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Game to bet now
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+9.5)
The Dolphins are rolling, with nine wins in their last 10 and a berth in the playoffs. Plus, the Fish have incentive to win this week – if things fall right they move up to the 5 seed in the AFC playoffs and would not have to play in Pittsburgh. But that doesn’t impress bettors, who took the opening line (New England -6) and quickly bet it up 3.5-points.
It all has to do with Patriots motivation. New England needs a win at 1 p.m. to lock down the overall No. 1 seed in the AFC and make Oakland’s game (at 4:25 EST) at Denver (Broncos -2.5) moot. Last season, you recall, Bill Belichick took his foot off the accelerator in Week 17 at Miami, lost home-field advantage, then lost in Denver in the AFC title game. Not many see a repeat of that happening.
Game to wait on
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (+9.5)
Oddsmakers and bettors both figure that the Seahawks will lay waste to the Niners, especially after Seattle’s puzzling loss to the Cardinals at home last week. Seattle is dealing with injuries everywhere – safety Earl Thomas and wide receiver Tyler Lockett are both done for the season, and now running back Thomas Rawls might not be a go against San Francisco.
Still, this is San Francisco we’re talking about and the 49ers are 1-6 at home ATS this season. Bettors are still pounding Seattle, so there could be some reluctant movement in the line before kickoff.
Total to watch
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (40)
Pardon Bill O’Brien if he has any flashbacks this week. A year ago his Texans got waxed, 30-0, by the Chiefs in the wild card round of the playoffs when QB Brian Hoyer had as bad a game (four interceptions) as anyone thought possible. Twelve months later and O’Brien still has QB issues. Brock Osweiler hasn’t been the answer, so the Texans will roll with backup Tom Savage for the rest of the season.
Savage game-managed Houston past Cincinnati last week and gets another four quarters vs. Marcus Mariotta-less Tennessee this Sunday. The Titans surprisingly stayed in the playoff into Week 16, but will be playing out the string with veteran Matt Cassel under center in what looks like a low-scoring game.