NFL Picks Week 16: ATS Betting Predictions

NFL Week 16 picks
PHOTO CREDIT: JEFF HANISCH-USA TODAY SPORTS

With only two weeks left in the regular season, the NFL playoff picture is quickly coming into focus. This week’s schedule, highlighted by several key contests, will go a long way in determining which teams will join the postseason party, which will lock into prime positions, and which will be left out in the cold come January. With a packed schedule of action to choose from, there are plenty of betting opportunities on the board this weekend, so let’s run through the entire slate with our NFL Week 16 picks and predictions.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, trends date back to the start of the 2003 season. All picks are against the spread.

Texans vs. Buccaneers

  • Spread: Texans (-3.5), Buccaneers (+3.5)
  • Moneyline:  Texans (-165), Buccaneers (+143) 
  • Total: 50
  • Date: Saturday, 1 pm, NFL Network
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Houston Texans,books:DraftKings”]

Last Sunday, the Texans scored a key upset road victory over the red-hot Titans to seize control of the AFC South and are now tasked with knocking off another surging squad away from the friendly confines of NRG Stadium this week. The Bucs have long been out of the postseason conversation, but they’ve quietly ripped off four straight wins, headlined by Jameis Winston’s 374 passing yards per game, including two straight performances in which he has eclipsed 450 yards. Of course, Winston will be without his pair of 1,100 yard receivers this week with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans each sidelined.

There’s plenty to like about Houston in this game. The Texans have plenty to play for as a win will secure the AFC South crown. Bill O’Brien’s squads are 5-2-1 ATS as road favorites and 3-1-1 ATS as road favorites of 3.5 points or more.

That being said, Houston’s defense is ranked 27th in overall efficiency, according to Football Outsider’s DVOA system, so the Bucs’ scorching offense should be able to make enough plays to keep this game tight.

Texans vs. Buccaneers Pick

The Bucs have momentum, they’re at home, and they possess an elite run defense. I’ll take the points with the Bucs (+3.5) over the Texans.

Bills vs. Patriots

  • Spread: Bills (+6.5), Patriots (-6.5)
  • Moneyline:  Bills (+245), Patriots (-286) 
  • Total: 36.5
  • Date: Saturday, 4:30 pm, NFL Network
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Buffalo Bills,books:DraftKings”]

Despite their recent struggles, the Patriots are one win away from securing the AFC East title and a likely first-round bye, a probable outcome regardless of this week’s results given their pending finale against the Dolphins.

I’m a big believer in the Bills, but I wonder about their motivation and just how much they’re willing to go all in on this matchup given their remote chances of winning the division. They are already in the postseason, and there is a chance that these two teams could meet again in January. That being said, I don’t have much faith in the Patriots right now, and what faith I do have is totally offset by the Bills’ performance as a road underdog with Josh Allen at quarterback. Buffalo is 4-1 ATS as a dog of 6+ points with Allen under center.

Speaking of the word “under,” the under has cashed in 11 of Allen’s 12 career road starts.

This game has all the ingredients of a low-scoring game and Bills cover, but check this out—the public is hammering the under at a 65% rate at the time of this post. Since 2003, the over is 18-9 when a total is set at 37 points or less and at least 65% of the action is on the under. It’s also 31-20 when the total is set at 40 points or less with this type of action.

Bills vs. Patriots Pick

The Bills’ motivation is a concern for me, so I’m going to pass on the side and grab OVER 36.5 points.

Rams vs. 49ers

  • Spread: Rams (+6.5), 49ers (-6.5)
  • Moneyline:  Rams (+235), 49ers (-275) 
  • Total: 44
  • Date: Saturday, 8:15 pm, NFL Network
[sportsbook filters=”teams:San Francisco 49ers,books:DraftKings”]

I don’t love this game, but it’s a Saturday game, and it’s in primetime, so…I’m betting on it.

I don’t foresee turnover prone Jared Goff standing up to an angry 49ers defense that is fresh off a poor showing against the Saints and a late-game meltdown against the Falcons over the past two weeks. The Rams had a brief late-season surge, but I don’t see any way they are up for this game after their season effectively ended in embarrassing fashion last week. I expect the 49ers to roll this week, setting up a high-stakes Week 17 showdown with the Seahawks.

Rams vs. 49ers Pick

I’m taking the 49ers (-6.5) over the Rams.

Giants vs. Redskins

  • Spread: Giants (+2.5), Redskins (-2.5)
  • Moneyline:  Giants (+115), Redskins (-132) 
  • Total: 41
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Washington Redskins,books:DraftKings”]

Let’s go dumpster diving at FedEx Field! Truly, there is no reason to bet on this football game, but if I have to do it, I’m taking the Giants—even though the Redskins have played better football in recent weeks.

Home favorites of 2.5 points or less with a record under .300 that are coming off a loss are only 9-15 ATS in division games. Home favorites of three points or less that didn’t cover in their previous game playing a team that covered are only 22-32-3 ATS in division games and 13-18 ATS when a favorite of 2.5 points or less.

Giants vs. Redskins Pick

Here are two bad teams that are each playing out the string. In light of the above trends, I’m taking the Giants (+2.5) over the Redskins.

Jets vs. Steelers

  • Spread: Steelers (-3.5), Jets (+3.5)
  • Moneyline:  Steelers (-162), Jets (+140) 
  • Total: 37
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, CBS
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Pittsburgh Steelers,books:DraftKings”]

The Steelers are a public team that is still playing to secure an AFC wild card berth, so they have an edge in motivation, particularly against a Jets squad that has been well out of contention for weeks.

What I like about the Steelers is that they find different ways to win despite a middling offensive attack, but what I don’t like about the Steelers is that they’re just not that good. Defensively, Pittsburgh doesn’t generate the same disruptive pressure as it does at Heinz Field. On extra rest, I expect the Jets to take away the Steelers’ run game and at least do enough to keep this game close. I’m taking the Jets at home with the cushion of the hook.

Jets vs. Steelers Pick

Jets (+3.5) over Steelers

Saints vs. Titans

  • Spread: Saints (-2.5), Titans (+2.5)
  • Moneyline:  Saints (-136), Titans (+120) 
  • Total: 50
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Tennessee Titans,books:DraftKings”]

This game features two teams with plenty to play for as the Saints still hope to lock down a first-round bye and possibly the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, a win would go a long way in the Titans’ quest to reach the postseason. The Titans had been so good prior to their unexpected stumble against the Texans last Sunday that it’s hard to go against them once again this week, but the trend data that I found suggests it would be wise to do so. Consider the following information:

  • The Saints are 7-4 ATS under Sean Payton as a road favorite of three points or less.
  • The Saints are 4-1 ATS under Payton as a road favorite of 2.5 points or less.
  • The Saints are 7-3 ATS as a road favorite under Payton in non-conference games.
  • The Saints are 6-1 ATS as a road favorite under Payton after the month of September against teams with a .550 record or better.

I also find it interesting that the Saints have the NFC’s best odds to win the Super Bowl despite being currently sitting as the No. 3 seed. It’s hard to imagine a Saints’ Super Bowl run without a first-round bye or significant home-field advantage, and it’s even harder to imagine they secure either of those things without a win in this game.

Saints vs. Titans Pick

Saints (-2.5) over Titans and UNDER 50 points

Jaguars vs. Falcons

  • Spread: Jaguars (+7), Falcons (-7)
  • Moneyline:  Jaguars (+250), Falcons (-295) 
  • Total: 46.5
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Atlanta Falcons,books:DraftKings”]

For roughly 50 minutes in their eventual win at Oakland last Sunday, the Jaguars looked like the same disinterested mess that they have been for weeks. That was before, of course, they rattled off two late touchdowns to shock the Raiders. Meanwhile, the Falcons continued their much improved play in a stunning last-second win at San Francisco. That sets up this meeting between a pair of 5-9 teams, and while I’d like to grab the Falcons here, I’m actually going the other way. Here’s why:

  1. The public is all over the Falcons right now. A whopping 62% of spread bets and 81% of the spread handle is on the Falcons.
  2. The Falcons have lost eight straight games as home favorites both ATS and outright against AFC teams and are 1-14 ATS against AFC teams overall going back to the 2013 season.

That’s just crazy.

Jaguars vs. Falcons Pick

Typically, I’m a “something has to give” kind of guy, but I’m not messing with that streak. I’ll take the Jaguars (+7) over the Falcons.

Bengals vs. Dolphins

  • Spread: Bengals (-1), Dolphins (+1)
  • Moneyline:  Bengals (-114), Dolphins (+100) 
  • Total: 46.5
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, CBS
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Miami Dolphins,books:DraftKings”]

The NFL could do everybody a favor and just scrap this game, but they won’t. The Dolphins are the logical play here for a few reasons. They’re at home, they are 7-3 ATS after a miserable September, and the Bengals have lost 10 straight games to AFC opponents. It would be stupid to back Cincy for those reasons, but this is a stupid game, and I think we’ll get a stupid result.

Bengals vs. Dolphins Pick

Bengals (-1) over Dolphins

Panthers vs. Colts

  • Spread: Panthers (+6.5), Colts (-6.5)
  • Moneyline:  Panthers (+235), Colts (-278) 
  • Total: 47
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Indianapolis Colts,books:DraftKings”]

I liked the Panthers to grab a backdoor cover last week, and that’s exactly what happened as they put up some cheap points late against Seattle to reward that faith. In the midst of a six-game losing streak in which Kyle Allen tossed eight interceptions, the Panthers are giving rookie quarterback Will Grier a shot this week in Indianapolis as they look to stop the bleeding against an opponent also experiencing a prolonged losing streak. It will be no easy task for Grier as he’ll face what is a typically sound Colts defense that is coming off an embarrassing performance on Monday night in New Orleans.

It’s not too often that teams on a four-game losing streak are favored by 6.5 points or more (since ’03, they’re 2-4-1 ATS in a limited sample), but that’s what we’re getting here.

Panthers vs. Colts Pick

My first thought was to grab the substantial amount of points with the underdog in what is a throwaway game, but I don’t trust a rookie quarterback making his first start on the road against a solid defense. I’ll take the Colts (-6.5) over the Panthers.

Ravens vs. Browns

  • Spread: Ravens (+10), Browns (-10)
  • Moneyline:  Ravens (-420), Browns (+350) 
  • Total: 48
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, CBS
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Cleveland Browns,books:DraftKings”]

Two quick trivia question for you—when was the last time the Ravens lost a football game and who was the opponent? The answers are September 29 and the Cleveland Browns, setting up a revenge spot for football’s best team with the added bonus of clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

This game is unique in that it will mark the first time going back to at least the 2003 season that a team is favored by double-digit points on the road in a division game after losing earlier in the same season to that opponent by at least 10 points.

The Browns are cooked following their loss last week in the Arizona desert and it sounds as if significant changes are on the horizon in Cleveland once again following yet another disappointing season. My only concern here is that the Ravens could get conservative and limit Lamar Jackson later in the game in an attempt to preserve him for the postseason, thus setting up a potential backdoor cover situation. For that reason, I’m going to pass on the side and play the total.

I expect Baltimore to take care of business in workmanlike fashion, but 10 is a lot of points. Plus, the under is 56-30 in division games played in December or later with a closing total between 46-48 points.

Ravens vs. Browns Pick

I expect Baltimore to take care of business in workmanlike fashion, but 10 is a lot of points. Plus, the under is 46-28-1 in division games played in December or later with a closing total between 47-49 points, so I’m taking UNDER 49 points.

Lions vs. Broncos

  • Spread: Lions (+6.5), Broncos (-6.5)
  • Moneyline:  Lions (+255), Broncos (-295)
  • Total: 38.5
  • Date: Sunday, 4:05 pm, CBS
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Detroit Lions,books:DraftKings”]

Drew Lock experienced his first NFL setback last week in Kansas City, but returns home to play a miserable Lions defense orchestrated by head coach Matt Patricia, who, by the way, should feel very fortunate the Lions are bringing him back next season. I don’t have much of a feel for this game, but my sense is to take the under.  I don’t see David Blough doing much on the road against the Broncos defense, plus the under is 21-12 in games played in December or later between non-conference opponents each sporting below a .400 record.

Lions vs. Broncos Pick

Under 38.5 points

Raiders vs. Chargers

  • Spread: Raiders (+6.5), Chargers (-6.5)
  • Moneyline: Raiders (+255), Chargers (-295)
  • Total: 45
  • Date: Sunday, 4:05 pm, CBS
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Oakland Raiders,books:DraftKings”]

Can’t wait for this one! The Raiders unraveled down the stretch after looking like a legit playoff contender for the much of the season, and the Chargers are one of the league’s biggest disappointments. I have a considerable amount of angst laying 6.5 points with the Chargers–a team that is impossible to trust in almost any situation—but the Raiders have the look of a team that’s on the brink of complete collapse following the fourth quarter turd they laid in their final game in Oakland. I expect the Los Angeles defensive line to dominate the Raiders up front, particularly with tackle Trent Brown out, and I expect Philip Rivers to have success against a wretched Oakland defense that has completely fallen apart in recent weeks.

Raiders vs. Chargers Pick

The Chargers roll (-6.5) over the Raiders.

Cowboys vs. Eagles

  • Spread: Cowboys (-1.5), Eagles (+1.5)
  • Moneyline:  Cowboys (-121), Eagles (+106)
  • Total: 46.5
  • Date: Sunday, 4:25 pm, FOX
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Philadelphia Eagles,books:DraftKings”]

The Cowboys and Eagles will meet late Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field with the NFC East on the line. With a victory, Dallas can become the first team since the 2003-2004 Eagles to win back-to-back NFC East titles, while the Eagles need this game to setup a Week 17 clinching scenario. The Eagles barely survived the lowly Giants and Redskins to reach this point, and following a brutal three-game losing streak, the Cowboys finally woke up at home in a blowout win over the Rams.

That win has many thinking that Dallas has finally turned the corner, but I’m not so sure about that.

The Cowboys under Jason Garrett are a miserable 4-11-1 ATS as a favorite of three points or less following a win, including 3-6-1 ATS on the road, and road favorites in division games that open as less than a three-point favorite are only 10-20-2 ATS in December or later.

As for the total, the under is 56-30 in division games played in December or later with a closing number between 46-48 points.

Cowboys vs. Eagles Pick

Eagles (+1.5) over Cowboys and UNDER 46.5 points

Cardinals vs. Seahawks

  • Spread: Cardinals (+9.5), Seahawks (-9.5)
  • Moneyline:  Cardinals (+320), Seahawks (-385)
  • Total: 51
  • Date: Sunday, 4:25 pm, FOX
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Arizona Cardinals,books:DraftKings”]

Awww, yeah. The 12s are going to be fired up on Sunday afternoon as the Seahawks look to move one step closer to the NFC’s No. 1 seed. I think they’ll take that step by getting a win, setting up a Week 17 showdown with San Francisco that feels destined to be flexed to the final game of the regular season.

Motivation aside, 9.5 points is a big number and Arizona’s offense should make some plays against an average Seattle defense, so I could see potential for a backdoor cover. Plus, despite the Seahawks’ much-hyped home-field advantage, the Seahawks are only 4-7-1 ATS as a favorite of 9.5 to 12 points under Pete Carroll.

Cardinals vs. Seahawks Pick

Cardinals (+9.5) over Seahawks

Chiefs vs. Bears

  • Spread: Chiefs (-6), Bears (+6)
  • Moneyline:  Chiefs (-240), Bears (+205)
  • Total: 44.5
  • Date: Sunday, 8:20 pm, NBC
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Chicago Bears,books:DraftKings”]

Credit should go to the Bears for their improved play in recent weeks, but just how motivated for this one will they be after losing to the Packers last week? Chicago’s playoff hopes are dead, while the Chiefs still have a shot at a first-round bye–should the Patriots stumble once over their final two games.

Kansas City is the superior team, and Andy Reid’s teams are typically good on the road. Following a win, the Chiefs are 22-9-1 ATS under Reid and 13-4 ATS under him as a road favorite. I see no reason not to back the better and hungrier team in this game.

Chiefs vs. Bears Pick

Chiefs (-6) over Bears

Packers vs. Vikings

  • Spread: Packers (+5.5), Vikings (-5.5)
  • Moneyline:  Packers (+205), Vikings (-240)
  • Total: 45.5
  • Date: Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Minnesota Vikings,books:DraftKings”]

The Packers, havers of Aaron Rodgers at the quarterback position (yes, I know “havers” isn’t a word), are a sizable road dog this week against the Vikings, who aren’t expected to have the services of running back Dalvin Cook.

You mean to tell me that Green Bay has won four of its last five games, currently has the inside track on a first-round bye, and yet is almost a touchdown underdog in this one? Fishy—and though I certainly understand why some people see value in grabbing the points, the Packers have shown significant vulnerabilities recently in wins over lackluster opponents such as the Panthers, Redskins, and Bears.

I think this line is telling us something. The Vikings excel under head coach Mike Zimmer at home, including a 13-8-1 ATS mark as a home favorite of at least four points. Meanwhile, home favorites of 4 to 5.5 points in division contests that lost the previous head-to-head matchup are 23-16 ATS in November or later. They’re 16-10 ATS when the spread is between 4 to 5.5 points.

Packers vs. Vikings Pick

Vikings (-5.5) over Packers

 

Week 15 record: 11-5 ATS

ATS/Totals season record: 58-44-2 ATS (56.9%)

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