NFL Lines: Week 16
We misfired big time with last week’s picks, going 0-4-1 with our Best Bets and 2-11-2 against the spread. Good grief. A 10-5 record on Over/Unders helped limit the damage, and we did hit our Upset Special, taking the Colts to get their first win of the season. However, it was definitely a weird week of football (just ask the Pack). We’ll try and rebound with an early Picks article this week to account for the modified NFL schedule — will we see a return to form (“They are who we thought they were!”) or another topsy-turvy weekend of football (“Any Given Saturday”)?
Raiders (+1.5) at Chiefs
A big Chiefs win over the 13-0 Packers has swung this line a great deal — it was the Raiders that actually opened as the favorite by a couple points. I think that was the Super Bowl for the Chiefs, and I don’t see them ready to play this one. The Raiders lost to the Chiefs 28-0, but that was with Kyle Boller starting and a Carson Palmer that had been acquired just days before playing in the second half. Call me crazy, but I like the Raiders here.
The Pick: Raiders +1.5, Under 42
Broncos (-3) at Bills
The Broncos couldn’t quite hang with the Patriots offense, but not many can. The key to the loss: untimely turnovers. The Bills have collapsed, and the city of Buffalo will likely just welcome the opportunity to watch God’s favorite football player on Christmas Eve. The Broncos should win in a rout and come closer to cementing their playoff status.
The Pick: Broncos -3, Over 41.5
Jaguars (+7.5) at Titans
Considering the Titans just surrendered the first Colts win of the season, I thought this line would be closer. Jacksonville has just four wins this season, but one came in Week 1 in Tennessee. A hobbled Matt Hasselbeck won’t be able to exploit the Titans’ secondary weakness like Matt Ryan did last week, and I think the Jaguars can shut down Chris Johnson. Maurice Jones-Drew, however, cannot be contained.
The Pick: Jaguars +7.5, Under 40
Cardinals (+4) at Bengals
Forget about Tim Tebow — the Cardinals are the real come-from-behind, every-week excitement in the NFL. The team is 6-1 in their last seven games, and those six wins came by a combined 24 points. Three of them were in overtime! That being said, the Bengals are a bit better than the Cardinals on each side of the ball and on special teams. The Cardinals aren’t great on the road, and I think the Bengals defense wins this game.
The Pick: Bengals -4, Under 40.5
Dolphins (+9.5) at Patriots
The Dolphins are 5-2 since starting the season with seven straight losses, including an impressive win in the snow against the Bills last week. The Patriots smote the Broncos in an anticipated showdown of Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow last week, and all that remains is taking care of business the last two weeks and wrapping up a No. 1 seed. The Dolphins are about even with the Broncos in my mind, and since the Patriots won big last week, I’ll expect a repeat.
The Pick: Patriots -9.5, Over 48.5
Browns (+13) at Ravens
The hot/cold Ravens are coming off a disheartening loss to a Chargers team that looked lost just a few weeks ago. Luckily for them, the Steelers couldn’t take care of business Monday, so they’re in the driver’s seat for the division title and a first-round bye. They went into Cleveland and beat the Browns by two TDs a couple weeks ago, and they should be able to match that at home.
The Pick: Ravens -13, Under 38.5
Giants (+3) at Jets
This game is effectively a home game for both teams, and do you think the Jets are three points better than the Giants? The G-men have played some good teams closely in recent weeks, but the fact remains that they’re 1-5 in their last six games. Incredibly, they’ll still take the NFC East if they win out. I trust Eli Manning way more than I trust Mark Sanchez in a big game, and the three points make the Giants an easy pick.
The Pick: Giants +3, Over 45.5
Vikings (+6.5) at Redskins
The Redskins play pretty good defense; the Vikings don’t. Minnesota has given up 21 points in all but one game this season, winning only two along the way. The offense isn’t good enough to win shootouts in most cases, especially against a solid defensive team like Washington. The Vikings still have an outside shot at grabbing the No. 1 pick, so this is a game they need to lose.
The Pick: Redskins -6.5, Under 44
Buccaneers (+7.5) at Panthers
The Buccaneers defense is awful, allowing the second most points in the league this year. They’ve lost eight straight, including one to the Panthers in Tampa a few weeks ago … by 19 points. On paper, they should be able to attack a poor Panthers rushing defense, but I have zero faith in the Tampa Bay offense right now. On the other hand, the Panthers should run all over the Bucs, giving them an easy win.
The Pick: Panthers -7.5, Over 48
Rams (+16) at Steelers
I was able to find only one line in his game, and I’d wager it came out before the Steelers awful loss on Monday night (seriously, couldn’t the lights have just stayed off?). The Kellen Clemens-led Rams didn’t look awful last week, hanging with a solid Bengals team for much of the game. I think the Steelers with Charlie Batch can still beat St. Louis, thanks to the defense, but not by double digits.
The Pick: Rams +16.5, Under 37.5
Chargers (+2.5) at Lions
The Chargers look like they’ve turned a corner, winning three straight games. It’s easy to dismiss victories over the Jaguars and Bills, but Sunday night’s shellacking of the Ravens was really an eye-opener. They’re slightly better than the Lions, which is why this 2.5-point line makes sense. I’d be surprised if the Chargers didn’t win this game. Give credit to the Bolts for grabbing Jared Gaither off the scrap heap — he’s made a huge difference.
The Pick: Chargers +2.5, Over 52.5
49ers (-2.5) at Seahawks
The Seahawks are on fire, winning five of their last six games, including impressive victories over the Ravens, Eagles and Bears. The 49ers have been one of the strongest teams in the league this year, thanks in large part to having the fewest turnovers in the league while causing the most. Expect the defense to do their part, so as long as the 49ers offense limits mistakes, this should be a win.
The Pick: 49ers -2.5, Under 38
Eagles (+1.5) at Cowboys
Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric puts the Eagles over the Cowboys in their most recent standings. They also point out the Eagles have the edge in recent performance (dubbed “Weighted DVOA”). However, the DVOA metric has always been a little high on the Eagles. Will they continue to stay alive in the division, or will the Cowboys deliver the final blow? It could depend on Felix Jones’ health, but I like Dallas’s chances.
The Pick: Cowboys -1.5, Under 50.5
Bears (+13) at Packers
The Bears are coming off four straight losses, and not exactly against the toughest of competitors — three losses came at the hands of AFC West teams (and not the suddenly-hot Chargers either). The Packers are of course the best team in football. Can they beat a reeling team by two TDs? I think the QB change in Chicago will help, and their elite defense should be able to attack a beat-down Green Bay line.
The Pick: Bears +13.5, Under 44
Falcons (+6.5) at Saints
Drew Brees has been unbelievable this season, yet he’s flown under the radar thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ quest for a 16-0 season and Tim Tebow’s ascension. The Falcons were the team closest to defeating the Saints over the last seven weeks, taking them to overtime in Week 10. They should be able to keep this one close with their top-notch passing attack — the Saints don’t play very good defense.
The Pick: Falcons +6.5, Over 53
Jaguars (+280) over Titans
Spreads: 115-91-9 (55.8%)
Over/Unders: 111-101-3 (52.4%)
Total: 226-192-12 (54.1%)
Best Bets: 46-26-3 (63.9%)
Upsets: 4-11 (26.7%)