Christmas was special to me growing up.
I wished for a pool table every December. It was all I ever wanted. I remember going to bed every Christmas Eve thinking that this was the year. Nevermind the fact the house I grew up in was barely big enough to fit a six-person dining table, deep down I hoped a Christmas miracle would somehow squeeze in an eight-foot slate Brunswick pool table.
I spent sixteen Christmas mornings at home before moving out on my own. I never woke up to a pool table.
After celebrating the past seven holiday seasons outside of Canada, Christmas means very little to me today. But, coming back home this year was a reminder of what the tradition means to so many others. It is this aspect that makes betting football on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day very interesting.
Since 1989, there have been 169 games on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The over has hit in 100 of the 169, a 60% win rate.
I hate trends. I despise them. But, I love context.
The context behind this works because of the human element. Players have lives outside of football. They have family and kids. They are public figures and have to put in extra community work around the holiday.
With the guilt of being away from loved ones comes distraction and it often boils over to the football field. Play gets sloppy, physicality slips and big plays result in points.
This season, three teams get the shaft on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and they all have weak defenses.
New York, Seattle, and Pittsburgh.
In defensive efficiency, these three road teams rank 28th, 24th (since SEA critical injuries) and 21st. Each team is fresh off a season-changing result too. Last Sunday, Arizona was eliminated, Seattle was limited to a wildcard (at best), and Pittsburgh lost their chance at the AFC top seed.
Arizona and New York will be undisciplined and wide open. This game is meaningless, and the Giants have shown zero effort to step up since the coaching change. Being away from home and having twelve players on the injury report this week leaves little to make me believe anything changes.
The Arizona offense would be a concern to me, but, head coach Bruce Arians is switching to Drew Stanton who is much more mobile and will be much better than suited to play behind a beat up offensive line than Blaine Gabbert.
Seattle Dallas will be very competitive, and I anticipate many points.
Seattle was humiliated at home and now rely on the heart of Russell Wilson to come through against a banged up Cowboys defense.
Dallas has to rely on a rookie corner to defend a speedy Tyler Lockett, and the Seahawks can balance their offense with a rushing attack against a Cowboys defense that allows teams to gain 105% of their average.
Ezekiel Elliot returns for Dallas and completely changes the look of the offense. Dak Prescott will have time in the pocket and can open up the passing game. Dez Bryant has a big matchup advantage against Byron Maxwell who allows a quarterback rating of 138 when targeted (second highest in the NFL).
Pittsburgh Houston has the makings of a back and forth shootout. With Antonio Brown and James Connor (backup RB) out, Le’Veon Bell will see north of 40 touches.
There is a significant advantage in coverage against Texans linebackers which Bell can exploit and allow the Steelers to move the ball comfortably.
Houston mailed it in last week against division rival Jacksonville. I don’t see this matchup on Christmas bringing out the best of them.
With Ryan Shazier on the sidelines, the Steelers defense lacks speed and grit, especially on runs out wide and quick passes over the middle. Texans wide receivers Hopkins and Fuller are perfect candidates to beat an unmotivated Artie Burns, and Joe Haden much like Packers receivers did on Sunday night a few weeks ago.
Christmas NFL means points, and this year I expect no different. I will go over in all three games.
Adam’s Week 16 Bets:
- New York Arizona Over 40.5
- Seattle Dallas Over 47
- Pittsburgh Houston Over 44.5