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Columns - Magazine

The Gambling Solution: Week 17

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff started with a 1,000 unit bankroll as they go head to head all season long.

 

Jeremy split his selections last week as he nailed the Jets and Redskins.  He came up short with the Chiefs and Seahawks/Rams over.  Jeremy finished the week at plus 10 units.  Jeff also went 2-2 for the week as he had winners on the Cardinals and Seahawks/Rams under.  Jeff lost with the Steelers and Panthers.  Jeff finished the week down 30 units.  Heading into the final week Jeff leads the season-long contest by 140 units.  Can Jeremy make one final push to overtake Jeff?  Let's get to the picks for Week 17.

 

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Jeff Baldwin

Record: 39-29

Units: 1,300

 

Jeremy Wardwell

Record: 36-32

Units: 1,160

 

Patriots (-10) at Dolphins - 35 units
The Patriots were defeated in overtime by the Jets 26-20.  The Dolphins dropped their third straight game as they fell at home to the Colts 18-12.  These are two teams that are obviously heading in opposite directions.  The Dolphins are looking forward to putting an end to their dismal season.  This team clearly quit weeks ago, and all signs point to them putting up another lackluster effort this weekend.  The Patriots caught a fortunate break on Monday night as the Bengals squandered their lead against the Broncos and were defeated in overtime.  This leaves the door wide open for the Patriots to grab the number one seed in the AFC with simply a win over the Dolphins in Miami.  When these two teams met earlier in the season the Patriots cruised to an easy win 36-7 as QB Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes.  The matchup this week is different as Brady won't have all of his weapons at his disposal.  However, throw in the fact they are coming off a loss, the number one seed in the AFC is at stake and they are playing a very poor team in the Dolphins, the Patriots will find a way to get the job done on both sides of the ball.  Look for Brady to shred this secondary as he'll continue to spread the ball around to his receivers.  His primary target will obviously be TE Ron Gronkowski.  Gronkowski caught six passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in their last meeting.  I can see him putting up similar numbers.  As for the Patriots defensively, I expect them to get after the quarterback and play better against the pass after getting burned by the Jets through the air.  I'm expecting a huge, bounce-back effort here by the Patriots.  There is too much at stake with home field throughout the playoffs on the line for them not to come out firing on all cylinders.  The Dolphins pack it in this time of year evidenced by their 0-7 ATS record in the last four weeks of the regular season over the past two seasons.  The Patriots win this game by 2-3 touchdowns. 
Pick: New England Patriots -10

Rams (-3) at 49ers - 40 units
The St. Louis Rams travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in a game featuring two teams looking forward to next season. The 49ers have lost four of their last five games and have averaged 16 points per game over that stretch. Their offense has been led by QB Blaine Gabbert who has only thrown more than one touchdown pass twice in the seven games since he took over for Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco has been inconsistent in the running game as injuries have decimated their backfield. This week it looks like the majority of carries will go to DuJuan Harris who carried 11 times for 73 yards in last week's loss. Despite missing several key defensive players and not being the same intimidating unit they were at the beginning of the year, the Rams should have little problem containing the 49ers’ offense. St. Louis has allowed 340 yards per game in their last four road games and 21 points per game. They have now won three in a row overall including a 23-17 win over the Seahawks in Seattle where they always seem to play well. Rookie RB Todd Gurley broke the 1,000 yard barrier last week and over the last three weeks has averaged 106 total yards while scoring four touchdowns. However, he has been dealing with a foot injury and is questionable for this game. The Rams rank last in the league in passing and lean heavily on Gurley. If he doesn't play, Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham would lead the running attack. The 49ers rank 28th in the league against the run and whoever carries the ball for the Rams will have success. When these teams met earlier in the year, the Rams came away with a 27-6 win. With Gurley out, this game will be closer but the end result will be the same. The Rams are 3-0 ATS in their last three games and San Francisco will be playing with an eye towards the offseason.
Pick: St. Louis Rams (-3)

Vikings at Packers (-3.5) - 35 units
The Packers were dismantled by the Cardinals 38-8 in a game they were never in.  The Vikings blew out the Giants 49-17.  The Vikings will now travel to Green Bay with the NFC North title on the line.  The Packers’ loss to the Cardinals snapped their three-game losing streak, but this team is clearly struggling, specifically on the offensive side of the ball.  During their three-game winning streak, they defeated the Lions, Cowboys and Raiders.  All three teams have records under .500, and are obviously not playoff-caliber teams.  The Packers’ offensive line was severely exposed against the Cardinals as they allowed eight sacks.  QB Aaron Rodgers had no time to throw the football as they struggled in all facets of the game.  It won't get any easier for the Packers’ offensive line as the Vikings come to town with defensive line play just as good as the Cardinals’.  The Vikings are tied for ninth in the league in sacks with 38.  The Packers will need to find a way to protect Rodgers in order to come away victorious.  The Vikings will have revenge on their side coming into this game as the Packers defeated them 30-13.  I expect the Vikings to play well here as they'll lean heavily on RB Adrian Peterson to control the clock and move the chains.  Their success running the football will free up some opportunities in the passing game as QB Teddy Bridgewater will do enough to keep this game close.  The Vikings’ defensive line will create problems for an already struggling Packers’ offense.  The Packers’ offense hasn't looked good for quite some time.  I don't expect them to somehow turn things around in this matchup.  In what will be a close game throughout, look for this contest to be decided by a field goal.  The Vikings are a tremendous 12-3 ATS this season.  Expect that to continue on Sunday night.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings (+3.5)
Steelers (-10) at Browns - 35 units

The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cleveland for a must-win matchup against the Browns. Pittsburgh is coming off a demoralizing loss to the Ravens that took their playoff hopes out of their own hands. Now they will need a win and some help in order to secure a wild card spot. Cleveland is coming off a 17-13 loss to the Chiefs and has now lost nine of their last 10. The Browns will likely start Austin Davis at quarterback after Johnny Manziel was placed in the league's concussion protocol and is unlikely to suit up for this one. Davis last started in a 37-3 loss to the Bengals in Week 13. He has thrown a touchdown and an interception on the year and his start will put more pressure on Cleveland's mediocre rushing offense. The Browns rank 20th in the league in rushing and while they had 232 yards on the ground last week, 108 of those came from Manziel. I expect Pittsburgh, who ranks 6th in the league in rushing yards allowed, to load the box against the run and limit the Browns attack. As average as the Browns’ ground game is, their run defense is even worse, ranking dead last in the league. Pittsburgh will use their superior passing attack to stretch the field and allow RB DeAngelo Williams to control the clock. These teams met in Week 10 with the Steelers winning in a blowout 30-9. This game will turn out very much the same. Pittsburgh has won five of the last six games against Cleveland overall and four of six ATS. The Steelers will be highly motivated as they fight for their playoff lives and will use their potent offense to cover the decent size spread in this game.  
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -10

Chargers at Broncos (-9) - 30 units
The Broncos came away with a huge comeback win at home on Monday night against the Bengals as a field goal in overtime was the difference.  The Broncos can now lock in the AFC West title and the two seed in the AFC with a win against the Chargers.  The Chargers fell to the Raiders in overtime by a field goal.  The Chargers travel to Denver to finish out their disappointing season.  This line currently sits at 9 after opening at 7.5.  With a majority of the action on the Broncos, the betting public believes the Broncos will win this game by double digits.  I think this is a very hefty line considering the Broncos struggle offensively to score points.  The Broncos are also dealing with a short week to prepare, and coming off a very physical contest with the Bengals.  Even though the Chargers are simply riding out the rest of the season, this team is still playing hard.  During the last three games, they won one and lost two by only a touchdown and a field goal.  The game they lost by a touchdown was in Kansas City against a very solid Chiefs team.  I can see the Broncos coming out flat here after an emotional victory on national television against the Bengals.  They could expect the Chargers simply to lie down in this matchup since they have nothing to play for other than finishing out their season.  The truth of the matter is QB Philip Rivers would like nothing more than to ruin Denver's hopes of a divisional title.  Rivers thrives in these types of games when people don't think the Chargers have a shot to keep it close.  Look for Rivers to come up with a solid effort here as he'll find a way to move the football against this very tough Broncos’ defense.  I also expect the Chargers’ defense to play well here as I think they'll put enough pressure on QB Brock Osweiler to force him into making some mistakes.  In the end, I think the Broncos will get the win, but the Chargers will keep it inside the number.
Pick: San Diego Chargers +9

Patriots (-10) at Dolphins - 25 units
The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots face off in an AFC East tilt in Miami. The Patriots need a win to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs but will be playing with a limited roster due to injuries. New England suffered a 26-20 overtime loss to the Jets last week and lost yet another offensive lineman as tackle Sebastian Vollmer suffered a leg injury and will be out until the playoffs. Despite Miami's recent struggles, they still possess an intimidating defensive front that will take advantage of New England's decimated offensive line and put heavy pressure on Tom Brady. In the loss to the Jets, the Patriots struggled on offense, scoring just one offensive touchdown and failing to gain any consistency in the running game. WRs Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are both questionable for this game. If they do play, their snaps will be limited which will hinder the Patriots' attack. Miami is coming off an 18-12 loss to the Colts and have now lost three in a row. The Dolphins are obviously looking forward to next season and are dealing with personnel rumors and infighting between players. They have averaged 17 points during the three game slide and QB Ryan Tannehill has thrown only one touchdown over that stretch. Historically, New England has struggled in games played in Miami. They have lost the last two games and are 2-3-1 ATS in their last six games at Sun Life Stadium. While I don't see the Dolphins winning the game outright, I do see them keeping this game within the number. Look for Bill Belichick to use a conservative game plan aimed at minimizing mistakes and keeping players healthy as the Patriots win straight up but don't cover.
Pick: Miami Dolphins +10

Saints at Falcons (Total: 52.5 points) - 20 units
The Falcons upset the undefeated Panthers 20-13 as they put together a solid all-around effort.  The Saints got a three touchdown performance by QB Drew Brees along with 412 yards passing as the Saints defeated the Jaguars 38-27.  It was obvious that Brees’ foot injury wasn't bothering him after the numbers he put up.  The Saints head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons as they'll look for a season sweep after defeating them earlier in the season 31-21.  After a solid showing by the Falcons’ defense that limited QB Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense, I expect a letdown here after the shocking outright win over the Panthers.  I think this game will be about both offenses.  QB Matt Ryan will look to his favorite target in WR Julio Jones as he should have a field day against this Saints’ secondary that ranks close to last in the league giving up 281 yards/game through the air.  The Falcons should also find success running the football with RB Devonta Freeman.  The Saints struggle in this department as well giving up 132 yards/game on the ground.  As for the Saints, QB Drew Brees will guide this offense and put points on the board.  He'll look to his primary targets in both WR Brandin Cooks and WR Willie Snead to make plays down the field.  RB Tim Hightower has performed well since replacing an injured RB Mark Ingram.  Hightower finished with 122 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week versus the Jaguars.  In a game that will have a number of big offensive plays, look for this contest to go over the posted total.
Pick: Over 52.5
Chargers at Broncos (Total: 41 points) - 20 units
The San Diego Chargers will end a disappointing season with a matchup against the playoff-bound Broncos in Denver on Sunday. San Diego is coming off an overtime loss to the Raiders while the Broncos knocked off the Bengals to punch their playoff ticket. The Chargers have struggled with consistency on offense much of the second half of the season as injuries have ravaged their lineup. They have scored three points in three of their last six games and averaged 27 points in the other three games. QB Philip Rivers will likely have one weapon returning for this game as WR Stevie Johnson is expected back after missing last week's game with a groin injury. Denver comes in with the top overall defense allowing 18 points and just 280 yards per game. When these teams met in Week 13 in San Diego, the Chargers were held to three points and turned the ball over three times. I expect Denver, who still has a shot at the top overall seed, to be aggressive throughout the game and make it difficult for the Chargers to move the ball. The Broncos will start Brock Osweiler, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury in his non-throwing shoulder at quarterback again in this one. Denver has averaged just under 20 points in Osweiler's starts. San Diego is allowing 24 points per game on the season and 20 in their last six. They will be playing without safety Eric Weddle who was placed on IR this week. Weddle's loss may open up the passing game a bit for Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas but, as has been the case with Osweiler under center, I don't expect the Broncos to rely on the deep ball very much. The total has been posted at 41 for this one and while I don't see this game being as low scoring as the previous matchup, it still won't be a high-scoring affair. Look for this game to be played in the mid- to upper-teens as the Chargers are just playing out the string against a highly motivated Broncos’ defense. Five of the last six meetings between these two teams have gone under the posted total and this one will as well.
Pick: Under 41

Editor's note: Both Jeremy and Jeff started with 1,000 units as they go head to head all season long.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4 and Jeremy @jdwardwell5.

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.