NFL Week 16 Gambling Picks
Last Week: 1-3-1
Tail or fade with caution!
Rams @ Seahawks ML and Over 47.5
This is an extremely pivotal game in the NFC West, as well as the NFC playoff picture as a whole, and I think it will be a good one. The Rams beat the Seahawks 23-16 on the first meeting, and the Hawks will be looking for revenge here on their home turf. Rams RB Cam Akers had emerged as their go-to guy in the backfield, but he is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. I think that means the Rams will go pass-heavy in this one. That could work out very well for them, as the Seahawks are giving up the most passing yards per game (293), and have had problems in the secondary all season. WR’s Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are YAC machines, and I think the Rams passing offense will have a solid day. For Seattle, they are accustomed to playing high-scoring games this season, as they are scoring 29.5 points per game, and giving up 24.2 points per game. Russell Wilson struggled in the first matchup against the Rams, throwing zero touchdowns and two interceptions, but I think he will bounce back here at home. Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks at making adjustments for the second go-around against teams in his division, and having receivers like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett certainly helps. I am going with the Over. I am also taking the Seahawks ML. As mentioned, I think Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense will make the necessary adjustments needed to perform better than their first outing against the Rams. The Seahawks turned the ball over three times and scored just 16 points. The Rams defense is strong, and Jalen Ramsey can cause some problems, but this Seattle offense is capable of figuring it out this time. Jared Goff has been a bit inconsistent this season, and is known to be flustered under pressure. The Seahawks have 40 sacks this season (7th in the league), and unlike Wilson, Goff is not known for escaping pressure with his legs. With all of their defensive issues, I still think beating Russell Wilson twice in one season is extremely difficult, and getting the second win on the road in Seattle makes it even tougher for LA. I like the Seahawks to win this game.
Falcons @ Chiefs -10.5
The Chiefs have won nine games in a row, but have only covered the spread in four of those games. Each of their last six contests have been one-score games, and Atlanta has seven one-score losses. That is encouraging for the Falcons, but honestly, I think the Chiefs are going to blow them out. Atlanta is No. 31 in the NFL in passing yards allowed, and the Chiefs are ranked first in average passing yards. Patrick Mahomes is poised for a big day (as he usually is), and the cold weather in an outdoor stadium definitely favors the home team, as the Falcons have played just two games in outdoor stadiums this season. Kansas City has scored 30+ points in two straight games, and have exceed 30 points in six of their last eight games. The Falcons defense has improved in recent weeks under Raheem Morris, but they still rank 28th in total defense, 31st against the pass, and are coming off a game in which they gave up over 400 yards of offense and 31 points to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Not only that, but it was a brutal loss (again) for Atlanta, as they led 24-7 in the 3rd quarter. Having to turn around from that performance to face Patrick Mahomes and the 13-1 Chiefs is a very tough task. The Chiefs should be able to do their thing on offense, which means the Falcons will have to try to keep up, and I don’t think they are capable of doing so. Julio Jones is out, and the Falcons just don’t have the running game to extend drives and eat up time of possession to keep Mahomes and company on the sidelines. Atlanta is 28th in the league in rushing offense, and keeping things close with the Chiefs without a running game is very difficult. The Falcons are also 30th in red zone efficiency this season. KC is 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 at home, and I think they get it done with a win and cover here at Arrowhead. KC -10.5.
Colts @ Steelers ML
There’s no hiding the fact that the Steelers are reeling. After ripping off 11 straight wins to start the season, Pittsburgh has lost three games in a row, and most recently lost on Monday Night Football to the two-win Bengals. Am I insane for taking them here against a 10-4 Indianapolis team? Maybe, but I think they will be able to get back on track in this one. First of all, they return home to Heinz Field, which is always a good thing, and they are 4-1 ATS vs the Colts at Heinz since 2008. Second, the defense is still elite. The Steelers are second in total defense giving up just 297.9 yards per game, and second in scoring, giving up just 18.9 points per game. The stagnant Bengals offense was able to score 27 points on them, but Cincinnati only had 230 yards of total offense (PIT had 244). The defense was not necessarily the problem, the offense was. The defense was put in terrible situations trying to defend a short-field thanks to three Pittsburgh turnovers. Taking care of the ball, and not putting their defense in short-field situations will be key for Pittsburgh in this one. Third, the Colts may be 10-4 and on a three-game winning streak, but those three wins were against the Texans twice, and the Raiders. The Raiders defense is decimated by injuries, and have been arguably the worst defense in the league in recent weeks. They were playing so bad they had to fire their defensive coordinator. Houston is second-to-last in the league in total defense, giving up an insane 402.6 yards per game. Only Jacksonville is worse—who surprisingly beat this very Colts team all the way back in Week 1. The Colts obviously deserve credit for going out there and winning those three games, but this Pittsburgh defense is going to be a test for them. Fourth, although I love this Colts defense and think they are very good, they are a little susceptible to the pass. They are 17th in the league allowing 236 yards per game through the air, and have given up over 315 passing yards in each of their last three games, while still being able to win all three. We know the Steelers love to pass (maybe a little too much) but I think the PIT offense is still very talented and will be ready to get back on track on their home field. In their last four games, the Colts defense has given up 425, 456, 398, and 449 yards of total offense to their opponents. Since Week 4, they have given up at least 20 points to their opponents in every game but one. The Steelers are back at home, and Big Ben and the Steelers offense are due for a solid outing. I think they will be better than we have seen in recent weeks.
One final note: the Colts offense relies on their great offensive line. They have allowed the second-fewest amount of sacks in the league (16), and their O-line unit has propelled the running game for Jonathan Taylor, and given Philip Rivers time to throw. However, they will be without two of their starters, RT Braden Smith and LT Anthony Castonzo in this game. Without them, it will be interesting to see how the Colts O-line holds up against this elite PIT pass rush that is leading the league with 47 sacks. Mike Tomlin is one of the best coaches in the league, and I think he will have his team fired up at home in this critical game that will shape the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers need one more win to secure the AFC North Title, and I don’t think they want to wait to play Cleveland next week with that on the line. Seems like everyone has jumped ship on this Steelers team, and I don’t think I am ready to just quite yet. Probably a bold pick, but I’m taking Pittsburgh ML.
Bengals @ Texans -7
Here is an interesting stat for you: The Texans are 4-10, but only one of their ten losses has come to a team with a record below .500. That is kinda crazy. They took a very good 10-4 Indianapolis team down to the wire twice in the last three weeks, and Deshaun Watson is second in the league in passing yards with 4,134. Since Romeo Crennel took over, the Texans have won their four games against lesser opponents, beating the 1-13 Jaguars twice, the 5-10 Lions on Thanksgiving, and the 6-8 Patriots at home. All the teams they have lost to under Crennel are .500 or better. The Bengals come in 3-10-1 and are coming off their Super Bowl, as they defeated the Steelers 27-17 on Monday Night Football. It was a very impressive win, but I can’t help but feel that this is a classic letdown spot. The Bengals are 0-6-1 on the road this season, and four of the six losses came by more than 10 points, and the two that were close games were when Joe Burrow was playing. Whether it’s Ryan Finley or Brandon Allen under center, I don’t see the Bengals offense doing a whole lot in this one. The Cincy offense is averaging just 4.7 yards per play, which is only ahead of the Jets this season. I think Deshaun Watson and the Texans take care of business here at home with a win and cover over the Bengals.
Browns @ Jets Under 45.5
After getting their first win of the season on the road in LA, the Jets return home to host Baker Mayfield and the Browns. The Browns have reached 10 wins, but a playoff spot is not guaranteed just yet. Cleveland will be without some of their top receivers in this one, as Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, KhaDarel Hodge and Jacob Phillips have all been placed on the Reserve/Covid list and will be unavailable. Landry and Higgins are the top two receivers on the team, and among their top five receivers this season, only TE Austin Hooper will be playing. The Jets passing defense has been poor (30th in the league/279.8 yards per game), but with so many targets out, I think there is a lot of uncertainty with the Browns passing game. I think that means they will utilize their strong running game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Jets rushing defense is better than their passing defense (14th in the league, 112.9 yards per game), and the clock will be moving with a run-heavy attack. Offensively for the New York, I just don’t have a lot of confidence in Sam Darnold or the offense as a whole. Darnold’s QBR is 30th in the league, and the only two QB’s he is ahead of are Nick Mullens and Nick Foles. He also has more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (6). The Jets are dead last in scoring (14.7 points per game), and dead last in passing yards per game (168.2). The Jets are also dead last in red zone efficiency. Cleveland’s defense has been decent this season, and with limited weapons available offensively, I expect them to pick up the intensity defensively. I’ll take the Under.
Eagles @ Cowboys Over 49.5
These two teams may have only nine wins between them, but they are still alive in the playoff hunt playing in the NFC East. Rookie QB Jalen Hurts has provided a bit of a spark to the Eagles offense, as they have put up 24 and 26 points in his two starts. They beat the Saints at home then lost a battle to the Cardinals on the road last week. The Cowboys have won two games in a row for the first time this season, as they beat the Bengals 30-7 two weeks ago and defeated the 49ers 41-33 last week at home. Dallas is 31st in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 31 points per game, and last in rush defense, allowing 162 yards per game. I think Hurts and RB Miles Sanders will both have big days. For Dallas, although they have been very inconsistent on offense, they still have a lot of talent at the WR position. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and TE Dalton Schulz are all great targets for Dalton against a decently depleted Eagles secondary. The main matchup to watch will be the Philly pass rush against the Cowboys O-line. I think they will hold up enough for Dalton to get the ball into the hands of those playmakers on the outside, and RB Tony Pollard has become a nice addition to the backfield with Ezekiel Elliott. The first matchup between these two teams was a gross 23-9 game that featured six turnovers and just a single play that went for over 20 yards. However, the QB’s in that game were Ben DiNucci and Carson Wentz. They are both out, and both offenses should be better in this one. I like the Over here.
Title Photo: Joshua Bessex / The Tacoma News Tribune