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Matt Stafford, Rams seeing strong support from bettors for Week 16 matchup vs. Vikings (Photo by Icon Sportswire)

Some people in this mad, mad world were actually rooting for the New York Jets last weekend, in a kind of perfect-storm situation.

“Yes, there are times when we are cheering,” says BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback. “There are times when we’re swearing, too. Unfortunately, we’re rooting for the Jets almost every weekend.”

Since 2011, the Jets have covered the spread the fewest times, at 73, in the league. Cleveland, Jacksonville and Tennessee, according to TeamRankings, are at 74. Jets fans know the drill; it profits to bet against their squad.

When money flows from both Pros and Joes, to one side of an NFL game, those on the other side of the counter pull for the minnow against the whale.

The Jets induce some to punch walls, too.

In Week 16, tidal waves of amateur and professional cash crashed on Miami, giving around nine points to the Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Stoneback says such situations are uncommon.

The Jets, however, nursed leads of 10-0 and 17-7. Stoneback and his staff, inside their Mandalay Bay headquarters, weren’t too nervous as it became a 24-24 game midway through the fourth quarter.

Miami won, 31-24, giving the Jets a rare cover.

“It wasn’t one we really had to sweat a lot,” says Stoneback, “which is nice.”

The Jets played a part in one of the more-memorable scenes in Stoneback’s career, on Oct. 20, 2013. Geno Smith, a rookie quarterback out of West Virginia, was making his seventh start.

Near the end of the first quarter inside MetLife Stadium, Smith had a pass picked off by New England cornerback Logan Ryan, who dashed 79 yards for a touchdown.

Stoneback’s headquarters were then in The Mirage, and with the bulk of customers laying 3 points with the Patriots, the sportsbook exploded. Colleague Jay Rood punched a hole in a wall.

“That was a big decision for us,” says Stoneback. “As soon as he threw it, Jay kind of hit the wall and knocked a hole in it. You could hear ‘the room’ erupt in a big roar as [Ryan] went down the sideline and scored.”

The Jets, though, ended up winning the game in overtime, 30-27.

This is Smith’s eighth pro year, and he has started three games for Seattle this season. Will he get a snap Sunday afternoon when the 5-9 Seahawks play host to the 4-10 Bears? Any book seeking a funky prop, have at it.

(Each team’s records, overall and ATS, are in parenthesis.)

Cleveland Browns (7-7, 6-8) at Green Bay Packers (11-3, 11-3)

NFL – Sat (12/25) @ 4:30 p.m. ET

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

PointsBet Line: Packers -7.5, Total 45.5

Twenty-two players, including 10 starters (and quarterback Baker Mayfield), were on the Browns’ Covid list, unavailable for Monday’s game against the Raiders.

It isn’t certain if Mayfield, reserve Case Keenum or third-stringer Nick Mullens will start at Green Bay.

So it’s no surprise that Packers money outnumbers that on the Browns by an 8-to-1 margin, and Green Bay has the 7-1 ticket edge, at BetMGM.

Green Bay is 7-2 in its past nine against Cleveland. The Packers allow foes only 17 points at Lambeau, the second-lowest home figure in the league, where they are 6-0. The Browns are 2-4 on the road.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has averaged 292 passing yards over his past three games, topped by only Tom Brady (301) in that stretch.

“That’ll be a big decision for us,” says Stoneback. “I’m sure we’ll need the Browns. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go to 8.5, or 9 even, by Christmas Day.”

Indianapolis Colts (8-6, 9-5) at Arizona Cardinals (10-4, 9-5)

NFL – Sat (12/25) @ 8:15 p.m. ET

State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ

Line: Cardinals -1, Total 49

BetMGM opened this at Arizona -1.5 and immediately took some sharp money on the underdog, cutting it to 1. Eight times the amount of money has been placed on the Colts, but the ticket count was only slightly in Indy’s favor.

“The public acts on what it last saw, and Arizona struggled in getting blown out by the Lions, of all teams,” says Stoneback. “And the Colts beat a New England team that had had a seven-game winning streak. The public is betting both sides, and professionals are definitely on the Colts.”

He wouldn’t be surprised if Indianapolis is a 1-point favorite by kickoff. Five of Indy’s past seven have sailed ‘over’ the total, as have four of Arizona’s past six games.

Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 7-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, 7-7)

NFL – Sun (12/26) @ 1 p.m. ET

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

Line: Bengals -3, Total 45.5

The perch of the AFC North goes to the victor.

“Who knows which Cincinnati team will show up?” says Stoneback. “The Ravens have been losing, but they’ve been right there, losing three games by four total points.”

The money and tickets have been steady on both sides. Stoneback predicts it will attract “quite a bit” of attention but, in the end, even out on both sides.

Buffalo Bills (8-6, 7-6-1) at New England Patriots (9-5, 9-5)

NFL – Sun (12/26) @ 1 p.m. ET

Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA

Caesars Sportsbook Line: Patriots -2.5, Total 43.5

Money has come in on the Patriots at a 4-1 clip at BetMGM, but the two-way ticket action has been steady.

Both rushing defenses have been sieves recently, which might not bode well for the Bills. Three weeks ago at Orchard Park, New England attempted only three passes, running for 222 yards in its 14-10 victory.

Los Angeles Rams (10-4, 7-7) at Minnesota Vikings (7-7, 8-6)

NFL – Sun (12/26) @ 1 p.m. ET

U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

Line: Rams -3, Total 49.5

Stoneback opened this Rams -2.5, at -120, but he notes a 6-1 ticket count that has nudged that up a tad. The Rams have had a scoring margin of +15.7 points over their past three games, No. 2 in the league over that span.

However, the L.A.-based Rams have lost their past four games in Minnesota.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1, 6-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-4, 7-7)

NFL – Sun (12/26) @ 4:25 p.m. ET

Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Line: Chiefs -9.5, Total 46

Covid issues for the Chiefs place all kinds of question marks on this game. “Otherwise,” says Stoneback, “this would be a big one for us.”

On the road, the Steelers have allowed opponents an average of 28.5 points, third-worst in the NFL.

Denver Broncos (7-7, 7-7) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-7, 5-9)

NFL – Sun (12/26) @ 4:25 p.m. ET

Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV

Line: Pick ’Em, Total 41.5

Stoneback starts seeing an influx of Raiders money on Thursdays, when they play at home, and it keeps coming until kickoff. He says, “On game day, it’s really big, really one-sided.”

Fans pre-game party at his sportsbook, walk the bridge over Russell Road to the stadium for the game and return to the book afterward to celebrate or commiserate.

“That’ll probably be a big decision for us,” he says. “If they played in Denver, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. We’ll get a lot of Raiders money before they head over to the stadium. It’ll be one of our biggest decisions of the day.”

This opened Vegas -1.5 and moved to pick ’em by Wednesday night. Stoneback expects the Raiders to return to favorite status when the flood starts coming in Friday.

The Raiders have been outscored by an average of 13 points in their past three games, the fifth-worst figure in the league over that span.

Washington Football Team (6-8, 5-8-1) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4, 11-3)

NFL – Sun (12/26) @ 8:20 p.m. ET

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

FanDuel Line: Cowboys -10, Total 47

Like Cleveland, Washington has been plagued by Covid issues and is on a short week, having played Tuesday in Philadelphia. The ticket count through mid-week was 2-1 on the Cowboys.

Seven of the past eight Dallas games have finished ‘under,’ as have seven of the past nine for Washington.

“Who knows who will be playing quarterback for Washington?” says Stoneback. “But we’ll be Washington fans Sunday night. That’ll be a big game for us.”

Miami Dolphins (7-7, 7-6-1) at New Orleans Saints (7-7, 7-7)

NFL – Mon (12/27) @ 8:15 p.m. ET

Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA

Line: Saints -3, Total 38.5

With six consecutive victories, the Dolphins have turned this into a marquee game. They’re also 5-1-1 ATS in their past seven.

The Saints had dropped five in a row before winning their past two, and they’ve yielded an NFL-low average of 12 points over their previous three games.

Stoneback reports solid two-way betting action, with two more tickets having been written on the Dolphins, and a meager $300 more on Miami, too.

“The team playing well is getting the three points,” he says, “against a team that had been struggling. That game will take a lot of action for us.”

Also read: Back the Titans as home dogs | Super Bowl 2022 odds | Week 17 look-ahead lines

About the Author
Rob Miech

Rob Miech

Rob Miech is a sports betting writer at Gaming Today who covers soccer and specializes in features content. He has written about college hoops for the Las Vegas Sun, CBS SportsLine and the Pasadena Star-News. Miech is the author of four books, including Sports Betting for Winners.

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