Week 16 features plenty of important games around the NFL. With teams fighting for playoff spots and postseason positioning, there are only a few matchups that don't mean anything, which is exactly how the league likes it.
As has been case throughout the season, parity will remain a key word. Underdogs across the league have been able to pull off upsets, or at the very least keep games close enough to cover the spread. The upsets are why so many playoff berths are still up for grabs.
There's no reason to believe anything will change this week. Let's take a look at three underdogs that should have no problem covering the spread.
All odds courtesy 5dimes.eu.
Cleveland Browns (+14)
Just when the Browns were beginning to show some signs of life, they get blown out by the Washington Redskins without Robert Griffin III. Now they have to face the Denver Broncos, who are trying to lock down a first-round bye.
In other words, it's easy to see why the line is so high. But the Browns aren't as bad as last week's loss would suggest, and they have actually had a lot of success against Peyton Manning in the past. In five career starts against Cleveland, the legendary QB has just two TD passes and a 74.2 QB rating.
Before last week, the Browns hadn't been beaten by more than 14 points all season. So it's important to not overreact to that single result. They should be able to keep the game close by slowing down Denver's offense, only losing by one score in the end.
Which of these underdogs is the best Week 16 pick?
Oakland Raiders (+9.5)
This is another reactionary line. The Carolina Panthers have won two straight games, and suddenly people are jumping back on the Cam Newton bandwagon. But making them a near double-digit favorite is simply too much against Oakland.
The Panthers hadn't won any game by more than eight points before two weeks ago. While the late surge is admirable when they could have easily checked out mentally, they still aren't reliable enough to lay down so many points.
Oakland is coming off a win of its own last week and will benefit from Darren McFadden's return to prominence. The star running back gets to face an average Carolina rush defense, and should do enough to keep the Raiders within four points.
Buffalo Bills (+4)
The Bills last played the Miami Dolphins just over a month ago and controlled the game throughout, winning by five points. It's hard to imagine anything major has changed over the past month or that a different venue will have a serious impact.
C.J. Spiller will be the biggest difference-maker on the field. With Fred Jackson out of the picture, just like he was for the prior meeting between the AFC East rivals, Bills coach Chan Gailey has no choice but to feed his dynamic back the ball.
In reality, it's a coin-flip game that will probably be decided by a field goal. That would be enough for the Bills to cover the spread regardless of which team wins, but the Bills should be able to pull off the minor upset.