Chaos reared its head in Week 10 and its handiwork was everywhere. Josh Allen fumbled with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter, leading to a Vikings win. Officials missed a face mask call during the Eagles fourth-quarter comeback try against the Commanders. The Cowboys’ unsuccessful decision to go for it on fourth down opened the door for the Packers.
With a lot of teams bunched together in the middle of the standings, chaos may figure more heavily into the second half of the regular season, especially with the onset of winter weather. Ahead of the Browns’ matchup with the Bills on Sunday, forecasts predict feet of snow in Western New York, and the Packers will host the Titans in temperatures expected to be below freezing.
Many overreact to snow when handicapping N.F.L. games and assume games will fall under the total or that teams from warmer climates will fare poorly. But the weather is not a secret! It’s factored into the market price, and N.F.L. players are used to performing outdoors in extreme conditions.
But extreme weather is likely to create turnovers for both teams, no matter the temperature. Turnovers create volatility. Chaos. So the best bet when facing a game where the weather is predicted to involve “thundersnow” might be to not bet at all.
Last week’s record: 5-8-1 | Overall: 76-71-3
All times Eastern.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Thursday Night’s Game
- Sunday’s Best Games
- Sunday’s Other Games
- Monday Night’s Game
- How Betting Lines Work
Thursday Night’s Game
Tennessee Titans (6-3) at Green Bay Packers (4-6), 8:15 p.m., Amazon Prime
Line: Packers -3 | Total: 41
The Packers turned a corner last week thanks to Aaron Rodgers’s leaning on the rookie receiver Christian Watson, who caught three touchdown passes in a breakout win over the Dallas Cowboys. Green Bay ended a five-game losing skid in time to host Tennessee, winner of six of its past seven games.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill gave one of his best performances of the season last week in a tight win over the Broncos — 255 yards, two touchdowns and a season-high QBR of 83.3 — to overcome Denver’s holding Derrick Henry to only 53 yards. The Titans have covered the spread their past seven games, and with both phases of the offense pulling in the same direction, there’s no reason they won’t again on Thursday. Pick: Titans +3
Sunday’s Best Games
Cleveland Browns (3-6) at Buffalo Bills (6-3), 1 p.m. CBS
Line: Bills -8 | Total: 43
The Bills have played like the best team in football in many weeks, but their back-to-back losses have underscored a troubling fault: turnovers. Buffalo is tied for second in the league in turnovers (18), a particular area of concern heading into what’s expected to be a sloppy-weather game. The Bills’ biggest hope for a rebound lies in Cleveland’s main weakness: the N.F.L.’s worst run defense. Buffalo is ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards per game behind carries from Devin Singletary and Josh Allen. If they can maintain possession, the Bills should win easily. Pick: Bills -8
Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1), 1 p.m. CBS
Line: Colts +6.5 | Total: 45.5
The Eagles’ first loss of the season was more than just an ego blow. Tight end Dallas Goedert, who trails only A.J. Brown in receiving yards for the team, injured his shoulder during a pivotal fourth-quarter play and landed on injured reserve Wednesday.
Now Philadelphia travels to face the Colts, who looked revitalized in their first game under the interim coach Jeff Saturday. He reinstated Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback and called enough rollouts, screens, and run-pass options to open running lanes for Jonathan Taylor, who had just his second 100-yard rushing game of the season. If Ryan and Taylor play at their best, the Colts may still lose but could be good enough to cover at home. Pick: Colts +6.5
Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (8-1), 4:25 p.m., CBS
Line: Vikings +1 | Total: 47
Make it make sense. The Cowboys were outscored by 17-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime of their loss to the Packers last week, and they are now 2-2 with Dak Prescott as the starter this season. The Vikings upset the Bills last week in what is being called the game of the year thanks in part to Justin Jefferson, who became the first N.F.L. player to top 100 yards receiving 20 times in his first three seasons.
Somehow the Vikings are still laying a point to the Cowboys, but this may be the last regular-season game in which that’s the case: Minnesota was favored in every remaining game after this one. Pick: Cowboys -1
Kansas City (7-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4), 8:20 p.m., NBC
Line: Chargers +6.5 | Total: 50.5
When these two A.F.C. West rivals met in Week 2, the rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson’s pick-6 of a Justin Hebert throw swung the game in Kansas City’s favor. Before that big play, Patrick Mahomes had been harassed behind the line of scrimmage and was struggling to adjust to the absence of Tyreek Hill. Safe to say that Kansas City has adjusted in the games since. Mahomes is now the betting favorite to win the Most Valuable Player Award and has fully integrated receiver Kadarius Toney, whom the team acquired from the Giants at the trade deadline, into the offense.
The Chargers, on the other hand, have seen Herbert’s top two targets, Mike Williams (ankle) and Keenan Allen (hamstring), go down with injuries. Both are questionable for Sunday night’s game. Herbert ranks second in the N.F.L. behind Tom Brady in pass attempts, but he is 14th in completion percentage, a stat that won’t improve without effective pass-catchers available. Pick: Kansas City -6.5
Sunday’s Other Games
Chicago Bears (3-7) at Atlanta Falcons (4-6), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Falcons -3 | Total: 49.5
The Bears are the highest-scoring offense of any N.F.L. team this past month. Justin Fields has 555 rushing yards in their last five games, and Chicago’s offense seems to be figuring out how to compete. The defense? Well, that’s a different story.
The good news is Atlanta’s defense may be even worse. The bad news is the Falcons have a lot to play for. While the Bears’ playoff chances are all but dead, the Falcons are second in the N.F.C. South, and they can’t afford to lose a home game. Pick: Falcons -3
Jets (6-3) at New England Patriots (5-4), 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Patriots -3 | Total: 38.5
New England has won the past 13 regular-season meetings of these teams and it handed the Jets their only loss in their past six games. The Jets haven’t won in Foxborough, Mass., since a playoff game in 2011, but bettors were mostly split between the teams at this point spread, with the Patriots getting a slight edge in money wagered by midweek. Both teams are coming off a bye but this is a crucial game for the Patriots’ playoff hopes: New England has the most difficult remaining schedule of any team. Pick: Patriots -3
Los Angeles Rams (3-6) at New Orleans Saints (3-7), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Saints -4 | Total: 38.5
Believe it or not, the Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions. They haven’t looked like it, and a return to the postseason looks decreasingly likely. Last week, they lost receiver Cooper Kupp, arguably their most important player, to an ankle injury that might end his season. Kupp has 35.7 percent of the Rams’ catches, a league-high, and has caught six of the team’s nine touchdown passes.
But the Saints had only 10 first downs last week in a stinker of a loss to the Steelers and are every bit as bad. The pitchforks are out in New Orleans for Andy Dalton, so it’s possible that Jameis Winston is back on the field again soon. Pick: Saints -4
Detroit Lions (3-6) at Giants (7-2), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Giants -3 | Total: 46
The Giants continue to walk between the raindrops, most recently allowing the Texans to hang around until the fourth quarter last week. The Lions scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bears last week, the first time they’ve come back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter in 29 years. The Giants and Lions are ranked 19th and 20th in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (D.V.O.A.) rankings. In a matchup between two fairly even teams, it’s usually the right move to take the points. Pick: Lions +3
Carolina Panthers (3-7) at Baltimore Ravens (6-3), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Ravens-13 | Total: 43
Baker Mayfield is back under center for the Panthers after P.J. Walker suffered a high ankle sprain. He’ll be handing off to D’Onta Foreman, who has emerged as the star of the Carolina backfield, which should be critical against Baltimore. Stopping the run is the one weak point in the Ravens’ impressive arsenal. This is the biggest spread on the board this week, but there’s another big spread: the one between the number of bets and the amount of money wagered — the underdog has attracted 75 percent of the money so far. Pick: Panthers +13
Washington Commanders (5-5) at Houston Texans (1-7-1), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Texans +3.5 | Total: 40.5
The Commanders dominated the Eagles in time of possession on Monday, 40 minutes 24 seconds to Philadelphia’s 19:36, en route to am upset victory. It continued a trend, as they been the best in the N.F.L. at maintaining a stranglehold on the ball, leading the league in average time of possession.
It’s unlikely that Houston comes away with a win, but the Texans are 4-4-1 against the spread, with all four of those covers against spreads of a touchdown or more. A 3.5-point spread doesn’t seem big, but that half point over a field goal could be huge, and the Texans are at home. Pick: Texans +3.5
Las Vegas Raiders (2-7) at Denver Broncos (3-6), 4:05 p.m., Fox
Line: Broncos -2.5 | Total: 41
Josh McDaniels of the Raiders and Nathaniel Hackett of the Broncos have the hottest seats among N.F.L. coaches. Betting markets believe McDaniels is more likely to go first, (he’s +350 to be next out the door) but not before potentially giving Hackett a momentary case for a reprieve.
Entering Sunday, Denver has lost five of its last six games. Russell Wilson is throwing into coverage a lot, and his top receiving option, Jerry Jeudy, is questionable this week with an ankle injury. But the Broncos’ defense, which has held every opponent this season to under 18 points, should handle the Raiders. Pick: Broncos -2.5
Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6), 4:25 p.m., CBS
Line: Steelers +4.5 | Total: 41.5
T.J. Watt returned to the Steelers’ lineup in last week’s win against the Saints, and not a moment too soon. The Steelers are now 11-1 when Watt plays. With a win this week, Pittsburgh can spoil the Bengals’ playoff hopes. The Upshot’s playoff predictor gives the Bengals, the reigning A.F.C. champs, a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs. Their schedule after Sunday gets significantly harder, with the Bills, the Buccaneers, Kansas City and the Ravens all on the horizon. Pick: Bengals -4.5
Monday Night’s Game
San Francisco 49ers (5-4) at Arizona Cardinals (4-6), 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: Cardinals +8.5 | Total: 44
We are still salty about 49ers Coach Kyle Shanahan’s decision to kick a field goal while up by 3 points with one minute left in the game, because the team ended up failing by 1 point to cover the 7-point spread.
For whatever reason, the Cardinals are 11-3 on the road since last season. Kyler Murray is questionable for Monday and his replacement, Colt McCoy, went a respectable 26 of 37 for 238 yards and a touchdown last week. Tight end Zach Ertz injured his knee on the opening drive and is out for the season, placing even more of the offensive load on DeAndre Hopkins. Whether the Cardinals can cover depends on Murray’s status. Pick: Cardinals +8.5
How Betting Lines Work
A quick primer for those who are not familiar with betting lines: Favorites are listed next to a negative number that represents how many points they must win by to cover the spread. Buccaneers -2.5, for example, means that Tampa Bay must beat the Seahawks by at least 3 points for its backers to win their bet. Gamblers can also bet on the total score, which is whether the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a preselected number of points.
Betting-market data is taken from Action Network’s Public Betting data, and lines are taken from Unabated’s real-time-odds tracker.