At this point of the NFL season, with only a few games left, it’s pretty apparent which teams are the contenders and which teams can already make their offseason plans. There is also more than enough of a sample size to determine which teams have good offenses and mediocre offenses, or good defenses and mediocre defense.
So, when looking at the NFL betting odds, it’s a little easier to determine which games should be shootouts that will cash out the over and which games should be defensive struggles that will allow the under to hit. Let’s take a look at a few promising under candidates before crowning an Under of the Week:
Second Runner-Up: New Orleans Saints at New York Jets
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Total: 43 Points
The New Orleans Saints’ once-promising season went off the rails when Jameis Winston tore his ACL and injured his MCL in a Week 8 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since that game, they have lost five straight and have been inconsistent on offense with Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill sharing time under center. Alvin Kamara’s constant injury absences and the complete absence of wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has missed the entire year with an ankle injury, have hurt.
New Orleans is just 17th in scoring offense and is 23rd in yards from scrimmage. Its defense is a bit worse in terms of points allowed but is in the middle-of-the-pack in terms of yardage allowed.
So, the Saints should be able to hold the weak Jets’ offense — 26th in scoring offense and third-worst in rushing yards — at bay. Rookie Zach Wilson and Co. actually got off to a hot start against the Philadelphia Eagles, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions. But, the New York offense then reverted back to its old self and didn’t score the rest of the game, winding up with just 282 total yards.
If you’re betting online, look for the New Orleans defense to do a better job on Wilson and a banged-up Jets offense without its top running back and top receiver than the Eagles did. Likewise, Hill’s struggles will continue even against the Jets’ weak defense. Take the under here.
Pick: Under 43 Points
First Runner-Up: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
When: Sunday,1 p.m. ET
Total: 42 Points
Even with all of their offensive firepower, both of these teams are pretty mediocre in terms of translating yards and first downs into points. The Ravens haven’t scored more than 19 points in over a month and are 16th in scoring offense despite being fourth in yards from scrimmage. The Browns have scored more than 17 points just once since Week 5 and are 17th in scoring offense.
The key for this game will be each team’s respective running games. Both teams have run for exactly 1,765 yards, which is good for third in football. Baltimore’s defense is also the best in football against the run, allowing the fewest yards on the ground. Cleveland’s defense isn’t as stout but has given up the 11th-fewest rushing yards and sixth-lowest yards per carry. So, both teams’ strength is, at least somewhat, counterbalanced by the strength of the other team.
If you’re making NFL predictions, look for both teams to have to throw the ball a bit more than they usually would. As a result, there will be a fair amount of drive-killing interceptions that should relatively limit the total amount of points scored. The under is a safe pick.
Pick: Under 42 Points
Under of the Week: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Total: 42½ Points
For the 2021 Falcons, every step forward has been matched by two steps backward. When they win a game, like they did against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, they typically follow it up with a bad performance. Last week, Atlanta’s scoring issues were on full display in their loss to the Buccaneers, as the Falcons only scratched together 17 points against a Tampa Bay team that had recently given up 29 points to the Washington Football Team and 31 points to the Indianapolis Colts.
Atlanta is 27th in scoring offense, 24th in yards from scrimmage, and 25th in first downs. The Falcons just haven’t been able to make up for the offseason loss of Julio Jones and the midseason mental health break taken by Calvin Ridley.
It doesn’t help matters that Carolina is seventh in scoring defense and has allowed the second-fewest yards from scrimmage. The Panthers are particularly strong against the pass, as they’ve given up the second-fewest passing yards of any team in football.
Furthermore, the relatively low point total on the BetUS Sportsbook is justified even further by the Panthers firing their offensive coordinator, Joe Brady, during their bye week following a 10-point showing against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12.
Carolina has the fourth-fewest yards from scrimmage, mostly thanks to the quarterback carousel that has resulted from Sam Darnold’s ineffectiveness and then injury. These offenses are both messes right now, which bodes really well for the under.