Rams at Vikings (-2 ½, 39 ½) – 1:00 PM EST
Not many people who looked at the schedule prior to the season thought this game would be important for the NFC playoffs. St. Louis (4-3 straight-up, 4-3 against the spread) hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the last two games in home routs of Cleveland and San Francisco, while the Rams have jumped out to a 3-0 record in NFC West play. However, Jeff Fisher’ssquad needs to improve on a 1-2 SU/ATS record on the highway, while losing six of their past seven games away from the Edward Jones Dome as an underdog.
Minnesota (5-2 SU, 6-1 ATS) overcame a shocking loss in the season opener at San Francisco to win five of its past six games, including a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS mark at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings begin a brutal stretch against teams currently above .500, facing Oakland, Green Bay, Atlanta, Seattle, and Arizona the five games following St. Louis on Sunday. Mike Zimmer’s team has cashed the ‘under’ in six of seven games, while allowing 20 points or less six times. The Vikings ripped the Rams in the 2014 season opener, 34-6 as three-point road ‘dogs, as St. Louis is making its first trip to Minneapolis since 2006.
Dolphins at Bills (-3, 44) – 1:00 PM EST
Buffalo (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) returns from the bye week following a 34-31 setback in London to Jacksonville, as the Bills go for the season sweep of the Dolphins. The Bills roughed up Miami back in Week 3 by a 41-14 count, as Buffalo jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead and cruised from there. Tyrod Taylor threw three touchdown passes, while the Bills’ defense intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times, but Buffalo has put together a 1-3 SU/ATS record since that blowout. The Bills have won three straight home meetings with the Dolphins since 2012, while outscoring Miami, 48-10 the last two times at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Following a brief two-game winning streak since head coach Joe Philbin was fired, the Dolphins (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) quickly returned to Earth in a 36-7 setback at New England last Thursday night. Dan Campbell’s squad has been limited to 14 points or less in all three divisional contests, as Miami owns the worst division record in the AFC East at 0-3. The Dolphins have covered just once in the road underdog role this season, beating the Titans in Campbell’s coaching debut last month, 38-10, while Tannehill is 3-7 on the road against division foes in his career.
Packers (-2 ½, 46 ½) at Panthers – 1:00 PM EST
It’s too early to say the top seed in the NFC playoffs is on the line in Charlotte on Sunday, but the winner of this game will have the upper-hand from a tiebreaker standpoint. Green Bay (6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS) suffered its first loss of the season last Sunday in a 29-10 drubbing at Denver, while getting outgained by the Broncos, 500-140. Aaron Rodgers had a game to forget, throwing for just 77 yards, as the Packers amazingly didn’t turn the ball over in their first regular season loss since Week 15 of last season at Buffalo. The Packers have cashed four straight ‘unders,’ while compiling a 5-1 mark to the ‘under’ in the last six regular season road games.
Carolina (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS) found a way to stay unbeaten in spite of blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead in a 29-26 overtime triumph over Indianapolis. The Panthers were in control as five-point home favorites, 23-6, but Carolina’s defense allowed Indianapolis to tie the game in the final seven minutes of regulation. Graham Gano kicked two field goals in overtime to give Carolina its best start in franchise history at 7-0, but the Panthers dropped to 2-2 ATS at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina has lost three of the past four meetings with Green Bay since 2007, including a 38-17 setback at Lambeau Field last October as 6 ½-point underdogs.
Giants (-2 ½, 48) at Buccaneers – 4:05 PM EST
There have been several brutal road losses suffered by New York (4-4 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) this season, losing in the final seconds in Week 1 at Dallas and dropping a 52-49 decision at New Orleans last Sunday. Eli Manning threw six touchdown passes and that wasn’t even the most thrown in that game (Drew Brees had seven), while allowing 505 yards through the air by the Saints. The Giants’ defense has been outgained by at least 170 yards in each of the last three games, while giving up at least 27 points three times in the past four weeks. New York is listed as a road favorite for the first time since Week 14 last season at Tennessee, as the Giants are visiting Tampa Bay for the first time since pitching a 24-0 shutout in 2009.
The Buccaneers (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS) turned in another impressive performance on the road, upsetting the rival Falcons in overtime, 23-20 as eight-point underdogs. Tampa Bay squandered a 24-0 lead in a loss at Washington two weeks ago, while allowing Atlanta to erase a 20-3 deficit last Sunday, but the Bucs were able to triumph in overtime to improve to 3-1 ATS on the road. Playing at Raymond James Stadium hasn’t yielded a home-field advantage for the Bucs, who are 1-2 SU/ATS at home with the lone win coming over Jacksonville. Dating back to last season, the Bucs have picked up just one home victory in the last 11 tries.
Broncos (-4 ½, 45) at Colts – 4:25 PM EST
Peyton Manning returns to his old stomping grounds for the second time since leaving Indianapolis for Denver in 2012. Manning’s Broncos (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS) are rolling following a dominating performance of previously unbeaten Green Bay, 29-10 to cash for the second time this season as an underdog. Denver’s defense continues to carry this team, holding four teams to 13 points or less, while cashing the ‘under’ in all three home contests. The last time Manning played at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2013, the Broncos were tripped up by the Colts, 39-33 as six-point favorites, as Indianapolis handed Denver its first loss after a 6-0 start.
The Colts (3-5 SU, 3-5 ATS) are in control of the AFC South in spite of being tied with the Texans halfway through the season. Indianapolis has yet to lose inside the division, but is 0-5 against every team outside of the dreadful AFC South. Andrew Luck was intercepted three times against Carolina last Monday night, but managed to get Indianapolis its third cover in the underdog role thanks to a late rally in an overtime defeat to the Panthers. Luck and the Colts ended Denver’s season in 2014 with a 21-10 triumph at Sports Authority Field in the divisional playoffs as 9 ½-point ‘dogs.