NFL Week 16 Saturday betting preview

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Each year around this time of year, the NFL blesses us with a few Saturday games. This year, they loaded up three games for us on a Saturday in Week 16. The only downside to these three specific games is they don’t include any of the powerhouses across the league. We get Bucs at Lions, 49ers at Cardinals, and Dolphins at Raiders. Each game has a makeup of a team going for a playoff spot, facing a team that will look to spoil their chances of doing so. Regardless, there are bets to be made and money to be won!

Note, at the time of writing this a couple of days before the games are played, player props aren’t yet released, so the bets listed will only be game bets. I will list some player prop targets throughout the write up though that you can try to target if favorable prop lines are posted.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5) at Detroit Lions: Total 54

The Matchup

Buccaneers offense vs Lions defense

The Bucs have not been efficient on offense recently, until the 2nd half of the game against the Falcons last week when they erased a multiple TD deficit and ultimately won. Insert joke here regarding the Falcons blowing a 2nd half multiple score lead.

Regardless of how good or bad the Bucs have been in recent weeks, they are playing the Lions in this one, who tend to play zero defense. Over the last four weeks, the Lions have surrendered 41 points to the Texans, 30 points to the Bears, 31 points to the Packers, and 46 points to the Titans. This is a get right spot for Tom Brady and Co.

Let’s start with the exciting side of this game, and that is the Bucs offense vs the defense that is as tough as melted butter. The big injury news for this game from a betting perspective is that Ronald Jones is unlikely to play for a second week in a row. We saw Leonard Fournette completely take over his role in the offense last week scoring multiple TDs against a formidable Falcons run defense. The Lions, however, are not even close to the Falcons in run defense metrics. Per Football Outsiders, the Lions rank 31st in adjusted line yards, 25th in 2nd level yards allowed, and 17th in open field yards allowed. Fournette should be able to consistently pick up 5-10 yard chunks, and should receive close to 15 carries. Assuming his rushing yard prop comes in under 60 yards, I like taking the over. I also would bet Fournette to score a TD up to -150.

As for the passing game, the Bucs will still throw a bunch despite this being a great rushing matchup for the run game. You have to go all the way back to Week 1 to find a game where the Bucs threw less than 55% of the time. Per Sharp Football over the last 4 games, TB ranks third in the league in pass rate in one-score games (68%). Until this game gets out of hand, which it might not do because Stafford is a baller, Brady will throw a ton.

The Lions don’t really have cornerbacks or safeties to be worried about in coverage. This means the Bucs should be able to attack them however they want to. The market shares since Antonio Brown joined the team should paint a picture as to which guys will get the most looks vs the Lions.

Since AB joined, Mike Evans has still dominated the team market shares. He has seen 27% of the air yards and 21% of the targets. Brown checks in 2nd on the team in that span seeing 18% of the air yards and 19% of the targets. Chris Godwin is a close third seeing 19% of the air yards and 17% of the targets. Last but not least, Rob Gronkowski rounds out the top end of the pass catchers at 17% of the air yards and 12% of the targets. Outside of Evans this has really been a committee approach on a weekly basis which makes betting on receiving props a tough challenge. The better bet may just be betting on Brady to go over his passing yards. As long as his prop is under 300 yards, I like taking the over. He has a good shot to eclipse the 300 yard mark in this game.

If you want to bet on TD scorers, Evans and Gronk are the two guys to bet on to score. When the Bucs get in close, it is a two man show. Evans and Gronk are tied for the team lead in red zone targets with 20 each. The next closest is a major gap to Chris Godwin who has 7.

Lions offense vs Buccaneers defense

Matt Stafford is a baller. Assuming he plays through his multiple injuries again this week, the Lions should be able to put up some points against a non-existent Bucs pass defense. Over the last 4 games, the Bucs have allowed 376 pass yards to Jared Goff, 456 to Patrick Mahomes, 173 to Kirk Cousins (ignore that one), and 332 to the ghost of Matt Ryan. Matt Stafford is likely to be playing from behind, and should throw a ton against a pass funnel defense. I like betting Stafford to go over his passing yard prop assuming it is posted in the 280 yard range.

As mentioned, the Bucs are a pass funnel. They rank 2nd in adjusted line yards, 1st in 2nd level yards allowed and 1st in open field yards allowed. Any and all offensive production for the Lions will have to come through the air.

Ever since Kenny Golladay got hurt earlier in the season, the Lions offense has been a 2 man show. Marvin Jones has seen 32% of the air yards and 22% of the targets in games Golladay has missed. The other main target has been tight end TJ Hockenson. Hock has seen 17% of the air yards and 19% of the targets. These two guys have also dominated the red zone looks from Stafford. Jones leads the team with 20 red zone targets and Hock checks in at 2nd with 16. If you want to bet on either of these guys to score a TD, I think that is a great bet.

Game bets

The Bucs haven’t looked like a dominant team in recent weeks. They have had to try to play from behind consistently, and while that may not happen in this game, I don’t think they blow the Lions out. With the line being set at -9.5, the obvious public play is going to be Bucs -9.5. However, I like taking the Lions +9.5 here as I think Stafford can keep pace.

If you aren’t confident in taking a side, I really like the over 54 for the game. I think both teams have a good shot at eclipsing the 30 point mark, which would easily go over the total of 54.

Kyler Murray
Dec 8, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush (55) during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-5): Total 49

The Matchup

49ers offense vs Cardinals defense

The 49ers will be on their 3rd string QB and are likely without their top running back. However, the one positive is that George Kittle has a great shot to return in this game despite the 49ers being eliminated from playoff contention. Assuming Kittle does play, just go ahead and bet every over and TD prop for him that you can find. The 49ers have no reason to run Kittle out there if he is not very close to 100% healthy. This means he (and Brandon Aiyuk) will be the focal point of the offense and we know the ceiling Kittle has when he gets a ton of targets – see week 4 where he turned 15 targets into 15 catches for 183 yards and a TD… ridiculous. It’s also worth noting that third string QB CJ Beathard played a good chunk of that game too, which is the guy who will be throwing Kittle the rock on Saturday.

The 49ers do try to establish the run though. They rank 21st in pass rate (53%) in one score games over the last 4 weeks. Arizona has quietly not been a great run defense. They rank 17th in adjusted line yards, 27th in 2nd level yards and 10th in open field yards allowed. Jeff Wilson should get the majority of the carries in this game as long as the game stays close. He also leads the team in red zone rushing attempts with 23, making him a solid bet to score a TD.

Aiyuk is the only other option on this offense that is worth backing with your hard-earned money. In the games Deebo Samuel has missed, Aiyuk has a 22% air yard share and 25% target share. If you only look at the last 4 games that Deebo has been out, throwing out the first few games this year where Aiyuk was still learning the system as a rookie and no preseason, he has garnered 34% of the air yards and 32% of the targets. I am a big fan of Aiyuk and I am good with betting his overs in this game, whatever they may be.

Cardinals offense vs 49ers defense

On the surface, the 49ers defense hasn’t allowed a ton of total yards – they have allowed the 5th fewest total yards per game. However, they have given up points in bunches – they have allowed the 13th most points per game. This is likely attributable to the short fields that opposing offenses have had due to the 49ers offense being inefficient.

These two teams faced off in week one when both were fully healthy and the Cardinals walked away with a 24-20 win. The total points scored in this game should project similarly, as both teams will run the ball a good amount and keep the clock moving. The 49ers ranked 21st in pass rate and the Cardinals rank 20th in pass rate (54%) in one score games over the last 4 weeks.

The main reason the Cardinals rank so low in pass rate is because Kyler Murray usually has double digit rush attempts. The Cardinals are a hard offense to project on a weekly basis outside of DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray, so it is tough to recommend their individual player props without seeing what the sportsbooks have them set at.

Game bets

As for the game bet, the game total of under 49 is a great bet here. As mentioned, both teams are going to try to run the ball a good amount which will chew the clock. The 49ers are also missing a ton of offensive starters, and even if Kittle plays, they still have a 3rd string QB slated to start this game. I also think taking the Cardinals against the spread is a bit of a trap as they have struggled to blow teams out this year. I don’t necessarily recommend taking the 49ers and the points, but am approaching it as more of a stay away.

Give me the under 49 and move on.

Josh Jacobs
Dec 1, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs  (28) runs against Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (59) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins (-3) at Las Vegas Raiders: Total 48

The Matchup

This game is the most straightforward for me and I am going to format this breakdown a little differently than the other two. I would rather talk about this game as a whole instead of breaking down individual players for props because both offenses don’t really have featured players that they involve heavily outside of Darren Waller on the Raiders. This means any given game, the TDs can go to anyone, the yardage will be spread out, and it is a headache to even think about betting on the skill players on these two teams if you aren’t backing Darren Waller.

As evidence to this point, Waller (28%) is the only Raider pass catcher that has a target share over 15%. On the Dolphins side of the ball, DeVante Parker (20%) is the only pass catcher to be close to 20%, and he is highly questionable to even play in this game. Mike Gesicki checks in 2nd in target share with 16%.

The Dolphins are a much better team than the Raiders, despite the offensive injuries. The Dolphins defense is legit while the Raiders defense is hashtag bad. We also saw the Raiders just lose to the Jets (well kind of until the Jets threw the game on the last play). Meanwhile the Dolphins are taking the Chiefs down to the wire and handling the poor teams as they should – they beat the Jets, Bengals and Patriots by double digits in the last month. With how good the Dolphins defense is, and how bad the Raiders defense is, I expect the Dolphins to control this game. 

The Dolphins also get Myles Gaskin back from the COVID/reserve list this week. The Raiders defense has given up 514 rush yards over the last three games and Gaskin should be able to eat here. He is the one player I am confident in regarding player props in this game, assuming his rushing prop doesn’t come in egregiously high. I would bet the over on Gaskin rush yards up to 70 yards, and I also like taking a stab on him to score a TD.

Game bets

As mentioned, this game is straightforward to me. I am high on the Dolphins as a whole, especially on the defensive side of the ball and I think they control this game from start to finish. The Raiders rush defense is as tough as melted butter, so the Dolphins should be able to move the ball as they please on offense as well. My favorite game bet here is Dolphins -3.

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