With no Thursday night game in place for the first time all season, bettors will get some extra time to analyze their picks against the spread for Week 16 of the NFL season.
Like every week in this space, we'll use the betting trends, series histories and recent performances to help guide your NFL betting adventure. No method has proven to be 100 percent correct, but using the statistical data and trends almost always beats picking games using your first gut reaction.
In the following slides, we'll present the important betting data and our picks against the spread for Week 16 of the NFL season.
Despite being an away favorite (a situation the Falcons are just 2-2 against the spread in this season), there's reasons to like Atlanta here.
The Lions haven't covered in six games (0-5-1) and are just 1-4 against the spread at home,. Plus, the Falcons covered this four-point line in a 23-16 win over a much better Detroit team last season. We're actually surprised this line isn't higher already.
Pick ATS: Falcons
Dallas is obviously playing better recently, and it covered a 1.5-point line against the Steelers last Sunday.
But that cover was the first of its kind for the Cowboys at home, where they are a ridiculous 1-6 against the spread this season. Dallas is also 0-5 as the home favorite.
Maybe the Saints (7-7 against the spread this season) don't win, but the trends say a cover is likely.
Pick ATS: Saints
A 13-point line would be scary if this was a division game, but uncommon opponents sometimes point away from close games. That logic applies here.
The Titans had to sneak past the Jets Monday night, despite a plus-five turnover differential, while Green Bay has covered in three-straight home games (including a 10.5-point line against the Cardinals).
We'll take the good team playing well over the bad team playing poorly, especially at Lambeau Field.
Pick ATS: Packers
The Colts have been up and down on the road this season (just 3-4 against the spread), but what about Kansas City gives a bettor any hope of a home cover?
Ricky Stanzi might start under center for the Chiefs, and that's as good as giving a win to the Colts. If Andrew Luck can get to 20 points offensively, this is an easy cover.
Pick ATS: Colts
This is one of those division matchups where the trends really aren't much help.
On one hand, Buffalo is an ugly 2-6 as the underdog this season. Easy cover for Miami? Not so much. The Dolphins are just 1-3 as the favorite.
This was a five-point game in Buffalo earlier this season (19-14 Bills), so we're somewhat comfortable giving Miami five points at home this time around. The Dolphins are simply playing better as of late.
Pick ATS: Dolphins
The betting trends here are mostly even, with the Chargers bringing a 6-8 record against the spread (4-3 away) against a Jets team with a 6-7 betting record (3-4 at home).
New York's decision to make a change at quarterback has to factor in here, and San Diego did just prove two weeks ago that it can take a trip east and punch someone in the mouth. There's little confidence in this game, but if you have to go one way or another, go San Diego.
Pick ATS: Chargers
The trends here point directly towards Washington, maybe more so than any game on the Week 16 schedule.
Consider that the Eagles are just 1-6 against the spread at home this season, while the Redskins are 5-2 away and a solid 9-5 overall. Washington has also covered the spread in each of the last five games—all wins.
Another win and cover should come in Philadelphia, where Robert Griffin III is likely to make his return.
Pick ATS: Redskins
Cincinnati has still never beat Pittsburgh in the Andy Dalton era, and a four-point line (as it is Sunday) is something the Bengals haven't covered against the Steelers during that three-game stretch. But could Week 16 be a first time for both?
Pittsburgh has been favored in four of its last six games, but it's failed to cover in any of the four. The Bengals (5-2 against the spread away, 3-1 as the road underdog) are good enough to think they can keep the hits coming for Pittsburgh, even in an elimination game for the Steelers.
Pick ATS: Bengals
The Bucs, once a near lock at 8-1 against the spread, have fallen on hard betting times. Tampa Bay hasn't covered (or won) in over a month and is now coming off a 41-0 embarrassment to the Saints in Week 15.
While the Rams aren't a great bet at home, away from St. Louis is their betting comfort zone. In six road games, the Rams are 5-1 against the spread (including all six as the road underdog). Take the sound-bet Rams over the struggling Bucs.
Pick ATS: Rams
You don't see many five-win teams as nine-point favorites, but the Panthers are playing well enough (2-0 over the last two) to justify such a line at home. Now, Cam Newton and Co. have to put the money where their mouth is.
While Carolina is still the smarter bet, there's trends at play that suggest it might not be. Overall, the Panthers are just 1-5 against the spread as the favorite and 0-3 as the home favorite. Still, Newton is playing out of his mind to close out 2012, so ride the wave here against a bad Oakland team.
Pick ATS: Panthers
Everything in terms of stats, records and general football logic points to the New England Patriots covering this line. But in the spirit of this piece, we're going to stick to the betting trends, even in the face on an obvious football decision.
Consider that the Jaguars have covered each spread this season over two touchdowns (+16.0 at Green Bay, +15.5 at Houston), while New England has yet to cover a spread over 10.5 (Arizona, New York Jets, Buffalo). There's no shame in taking the Patriots, even at 14.5 points. But the trends say that this could be a closer game than Vegas predicts.
Pick ATS: Jaguars
Good teams on the road have been big trouble for the Vikings, both in the win column and covering spreads.
In recent road games against Green Bay, Chicago, Seattle and Washington, Minnesota went 0-4 and failed to cover any of the manageable spreads. Maybe an underdog win in St. Louis last Sunday sparks this Vikings team, but you can feel somewhat comfortable in the Texans (5-2 against the spread at home, 9-4 overall) covering the nine-point line.
Pick ATS: Texans
If the Broncos didn't have so much to play for, then maybe this 14-point line would be a scary one. But two wins equal a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs, so there's no reason to think Denver comes out flat at home.
The Broncos are also 7-2 as the favorite this season, and Cleveland doesn't have an overwhelming trend away from home. There's not a great deal of confidence in a two-touchdown win, but Denver does appear to be the safer bet.
Pick ATS: Broncos
The Cardinals are underdogs here, and anyone who studies their quarterback situation knows why.
However, do the Bears not have a similar makeup as the Lions team that just got smoked in Arizona last Sunday? Chicago has an erratic, turnover-prone quarterback and a beat-up defense, plus one of the game's worst offensive lines.
Some lines don't smell right, and this one straight-up stinks. Arizona (6-3 as the underdog) can cover this 5.5-point spread.
Pick ATS: Cardinals
Good luck picking this game. Who do you trust?
The betting trends don't help. New York is just 3-4 against the spread away and 1-2 as the road favorite. Baltimore is 2-5 at home and just 1-3 as the underdog.
Despite a make-your-eyes-bleed performance in Atlanta, Eli Manning is still the quarterback to trust in this matchup. And the Giants need a win—a situation they've grown very comfortable with the last handful of seasons.
Pick ATS: Giants
Seattle is a perfect 6-0 at home this season, both straight-up and covering the spread. The Seahawks have also covered in impressive fashion the last three weeks, so they should get a kick out of San Francisco carrying a one-point-favorite line into Century Link Field.
However, the 49ers did put together one of the season's most impressive wins in New England.
Despite Seattle's overwhelming trends, this line is close for a reason.
Still, in what could be the week's best game, roll the home dice on Seattle. It hasn't let a bettor down all season.
Pick ATS: Seahawks