Sports Betting

NFL Best Bets: WEEK 16

Goff

NFL BEST BETS

Welcome to the Christmas edition of our Best Bets. I’m not sure whether we’ve made it onto the naughty or nice list this year. We are barely above .500 in our picks, standing at 21-20-2, so it could go either way. Hopefully, Santa will be kind and put some winning picks in our stockings.

One interesting thing to track when betting is how your picks perform for each NFL team. It’s very natural to go through highs and lows when sports betting, so do a good job when reflecting on your success.  For example, I’ve done very well when picking games against the spread with the Seahawks and Panthers. I’m 12-3 with both teams, which I can’t help but consider when deciding which picks to make as my best bets. It’s hard to argue with an 80% win rate. Conversely, I’ve been awful when picking the Ravens, fielding a dismal 2-13 record ATS this year! So if you see I’ve picked the Ravens anywhere, that’s your cue to bet on the other team!

I would like to point out that fellow Gridiron Experts writer, Leo Sells, and I are in a battle to win the annual Fantasy Nerd’s Accuracy competition, which I won last year. I’m currently in 2nd place, while Leo is tied for 3rd among some of the top experts on some of the biggest platforms in sports.

BETTING MODEL

I’ve been tracking my betting model all year to see where it excels and where it needs adjustments. The key to any profitable betting system is to continuously monitor the results to find inefficiencies. I’ve used essentially the same model for 20+ years, with a little fine-tuning each year. However, after last season, I did a complete overhaul and have used this season to test it. My results have not been as good as last year, but I’ve still managed a winning record. In any case, I’ve learned enough to take the best parts of it and merge them with a tried-and-true model. Here’s how the model performed this year:

  • Straight Up: 141-62, 69.5%
  • Spread: 107-96-8, 52.6%
  • Over/Under: 107-95-4, 52.9%
  • Moneyline: 106-85, 55.5%

BEST BETS

Bengals -2 at Steelers

Both teams come into this game with injury concerns. For Cincinnati, Ja’Marr Chase has been ruled out, which is a major blow to the offense. However, Pittsburgh will be without starting safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, so that could balance things out a bit. 

The Bengals have had one of the hardest schedules in the league, and are lucky to be 8-6 with a backup quarterback. They’ve won three in a row and are averaging an impressive 6.3 yards per play in those games. One of their strengths this season has been in the red zone, both on offense and defense. They’re scoring a touchdown on 61% of their red zone trips while allowing opponents to score one just 52% of the time. The Bengals are also a disciplined team. They have  the second-best turnover margin in the league and are tied for the third-fewest penalties. 

On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled this season, averaging only 15.9 points per game. Their low third down conversion percentage won’t likely improve with Mason Randoph behind center. It’s going to be difficult for them to sustain drives and keep pace with the Bengals. The Steelers already have a low time of possession. If they’re unable to establish a run game, I could easily see their defense getting fatigued out there, which could lead to more points for the Bengals. 

AFC North games are always hard-fought battles and almost always close. I think this would could be close, too. As long as it stays under 3 points, I’ll ride with the Bengals in this one. 

Panthers +5 vs Packers

The Carolina Panthers have had a challenging season, but their defense has been a standout, ranking third in the NFL with just 291.6 total yards allowed per game. This should pose a big challenge for the Packers’ inconsistent offense.

Playing at home in front of their fan, the Panthers will have an added advantage in terms of familiarity and crowd support. Their offense has shown improvement in recent games, particularly in their ability to control the clock and sustain drives. This could limit the Packers’ offensive opportunities and keep the game close.

The Packers have struggled on the road this season, with a record of 2-5 away from Lambeau Field. On top of that, their defense has been giving up a lot of yards. The Panthers should be able to run successfully against them. With the combination of ball control and a good run game, I think Carolina will keep this game close. 

Lions -3 at Vikings

The Lions are currently sitting atop the NFC North with a 10-4 record. Their offense has been firing on all cylinders, ranking third in the league in total yards per game and fifth in scoring. Jared Goff has been impressive this year, ranking third in the league in passing yards and touchdowns. 

On the other side, the Vikings are 7-7 and still competing for a playoff berth. They have a mathematical chance of beating the Lions out for the NFC North title, but they’ll need to win this game to keep those hopes alive. Nick Mullens is starting again this week. Last week, he played well, completing 78.8% of his passes for over 300 yards. But Minnesota’s offense has been struggling in recent weeks and I don’t think their defense is good enough to contain the Lions’ offense. I think we could be looking at a high-scoring game, but I think Detroit will win this game easily. 

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