The AFC playoff picture will come into a bit more focus with a pair of key games on Sunday – Broncos at Patriots (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS) and Ravens at Steelers (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC).
Before we get to our partners’ picks on these games, a few nuggets unearthed by The Linemakers writer Mike Wilkening:
“A win vs, Denver would run the Patriots record to 3-1 against the Broncos since Peyton Manning’s Denver arrival in 2012. What’s more, a win would also improve the Patriots’ record to 12-5 straight-up (.706) and 14-3 against the spread (.824) as home underdogs in Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach.
“And for the record, four of those victories and covers have come against Manning-led teams, including three with Tom Brady at quarterback. The lone loss came November 7, 2005, when the Colts (-3) rolled to a 40-21 victory at Gillette Stadium.”
The Broncos, though, are 10-3 against the spread as road favorites of 3 points or more with Manning under center (.769).
Read Mike’s complete Broncos-Patriots betting preview right here at The Linemakers on Sporting News.
On the nightcap, Wilkening points out, “Take a look at that total for Ravens-Steelers – 48 points! AFC North observers can certainly recall when totals in the 30s were commonplace when these clubs met. … If the total holds, this will be the highest OVER-UNDER in a Ravens-Steelers game. In fact, it would be the first-ever total between the clubs to close higher than 45 points.”
Read Mike’s complete betting preview for Ravens-Steelers right here.
Massey-Peabody, our partners we call The Quants, offer the Ravens (at a pick’ em) as one of their Big Plays for the week. Rufus Peabody writes that last week, “Baltimore (pick 'em) lost a heartbreaker at Cincinnati. Baltimore rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to take the lead, only for Cincy to answer with a late TD. Still, it seemed Baltimore might pull it out, but an offensive pass interference penalty wiped out the would-be go-ahead TD.”
NFL Week 9 Big Plays (10-5 YTD)
-- Miami -1.5 vs. San Diego [MP Line: MIA -4.1]
-- Baltimore pick 'em at Pittsburgh [MP Line: BAL -3.6]
Are The Linemakers in agreement on Baltimore? Take it away, Micah Roberts:
“Pittsburgh getting points at home in this series? Come on. The Steelers are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight as home dogs, and they have gone OVER in their last five against winning teams. The plays are on Pittsburgh and OVER.”
In the earlier game, AccuScore's forecast, which is based on 10,000 simulations, suggests the underdog Patriots are worth a play on the money line.
Writes Rohit Ghosh, “New England is averaging just under 40 points per game during its current four-game winning streak – led by Tom Brady's impressive TD-to-INT ratio (11-0). Even then, odds posted by William Hill have New England as a +150 underdog, implying a 40 percent chance of winning.
"AccuScore data picks a different winner than Vegas, giving the home team a much better chance in this matchup. In fact, as opposed to the 40 percent chance Vegas odds give New England, AccuScore simulations indicate a 52 percent chance of winning. AccuScore would have listed the Patriots as -110 favorites.”
As for The Linemakers, Kenny White and Micah are split on this game.
Micah says the number should be closer to Denver -1, so a field goal – or better yet, +3.5 – is a take for him. Kenny, though, is happy to lay a field goal with the juggernaut Broncos, which brings the better D to Foxborough on Sunday.
Kenny and Micah, though, are in agreement on OVER (54), as New England’s last five games have all gone OVER, and Denver is on a 4-0 O/U run. When these teams met last November in Foxborough, the score was 34-31 amidst windy conditions. More supporting trends: New England is 15-5 O/U in its last 20 November home games, and Denver is 16-4-1 in its last 21 on FieldTurf.
Onto college football action …
Massey-Peabody offers just a single Big Play (12-8-1 YTD) for Saturday, and unfortunately, much of the value has been bought up. Fresno -12.5 vs. Wyoming was the play, but the line is up to -14 or higher at most spots. Shop around or wait to see if the number comes back down before making your wager.
Check out more college football picks from The Quants.
Also, college football handicapper Brian Edwards is on South Carolina -6 vs. Tennessee. He writes, “The Gamecocks easily covered in a 42-35 loss at Auburn as 19-point underdogs. Steve Spurrier's offense moved the ball all night on The Plains and could've won outright if not for three empty trips in the red zone. Tennessee is 2-5 ATS as a road underdog under Butch Jones. I like the Gamecocks to win by 14.”
Read Brian's Weekly-Read Option, which is chock-full of valuable betting tidbits, right here.