It’s high time to make the red-hot lions disappear

We should have all known to tie in on Sunday as Week 14 kicked off with a Baker Mayfield comeback win. But as expected, the NFL weekend did not disappoint. I’m still reeling from the fact that Todd Bowles came up with a game plan to beat Patrick Mahomes in Super LV, but watched helplessly as his defense was cooked mercilessly by a rookie quarterback drafted in the seventh round. 49ers futures found new life, while it seems time to send all Bucs bets to the shredder. Whether it was Tua Tagovailoa putting in his worst performance of the season, or Davis Mills giving the Cowboys’ defense all they could handle, the unpredictable performances are always a tough test for punters.

We all know the rules. Don’t fall victim to recency bias. There’s a reason it’s called “Overreaction Monday.” However, it’s easier said than done to put on your blinders when the opportunities open up for the week ahead. Instead of ignoring the crazy events every NFL weekend, sometimes you can find value by betting against them. We went 1-1 on last week’s buy-low teams, so let’s try again this week.

Detroit Lions' DJ Chark celebrates his touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, December 11, 2022 in Detroit.  (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
The Lions’ DJ Chark celebrates his touchdown reception during the first half against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, December 11, 2022 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

A few weeks ago, the Jets were the Lions. A young team with a sophomore coach trying to prove they belong in the playoff conversation. But back-to-back losses to the Vikings and Bills have cooled the Jets’ expectations, and this week they’re hosting the hottest team in the NFL.

Dan Campbell saw his chance for Coach of the Year quickly dwindle this weekend after proving the Lions were the rightful favorites against the then 10-2 Vikings. The Lions have also scored as favorites six times in a row. But as the Falcons found out early in the season, eventually the market will catch up with any team.

This is the week to sell high with Detroit and buy low with New York. Jets QB Mike White seems likely to play, and I think the offense against the Lions could move up and down. The sheer difference between these two defenses is a big factor when betting on New York. The Jets allow only 4.8 yards per game, tied with Philadelphia, Dallas and San Francisco for fewest in the league. That’s pretty good company.

On the other hand, the Lions allow the most with 6.2 yards per play. They are 30th in passing yards per game and 31st in yards allowed per pass attempt. Detroit’s offense was one of the biggest upsets of the season, but the Lions rely heavily on the team’s offense every week. They are 1-5 in games where they were held to 28 points or less, and I can’t imagine them putting those numbers in New York. The Jets allowed 28 or more points only once this season, 13 weeks ago in the second week of the season in a win over the Browns.

Jared Goff has played some forgettable games in cold weather, but the Jets’ pass rush will give him the most trouble. Robert Saleh’s defense is currently tied for third most sacks, and his pass-rushing rating of 79.7 is behind only Philadelphia and Dallas — two teams that beat Detroit this season. It’s a bad place and an even worse game for the Lions, who will struggle with one of the strongest defenses they’ve faced along the way. So take the Jets to cover this short number at home.

Remember when Atlanta started the season 6-0 against the spread? It feels like an eternity ago when the Falcons continued their profitable start by covering just once in their last seven games. But luckily for us, the market has left them for dead, making them 3.5 point underdogs to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints (4-9) are 1-4 in their last five games, coming off a 17-16 deflation loss to Tampa Bay in which they allowed 14 points in the last few minutes of the game. These two teams are NFC South rivals, and I expect this to be a very competitive game with both teams having weeks off bye bye. Therefore, this is an excellent opportunity to buy low on the Falcons and catch the key number of 3 with the division dog.

A lot has changed for both teams since the Saints defeated the Falcons in Week 1, but failed to emerge as 5.5 point favorites. The Saints have turned the offense over to Andy Dalton, while Falcons rookie QB Desmond Ridder will make his first career start for Atlanta. Quarterbacks are driving the market and the uncertainty about Ridder is a big factor in why we’re getting a good number with Atlanta. Sure, there are risks in backing a rookie on his first start, but if Brock Purdy has taught us anything, uncertainty isn’t a blind fade.

A strong running game is a young quarterback’s best friend. Atlanta racks up runs at the second-highest clip in the league, so expect an even heavier dose. Atlanta ranks in the top five in yards per rush, rushing yards per game, and rushing first downs per game. The Saints offensive defense has improved as the season has progressed, but it is not strong enough to force the Falcons out of their comfort zone. So I take the dog with a strong running game and a rookie quarterback against a Saints team that can’t stop flipping the ball and making mistakes in critical situations. I bet Atlanta doesn’t have to do much except let the Saints find another way to lose. The points are too valuable to pass up.

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