As the end of the NFL season inches closer, teams are beginning to show their true identities more and more with each passing week. While a number of matchups are difficult to predict, several games are quite enticing for those who watch betting lines.
While some games didn't come to fruition last week—looking at you, Patriots—there are quite a few solid picks this week. Here are three of the biggest locks of the week that bettors looking to take the underdog might want to stay away from.
|Away Team||Home Team||Spread||Pick ATS|
|Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||HOU (-3)||Jaguars|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN (-6)||Colts|
|Atlanta Falcons||Green Bay Packers||PK||Packers|
|Cleveland Browns||New England Patriots||NE (-13)||Patriots|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||NYJ (-2.5)||Raiders|
|Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI (-3)||Eagles|
|Miami Dolphins||Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT (-3.5)||Steelers|
|Buffalo Bills||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB (-3)||Buccaneers|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Washington Redskins||KC (-3.5)||Chiefs|
|Minnesota Vikings||Baltimore Ravens||BAL (-7)||Ravens|
|Tennessee Titans||Denver Broncos||DEN (-13)||Broncos|
|St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||ARI (-6)||Cardinals|
|New York Giants||San Diego Chargers||SD (-3.5)||Chargers|
|Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers||SF (-2.5)||Seahawks|
|Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||NO (-4)||Panthers|
|Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||CHI (-1)||Cowboys|
Spreads provided by VegasInsider.com
Arizona Cardinals (-6 vs. St. Louis Rams)
The Cardinals have been one of the surprise teams of the season with a 7-5 record, and they have a shot at making it into the playoffs as a Wild Card. But the Cardinals lost last week to the Philadelphia Eagles, which could have some bettors believing this game will be close.
While the 7-5 record doesn't appear daunting, the Cardinals are 5-1 at home with their only loss coming against the 11-1 Seattle Seahawks. In those five wins, the Cardinals have won by an average of 13.2 points. Three of the five victories have been by 14 or more points, including a 22-6 win over the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 6 and a 40-11 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 24.
Also, a good omen for the Cardinals is that they won't be facing Nick Foles, who has been much more consistent than Kellen Clemens:
FINAL: Eagles 24 - Cardinals 21 -Nick Foles 3 TD passes, 0 INT -Zach Ertz 2 touchdowns -Eagles defense 5 sacks pic.twitter.com/Llooe24qFq— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 1, 2013
Arizona's defense also stacks up well against St. Louis, as the aforementioned Clemens will be forced to pass against a team that ranks in the top five in rushing yards allowed.
Prediction: Cardinals 27, Rams 13
Baltimore Ravens (-7 vs. Minnesota Vikings)
Man, have these teams underachieved this year. While the Ravens at 6-6 have a good shot at making the playoffs, they certainly haven't looked like the Super Bowl champions from last season. And can anyone even remember what that Vikings team looked like that made the playoffs last year?
The easiest way to break this down is to look at the one strength of the Vikings going against the biggest strength of the Ravens—Adrian Peterson and the Ravens rushing defense. While Peterson has gained the most rushing yards in the NFL this season, he faces a daunting task in the sixth-best rushing defense in the league in terms of yards allowed and the No. 1 defense in rushing touchdowns allowed with just two on the season.
Meanwhile, Ray Rice might finally have himself a breakout game against an atrocious Vikings rush defense that ranks 23rd in the NFL and has given up 13 touchdowns on the season. Then there's the Vikings' pass defense, which ranks 30th in yards per game which should lead to a great day for Torrey Smith.
Prediction: Ravens 35, Vikings 23
Kansas City Chiefs (-3 at Washington Redskins)
The Chiefs have had a rough go of it lately, losing three straight division games, twice to the Denver Broncos with a loss to the San Diego Chargers sandwiched in between. But if any team knows about struggles, it's the Washington Redskins, who are currently on a four-game losing streak.
But Kansas City does two things very well—contain the quarterback and beat teams with its passing game. Thanks to a slew of defensive players who can rush the passer, like Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, the Chiefs should be able to easily keep Robert Griffin III in check while moving the ball down the field with Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.
Kansas City's slide has left many wondering if the team that started the season on a nine-game winning streak is for real, but a commanding win against the Redskins on the road should at least get the team back to its winning ways. With three of Kansas City's last four games on the road, a win against the Redskins would go a long way.
Prediction: Chiefs 38, Redskins 21