NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 20, 2023 – Early Games

Christian McCaffrey
NFL Picks (Preseason 2023): 4-7 (-$905)
NFL Picks (Week 1, 2023): 10-6 (+$760)
NFL Picks (Week 2, 2023): 8-7-1 (-$435)
NFL Picks (Week 3, 2023): 12-4 (-$995)
NFL Picks (Week 4, 2023): 6-8-2 (+$440)
NFL Picks (Week 5, 2023): 5-9 (-$2,110)
NFL Picks (Week 6, 2023): 6-8-1 (-$2,230)
NFL Picks (Week 7, 2023): 7-6 (+$30)
NFL Picks (Week 8, 2023): 5-10-1 (-$1,295)
NFL Picks (Week 9, 2023): 5-9 (-$935)
NFL Picks (Week 10, 2023): 7-6 (-$1,230)
NFL Picks (Week 11, 2023): 5-9 ($0)
NFL Picks (Week 12, 2023): 13-2-1 (+$1,960)
NFL Picks (Week 13, 2023): 6-7 (-$115)
NFL Picks (Week 14, 2023): 7-7-1 (+$740)
NFL Picks (Week 15, 2023): 6-8-2 (+$120)
NFL Picks (Week 16, 2023): 7-8-1 (-$800)
NFL Picks (Week 17, 2023): 8-8 (-$320)
NFL Picks (Week 18, 2023): 10-6 (-$415)
NFL Picks (Week 19, 2023): 4-2 (+$1,155)
2023 NFL Picks: 141-137-10 (-$6,580)

NFL Picks (2022): 154-134-8 (+$9,860)
NFL Picks (2021): 144-137-2 (-$5,365)
NFL Picks (2020): 138-124-7 (+$9,350)
NFL Picks (2019): 148-128-9 (+$1,200)
NFL Picks (2018): 140-134-12 (+$845)
NFL Picks (2017): 137-147-10 (-$4,300)
NFL Picks (2016): 148-127-10 (+$780)
NFL Picks (2015): 133-138-10 (-$3,215)
NFL Picks (2014): 143-133-7 (-$1,885)
NFL Picks (2013): 144-131-8 (+$7,825)
NFL Picks (2012): 130-145-8 (-$7,445)
NFL Picks (2011): 137-133-12 (-$1,335)
NFL Picks (2010): 144-131-8 (+$5,880)
NFL Picks (2009): 151-124-9 (+$4,235)
NFL Picks (2008): 136-125-6 (+$6,105)
NFL Picks (2007): 162-135-10 (+$3,585)
If you don’t quite understand the line, total or anything else, go to my Sports Betting FAQ.

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Vegas betting action updated Jan. 20, 12:30 a.m. ET. Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Go to Week 20 NFL Picks – Late Games

NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 20 Early Games

Houston Texans (11-7) at Baltimore Ravens (13-4)
Line: Ravens by 10. Total: 43.5.

Saturday, Jan. 20, 4:30 PM

The Matchup. Edge: Ravens.

Week 19 Analysis: Can’t really complain about anything in the opening round of the playoffs. I’ll once again break down all the 3+ unit picks each week:

Packers, 4 units (win): My spread for this game was Dallas -3. I’m kicking myself for not making the Packers my Pick of the Month, but I had gotten them wrong so many times this year.

Rams, 4 units (win): The Rams played much better in the second half to cover the spread, but they could have won outright if they didn’t squander so many opportunities in the red zone.

Bills, 5 units (win): It looked like the Steelers would get a back-door cover after the Bills went up 21-0, but Buffalo scored a late touchdown to cover for us.

HOUSTON OFFENSE: No one believed in C.J. Stroud last week. Really, no one. He was barely played in DraftKings tournaments despite being slightly more expensive than Joe Flacco. I suppose the matchup against Cleveland’s defense scared people, but the Browns put forth no resistance, as Stroud torched them so mercilessly that Davis Mills took the field by the middle of the fourth quarter.

It would be nice if Stroud had a healthier receiving corps this week, but Noah Brown was placed on injured reserve. This is a huge development because the Ravens have been weak to the slot. They’ve performed much better against outside receivers, so they should be able to do a better job against Nico Collins than Cleveland did. Instead, it’ll be up to Robert Woods to produce, and I don’t have much faith in him at this stage of his career.

One area where the Texans might have an advantage is the running game. The Ravens are in the bottom five of EPA run defense, as they’ve surrendered recent 100-yard rushing performances to De’Von Achane and Kyren Williams. Devin Singletary could get there, but that would require the Ravens not to establish a massive lead.

BALTIMORE OFFENSE: The Texans caught a huge break last week with Amari Cooper being hindered with an injury. Cooper nearly posted the single-game receiving yards record against the Texans in Week 16, but couldn’t even reach the century mark in the opening round of the playoffs because it was quite apparent that he was nowhere near 100 percent.

Cooper couldn’t take advantage of Houston’s weak secondary, but Zay Flowers should be able to do so. Flowers had an explosive performance on Christmas, taking a big leap in his rookie campaign. He should be able to thrive in this matchup, as should Isaiah Likely – unless, of course, Mark Andrews returns from injured reserve. Andrews has been practicing and could be activated ahead of this contest. If so, that would be a huge boon for the Ravens, given that Houston struggles mightily against tight ends.

The Texans are at least much better against the run. Baltimore’s ground attack took a hit with Keaton Mitchell suffering an injury, so I don’t believe Gus Edwards will be able to overcome Houston’s stalwart front. Lamar Jackson, of course, could make up for that with his special scrambling ability.

RECAP: This spread seems way too high. EPA suggests this line should be -6.5, yet if you take the Ravens, you’re relinquishing all the key numbers. Stroud has been great, so he could engineer a back-door cover if needed, especially given that the Ravens struggle to run the ball and will have trouble running out the clock as a consequence.

Now, it must be pointed out that John Harbaugh is excellent with extra time to prepare. He had that advantage in Week 1 versus Houston, and he has the same edge in this contest because of the bye week. It’s worth noting, however, that elite coaches only gain an advantage with a bye when the opposition is a mediocre or worse team. I think the Texans have proven that they’re better than that, so I’m inclined to side with them. It’s encouraging that the sharps are on the Texans as well, though it’s still early in the week, so that can change.

What really pushed me toward the Texans is that I’m just not convinced the Ravens are all they’re cracked up to be. Sure, they’re a great team, but they’re not invincible. They had trouble putting the Chargers and Jaguars away. They nearly lost to the Rams at home. Sure, they were great against the 49ers and Dolphins, but San Francisco had fluke turnovers, and we’ve seen Miami struggle since that game, so that victory doesn’t carry the same weight as it did in real time.

My point is that the Ravens are a bit overrated, and we’re seeing that in this spread. The difference from -6.5 to -9 isn’t colossal, but it does involve one of the key numbers, so Houston interests me as a two-unit wager.

Our Week 20 NFL Picks will be posted all day Tuesday. Follow @walterfootball for updates.

THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Two things of note. First, the weather might be quite bad for this game. The wind is projected to be around 20 mph in 24-degree weather. This doesn’t sound great for an indoor team like the Texans. Second, Mark Andrews practiced fully on Wednesday, so that could be a nice bonus for Baltimore. I may switch my pick to the Ravens.

SATURDAY NOTES: Weather update: The wind is now projected to be 17 mph, so it’s not looking too terrible. Meanwhile, Mark Andrews and Marlon Humphrey have been ruled out, so I’m OK with putting a unit back on the Texans.

PLAYER PROPS: I love going over rushing yards on mobile quarterbacks in the playoffs because they tend to run more in the postseason, and sportsbooks don’t really adjust for it. The best number here is over 50.5 -113 at FanDuel. Meanwhile, there’s negative correlation here, but I also like Isaiah Likely over 36.5 receiving yards. That’s a low number considering how poor Houston is versus tight ends. And finally, I’m going to side with Eytan Shander’s suggestion to take the Texans +3 in the first quarter. Baltimore could have some rust after two weeks, and the Texans held the Ravens to seven points in the opening half of the Week 1 matchup. The best line for this is also at BetMGM (+3 -110). You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

SAME-GAME PARLAY: I’m going to toss in Jackson over rushing yards and Likely over receiving yards with Devin Singletary over 61.5 rushing yards and Nico Collins over receiving yards. Baltimore is weak to the run, so Singletary could get there, while Collins won’t have to deal with Humphrey’s coverage. This parlay pays +969, and was completed on FanDuel. Get $150 in bonus bets from FanDuel.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The wind has dropped a tiny bit to 16 mph, so the conditions aren’t too bad for this game. I still like the Texans for a unit, while the sharps haven’t taken a side. The best line is +10 -108 at Bookmaker.

The Motivation. Edge: None.

No edge found.

The Spread. Edge: Texans.

  • John Harbaugh is 14-2 SU at home vs. rookie quarterbacks.
  • Lamar Jackson is 10-19 ATS as a home favorite of 3.5+, not counting Week 1.
  • Opening Line: Ravens -9.5.
  • Opening Total: 45.
  • Weather: Partly cloudy, 24 degrees. Mild wind, 16 mph.

  • The Vegas. Edge: None.

    Equal action.

    Percentage of money on Houston: 51% (504,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Texans.

  • John Harbaugh is 14-2 SU at home vs. rookie quarterbacks.
  • Lamar Jackson is 10-19 ATS as a home favorite of 3.5+, not counting Week 1.
  • Opening Line: Ravens -9.5.
  • Opening Total: 45.
  • Weather: Partly cloudy, 24 degrees. Mild wind, 16 mph.

  • Week 20 NFL Pick: Ravens 24, Texans 17
    Texans +10 -108 (1 Unit) – Bookmaker — Incorrect; -$110
    Under 43.5 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Player Prop: Lamar Jackson over 50.5 rushing yards -113 (0.5 Units) – FanDuel — Correct; +$50
    Player Prop: Isaiah Likely over 36.5 receiving yards (0.5 Units) – BetMGM — Incorrect; -$55
    Game Prop: Texans +3 First Quarter (0.5 Units) – BetMGM — Correct; +$50
    Same-Game Parlay: Lamar Jackson over 50.5 rushing yards, Devin Singletary over 61.5 rushing yards, Nico Collins over 80.5 receiving yards, Isaiah Likely over 35.5 receiving yards +969 (0.25 Units to win 2.42) – FanDuel — Incorrect; -$25
    Ravens 34, Texans 10

    Green Bay Packers (10-8) at San Francisco 49ers (12-5)
    Line: 49ers by 10. Total: 50.5.

    Saturday, Jan. 20, 8:15 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: 49ers.

    VEGAS UPDATE: I’ll be posting how the Vegas sportsbooks have done the previous week in this spot. The highest-bet sides were 34-42 in 2020 and 48-37 in 2021. The highest bet sides were 32-35-1 last year, and they are now 31-27 ATS.

    Here are the teams getting the most bets last week:

  • Bills -10
  • The only public side covered.

    Here are the teams getting the most bets this week:

  • Packers +10
  • The public likes the team that pulled off the biggest upset.

    HATE MAIL: We’re going to post hate mail here this year. Most of the hate mail this week has to do with this tweet by NFLosophy, a guy who is so obsessed with me that he saved a conversation I completely forgot about from the summer and then tried to own me with it by saying the Buccaneers are a good team, which everyone knows is complete nonsense. Anyway, here is the tweet:

    Imagine taking a “victory lap” for a team that nearly lost to the Panthers eight days earlier. Woof.

    People with low self esteem like NFLosophy need their victory laps, I suppose, so I almost felt bad trying to tell him why he was still wrong about the Buccaneers. This conversation continued:

    Poor guy. I hope he was still able to take the victory lap he so desperately needed to make himself feel better.

    There were others involved in this conversation:

    Pro tip: If you’re super biased about something, you should probably not have an argument with someone about it. I’m as impartial as they come concerning the Buccaneers. I don’t care if they win or lose. I just call it as I see it, and everyone paying attention to the Buccaneers this year knows how lucky they’ve been.

    Here’s another doofus:

    I feel like I’m arguing with “special people” here. It feels bad to burn them with logic, but I have no choice.

    Speaking of special people, someone replying to one of our establishment media friends was upset about my tweet about communist scumbag Jemele Hill:

    Here’s another:

    Wit Miller, by the way, is apparently an artist of sorts. Of course he is. All the special people are artists.

    GREEN BAY OFFENSE: The roller coaster ride with “No Cookie” Jordan Love has been ridiculous. He began the season with a bang, then struggled against some poor opponents. He then caught fire for a bit before relapsing pretty hard against the Giants and Buccaneers. Love is now on the upswing again after brilliant performances against the Vikings, Bears, and of course, the Cowboys.

    It’s fair to wonder if that’ll continue against San Francisco’s defense. The 49ers bring a ton of pressure, so this could rattle Love into some turnovers. Then again, the secondary is San Francisco’s weakness, and Love’s young receivers have all taken huge leaps throughout the season. Speaking of Love’s receivers, Christian Watson will be healthier than he was in his return versus Dallas, so his game-breaking speed should give the Packers a new element they haven’t had since he suffered an injury.

    One thing that must be noted is that the Packers won’t be able to run nearly as well with Aaron Jones. The Cowboys were weak to the run, but the 49ers are tremendous against ground attacks. Jones has been excellent since returning to 100-percent health, but this is just a very difficult spot for him. This will mean that Love will have to operate in many unfavorable situations, which was not the case against Dallas.

    SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: I liked the matchup for the Packers last week because their weak run defense was not going to be exposed against the Cowboys. Dallas wasn’t able to run the ball well this year, as Tony Pollard has not quite been himself since returning from a broken leg. Thus, the Cowboys couldn’t take advantage of Green Bay’s greatest defensive weakness.

    I don’t need to tell you that under normal circumstances, the 49ers would easily be able to exploit this liability. Christian McCaffrey has been an MVP candidate for a reason. If healthy, he’ll be able to slice through Green Bay’s defense with ease. However, the “if healthy” qualifier is key because it’s not quite clear if McCaffrey is 100 percent. McCaffrey suffered a calf strain in Week 17. He’s been able to sit out since, so there’s a good chance he’ll be his usual, dominant self. However, soft tissue injuries tend to linger, so there’s always a chance that McCaffrey will aggravate the injury.

    Brock Purdy’s level of play will depend on McCaffrey’s presence. The Packers can generate lots of pressure, so McCaffrey being able to keep Purdy in short-yardage situations will be crucial. Purdy will have an opportunity to torch the Green Bay defense with George Kittle. The Packers are weak to tight ends, so Kittle should have a big game.

    RECAP: I hate this matchup for the Packers. They won’t be able to run on the 49ers, so Love will have to deal with relentless pressure from Nick Bosa and Chase Young. Conversely, McCaffrey, assuming he’s 100 percent, will be able to do what Dallas couldn’t and exploit Green Bay’s poor run defense.

    This spread may seem high – EPA says -6.5 is the right number – but I don’t think it’s quite high enough, given the matchup edges the 49ers maintain with McCaffrey and Kittle. I want to be a bit cautious because there’s a chance McCaffrey won’t be completely healthy, but if he is, I think the 49ers should win this game rather easily.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Jaire Alexander was downgraded in Wednesday’s practice. I did some thinking about this, and the Packers might just be underrated. I recall being confused about why the Bears didn’t cover in Week 18 for our Pick of the Month. Chicago was so impressive, yet the Packers crushed them. They also destroyed Dallas. Can they hang with the 49ers? Maybe, but I’m still not in love with the matchup.

    SATURDAY NOTES: Jaire Alexander looks iffy to play with two DNP tags on Wednesday and Thursday. The sharps haven’t touched either Saturday game.

    PLAYER PROPS: George Kittle’s receiving yards prop looks appealing. We just saw what Jake Ferguson did to the Packers last week, so Kittle should be able to pick up where he left off. The best number is over 51.5 at BetMGM. I also expect Jayden Reed to bounce back. Reed did nothing last week because the Cowboys are third versus slot receivers. The 49ers are in the middle of the pack. I like Reed over 3.5 receptions -122 at FanDuel. And finally, I’m going under on Christian McCaffrey rushing attempts (18.5). McCaffrey barely goes over 18 as it is, and this game could be a blowout. Plus, McCaffrey is coming off an injury and may not be 100 percent. The best line is under 18.5 -125 at BetMGM. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    SAME-GAME PARLAY: I’m going to parlay the Kittle over receiving prop and the Reed over receptions prop with the 49ers -13.5 alt line because it correlates with McCaffrey’s under rushing attempts. Unfortunately, McCaffrey’s rushing attempts can’t go in the same-game parlay. This parlay pays +634 on FanDuel. You can Get $150 in bonus bets from FanDuel by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: There’s a bit of sharp action coming in on the 49ers, but nothing crazy. Still, I’m not seeing any -10 -110 lines. The best -10 spread I see right now is for -112 vig at FanDuel. You can Get $150 in bonus bets from FanDuel by clicking the link.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: Packers.

  • 49ers are 42-31 ATS as favorites in night games since 1989.
  • Brock Purdy is 18-4 SU, 14-8 ATS.
  • Opening Line: 49ers -9.5.
  • Opening Total: 50.
  • Weather: Rain, 57 degrees. Mild wind, 13 mph.

  • The Vegas. Edge: None.

    Equal action.

    Percentage of money on San Francisco: 59% (553,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: 49ers.

  • 49ers are 42-31 ATS as favorites in night games since 1989.
  • Brock Purdy is 18-4 SU, 14-8 ATS.
  • Opening Line: 49ers -9.5.
  • Opening Total: 50.
  • Weather: Rain, 57 degrees. Mild wind, 13 mph.

  • Week 20 NFL Pick: 49ers 38, Packers 24
    49ers -10 -112 (3 Units) – FanDuel — Incorrect; -$335
    Over 50.5 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Player Prop: George Kittle over 51.5 receiving yards -115 (0.5 Units) – BetMGM — Correct; +$50
    Player Prop: Jayden Reed over 3.5 receptions -122 (0.5 Units) – FanDuel — Correct; +$50
    Player Prop: Christian McCaffrey under 18.5 rushing attempts -125 (0.5 Units) – BetMGM — Correct; +$50
    Same-Game Parlay: 49ers -13.5, George Kittle over 52.5 receiving yards, Jayden Reed over 3.5 receptions +634 (0.4 Units to win 2.54) – FanDuel — Incorrect; -$40
    49ers 24, Packers 21

    Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks
    A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week
    (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted whenever winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.

    NFL Picks Week 20 – Late Games

    Buccaneers at Lions  |  Chiefs at Bills  | 

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