Buffalo Bills (+2.5) (-110) over Miami Dolphins
Buffalo returns home off an impressive 27-20 road win over Jacksonville, and the Bills have played extremely well at Ralph Wilson Stadium this season. Indeed, Buffalo is 5-1 ATS at home in 2013, including impressive wins over Carolina and Baltimore. What makes Buffalo a solid investment is an 83-40-1 ATS system that contains a 51-14 ATS subset angle. Specifically, NFL Week 16 underdogs of nine points or less with a losing record are 83-40-1 ATS since 1983, provided they are not coming off a win of more than seven points and are matched up against an opponent with a winning record. From a macroscopic level, NFL teams with losing records are 132-92-2 ATS in Week 16 versus .500 or greater opposition.
The foregoing angles debunk the all-too-common betting theory of supporting “must-win” teams late in the season, especially against opponents who have been eliminated from the playoffs. As I have stated for the last seven years, if “must-win” teams were good to begin with, they wouldn’t find themselves in a must win situation. One final nugget: NFL teams out of playoff contention are 90-55-4 ATS in the final two weeks of the regular season versus opponents that must win to say alive in the playoff hunt [see Oakland Raiders +10 and New York Giants +9 Sunday].
New England Patriots (+2) (-110) over Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore remains a subpar team that is 0.7 yards per play worse than average offensively (4.8 yards per play against teams that combine to allow 5.5 yards per play) and 0.2 yards per play better than average defensively (5.4 yards per play to teams that combine to average 5.6 yards per play). The Ravens have the worst rushing offense in the NFL (averaging 83 yards per game at 3.1 yards per carry), while quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown seventeen interceptions this season (third in the NFL only to Eli Manning and Geno Smith). While Baltimore is 0.5 yards per play worse than average from the line of scrimmage, the Patriots are 0.1 yards per play better than average in 2013.
The technical situations are what really makes this investment jump off the page. For starters, New England is 21-7 SU and 24-4 ATS as underdogs off a loss under head coach Bill Belichick, provided the point spread is greater than or equal to minus 3. Meanwhile, head coach Bill Belichick is 16-1 SU and 14-3 ATS in December games with revenge, including a perfect 14-0 ATS as an underdog or favorite of less than nine points. Starting quarterback Tom Brady chimes in with an 11-2 SU and 12-1 ATS mark as an underdog off a loss, including a perfect 8-0 SU and ATS versus an opponent off a win.
The situation also strongly favors New England as the defending Super Bowl champions are coming off an emotional 18-16 win on Monday night wherein the Ravens were outgained 349 yards at 5.5 yards per play to 305 yards at 5.1 yards per play. While the Ravens have won five if their last six games, they have been outgained 293.3 yards to 326.8 yards per game (on average) over that span. In fact, Baltimore has been outgained in each of its last three games (all wins), whereas the Patriots are coming off a loss where they actually outgained Miami by +74 total yards. My math model also likes New England in this game and I strongly recommend investing on the Patriots, who still have a chance at the #1 seed.