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NFL Christmas Day game picks, open thread

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL isn’t known for making the holidays merry and bright for fans, but this year they chose to try and steal some of the NBA’s thunder. With an exceptional lineup of three exciting games, the league is offering the perfect holiday gift to football addicts like myself (and probably yourself if you’re reading this). As if the festive spirit weren’t enough, these games are packed with high stakes, former MVPs, the defending Super Bowl Champions, as well as the Super Bowl runner-ups, and of course the potential to significantly impact the playoff race.

The first game of the day will feature the Las Vegas Raiders (6-8) taking on the Kansas City Chiefs (9-5) at 1 p.m. EST on CBS. The spread for this game is Chiefs -11, with an over/under of 40.5 and moneyline odds of Chiefs -550 and Raiders +410. Let’s break down what these odds mean. The -11 spread means that the Chiefs are favored to win by 11 points. The over/under of 40.5 indicates the total combined score of both teams, and the moneyline odds show the odds of betting on either team to win the game outright.

Looking at the matchup, the Chiefs come into the game on the heels of a must-win game against the New England Patriots, snapping a two-game losing streak. While their offense has struggled with consistency this season, the defense has stepped up to lead the way. Ranked fourth in total yards allowed, they’ve been stingy enough to keep teams in check, allowing only 293.2 yards per game.

On the other hand, the Raiders have been on a rollercoaster ride this season. With a midseason coaching change and inconsistent performances, they’ve had their fair share of ups and downs. Quarterback Aiden O’Connell has shown promise since taking over as the starter, but the team’s inability to score consistently has kept them out of playoff contention.

The last time these two teams met earlier this season, the Raiders put up a fight but ultimately fell short in the fourth quarter as the Chiefs emerged victorious. While this is a divisional game, the Chiefs have dominated the Raiders in recent years, winning 11 of their last 12 matchups, making this much less of a rivalry and more of a bully situation. Since Mahomes took over as starter in 2018, the Chiefs have put up 28-plus points in each contest (10-1) against the Silver and Black — the first team in NFL history to score 28-plus points in 11 straight games against a single opponent, per NFL Research. So considering their history, and the flow of the season, my prediction for the first game of the day is a 30-14 victory for Kansas City.

Next up is the New York Giants (5-9) versus the Philadelphia Eagles (10-4) at 4:30 p.m. on FOX. The spread for this game is Eagles -13.5, with an over/under of 43 and moneyline odds of Eagles -950 and Giants +625. The odds heavily favor the Eagles, and given their 8-2 record against the Giants in their last 10 games, it’s not hard to see why.

The Eagles have hit a rough patch, losing three straight games after a strong start to the season. Turnovers and scoring struggles have plagued them, and they’ll need to address these issues if they hope to make a deep playoff run. Conversely, the Giants have faced numerous challenges this season, including injuries to basically every quarterback on their roster, leading them to Tommy Devito. Despite these setbacks, they’ve won three of their last four games and are looking to spoil the Eagles’ day.

My prediction for this game is a 35-14 win for the Eagles. Quarterback Jalen Hurts will lead the charge and show why he was once considered an MVP favorite. Additionally, adding an A.J. Brown touchdown to any parlay would be a wise move for this game.

The last game of Christmas Day between the Baltimore Ravens (11-3) and the San Francisco 49ers (11-3) is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the season. The two teams, both boasting impressive 11-3 records, are currently at the top of their respective conferences, making this game a potential preview of a Super Bowl matchup. The stakes are high, and the game promises to be an exhilarating showcase of skill and talent. Looking at the odds for this game, the 49ers are favored to win by six points, with the over/under set at 46.5. The moneyline for the Ravens is at +215 and the 49ers at -265.

The 49ers have been a dominant force this season, with a wealth of talent on both sides of the ball. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven himself to be a mastermind of offensive strategy, leading the team to victory after victory. Running back Christian McCaffrey has been a standout player, making a compelling case for the league MVP title with his exceptional performance although most want to put quarterback Brock Purdy in the conversation, I just don’t see him as being more valuable than Christian McCaffrey. And if we’re giving out an award for being the most valuable, it should go to the guy who has the biggest impact on the game for his team for the majority of the season. That wouldn’t be Purdy. Regardless of my opinion on voter awards, the 49ers’ success has been built on a foundation of skill, cohesion, and resilience, making them a scary opponent for any team, especially at this point of the season.

On the opposing side, the Ravens have also been a force to be reckoned with, largely due to the exceptional skills of their superstar quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Jackson has showcased his talent and versatility throughout the season, leading the Ravens to victory with his exceptional athleticism and passing ability that most don’t want to give him credit for. They have had to figure out how to win without their best running back, their best pass catcher in Mark Andrews and several injuries on defense that could have made it difficult to achieve any real level of success. But none of it matters because the defense has figured out how to still perform at a high level, even in losing so many key players.

Predicting the outcome of this game is no easy feat, given the remarkable performance of both teams. However, the 49ers possess an abundance of talent and have displayed exceptional form throughout the season, making them a tough to bet against any week against any opponent. That being said, the Ravens, led by the exceptional Lamar Jackson, have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with and have the potential to be the team to beat if it’s not the 49ers. In a closely contested 27-24 game, I am going to put my money on the Ravens with the moneyline at +215.

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