there is always a chance of a backdoor cover when laying this many points, since a meaningless final minute TD for San Fran may turn a 17-20 point ATL lead into a 10-13 point win for the Falcons.
San Francisco and Carlos Hyde have been running the ball well in the second half of the season and that is a big plus for them today. To keep defenses honest, there needs to be some unpredictability in plays that only comes when a team has a balanced offense. The 49ers did lose to the Jets last time out but they rushed for 248 yards! They've run for 100+ yards in each of the last 4 games including another impressive 193 yards mark away in Miami! This is an offense that is in better shape now than it was a few weeks ago and it may finally pay dividends today.
The Falcons have an excellent offense and are capable of hurting teams through the air or on the ground. However, the absence of one NFL's top receivers in Julio Jones will still be felt. Even when Jones isn't 100%, the attention he gets when he's on the field allows other playmakers to flourish. He's often used as a decoy because of the interest he generates from the opposing team's top cornerback. The fact that he's been ruled out of this contest is a loss for Atlanta and while it won't likely prevent them from winning the game, it will make covering this inflated spread difficult.
It's also worth noting that Dan Quinn's side faces two division opponents in its next two games in the Panthers and the Saints! There's no doubt that some players may well be looking past the lowly 49ers and having one eye on the upcoming matchups. No one is expecting anything from the Californians today and that is precisely what makes them a bit dangerous in this spot. Atlanta has beaten much better teams and might be in complacent mood ahead of this contest, false believing it'll be a cake walk. We disagree with that notion. This game should be closer than most anticipate and for that reason, the 14 points are likely to come into play. We'll gladly side with the unfancied team being spotted two full touchdowns knowing the value is with the underdogs.
#2: Take Detroit Lions +4.5 spread against NY Giants for 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup between two of the best teams in the NFC this season. The Detroit Lions come into this contest as one of the hottest teams in the league, having won 5 straight games and are 7-1 in their last 8. Matt Stafford has undoubtedly established himself as the leader of this team and his play on the field has substantiated that. The Lions are a team that have proven they are never completely out of a game and Stafford's fourth quarter heroics and come from behind victories have been some of the best in the league.
The New York Giants have been playing well themselves, also coming into this contest with a 7-1 record in their last 8 games. The difference however is that we still believe that the Giants have been extremely fortunate in their ability to pull off victories despite being a mostly one-dimensional team. Their margin of victory is the worst in the league and the fact that they have been fortunate at the end of games is something that we don't believe is going to continue. When the Giants' opponents have had a chance to tie the game or take the lead in the final two minutes of the game, New York has yet to allow their opponents to score a touchdown! While that is certainly an impressive feat, we don't believe that is something that can continue. Two-Minute offenses are designed to gash defenses and score quickly and while NY has had that bend-don’t break mindset on defense, they will be facing one of the top quarterbacks in the league when it comes to putting together game winning drives.
The weather is expected to be rainy this afternoon which is going to hamper both offenses through the air and that is bad news for the Giants who rank near the bottom of the league in rushing yards per game this season. All of the Giants success has been on the shoulders of both Eli Manning and the defense this season. That being said, we all know that Eli is capable of imploding at a moment's notice. Without a go-to running back to shoulder the offensive load, if Eli struggles in this contest, the Giants will not have much of a choice other than continue to try and air the ball out. That is going to put an incredibly amount of stress on the defense and while they have been stout, so has the Detroit Lions'. The Lions are allowing less than 18 points per game during the second half of the season and has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
One of the least talked about aspect of this matchup is the matchup between Darius Slay and Odell Beckham Jr. Slay and Beckham are no strangers to each other having played together in college. Slay has shadowed Beckham during his time at Mississippi State has played against LSU and knows hoe explosive Beckham can be. Other than Josh Norman, there is only one defensive back who has defended more passes this season and that is Darius Slay. He calls himself "Big Play Slay" and that should be on full display in this contest as he shadows Beckham.
We simply believe this is too many points to be giving a team who has played as well and is as dangerous as the Detroit Lions. If the Lions defense can prevent Odell Beckham from breaking the game wide open and Stafford continues to play at the level we have seen from in the second half g the season, the Lions should do enough to keep this game competitive and potentially challenge for the outright victory. Even if Detroit falls short, we expect this to be a low scoring game and the points will likely prove to be valuable.
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