Happy Festivus, everybody! Christmas is doing its best Thanksgiving imitation this year with holiday football. Never a bad thing, at least for those of us who don’t have to play in or cover or work the game, at least. Interestingly and fortuitously, the two Christmas Day games are tied for the highest number of combined wins between the teams playing on this week’s slate, so instead of having to make excuses to watch Detroit play, we get legitimately compelling games. So enjoy the games, and enjoy the holidays, if you’re inclined to celebrate.
(Standard disclaimer – Week 16 NFL Betting Lines – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games are those with a multiple point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines for the Week 16 NFL Betting Lines.)
I called both the COVID rescheduled games wrong, taking the points before I knew both teams I took would be playing with third-string QB’s who had zero practice time with the team. Those two games were the difference between being a game over .500 and a game under .500. Such is life. ELO’s late-season slide continues, as it goes 3 – 8 and falls below .500 on the season for the first time.
Game of the Week – Las Vegas at Cleveland – I know this section is supposed to be about what I got right or wrong about a game the previous week, but there’s just nothing that could have been predictably called here. Cleveland down 20+ players due to COVID starting its third-string QB, moving the game from Saturday to Monday. The line flip-flopping based on reports of who may or may not be coming out of protocol. This is a game I would never have touched in real life.
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers – The OT touchdown giveth and the OT touchdown taketh away. In Week 14, we covered the Tampa Bay/Buffalo game because of an overtime touchdown. Unfortunately, this week, we lost the cover to a Kansas City overtime touchdown. That said, with a three-point line and the way the game was going at the time, the best we probably could have hoped for is a push once KC won the coin toss.
New England at Indianapolis – I expected this to be a field goal game, which it was until JT ripped off his 70 yard TD run right before the two-minute warning. We’ll gladly take the cover.
Arizona at Detroit – I definitely liked the Detroit cover, but I’m not going to say I expected them to not only win the game but dominate the Cardinals. Arizona has the look of a team that peaked too early.
Carolina at Buffalo – Buffalo, winning this game by 17 points is probably pretty close to the default assumption for this game back before the season started. We certainly took the back roads to get there, though.
Washington at Philadelphia – Like the Cleveland game, there’s just too much that went on here to properly evaluate a prediction. I literally didn’t know Garrett Gilbert was on the team when I picked the Football Team to cover, let alone that he would be starting the game that would be played on a Tuesday.
Houston at Jacksonville – I thought we’d get the “Man, are we glad he’s gone” game from Jacksonville following the Urban Meyer dismissal, like the Raiders post-Jon Gruden. Obviously, the dysfunctional roots run deep for the Jaguars.
New York Jets at Miami – Coming off their bye, Miami stumbled around for most of the first half, then turned it on in the second. With a ten-point spread, that’s all it takes to lose a cover.
Atlanta at San Francisco – Sometimes, the level one assumption is the correct one. Atlanta’s just got good enough to make a west coast trip and be competitive against a good team.
Green Bay at Baltimore – The special teams discrepancy definitely played a role, and Green Bay definitely missed Kenny Clark. Still, Baltimore is too well-coached and too proud an organization to be getting that many points in a late-season home game.
Upset of the Week – Dallas at New York Giants – I thought Dallas was laying too many points playing its third straight road game. Turns out Mike Glennon is so bad that it just didn’t matter.
Last week: My picks, 5-6; Analytics, 3-8
Season: My picks, 53-59-1; Analytics, 54-58-1
Game of the Week
Tampa Bay at Carolina – Analytic Line: CAR (+6), Vegas Line: CAR (+11), PL: CAR (+8.5)
Certainly not the Aesthetically Pleasing Game of the Week, but it is the largest spread between the ELO line and Vegas line. Tampa looked very off on Sunday Night, and they’ll probably need a game or two to adjust to all the injuries they suffered. I’m going to hold my nose and take the points with Carolina at home.
Make It A Parlay – Week 16 NFL Betting
San Francisco at Tennessee – Analytic Line: TEN (-1), Vegas Line: TEN (+3), PL: TEN (+2.5)
Tough travel spot for the Niners, going on the road for a short week game. Getting A.J. Brown back should be a mental boost for the Titans, and their run defense is good enough to make San Fran one-dimensional. Not a place they want to be.
New York Giants at Philadelphia – Analytic Line: PHI (-6), Vegas Line: PHI (-9.5), PL: PHI (-11.5)
Unh-uh. No way am I running it back on the Giants after no-showing in what should have been a nice cover spot against Dallas last week. Philly’s got everything to play for. The Giants are playing out the string. Also, Jake Fromm, everybody!
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota – Analytic Line: MIN (+1), Vegas Line: MIN (+3), PL: MIN (+3.5)
If Kirk Cousins couldn’t throw for more than 100 yards against a broken Bears’ secondary, what will he do against Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, and company? The Rams look like they figured out whatever was ailing them during their losing streak. Unfortunately, the Vikings continue to Viking.
Jacksonville at New York Jets – Analytic Line: NYJ (-4.5), Vegas Line: NYJ (+1), PL: NYJ (-3.5)
This feels like a “Friends don’t let friends bet on games between bad teams” game. I also can’t in good conscience lay points with the Jags on the road, not even one point.
Los Angeles Chargers at Houston – Analytic Line: HOU (+8), Vegas Line: HOU (+10), PL: HOU (+13.5)
Houston hasn’t beaten anyone outside the AFC South. The Chargers aren’t an AFC South team.
Baltimore at Cincinnati – Analytic Line: CIN (-1), Vegas Line: CIN (-3), PL: CIN (-3)
I’ve probably rolled with the Ravens for too long, but I need to see this ride through. Do we really trust the Bengals to win a crucial late-season game inside the division?
Washington at Dallas – Analytic Line: DAL (-7.5), Vegas Line: DAL (-11), PL: DAL (-9.5)
Who’s playing QB for the F’ball Team? Unless the answer is 1991 Mark Rypien, I’m staying away.
Upset of the Week
Miami at New Orleans – Analytic Line: NO (-1.5), Vegas Line: NO (-3), PL: NO (-3)
Don’t overreact to the Saints shutting out Tampa on Sunday Night. That was more about the Bucs’ injury wave and self-inflicted wounds. Remember, you can’t win without scoring a touchdown unless you don’t score a touchdown. So I’m sticking with my “Dolphins make the playoffs” call. I am picking an outright win for the Fish on Monday Night.
If you are looking for more Week 16 NFL Betting, check out Chris Molina’s Top 5 Player Props every Friday!