Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Big game in the NFC East this Boxing Day, with the Redskins looking to seal the division crown with a win in Philadelphia. These two teams have both been very inconsistent, but I believe that Washington has the superior skill-position players and think that their price is far too generous to pass up. I’ll be backing the Redskins to deliver a win and take the NFC East here.
The Eagles just about fended off a returning player two weeks ago when they narrowly beat former RB LeSean McCoy’s Bills and it’s another former player that I believe will be one of the keys to this game – WR DeSean Jackson. Since his return from injury in week 9, Jackson has put up 4 TDs that went for over 25 yards (28, 56, 63 and 77). His ability to take the top off opposing defences with his speed has really helped QB Kirk Cousins take his game up a level. It’s also worth noting that Jackson went over 100 yards receiving in both games he’s played against his former team.
When Jackson’s on the field, he’s likely to command Safety help, which leaves TE Jordan Reed free to take advantage of one-on-one matchups on the underneath routes. This doesn’t bode well for the Eagles as Reed is having a superb season, sitting behind only Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Eifert when it comes to TDs.
With Jackson + Reed on the field and Cousins playing the best he has in his career, they really should be able to take advantage of the league’s 29th ranked defence (giving up 393.3 yards a game) and bring the NFC East title with them back to Washington.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Washington Redskins to Win at 2.35
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
I’m sure I’ve spoken about the Panthers being disrespected hundreds of times this season, but I believe this to be the case once more! Given that there are several double-digit handicap games on the schedule this week, I find it stunning that this Panthers game is not one of them. Just two weeks ago, Carolina put a 38-0 beat down on Atlanta – a change in venue won’t change the gulf in class between these two teams, so Panthers -6.5 it is.
It’s not just the matchup last week either, the Panthers beat the Falcons 34-3 in week 17 last season – they really seem to have Atlanta’s number and I can’t for the life of me figure out why the handicap is so small here as the Panthers won’t be resting any players just yet – they still need one more win to seal the #1 seed in the NFC.
While a win over the inconsistent Jaguars last week keeps the Falcons in the playoff hunt themselves, it really is a slim chance requiring Atlanta to win out and also have the Seahawks + Vikings lose their last two games. With an offense that hasn’t scored over 25 points in 9 straight games, I doubt they will be able to find success against a Panthers defence that’s 3rd in total yards (314.9) allowed, 5th in pass yards (224.8) and 6th in rush yards (90.1). And despite having meltdowns against the Saints and Giants, they still only give up 19.9 points a game (10th in the league).
Despire the great defensive numbers, it is Carolina’s offense that should bring this bet in for us as they have been simply phenomenal this season. They currently lead the league in scoring (32.1 points a game) and yet still have had more running plays than passing plays, which makes this an incredible feat. The Falcons don’t have an awful defence, sitting around the middle of the league for most categories, but nobody has been able to stop QB Cam Newton and company of late – it shouldn’t be any different this week and this should be a comfortable Carolina win.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Carolina Panthers -6.5 at 1.99
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
One of the double-digit handicap games I mentioned earlier is this AFC North matchup between Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I picked against the Ravens last week, with the Chiefs delivering us a win easily, and although it is a very large handicap, the Steelers should have far too much for this injury ravaged Ravens team. Pittsburgh -10 is the pick for me in this one.
The Steelers offense is proving to be too much for anyone this season and they showed this by lighting up Denver’s #1 defence in the 2nd half last week. Pittsburgh has scored 30+ points in six straight games and over the last 3 games the Steelers are scoring a whopping 37.3 points a game. Over the same 3 games, the Ravens are only managing 11 points a game – which is what happens when you have either Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen starting at QB for you.
Although the Ravens defence still has some fairly respectable numbers this season, it’s their takeaway stats that are troubling. They have only 4 INTs all season, while giving up 28 passing TDs. With QB Ben Roethlisberger, along with WRs Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton coming to town I expect only one of those numbers will be going up.. (it’s the passing TDs).
Despite all the injuries they suffered the Ravens kept their games close throughout most of the season, but over the last two games they’ve been outscored 69-20 by the Chiefs and Seahawks who’re arguably more known for their defence. The offensive-minded Steelers should add to their woes with a convincing win.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Pittsburgh Steelers -10 at 2.02
Prices correct at the time of writing.
Eastbridge Sports Betting Broker, winners welcome!