The primary reason for this is because of motivation. Not every team wants to win this week, and you need to understand the psychology of these situations.
Let’s take the Baltimore Ravens for example. Yes, you’ll see they’re still favourites for this week, but with a first-round bye locked up, there’s more chance of a very conservative approach from John Harbaugh here.
First of all, he’s got a list of reserves taking up starting berths. They’re unfamiliar with all the play-calls and there’s a reason they’re not starters.
Just remember to take these factors into account before you go spending all your holiday earnings!
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
A quick analysis gives us a lopsided scenario that we must not ignore.
The sole reason you should bet the Patriots to cover here is because they have something to play for in the final week of an NFL regular season, which hasn’t always been the case over the last few years.
A New England win here guarantees a first-round bye in the playoffs and given how stop-start their offence has been to this point, it’s likely the only way they can sneak their way to another Super Bowl success.
The Kansas City Chiefs will beat the Chargers at home and Bill Belichick knows this. The week’s preparation will be rigorous, so you can have that in your back pocket.
And for Miami, they can still play their way out of a top-five pick. Not only would that mean very little to fans or players (Parker got his extension already; everyone else is subpar at this point), but the organisation knows they likely need 20 upgrades in starting positions and not having a top-five pick would be exceptionally detrimental to that.
A 17-point Patriots win suits both parties.
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
Did you hear the one about the once-considered-great defensive coordinator-turned-head coach who went into Lambeau Field and played man coverage against the most intelligent quarterback in the NFL history?
I don’t know what his deal is – whether he’s read David and Goliath too many times over the holiday season – but Matt Patricia is going to subject his secondary to this same fate that they’ve felt almost every week this season.
At some point, he’ll have to change his scheme, but my god, he won’t be doing it this season.
Green Bay’s motivation? They can clinch the first overall seed if they win here and Seattle upset the Niners in Santa Clara.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
This one’s the easiest pick of the lot.
If you’ve watched these teams or know anything about their histories, you’ll know that they eat cover 3 schemes alive.
Both will present them, then spend the next four quarters making adjustments to disguise. There is no hope this game ends with more than a field goal between the sides.