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Nothing screams December football quite like Patrick Mahomes being involved in a prime-time game that produces only 31 combined points. The Chiefs took care of business against their division rival in a 22-9 win, falling well below the closing total of 46.5. The total opened at 49.5 and was bet down a three full points before kickoff, highlighting the importance of betting totals early in the week.
NFL unders continued to be profitable in Week 13. The majority of games landed under the closing total for the fourth straight week and in 11 of 13 weeks this season. We are at a point where weather will become more of a factor each week, and the pressure increases as teams make their push for the postseason. There should be some really good opportunities to find some edges on totals during the final stretch of the season.
This week, I have identified two divisional matchups that are solid bets. One features offenses that are performing much worse than the public may realize, and another with an improving defense that isn't getting the credit it deserves. Let's take a look and lock in some solid unders for this weekend's NFL card.
Jacksonville at Tennessee (Under 44)
Here we have an AFC South divisional matchup between two struggling offenses. The Titans are coming off a bye hoping WR Julio Jones can return to inject some life into a unit that ranks 26th in passing EPA per dropback since Week 9. The Jaguars' offense hasn't been much better. These teams have eclipsed 17 points just once in the last four weeks.
The Rams routed Jacksonville 37-7 in Week 13. It marked the third time in six weeks the Jags were held to single digits. Urban Meyer's offense averages only 15 points per game and that number has dropped to 10 over the last six weeks. It's safe to pencil Jacksonville in for 17 points or less, putting the onus on the Titans to do the heavy lifting on the total.
Tennessee ran the ball 39 times in its last game and has done it all year with the second-most frequency in the league behind Baltimore. There is no reason to believe the Jags' defense that just got trucked by Sony Michel for 121 yards won't get an even heavier dose of the Titan's running backs. The Jags run plays at the fastest clip in the NFL, but the Titans are the third-slowest team when having a lead of seven or more points. Considering they are 10.5-point favorites, the most likely scenario is the Titans grabbing an early lead and dictating the tempo while grinding out a win in a low-scoring game.
Dallas at Washington (Under 48.5)
It's been a tale of two halves for both these teams. In the six games before their bye, the Cowboys averaged 34 points per game. In the six games following their bye week, they averaged 10 points less (24.6). The decrease in scoring can be attributed to Dak Prescott missing time along with both wideouts and some key offensive linemen during that span.
Dallas is back operating much closer to full strength, but the results continued to underwhelm last week in a tough win over New Orleans. The Cowboys were 2-of-13 on 3rd downs, an area the Washington defense is greatly improved. The Football Team's season-long opponent conversion rate is still the NFL's worst at 50%, but it has only allowed 27% over the last three weeks. That number ranks third-best in the NFL. The defense is coming off anchoring a 17-15 win in which it held the Raiders to 15 points and a 25% third-down conversion rate Sunday. One of the worst passing defenses in the league now ranks 10th in overall defensive success rate over the past six weeks. The Football team has found its identity and the market has yet to fully catch up.
The offense is more focused on ball control and limiting turnovers. Dating back to Week 6, Washington is 6-1 to the under and has scored 17 points or less in five of the seven weeks. We are catching Ron Rivera's improving defense against a Cowboys offense still trying to regain its rhythm. In a divisional matchup, I'm betting we don't get the fireworks the public is expecting.
Dallas totals have closed at 50 or above in 10 of 12 games despite being 5-1 to the under in its last six. If the oddsmakers are going to keep giving us high totals, we are going to take them to the bank with the under.