Who didn't play in Week 16 was more important than the players on the field. COVID ravaged rosters around the league while bettors reacted by targeting totals in several games. The roster challenges combined with the NFL coming off its lowest-scoring week of the year had bettors driving totals down in a big way. The average closing total this past weekend hit a season-low 43.1 points. Bettors' expectation of another low-scoring week never came to fruition.
Overs went 10-5 and those who bet later in the week may have paid the price. The final scores in two games landed under the opening number but they closed as an over due to getting pushed down throughout the week. Overs were only 8-7 to the opening line, a contrast that helps highlight the importance of betting early in the week. The market is constantly moving without you, so if you are waiting until kickoff you are losing value. When targeting an under, don't let the uncertainty of players' statuses stop you from getting the best of the number. Here are two games that I bet today to go under the total for Week 17.
Carolina at New Orleans (Under 39.5)
We all could have predicted that Matt Rhule's plan of rotating quarterbacks was not going to work. The Carolina Panthers notched six points on Sunday, which marked the third time in the last four games they scored 14 points or less. Carolina has dropped to 31st in EPA per play on offense above only the Houston Texans. Considering how the Texans looked yesterday, I think there is a chance we see Carolina last by the time the season wraps up. Matt Rhule's answer to his offensive woes is to hand the ball off more. That won't work against the New Orleans Saints' top-three rush defense. However, it will waste some time off the clock, which is good for our bet.
The Saints' offense will get a boost next week as Taysom Hill is expected to return off the COVID list. That's how bad it's been for Sean Payton's offense this season. New Orleans ranks 30th as a team in QB completion percentage and it will only get worse with Hill throwing into a strong Panthers secondary. It's much tougher running on the teams when you are one-dimensional. These teams combined for 33 points back in Week 2. Despite looking much different now, neither looks any better offensively. Ian Book starting for the Saints on national television Monday will only hurt the public's perception of the Saints' offense moving forward. Take the under today before it plummets.
Minnesota at Green Bay (Under 47.5)
This might sound familiar as we hit the under in the Minnesota Vikings' last road game at Chicago two weeks ago. They scored a total of 17 points against the Bears' defense in chilly 38-degree temperatures. The forecasted low for Sunday night in Green Bay is 8 degrees. That's extremely cold and it's a problem for Minnesota in more ways than one.
Not only is that less than ideal for a team that plays the majority of its games indoors. It will also amplify Vikings coach Mike Zimmer's conservative nature, which has been a detriment to this offense all season. As if going up against Aaron Rodgers with your playoff lives on the line isn't enough pressure, Cousins still has to fight off the demons of previous underwhelming prime-time performances. The Green Bay Packers offense operates at the slowest pace in the NFL, and they are 7-3 to the under in games that close over 46 this season. Let's take the under and run.