The National Football League will conclude their regular season schedule today with all 32 teams in action. Since 2010, the NFL has scheduled division opponents against each other on the final Sunday. Every team plays today, no early week games and no Monday Night Football in the last week of the regular season.
The times have been shifted on the contests for games that have impact on each other to be played at the same time. If the Pittsburgh Steelers knew the Tennessee Titans had won earlier in the day, they would know that they had nothing to play for in their game against the Baltimore Ravens.
As is, the Steelers kickoff today in Baltimore still owing a chance to advance to the postseason with a win and a loss by the Titans in Houston. A third team is interested in the results from Houston and Baltimore too, if both the Titans and Steelers lose their games, the Oakland Raiders can claim a Wild Card playoff berth with a victory in Denver over the Broncos.
Most of the outside venues today will be greeted with rainfall. The wet stuff is in the forecast in Houston, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Carolina, New Jersey, Baltimore and Buffalo for the games involving the Texans hosting the Titans, the Bengals entertaining the Cleveland Browns, the Jaguars versus the Indianapolis Colts, the Panthers hosting the Saints, the Giants meeting the Philadelphia Eagles, the Ravens against the Steelers, and the Bills at home against the New York Jets.
No week of NFL action offers more obvious slants for isolating NFL winners, and while the public continues to back the good teams, like the Ravens, Minnesota Vikings and Texans, those squads have nothing to play for today. No feeling is more sickening than noticing after you’ve wagered on a game that you care more about the result than the team you bet on. It can happen in the preseason, but is more prevalent in the season’s final week when some teams are preparing for the playoffs and other teams have their bags packed and ready to begin their off-season.
The most crucial factor this week is to gauge how much you will allow the books to sway your bets. If the Titans were a great play when the line was them giving 3½ points against the spread, how much less certain is that wager now that the spread has shifted to them being favored by 7½ points?
We know that it has to make at least a 7% difference in the wager, that is the percentage of games that have their point spread result shifted when an opening number moves. We also know that a worse line can’t help. A shift off an opening line won’t matter 93% of the time, but every time a move does come into the play it always helps a favorite having to give less points or an underdog getting more.
The point spreads look screwy this week, but for the bookmakers their work is never more obvious in trying to move money than with the last day of the season betting.
We know that smart money is moving many of the lines dramatically today, but it is better to lay the tough lines than to back a team destined to lose.
The public has checked in with their three favorite plays of the day. The most bet game of the day is the Buffalo Bills (-1) over the New York Jets. The second most wagered game today is the Kansas City Chiefs (-8½) over the Los Angeles Chargers, followed by the Indianapolis Colts (-5) over the Jacksonville Jaguars in a contest that can mean nothing more than draft position.
If a Bullet Play develops in the final hour before today’s first kickoff, that game will be added to our list of recommendations at 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time.