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December 10, 2017

There are two NFL picks on Sunday.

#1: Take the UNDER 48 total points in Philadelphia Eagles vs. LA Rams for 3% of the bankroll.

The average NFL fan quickly glances at this matchup and incorrectly assumes it’ll be a shootout. Why is that? Because they see the two highest-scoring teams in the league and believe they’ll both put a lot of points on the scoreboard. We tend to disagree. Whenever two powerful offenses lock horns, it’s often the ‘defenses’ that steal the show or at least do better than the masses anticipate. We believe that could be the case here.

The Eagles own the #1 rushing defense in the NFL! That doesn’t bode well for LA running backs like Todd Gurley. The former Georgia Bulldog is an incredibly talented player and will still find ways to impact this game but given the tough matchup at hand, it wouldn’t surprise us if Philadelphia limited him more than other teams have been able to. Look for Gurley to be more contained today and while he’ll still do some damage, it’ll force the ball into Jared Goff’s hands more and more as the game goes on. And while we are impressed with the former #1 draft pick’s improvement from his freshman to sophomore year in the NFL, we’re not as sold on him as we are on Carson Wentz. Goff still has a lot of room for improvement and leaves something to be desired despite operating one of the better offenses in the league. If the Eagles are able to shutdown Todd Gurley, we think the Rams might have a tough time moving the chains with all the pressure being on Goff’s shoulders.

Carson Wentz is the real deal but he’ll be without his favorite go-to target on the West coast. Zach Ertz has been arguably the most consistent tight-end in the league this season with 57 receptions, 663 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns! The fact that Wentz has targeted him 85 times throughout the season shows just how much he relies on the athletic 27-year down the middle of the field. His absence takes away a very important part of this Philly offense and could put extra pressure on the receivers to perform. But while talented, they are not a bunch that you want to ask too much of. They operate very well within their own roles but ask them to do more and it could go not so well for the offense as an entire unit. We believe Wentz and company will still move the chains but much like their counterparts, they might struggle to do it with as much ease as they have so far this year.

Both offenses could find this crucial NFC showdown tricky to navigate. They both have certain challenges on their hands and might settle for field goals instead of finding the end-zone. This will not be a low-scoring affair but it won’t be a shootout either. The fact that Vegas opened the total at 51 points before it quickly dropped to 48 points shows just how much sharp money is on the ‘Under’! Something that most people forget is that these two squads have very good defenses. Their explosive offenses have captured headlines and grabbed media attention but their defenses rank among the best in the NFL and have gone largely unnoticed. Look for at least one of these two offenses to struggle a bit today and that should pave the way for a lower scoring affair that stays ‘under’ the high points total. 

#2: Take Chicago Bears +7 spread (buy the half point) against Cincinnati Bengals for 3% of the bankroll.

It has been a disappointing season for both of these franchises. The Bengals came in hoping to contend for the division title or at least a Wild Card spot and make the playoffs while the Bears were expected to at least show improvements. Yet these two teams have 8 combined wins between them and will not be playing in the post-season. Marvin Lewis could well end his coaching career in Cincinnati without a playoff win despite a 14-year tenure while the days of John Fox could be numbered in Chicago as well.

This game features two of the worst offenses in the league and yet one team has been installed as a heavy favorite, something we don’t agree with. The Bengals may not yet be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention but they basically are. It will take a miracle for them to make it to the post-season, with their most recent defeat on Monday Night Football pretty much making sure of that. They had a big lead against their hated rivals, Pittsburgh Steelers but blew it away and went on to lose by a late Boswell field goal! That loss hurt. Not only did it hurt their chances but it hurt their pride as they simply can’t seem to get one over their division rivals.

As if that gut-wrenching loss on MNF was not enough to have them dejected and demoralized heading into this contest, it also hurt them physically. That’s because several players limped off the field injured and will not be playing this Sunday. Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones has been put on the Injured Reserve list while Dre Kirkpatrick will also not be in the secondary! Lineback Vontaze Burfict who’s often the heart and soul of this defense will be out as well after a brutal block by Juju Smith-Schuster on Monday night! And that’s not all… their bellcow Joe Mixon is also injured leaving Giovani Bernard as the only healthy running back on the roster. Bernard is a smaller back that is primarily used as a change-of-pace RB or on passing downs. He’s not the type of back that is featured on every play and yet that’s probably what is expected of him today.

The Bears might just be 3-9 on the season but at the very least this is a team that fights. John Fox needs a good ending to the season to keep his job in the Windy City as there are rumors that he’s on the hot seat. What we do like about his team is that they are mostly competitive. They do lose a lot of games given their lack of inexperience with a rookie QB and lack of offensive playmakers but they have an above average defense and play fundemantally-sound football for the most part. We believe they are a live underdog in this matchup and can heap more misery on Cincy and perhaps put the final nail in Marvin Lewis’ coffin as the Bengals coach! Even if they do fall short however, we don’t believe it’ll be via a blowout. This should be a closely-contsted affair and we expect the underdogs to cover this generous point-spread one way or another.

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