Week 16 NFL Predictions – Odds and Picks For Every Game
The 2016 NFL season is starting to get very intense, as only two divisions are fully locked up and there are playoff implications abound heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
The New England Patriots only have the #1 seed in the AFC to play for, while the Seattle Seahawks will be eyeing the #2 seed in the NFC. Beyond that, the Pats and Seahawks have their respective divisions – AFC East and NFC West – taken care of.
Several teams have already punched their ticket to the playoffs, but division titles and seeding is far from sorted out. In addition, a few teams remain hopeful they can run the table and sneak into the playoffs at someone else’s expense.
The insanity ensues in week 16, as we get one step closer to figuring out which 12 teams will make the playoffs and compete for a trip to Super Bowl 51. Let’s get down to this week’s NFL odds and picks:
Thursday Night Football
Earlier this week we covered more in depth Thursday night’s game between the Eagles and the Giants. If you’re interested you can read that full game breakdown here.
Christmas Eve Games
The betting line for this massive NFC North showdown is currently locked at top gambling sites like Bovada, due to the news that star running back Adrian Peterson may not play:
Peterson made a speedy return from a torn meniscus last week, but was unable to make a positive impact as the Vikings got housed by the Indianapolis Colts. Now the Vikings sport bleak playoff hopes going into a game Aaron Rodgers and the Packers absolutely have to have.
This is still a very tough game to gauge, as Minnesota did win in this same matchup earlier this year and the Vikings probably wouldn’t mind playing spoiler. In addition, Minnesota would hold onto a sliver of hope for the playoffs if they could win out and also get some outside help.
While Minnesota somehow turning things back around and getting into the playoffs would be an interesting story, it’s an unlikely dream. Green Bay has been strong at home this year (5-2) and has developed a running game via Ty Montgomery. With Aaron Rodgers slowly getting healthier and a huge week 17 date with the Lions looming, the green and gold know they need to get this one in front of their home crowd.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers will need to watch their step in week 16, as a 5-9 team with little to play for heads to Cleveland to battle a sorry sack Browns squad that wants nothing more than to stave off an 0-16 season. Wanting and doing are often two very different things, but this game feels like a potential trap for San Diego and Vegas is laying down a spread that doesn’t exactly combat that notion.
But are the Bolts in serious danger of being the first team to lose to the hapless Browns? Maybe, maybe not. They’ve been in just about every game this year, and despite losing a mind-boggling 18 players to injured reserve, they might be the best sub-.500 team we’ve seen in some time.
As competitive as the Chargers have remained, they still have a hard time getting wins. That’s especially been the case on the road, where San Diego is a paltry 2-5 on the year. They could easily come out energetic and focused so they don’t have a nasty blemish on their 2016 schedule, but the Browns are playing for pure pride and may finally run into just the right opponent to give them some faint hope.
San Diego is the better team without a doubt, but if the Browns aren’t going 0-16, this is the week they trip someone up.
The Carolina Panthers proved last Monday night they aren’t quite ready to mail in their 2016 just yet. They’re surprisingly not out of the playoff race just yet, either, as some serious magic could get them in if they win out. Regardless, they’ll be mild underdogs this week when a better Falcons team comes to town.
Matt Ryan and co. are mild favorites, as they won the first meeting and have been a strong 5-2 on the road in 2016. Atlanta has looked borderline unstoppable lately, too, as their defense has stepped up in two massive blowout wins.
It may not be realistic to buy the Falcons steamrolling the Panthers on the road, of course. Carolina looked far better last week than they had been and they also happen to play their best (4-3) at home. Last week’s big win and their home court edge should have the Panthers hanging around in this one and an upset isn’t out of the question.
The deciding factor may be the likely absence of star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who isn’t likely to suit up again this season:
Cam Newton said he doesn’t think it’s worth playing Luke Kuechly right now. Cam feels Kuechly will be the greatest LB in NFL history.
— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP)
Without Kuechly, the Panthers aren’t great bets to slow down a hot Falcons offense (40+ points in two straight games).
Any playoff hopes the Bengals had dissipated in a late loss to the Steelers last week, but Marvin Lewis and co. will truck on into Houston to try to salvage a lost season. That could be a tall order on the road, where the Bengals are just 2-5 this season.
On top of their road woes, the Bengals haven’t been finishing games very well on the year (or winning), as they’ve folded late and dropped three of their last five games. The Texans are playing for a lot this week, too, as they still lead the AFC South at 8-6 and need to keep winning to set up a massive week 17 game against the 8-6 Titans.
Houston has so far done well to maintain that division lead, as they’ve won two straight and could get a minor boost after switching from Brock Osweiler to Tom Savage under center. Savage is far from proven, however, so it is very understandable why Vegas is making this a virtual pick’em. However, given Cincy’s road woes and how much is riding on this game, the Texans look like the right call at home, where they’re 6-1 in 2016.
Tom Brady and the Patriots host the rival Jets this week, as New England tries to wrap up the #1 seed across the AFC. The Patriots have looked pretty sharp all year long, as they’ve lost just one game since Brady returned from a four-game suspension and come into the week riding a five-game winning streak.
New York may have had some mild hope if they were a little healthier or their defense had been impressive, but they’ve been lost for weeks. A blowout loss to the Dolphins saw them mail it in last week and it’d be surprising to see them notch another win within the last two weeks.
The Pats already have the AFC East locked up, but a sweep of the Jets always feels good and they still need to distance themselves from the 11-3 Raiders. Look for a big game out of Brady and the passing game as the Patriots roll and cover.
Kirk Cousins and co. fell on their faces in front of the nation last week, as they probably needed to win out to secure a playoff spot and now are on the outside looking in. Winning out could still get the ‘Skins back into the playoffs for the second year in a row, however, so week 16 offers a perfect opportunity to set that up.
Of course, that’s what we all thought before the Bears started caring. Chicago has had a different edge with inexperienced quarterback Matt Barkley under center. Not only did the Bears trounce the 49ers a few weeks back and almost upset the Packers last week, but they’ve remained surprisingly competitive for the past four weeks.
None of that means the Bears will upset the Redskins, but John Fox has his team going hard for wins to close out the year and it can’t hurt that they’ll be at home, where they’ve locked down all three of their wins in 2016.
Cousins really unraveled last week and now he and the Redskins will have to take it to the road, where they’ve struggled to a 3-3-1 record. With the light going out on Washington’s postseason dreams and Chicago playing so hard, it’s easy to see why Vegas is giving this game such a light spread. It also won’t be a surprise when the Bears pull off the upset to net their fourth win of the year.
Matt Moore slayed for the Miami Dolphins last week and has come up big for Miami in two straight wins, but he’ll have a tough assignment when the Dolphins aim for a sweep of the Bills in Buffalo. Rex Ryan’s job is on the line, while the Bills still have a glimmer of hope for the playoffs if they can win out. Taking down the Dolphins is part of that process, and after a big blowout win over the Browns last week, Buffalo has to be busting with confidence.
The Bills have been solid (3-2) in their last five games, and will have a nice opportunity to move closer to a winning record at home, where they’re 4-3 on the year. Miami squeaked past the Bills the first time around, but this one is on the road with a backup quarterback. On top of that, Miami’s running game has hit a serious wall over the last several weeks.
As we’ve touched on, these late-season divisional clashes can be brutal, and it’s awfully difficult to get behind Miami when they don’t have their starting quarterback. In other words, Rex Ryan could have a field day with a week to prepare his defense for Matt Moore. Buffalo needs a miracle to have a shot at the playoffs, but they can at least play a part in pulling it off. That starts this week with a huge home win over the Fins.
Another divisional battle goes down in Jacksonville in week 16, but this is one of the few divisional clashes that doesn’t carry much weight. The Jags will be at home (just 1-6 there), but they could be lifeless after canning head coach Gus Bradley. The Jaguars have been a rapidly sinking ship all year, as they’ve lost nine in a row and now they get a rising Titans team.
Things are looking very good for Tennessee, who have ripped off three straight wins, including two very impressive wins over the Broncos and Chiefs. Tennessee still leaves a lot to be desired defensively, but Marcus Mariota continues to make big plays and DeMarco Murray has been amongst the best running backs on the year. Should that combo continue, the Titans should have little trouble dispatching the inferior Jags.
We get a very interesting AFC battle in Oakland this week, where th 11-3 Raiders try to lock up the AFC West and inch one step closer to a first round bye. Indy, on the other hand, continues to fight for the playoff lives in hopes the Titans and Texans can stumble down the stretch.
This could be a trap game for NFL bettors, as both of these teams badly need a win and both teams have been involved in several close games in 2016. Oakland has proven to be the more clutch performer, however, and they’ve also been a solid 5-2 at home. That doesn’t change much, of course, especially since the Colts are coming off a very nice blowout win over the Vikings in week 15.
Andrew Luck looks dialed in and it’s quite possible we get a flat out shootout in Oakland this week. That could be problematic for the Raiders, who haven’t been quite as explosive offensively ever since Derek Carr hurt his finger.
Due to Oakland’s offense not being in top form the past two weeks (32 total points), a shootout could be bad news for the Raiders. Indy still has life and this is a good spot to roll with them as a sneaky underdog pick.
We got an incredibly ugly game the last time the Seahawks and Cardinals lined up against each other, but it’s unlikely we’re headed for another field goal-fest that ends in a tie. Earl Thomas is gone for Seattle (broken leg) and Arizona’s defense looks to have fallen off a cliff after giving up 48 points in a home loss last week.
Arizona as a whole is not the same team it was a year ago, as injuries have bogged down both sides of the ball and Carson Palmer has visibly regressed. Throw this team into a brutal situation like facing Seattle and the 12th Man, and we can see why Vegas is in clear favor of the Seahawks.
Russell Wilson and co. got back on track with a win over the Rams last week and for all of their flaws in 2016, a win this week gets them to a perfect 8-0 in front of their home crowd.
The one thing that is tough to swallow here is the spread. Not only have the Seahawks played a ton of close games in 2016, but as troubled as the Cards are, they don’t normally get housed. In fact, Seattle has just five wins that cover a spread like this, while Arizona has lost by 8+ points just three times all year.
Factor in the heated rivalry here, and it’d be relatively shocking to see Arizona go down without a fight in this one.
An even uglier game awaits us in L.A., where the Rams may have to shoot for a win over the 49ers without Jared Goff:
ICYMI: could turn to Sean Mannion against if Jared Goff can’t go. Read more :
— Bob Garcia IV (@bgarcia90)
Whether Goff suits up or not, it’s going to be tough to trust the Rams, who have produced very little offensively all year and lost to these very 49ers back in week one. L.A. is just 1-5 at home on the year and hasn’t come very close to a 5th overall win lately, having dropped five in a row.
The silver lining could be that they’re at home against a team that might be even worse, of course. Since blanking the Rams 28-0 in their opener, the Niners haven’t won a single game, dropping a remarkable 13 straight games. The play here ends up being whether or not you think the Niners simply won’t win again in 2016, or if they might have the Rams’ number.
Both have some validity to them, but the Niners have looked a tad more cohesive offensively lately and they even have three near-wins in their last six outings. Nothing from either side promotes much confidence, but the 49ers won the first meeting and are long overdue for their second win. They just might get it in Los Angeles this week.
The Buccaneers look to pull off a clean sweep this week, as they head into New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints. Tampa Bay’s rising defense suffocated Brees in the first meeting, but the tables could easily turn at the Superdome, where the Saints tend to be at their best.
New Orleans hasn’t exactly dominated on their home field, of course, as they’re just 3-4 at home in 2016 and two weeks ago couldn’t do anything right against a weak Lions defense. They did come back to life in a crazy shootout win in Arizona last week, however, so it’s fair to wonder which version of the 2016 Saints shows up in a game that is massive for the Bucs and one full of pride for the Saints.
The reality here is the Saint have nothing to play for, while the Bucs would still love to get into week 17 (where the division-leading Falcons await) with a 9-6 record. It’s tough to go against the Bucs for several reasons. Their defense has really turned a corner, for one, but their only loss in their last five games came on the road against the 12-2 Cowboys.
Considering how well the Buccaneers handled Brees the first time, we like their chances to step up and get a much-needed sweep. That makes them one of the funnest underdog picks of the week.
Christmas Day NFL Games
We get two intense NFL games on Christmas Day, with the action starting at Heinz Field, where we’ll likely find out who the AFC North champion is. Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers currently hold the lead and play host, and with a win can punch their playoff ticket with a division title.
That’s a strong narrative to lean on, considering the Steelers (4-2) are toughest on their home field and the Ravens (2-4) haven’t quite figured out their road woes in 2016. In addition, Baltimore won the previous meeting and still needs to win out for a shot at the division title or the playoffs.
With a much clearer path and such a tight series likely shifting to the other side, this game looks like Pittsburgh’s to lose. The Steelers happen to be the much hotter team and it’s all coming together at the perfect time, as the Steelers roll into week 16 riding a sweet 5-game winning streak. Look for it to continue as they win the AFC North and get into the playoffs.
The last huge game of the weekend drops down in Kansas City, where the Chiefs can do two things at once: punch their playoff ticket and send the defending Super Bowl champions packing.
A Broncos loss wouldn’t necessarily eliminate them, but it’d likely be the final nail in the coffin for a team that looked promising, but has slid during a two-game losing streak.
Denver’s defense has been about as good as ever, but a lethargic rushing attack has doomed a suspect Broncos offense. That’s the last thing Denver fans want to hear as the Broncos head to Kansas City, where the Chiefs are a solid 5-2. It gets even worse, as KC holds the edge in this series, having won two straight, including an intense 30-27 win in overtime in late November.
It makes sense that the Chiefs are the favorite when it comes to the matchup and numbers, but it’s still tough to rule out Denver. Their defense is still great and the Chiefs have forever been impossible to trust. The logic for a Chiefs win is sound, but they can still survive with a loss here. The Broncos can’t.
Monday Night Football
Matthew Stafford and the Lions look to gain a bigger edge in the NFC North this week, but they’ll have to try to do it on the road against the 12-2 Cowboys. Stafford could be working with extra ammunition this week, as he’s among the biggest Pro Bowl snubs despite a stellar 2016 run that has Detroit in the NFC North lead.
Dallas won’t care about Stafford’s solid numbers or Detroit’s bid to win the NFC North as it is currently constructed for the first time ever. Instead, Dallas is shooting for at least one more win so they can lock up the NFC East and the NFC’s #1 seed. A 14-2 record feels like something worth fighting for, too.
On paper, this is a really bad spot for the Lions and Vegas verifies that with a strong 7-point spread in favor of the ‘Boys. Dallas is a stellar 6-1 on their home field and they’ve lost to one team (twice) all year long. Detroit, on the other hand, has won a ton of games in the final moments and some would even label them lucky. They’re at the very worst fortunate, save for when they’re on the road (just 3-4 on the road).
This is a huge game for the Lions and it’s tough to see Stafford and co. shrink when they need a win the most. Dallas should still win to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but we could be in for a great one on Monday Night Football.