Covers is throwing an entry into the Circa Million Pro Football contest for the 2021 season and Adam Chernoff has been tabbed to make the weekly picks so let's dig right in.
Here are his five ATS picks for Week 16 of the Circa Million betting contest.
Week 15 record: 5-0
Season to date: 48-27
Place: T-64 / 4,086
Week 16 picks
- Arizona +1
- LA Chargers -10.5
- Cincinnati -3
- Kansas City -7
- Miami PK
Read on for a quick analysis of each play but watch the video above for more details.
This week is difficult. Contest lines were released on Thursday morning and just seven games were on the board available for betting. Multiple games are currently available for betting at prices much different than contest lines. This is the latest I have submitted picks all season.
The debate this week is for players is take the line value — or swerve and try to make up ground. The entire season I have played my regular bets in the contest, bar a few circumstances on obvious spots I disagree with.
This week I am doing the same, acknowledging I am on the same side of a couple of major line moves. At this point, I am not going to win the contest, but I am going to play my bets the rest of the way out and hopefully end in the money.
I played Arizona at PK earlier in the week and was surprised to see the contest open with them listed as underdogs. There was significant movement between open and contest release with the Colts moving from a 3.5-point underdog to a 1-point favorite.
For me, at +1 in the contest, this line had just moved too far. Both teams are trending in different directions, but Arizona +1 implies that the Colts are 2.5 points better on a neutral field, which I do not get to in my rankings.
In fact, I have Arizona as a point better on a neutral... before home field. The big advantage for Indianapolis was running the football with Jonathan Taylor. Arizona ranks 25th in defensive rushing success rate, but Indianapolis will be without its three starting interior offensive linemen. If that negates the advantage, Arizona is justifiably short-priced at this point.
LA Chargers -10.5
The Houston Texans have been ravaged by COVID. At the time of writing, there are 23 players on the list, many of which are key starters in the secondary and at skill positions.
The Chargers have COVID problems of their own, but the key parts of this team (at the skill positions and quarterback) are all set to play. While I do not have the difference between these two teams in my ratings at 10, taking away starters from the Texans drops their rating significantly.
Coming into this week I had them rated seven points worse than an average team and without their leading receivers and multiple starters in the secondary, this is a big mismatch.
I believe the perception of Lamar Jackson the last 4-5 weeks has kept this line much too short. Last week, I spoke with the oddsmaker of the biggest retail sportsbook in the United States. He and the trading team made the difference between Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley a full touchdown — the second-biggest gap between starter to backup in the NFL.
Cincinnati built their team in the offseason to compete with Baltimore. The importance of the matchup showed in mid-October when Cincinnati won by four scores as a 6-point underdog. When considering the previous matchup, the injuries to the Ravens secondary that occurred since and Huntley starting for Lamar, this game is closer to Cincinnati -6 than it is Cincinnati -3.
Kansas City -7
The team at Circa was stuck in a tough spot. On Thursday morning, the COVID situation for Kansas City was bleak. A lot of that changed by Thursday evening with reports of optimism coming out of KC reporters.
Contest players are in a similar bind. Picks are due at 3 p.m. ET... and the COVID deadline for players to be activated is 4 p.m. ET. In some ways, this is a gamble with Hill, Kelce, and key starters still not active, but I believe the report will be more optimistic than not.
As is, this is a big mismatch of two teams. The Steelers have been outscored 91-19 in the first half of their last five games. Kansas City is Top-5 in first-half scoring for the season, meaning the Chiefs build leads while the Steelers fall behind.
The Kansas City defense has all its key starters set to play and return and this unit was built to play with a lead. Pittsburgh has finished sub-5.0 yards per play in three of its last four games. If the COVID news breaks right, this number will pose a ton of value.
There is not much behind this pick. With Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian both ruled out, quarterback Ian Book is in line to make his NFL debut for New Orleans on Monday. This line is likely to close with Miami a field goal favorite, and considering how well their defense is playing, that number might still be too low. The decision for the fifth spot on the card this week was a little tricky — it came down to Miami or Atlanta.\
The Falcons are facing a Lions team without Jared Goff and other key starters, although my numbers showed significant value, it is still a bet on Atlanta to cover a margin. In my ratings, I have the Dolphins two points better than New Orleans before adjusting for Book starting. While the value compared to Atlanta is near the same, taking Miami at PK was the better decision.
Football Contest Countdown
Before making your football contest picks, you'll want to watch the Covers Football Contest Countdown. Adam Chernoff brings on noted contest player Las Vegas Cris and they walk through the weekly odds — right after Circa releases their lines — with the goal of predicting the top consensus plays of the week. The show streams live on Thursdays at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT each Thursday on YouTube and Twitter and is available on-demand at any time.