NFL Week 16 first-look betting preview

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The crazy Christmas schedule season is upon us with Week 16’s first game going off on Friday, Christmas Day this year. The Saints and the Vikings kick things off Friday before we launch what is sure to be a great three game slate on Saturday. That’s followed by 12 more on Sunday and Monday Night. Last week had some big upsets and set up tons of potentially interesting games with heavy playoff implications for this week. The Cardinals and Dolphins both occupy the 7th seeds in their respective conferences and are in near must-win games on Saturday. The Dolphins matchup with the Raiders also means that Vegas can be eliminated altogether with a loss, while the Dolphins are still in a position where they could qualify for the playoffs with two more wins. Arizona needs to keep winning this week too (they play San Francisco) as the Bears sit just a game back of the 7th-seed and have an easy matchup with the Jaguars this week. 

Other games to watch will be the Chiefs and Falcons–as the Chiefs can clinch the AFC first seed (and a bye) with a win– and the Seahawks and Rams, where a Seahawks win will clinch them the NFC West. The Colts (who take on the Steelers) and the Titans (who take on the Packers on SNF) both sit at 10-4, but have tough matchups this week, and will be interesting to watch this week as well. 

Week 15 ended up being quite interesting from an Against the Spread perspective as the favorites went just 6-8-1 ATS this week and we also had two monumental upsets from a straight-up perspective as well. The Bengals (+14.5 right before kickoff) shocked the Steelers on Monday Night, to hand them their third straight loss in a row. Pittsburgh’s offense has looked anemic for four straight games now and the team is in danger of losing the AFC North title to the Browns if they don’t win this week. The Rams and Jets result was terrible for both franchises as the Rams fell a game behind Seattle in the NFC West, who can now secure the division title if they beat LA this week. The Jets win as +17 underdogs was one of the biggest upsets in NFL history but was arguably more devastating than the Rams loss as they likely just lost out on the number one overall pick for next season to the Jaguars–who will now have a shot at taking generational talent Trevor Lawrence. Congrats Jets fans, you’ll always have this meaningless Week 15 win to celebrate.

From an injury perspective, most of the big names on the injury lists are on teams that are out of the playoffs. Julio Jones, Kenny Golladay and Chrsitain McCaffrey could all be shut down for the season this week, although it does sound like the Panthers may try and get McCaffrey in a game or two before the season ends (which would be dumb). Derek Carr is likely the biggest name to watch this week as the Raiders are technically still in the playoff hunt and need a win over the Dolphins, one of the two teams they are chasing right now. Marcus Mariota played well in relief of Carr though in the Raiders 30-27 loss to the Chargers last Thursday so all is not lost if Carr can’t go. 

Week 16 preview (lines and totals)

Biggest totals

Titans at Packers (-3.5, 55.5)

The Titans and the Packers have the biggest O/U of the week by far. They’re the SNF game too so I’ll have a preview out for them later in the week. While this total may seem big, it really isn’t when you figure the matchups here. Tennessee hasn’t been good on defense for most of the season, allowing the 11th-most points against and the fourth-most passing yards against, per game. They’ve counteracted that though by being one of the most efficient teams on offense, scoring 31.1 points per game, the highest mark in the league (now tied with KC). Aaron Rodgers and his league leading 118.0 passer rating is going to eat this defense alive, but expect the Titans to score points too. Tennessee is now a league leading 10-3-1 at hitting overs this year so this total may rise as the week goes on and I’d not be shocked if we breach 60 in the final game score.

Buccaneers (-8.5, 53.5) at Lions

The Lions and Bucs also have a big total this week, although the under here may have more appeal. Matthew Stafford is battered and there’s really no reason for the Lions to risk his health anymore. The Bucs played well in the second half against Atlanta and get an even weaker opponent/offense to feast on here. Tampa scoring 40+ may be needed to get over this total. 

Lowest total

Panthers at Washington (-2.5, 44.5)

This total actually seems a little big given the teams we have involved here. Carolina is just 7-7 in hitting overs this year, while the unders in Washington games have been a consistently great bet as they are now just 5-9 at hitting overs. The wildcard here could be Christian McCaffrey, who is hopeful to practice this week and get back in some late season action. It does seem reckless of Carolina to even think of playing Cmac given that their season is over but if he does play it would give their offense a boost. Washington is playing solid football and they haven’t allowed a team to score more than 20-points against them in five straight games. The under here seems like a solid play, regardless of who plays at RB for Carolina (although it would be more attractive if McCaffrey was ruled out). 

Biggest spread

Falcons at Chiefs (-10.5, 53.5)

The Chiefs are on cruise control right now and can clinch the number one seed this week with a win. Atlanta comes in off another blown loss and likely will be without Julio Jones again here given that their season is essentially over. The worry here is KC’s defense, which continues to allow teams points late in games. Despite being on a 6-game win streak, KC hasn’t won by more than 6-points since they beat the Jets 35-8 in Week 8. This could be the spot where they get back on track but it’s not really a great betting spot as Atlanta is an impossible team to trust as well. 

Giants at Ravens (-10.5, 45.5)

The Ravens have got a lot of their swagger back over the last three games, and come in having scored 124-points now in their last three games alone. The Giants defense is solid, but their offense is putrid. Even against a team like the Browns, who have allowed 26.7 points in the league (10th most) they could only muster 6-points with Colt McCoy as QB. The Ravens probably roll to another big win here. 

Smallest spread

Rams at Seahawks (-2, 47.5)

I discussed the Seahawks game below, but these two teams are meeting for the second time this year with the Rams taking a convincing 23-16 in Week 10. Since then though, these teams have taken different paths, as Seattle’s defense has stiffened up and let them reel off four wins in five games while the Rams are just 2-2 in their last four with losses to the 49ers and Jets (puke). The game should be close but Seattle is playing better ball right now.

Eagles (-2.5, 48.5) at Cowboys

The Eagles have looked like a different team since making the move to Jalen Hurts at QB. They pulled off a massive upset against the Saints and nearly outscored the Cardinals in a game which featured tons of back and forth action last week. The Eagles defense has played better than most people realize this year and they have an immobile QB here in Andy Dalton to attack. It’s a division game so this should be highly contested but the Eagles have the better QB and defense here, they should probably be favoured by more than this. 

Week 16 early conviction play

  • Week 15 results 
  • Bears +3.5 O 
  • Season record 8-3 ATS (Totals 1-2)

Bet: Seahawks -2

Seattle comes into this game knowing that a win can clinch them the NFC West. The Hawks held on against Washington in a tough road game last week and have really stiffened on defense of late, allowing just 6 passing TDs over their last six games. That may not sound like a huge deal but for a team that allowed 16-passing TDs over their first 8-games it’s a marked improvement. Seattle’s defensive improvement goes further than just allowing fewer passing TDs though. They’re ranked 6th in sacks per game and 7th in YPC against, allowing just 3.9 YPC on the season. 

Both of the Rams last two losses (Jets and 49ers) have come against teams allowing 4.0 or less YPC against, as teams that have forced L.A. to make Jared Goff beat them have found success of late. Despite losing the first game to L.A. (in L.A.) this year, Seattle has been the team on the rise lately as they come in having won four of their five games while allowing just 14.3 points against, per game, over their last five games as well. The edge at QB here is massive too, as Jared Goff comes in having thrown for 7 TDs vs 6 INTs–with an average passer rating of 84.3– over his last five games, while Russell Wilson has thrown for 9 TDs vs. 3 INTs–with an average passer rating of 99.3–over that same span. With the spread this small, taking the Hawks to gut out a win here means you’re essentially backing the team with an emerging defense and the far better QB (and home field advantage). It’s a great spot for Seattle bettors this week. 

Week 16 NFL game props

  • Week 15 results: 1-2
  • Panthers over 20.5 pts X
  • Chiefs/Saints over 3.5 FGs (+131) X
  • Bears under 20.5 Team Total O

Dolphins/Raiders over 3.5 FGs (+131)

I’ll go back to the Raiders here for the FG prop, who have been money in this one for much of the season. Las Vegas sits fifth in FGs made this year at 2.0 per game, which is actually lower than Miami, who ranks second at 2.1 per game. Both kickers here have make %’s well over 90% and we have a close point spread of less than +/- 3 which should mean we get the possibility of late FGs. It’s as good a spot as you’ll find to take this over at + money. 

Browns under 27.5 points

The Browns take on the Jets this week in a game where the Browns are currently -9.5 favorites. Cleveland is one of the run heaviest teams in the league though so don’t expect them to be passing a ton if they’re up late in this game. They’ve rushed 31.9 times per game this year (fourth-highest in the league) while the Jets rush defense is actually quite good, having allowed just 4.0 YPC this year (eighth-best). The Jets obviously come in with some confidence too after their first win.  The Browns are playing great on offense but NY does have the tools in the middle to slow this unit down a bit. CLE has also only hit over this number in two of their last eight games anyway. 

Cowboys under 23.5 points

The Eagles defense has played quite well this year (especially when their QB hasn’t been turning the ball over a ton). Philly has held teams to 23 points or less now in three of their last five games with only the Kyler Murray led Cardinals and the Aaron Rodgers led Packers having eclipsed that mark on them. No offense to Andy Dalton, but this Cowboys offense doesn’t belong with those two names. Philly comes in ranked second in sacks per game and 11th in YPC against. With Jalen Hurts putting pressure on a bad Dallas offense, the Eagles D should be able to tee-off the imobile Andy Dalton. It’s a good spot to fade the Cowboys offense. 

Week 16 NFL players props

  • Week player props 15 = 0-3

Week 16 NFL players props

Week player props 15 = 0-3

Rashard Higgins over 3.5 rec (-108)

I like nearly all of the Browns players and their overs in the receiving game for Week 16 as they’re taking on a Jets secondary this week who carry some of the weakest corners in the league. New York has allowed the fourth-most receptions to opposing WRs this year and Higgins comes in as the firmly established number two receiver in this offense. Over his last two games his snap count has remained in the 70-80% range and he’s also averaged 8-targets now in his last three games, so the lower total here doesn’t seem very deserving. With Baker Mayfield playing well and a weak opponent, the over here seems like a nice bet. 

Logan Thomas over 4.5 rec. (+108)

Thomas comes in having taken over as the dominant receiver in Washington as the TE has now seen an incredible 31-targets over his last three games (10.33 per game). Even if that pace slows a bit he’s got a great matchup here and a lower than expected total to work with. Carolina has allowed the fifth-most receptions to opposing TEs and Thomas has now hit the over on this week’s total easily in his last three starts. With plus money available, you have to give this one more week as any kind of continuation with his recent targeting should see him hit five or more catches quite quickly against a weak opponent. 

Jared Goff over 0.5 INT (-133)

Goff enters this week’s game with the Seahawks playing poorly. The Rams QB has now turned the ball over five times in his last four games and will be getting a Seahawks defense who has turned the corner recently. Seattle ranks out 7th in sacks per game and ranks 8th in the league in INTs as a team. They come into this game with Goff having grabbed four picks in their last four games and will be getting a less than confident QB to attack here. I obviously think Seattle wins this game and part of that may entail getting turnovers off of Goff, who has been easily rattled of late by teams with good D-Lines who can create a little pressure.

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