Thursday Night Football may not be pretty each week, but it gives us a taste to hold us over until Sunday. As sports bettors, it allows us a chance to start off the week hot and place our bets for Sunday with confidence. Last week's action between two losing teams provided two of the top ingredients that leaves every sports bettor satisfied. There was plenty of scoring in the Colts' 45-30 win. Over bettors cashed in nice and early, and there was also plenty of drama as the Jets came roaring back in the second half. Colts bettors who laid -10 or -10.5 earned their money with a good sweat while those on the Jets had unexpected hope right until the final whistle.
This week's game features one of the most exciting offensive players of our era in Lamar Jackson against an underachieving Dolphins offense. In games with a significant contrast in offensive firepower, who wins the tug-of-war on the total? Prime-time games are 6-3 to the under over the last three weeks. Can the Ravens run it up enough to carry this total to over 46.5? Let's analyze all three totals for this week's prime-time games and give the best bets for each.
TNF: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (Over 46.5)
The Miami Dolphins have not been able to score points regardless of who is playing quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa is a game-time decision for an offense that has eclipsed 20 points only twice this season. Why are we playing the over? Because we love prime-time overs! On a more serious note, it's because both defenses are worse than you think.
This isn't Ray Lewis' Ravens defense. Baltimore is allowing 6.3 yards per play this season, which is tied with Kansas City for the NFL's worst mark. Miami's defense isn't much better. Both teams rank in the bottom seven in defensive DVOA. Jackson has the Ravens offense humming this season at 27 points per game and getting Sammy Watkins back in the lineup adds to his arsenal. On defense, Baltimore has struggled against tight ends and is up against a Miami offense that runs through Mike Gesicki. In a game in which both teams rank 26th and 29th in explosive pass plays allowed, let's light up the scoreboard and cash this over.
SNF: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders (Over 52)
The Raiders are averaging over 420 yards of offense in their new dome this season and 423 in the last three weeks. Both marks are third best in the NFL. The addition of DeSean Jackson should give Derek Carr a more reliable deep threat, which is bad news for a Chiefs defense that allows more yards per completion than all but two teams.
It sounds bizarre wondering if Patrick Mahomes can do his part to carry an over, but that's the most volatile aspect of this bet. I am not confident the Chiefs offense gets back to last year's form, but there is reason to think we would be in for an AFC West shootout. Coaches typically rely on tempo to establish a rhythm for an offense. KC already runs plays at the second-fastest clip in the NFL. While Carr runs his offense at a league-average pace, the Raiders are top five in the first half. More plays are more opportunities to score touchdowns. These teams averaged 68 combined points in their two meetings last year. I don't think the Chiefs get the outcome they want Sunday night, but I think over bettors will.
MNF: L.A. Rams at San Francisco 49ers (Under 49)
After starting the season with four straight overs, Sean McVay's Rams have only hit the over in one of their last five games. The 49ers offense has been one of the biggest disappointments this year. Fans are clamoring for Trey Lance in a last-ditch effort to inject life into a unit that has scored 18 points or less in three of its last four games.
League scoring has dipped to an average of 22 points per game in the last three weeks which equates to a total of 44. This game is sitting more than five full points above that average. The 49ers' defense has been poor, but Titans coach Mike Vrabel gave the league a decent blueprint on how to attack Rams QB Matthew Stafford. San Francisco is 2-0 to under in games with a total of 49 or more. In a crucial game for the 49ers, I think we see more conservative play-calling and a low-scoring game.
Stats provided by Sharp Football Stats and Football Outsiders.