Each week during the pro football season, Covers Expert Art Aronson of AAA Sports looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Game to bet now
New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (+5.5)
Lots of commentators would like to take back what they said about the Patriots when the Bill Belichick-led club was treading water at 2-2. New England is now tied with the Steelers for the best record in the AFC at 7-2, after showing no mercy on Sunday against Denver, and now will get the benefit of a neutral field (Mexico City) in a “road” game against the Raiders.
It’s good to be the king, no? And the Patriots are doing this (five straight wins, three straight covers) with several key players out. It doesn’t seem to matter, as long as their 40-year-old quarterback is upright. NE will start to attract lots of money as the season winds down, and anything under seven is an attractive number.
Game to wait on
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
It used to be you could pencil in the Packers to win the NFC North, but Aaron Rodgers’s injury has opened a large door for the Vikings, and Minny has taken full advantage with five straight wins.
The Vikes have a great opportunity to nail down the division over a five-day period starting Sunday against the Rams. A win, coupled with a victory over Detroit on Thanksgiving, could just about lock down the North.
And they’re doing it with re-tread QB Case Keenum, who threw for 302 yards and four TDs in the Vikings’ win over Washington on Sunday. If you like the Rams in this one, hang on because bettors will probably jump at 2.5 and some lines will be bet up to a full field goal.
Total to watch
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (44)
Huge game for both division leaders. The Steelers need to keep pace with the red-hot Patriots ahead of their mid-December showdown in Pittsburgh, and the Titans are desperate to get the Jaguars off their backs in a surprising AFC South race (they’re both 6-3).
While Pittsburgh and Tennessee are both solid and winning, neither has had an offensive burst in the last month. The Titans are averaging under 20 points in their last three games, while Pittsburgh has averaged 22 in its last four.
Turnovers decide a lot of games in the NFL – especially close games – so expect both teams to keep things pretty conservative in this one. Even at a moderate number like 44, the Under deserves a hard look in this one.