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 17 of the Circa Million betting contest.
Week 16 record: 3-2
Season to date: 51-29
Place: T-61 / 4,086
Week 17 picks
- New York Giants +6
- Buffalo Bills -14
- Carolina Panthers +7
- Kansas City Chiefs -5
- San Francisco 49ers -12.5
New York Giants +6
The Chicago Bears favored by six points against anyone is a stretch. The biggest point spread we have seen this entire season was 18 points between the surging Cardinals and flailing Texans without a quarterback. That puts the mid-point between the best and worst teams in the league at plus or minus 8 points. The Chicago Bears are 5-11 on the season. Even if you are outrageously high on them and for some reason believe they are an average team in the league, you must be lower on the NY Giants than any other team in the league to get near this number. I just can't buy that. In fact, I have these two teams rated close to equally.
Chicago has won just two games all season by a touchdown or more, and its two wins since October have been by a combined three points vs. Detroit and Seattle. The Giants’ six-game skid has come against six playoff teams. I know they have looked terrible, but this number is too big.
Buffalo Bills -14
A couple of weeks ago I laid 9.5 with the 49ers against the Falcons. It cashed comfortably. The reasoning behind the bet was that the Falcons were bottom five in net yards per play, net success rate, and were overrated to their seven-win mark based on point differential. Since that bet, the Falcons’ rank in net yards per play and net success rate have dropped further. They are still overachieving by more than a win vs their record too. This week they step up in class even further to face the Bills who are top four in both net yards per play and net success rate.
The point spread is big, at 14, but not big enough to reflect the difference between these two teams. The Bills have shown a history this season to kill average or worse teams too. They beat Houston by 40, the Dolphins by 35 and 15, Washington by 22, the Jets by 28, the Saints by 25, and the Panthers by 17. When they get ahead early, they put teams away and keep the foot on the gas.
Carolina Panthers +7
There is a little bit of market value here with the number available for betting showing 6.5, but I think it is unlikely that many contest players gravitate to this game over the other four games that are off-market in the contest. This handicap is like the Giants and Bears. Who are the Saints to be laying this many points to anybody in the league? This matches the biggest number they have laid all season back in Week 9 vs. Atlanta, a game in which they lost outright by 2. In Week 7 they laid 6 vs. Seattle and won by 3.
In a similar fashion to where the Giants struggled against good competition, the Panthers have put up poor results against playoff teams including back-to-back blowouts vs. Tampa Bay and Buffalo. The Panthers still have a decent defense and won't have to deal with a passing threat from the Saints. This is too many points with a game that has such a short total.
Kansas City Chiefs -5
I am going against the market on this one and taking a slightly worse number with the static contest line. I have the Kansas City Chiefs as the best team in the NFL, a full touchdown better than an average team. I have Cincinnati half a point better. This game to me is Kansas City -6 at a minimum, and I am happy to take anything less.
The key here is not to overreact to the Bengals' 525-yard outburst vs Baltimore. The Ravens played the game with an injury and COVID ravaged secondary. In looking at the season, Cincinnati ranks 18th in offensive efficiency against the easiest schedule of opponents. The step-up here vs. the Chiefs’ defense, which ranks Top 10 against one of the five most difficult schedules of opposing offenses, is huge.
Cincinnati ranks 30th in pass block win rate, and the Top 10 pass rush of the Chiefs can get to Burrow and cause issues. Kansas City is a perfect matchup for the Bengals defense too, which ranks among the worst defending tight ends and running back passes. The Chiefs can walk up and down the field, while the Bengals will have to find a way to block - in a hurry - if they hope to be competitive.
San Francisco 49ers -12.5
I'll be honest, I liked this game a good amount with Garoppolo in and the 49ers 16-point favorites early in the week. The reason I liked them so much was because the Texans’ inability to stop the run, and their offensive success dependent on a poor opposing pass rush. With the news of Trey Lance starting, neither of those two things have changed, but the price is now just 12.5.
The Texans’ consecutive wins have come against the Chargers (without their best pass rushers) and the Jaguars (who rank 21st in pass rush win rate). Mills has been comfortable, and able to maneuver. That is not the case here. San Francisco ranks Top 5 in pass rush win rate and can bully this offensive line. Upfront it is an issue too. The 49ers rank Top 10 in run block win rate and rushing success rate. Houston ranks 27th against the run. When it comes to any play-action threat, Shanahan and the 49ers will have all day to find space. No team defends the pass worse than Houston.
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.