Breaking down all the Week 16 NFL matchups, with suggested picks against the spread. Follow Samantha on Twitter at @previtee.
Welcome to Week 16 and congratulations to anyone’s teams that made it to the finals in fantasy. My three teams unfortunately did not…thanks a lot, Melvin Gordon (J/K). With the fantasy season coming to a close, there’s still so much to talk about on the betting side and I will continue to write these pieces into the postseason. Take note that there is no Thursday night game this week, and there are two Saturday games once again, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Please keep in mind that by the time you’re reading this, the line may have shifted depending on breaking news during the week, or money flowing through the market. Good luck in Week 16!
Saturday 4:30 PM EST
Washington at Tennessee, -10.5
The 7-7 Redskins sit in third place in the NFC East, but still have a 19% chance of making the playoffs, per the Upshot. They picked up a 16-13 road win against the Jaguars last week with a lackluster performance from fourth string quarterback Josh Johnson, who completed 16 passes on 25 attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown. The real takeaway from that game is that the Jaguars are hot garbage, and the Redskins are only slightly better. They’ll face the 8-6 Titans on the road for the second week in a row. The Titans, who are also in third place in their division, have a 36% chance of making it into the second AFC wild card spot. They shut out the Giants in their Week 15 matchup 17-0 in spite of another bad showing from Marcus Mariota, who only threw for 88 yards and no touchdowns. Even if either team were to sneak into the the playoffs, they won’t be strong contenders. 10.5 points are too many to lay with a Tennessee team that I’m not even convinced is markedly better than Washington. Give me the Titans to win, and the Redskins to keep it within the number.
Saturday 8:20 PM EST
Baltimore at LA Chargers, -4.5
The 8-6 Ravens currently have the highest probability to secure the six seed in the AFC at 43%, and have a 30% chance of winning the division. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is proving to be a serious weapon in the air and on the ground, and this college-style offense has opponents’ defenses shook. On the other side of the ball, the 11-3 Chargers have clinched playoff berth and can still contend for the AFC West division title. They picked up a crucial 29-28 upset win against the Chiefs last Thursday and will be fighting for the division and a first round bye. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers have looked electric over the past couple months, and while I love Jackson and find their style of play exciting to watch, I question the longevity of their offense leaning so heavily on RPOs, especially as teams now have more tape to study and prepare from. This line opened at -6 and has moved to -4.5 at most places and with the Chargers having a couple extra days of rest, I love the Chargers to win and cover the 4.5 points.
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Jacksonville at Miami, -4.5
The 4-10 Jaguars have been officially eliminated from playoff contention after losing 16-13 to Josh Johnson and the Redskins on Sunday. They’ve lost their last two games and will be on the road this week to face Dolphins. The Dolphins, who are 7-7, still have a small mathematical chance of making the playoffs, but trail to the Ravens, Titans, and Colts, all of whom are 8-6. They lost in a particularly embarrassing fashion last Sunday to the Vikings 41-17 in a game in which quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed only 11 passes of 24 attempts for 108 yards and no touchdowns. Unfortunately, running back Frank Gore was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, meaning head coach Adam Gase will have to lean more on Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. The over/under for this game is a mere 38.5 points, and Jacksonville has scored an average of only 9 points over their last three games. This line opened at -3.5 and has moved to -4/4.5 in most places. This said, Jacksonville plays far worse on the road and Miami is actually 6-1 against the spread at home, and 3-0 as favorites this year. I’ll take the Dolphins to win and cover the 4.5 points.
NY Giants at Indianapolis, -9.5
After a couple of promising games from the Giants, they unfortunately regressed last week and laid a goose egg against the Titans. At 5-9 and in last place in the NFC East, they are officially eliminated from playoff contention and potentially delusional coach Pat Shurmer thinks Eli Manning still has years left as their starter. They will face a 8-6 Colts team that brought another red hot team to a screeching halt last week, besting the Cowboys 23-0, who had won five straight coming into Sunday. They are in a dog fight for the last AFC wild card spot, currently tied with the Titans and Ravens at 8-6. The Giants may not have anything to play for at this point, but are actually 6-1 against the spread on the road this year. I doubt they’ll be competitive at any point in this game, but I think they can keep it within the 9.5 points – I’m taking the Colts to win, but the Giants to cover the spread.
Atlanta at Carolina, -3.5
The 6-8 Panthers will limp into this NFC South divisional matchup now having lost six straight games, despite keeping it within a field goal against the Saints on Monday night. With quarterback Cam Newton’s health a serious concern, they’ve had to rely heavily on the run game, namely Christian McCaffrey, who combined for over 100 offensive yards again in Week 15, and has been a solitary bright spot in this disappointing season. On the other side of the ball, the 5-9 Falcons have looked pretty bad as well: They picked up a 40-14 win against a Cardinals team with no offensive prowess, but had previously lost their last five straight games. Despite their Week 15 win, they have been officially eliminated from playoff contention. They’re on the road this week and have only covered one of six games this year away, and one of four as underdogs. This line is inching down to -2.5/2 and I would love it in that spot, but will still take the Panthers to win and cover the 3.5 points.
Buffalo at New England, -12.5
The 5-9 Bills managed to pick up another win on Sunday against the Lions, 14-13, and will travel to Gillette Stadium to face AFC East opponents, the New England Patriots. The Patriots suffered a surprising 17-10 loss to the Steelers on Sunday in a game in which Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski looked gassed. They’ve dropped to 9-5 on the year but still have a 98% chance of winning the division, though the bye week is still very much up in the air. This line opened at -10.5 and has moved to -13 and as high as -14 in some places as bettors flooded the market on New England. This is a huge number against a team with a pretty decent defense, but you don’t make a lot of money betting against the Patriots at home. They’re 5-1 in Gillette this year against the spread and I think they make it 6-1 this week: I’m taking the Patriots to win and cover the 12.5 points.
Houston at Philadelphia, -0.5
The Texans picked up a big road win against the Jets on Saturday to bounce back after snapping their nine game win streak. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had a strong performance, completing 22 passes on 28 attempts for 294 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions and they move to 10-4 on the season, currently in line for a first round bye. Meanwhile, the 7-7 Eagles are not dead yet after having pulled off a huge 30-23 upset win against the Rams on Sunday night. Quarterback Nick Foles started this game as Carson Wentz is dealing with a fractured back and has been named the starter for Week 16 as well. With a 30% chance of making the playoffs (trailing the Vikings, who are 7-6-1), we’re getting deja vu with last year. This line has bounced all over the place, starting at Houston favored by 3.5 and now Philadelphia favored by 2.5/3. Philly has only covered two games of seven this year at home, but with so much more at stake and the line moving in that direction, I love the Eagles at -0.5, but would take it at any number under a field goal.
Green Bay at NY Jets, -1.5
The Mike McCarthy-less Packers have officially taken themselves out of playoff contention with their 24-17 loss to the Bears in Soldier Field. With the loss, Aaron Rodgers’ dominance in Chicago comes to an end and Green Bay has fallen to 5-8-1. They’ll be on the road for the second week in a row to face an unimpressive Jets team who, at 4-10, are currently in line for the third pick in the 2019 draft. The Jets did suffer a Week 15 loss to the Texans, 29-22, but quarterback Sam Darnold actually looked good in the effort, completing 24 of 38 attempts for 253 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. This line opened at Green Bay favored by 3 points and has flipped to the Jets being favored by 1 or even. That said, the Packers have only covered one game on the road this year (one push) and with neither team playing for anything at this point, I’ll take the Jets at home to win and cover the 1.5 points.
Cincinnati at Cleveland, -7.5
The 6-8 Bengals sit in sole possession of last place in the AFC North coming into this week’s divisional matchup (a.k.a., the Hue Jackson revenge match). A Jeff Driskel-led Bengals team did pull off a Week 15 win against the Raiders 30-16, but they enter this game as touchdown underdogs to the Browns. The Browns, who are 6-7-1 on the season and technically still have a chance of making the playoffs (albeit almost mathematically impossible), have looked great over the past couple of games. Most recently, they pulled off a big 17-16 upset win in Mile High Stadium against the Broncos, proving they can contend in almost any game. These two teams met at the end of November in a game in which the Browns won 35-20 on the road and Baker Mayfield threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns. I expect this will be a similar outcome, so I’m taking the Browns to win by at least a touchdown.
Tampa Bay at Dallas, -7.5
The 5-9 Buccaneers were eliminated from the playoffs as well on Sunday after their 20-12 loss to the Ravens and will be on the road for the second week in a row to face the Cowboys. The Cowboys, who seem to have been brought back to life after the Amari Cooper trade, had a five game win streak snapped on Sunday in their 23-0 shutout loss to the Colts. This line opened at -8.5 and has been inching down to -8/7 over the week. This said, Dallas is 5-2 against the spread at home this year and I think this is a huge bounce-back game for Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott. I’ll take the Cowboys to win by at least a touchdown.
Minnesota at Detroit, +5.5
The 7-6-1 Vikings picked up a much needed win against the Dolphins in Week 15 and are currently the frontrunners for the last wild card spot in the NFC. Kirk Cousins was his normal, milquetoast self, but running back Dalvin Cook ran all over the Miami defense for 153 offensive yards and two touchdowns. They’ll be on the road this week to face a 5-9 Lions team who just lost to the Bills and are eliminated from playoff contention. This line opened at +4 and has moved up to +5.5/6 at most books with bettors fading the Lions early. Worth noting that Minnesota is 5-2-1 this year when favored against the spread and they’ll certainly be playing for their lives in this playoff tight race. With their season on the line and my lack of confidence in Matt Patricia and the Lions at this point, it’s a lay it or don’t play it spot for me. I’m going with the Vikings to win and cover on the road.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Chicago at San Francisco, +3.5
The 10-4 Bears handled the Packers on Sunday at home and have clinched the NFC North. They’ll travel to San Francisco this week to face the 4-10 49ers who have quietly won two straight games against good teams (the Broncos and Seahawks). Kyle Shanahan’s coaching prowess was on full display last week as backup quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 20 passes on 29 attempts, 275 yards, and a touchdown in their 26-23 overtime upset against the red hot Seahawks. This will be their third straight home game against a Bears team that will have to travel cross country. I love the Bears in the long term and think they can handle almost any team, but with less to play for for at this point in the season, I’m taking the home underdogs in this spot: Give me the 49ers to cover the 3.5 points.
LA Rams at Arizona, +14.5
The Rams lost to Nick Foles and the Eagles on Sunday 30-23 and have fallen to 11-3 on the season. In the loss, quarterback Jared Goff was exposed and pestered by the Eagles’ pass rush all night and their offense just hasn’t looked the same since wide receiver Cooper Kupp went down with an ACL tear. They are now technically one game behind the Saints for the one seed in the NFC, but really it’s two because the Saints have the tie break having won their head-to-head matchup earlier this year. This week, Sean McVay’s Rams will travel to Arizona to face a 3-11 Cardinals team who lost 40-14 to the Falcons last week and are jockeying with the Raiders for the first pick of the 2019 draft. Rookie quarterback Sam Rosen was benched in the effort for Mike Glennon, who isn’t much of an improvement. This line opened at +13.5 and has moved to as high as +15.5 in some places. I have no trust whatsoever in Byron Leftwich or this offense and I hate myself for doing this, but I’m taking the Rams to cover this massive number on the road.
Sunday 4:25 PM EST
Pittsburgh at New Orleans, -6.5
The Steelers snapped their three game losing streak on Sunday and handled the Patriots, pulling off an upset 17-10 win. They move to 8-5-1 on the season and are in sole possession of first place in the AFC North. This week, they will face yet another tough opponent, the 12-2 Saints, who are now in the one seed in the NFC. The Panthers managed to stymie Drew Brees on Monday night, holding him to a mortal 203 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception, but the Saints were still able to pull off the win. This line opened at -7 and has moved to -6/5.5 as money moves towards the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 4-0 against the spread as underdogs this year and with the Saints on the short week, I love the Steelers to keep this one within a touchdown.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Kansas City at Seattle, +2.5
The Chiefs lost a nail biter of a game on Thursday night against AFC West divisional opponents, the LA Chargers, and have fallen to 11-3 on the season. They haven’t quite looked the same without running back Kareem Hunt and will have to face an 8-6 Seahawks team that is in line for the fifth seed in the NFC. Seattle did suffer an overtime upset loss in San Francisco most recently, but they’ll have their “12th man” this week at home. This line opened at even odds, and has moved to +2.5 pretty much everywhere. Whenever you’re getting points with the Seahawks at home, you should probably take them. Additionally, Seattle is 4-1-1 as underdogs and 4-1-1 at home against the spread this year. I’m taking the Seahawks to cover, and possibly even eke out a win.
Monday 8:15 PM EST
Denver at Oakland, +2.5
We have been blessed with another great Monday night game between two AFC West teams that have already been eliminated from the playoffs. Both teams are coming off of Week 15 losses; the 6-8 Broncos lost 17-16 to the Browns at home, and the 3-11 Raiders lost 30-16 to Jeff Driskel and the Bengals. It’s always tough to predict what happens when two teams that are playing terrible football play each other. That said, I think Denver is a better team from both a talent and coaching perspective, which frankly says a lot because I thought Vance Joseph would be the first coach fired this year. I’ll take the Broncos to win and cover the road chalk.