Week 16 Picks Against the Spread for Every NFL Game

Alex Dunlap@AlexDunlapNFLContributor IDecember 20, 2012

Week 16 Picks Against the Spread for Every NFL Game

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    These picks will win because I think they are wrong. To explain to you the method by which I will be arriving at these winning Week 16 NFL picks, you must first know a small bit about me. 

    I am among the world's most accurate fantasy football experts as measured by FantasyPros.com, an independent third-party evaluator. I have been through almost two years of being tracked. My weekly spreadsheets are comical.

    Any normal person would think I was a lunatic with one glance at the two monitors I have positioned next to one another in order to see all of my inputs. 

    Still, I always seem to lose when I bet money on actual NFL games. It seems like Las Vegas is always one step ahead of me. It's like they know when a last minute, cover-blowing, meaningless safety is set to occur in garbage time.   

    I have devised a whole new winning strategy. If it works, I will give credit to George Costanza, my inspiration for this winning system:


    I'm going to tell you why I like one team, but I am going to suggest that you bet on the other team. I want you to fade me. 

    Like Jerry says, "If every instinct that you have is wrong, the opposite... would have to be right." 

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) at Detroit Lions

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    The public loves Atlanta.

    Eighty-one percent of public bets are coming in on the Falcons, and that is worrisome. What is more worrisome is the fact that Vegas has only adjusted the line by half a point as of today, as Atlanta opened as three-point favorites.

    If there was no big money coming in on the other side, the line would have shifted more with how lopsided the betting contingent is. 

    The Falcons are 3-3-1 this season against the spread in away games, while the Lions are 4-2 at home. Some of those games occurred before Calvin Johnson got warmed up. I think that Atlanta is the kind of team who is ripe to have its bubble burst. 


    PICK: Falcons (-3.5)

Tennessee Titans (+12.5) at Green Bay Packers

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    This thing opened up with an 11-point spread, then shifted to laying an extra 1.5 points from the Packers side. The public is pounding Green Bay, but the sharp money doesn't seem to be offsetting Vegas' counter-moves.

    The line shift was right, and I would be taking the Packers in this game at any margin under two touchdowns. 

    If Mark Sanchez can throw one touchdown against you, what does that mean for Aaron Rodgers? Eight? Something like that?

    I'm not worried about the running back committee and Green Bay's injuries, as Ryan Grant is a perfectly terrible back Green Bay has shown it can win with before. 


    PICK: Titans (+12.5)

Oakland Raiders (+8.5) at Carolina Panthers

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    I hate an Oakland Raiders team traveling east for an early game every time, and the switch has finally flipped in Carolina.

    Head coach Ron Rivera is saying all the things that a man fighting for his job should be saying. 

    Rivera believes his team has finally caught on. Rivera believes the Carolina Panthers now have a foundation to build on that is more than the rookie fairy-dust magic provided in QB Cam Newton's rookie season. As opposed to trying to harness a player operating fantastically outside of a scheme, now he coaches a weapon within it. 

    At least that's what he would like you to think. Personally, I believe him. 

    The Raiders are constantly getting away from any identity on offense that they 'tried out' in 2012, and honestly, Mike Goodson currently looks like the better fit for Greg Knapp's system than Darren McFadden


    PICK: Raiders (+ 8.5)

Buffalo Bills (+4.5) at Miami Dolphins

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    By every metric that I can measure, and from everything that I have seen, the Dolphins defense (as a whole) is trending toward dominance over the last five weeks like no other team in the NFL outside of Cincinnati.  

    The Dolphins have been stiff against the run all season, but it is their recent domination in the passing game that has me worried about a QB like Ryan Fitzpatrick coming into town.

    A QB whose general manager, in the least shrewd of business moves ever, came out last week and stated publicly his plans for trading up to draft a quarterback in the 2013 draft. After he gave his current, bad quarterback a $50 million-plus contract. 

    C.J. Spiller is a dynamic talent, but without Fred Jackson, he and Stevie Johnson are the only two playmakers on the Bills offense. That is horrible. 


    PICK: Bills (+ 4.5)

Cincinnati Bengals (+4) at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    We've seen what Ben Roethlisberger can do with his back against the wall, and make no mistake: The Steelers' backs are against the wall. This is the biggest game of the weekend, and both teams need it badly. 

    With all that being said, I think that if anything, the Bengals should be favored in this game. While they have had recent troubles in pass protection, the Bengals offensive line (as a unit) is gelling into an elite one.

    The Bengals have the best running back, they have the best wide receiver, they have the most athletic tight end and the more explosive players in the offensive trenches. 

    On the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals are trending in an absolutely dominating fashion according to my personnel matchup system while the Steelers seem like a disjointed team hanging on to an identity that may have passed. I don't just like the Bengals with the points in this game, I'm taking the money line. I think they win outright. 


    PICK: Steelers (-4)

Indianapolis Colts (-6.5) at Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Colts have been money in the bank this season against the spread at home. Away, they are 3-4 in 2012.

    The public is all over the Indy in this matchup, one in which they face what many analysts say is the worst overall team in the NFL. The line has adjusted accordingly from its 5.5 open.

    I personally think it is tough going into Arrowhead when the Chiefs have nothing to lose. The Colts, (a young, inexperienced team) are currently all but locked into the playoffs while the Chiefs have nothing to play for but pride. 

    Give me the Chiefs and the touchdown.


    PICK: Colts (-6.5)

New England Patriots (-14.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Poor Jacksonville.

    It isn't their fault that Tom Brady was upstaged last week by Colin Kaepenick in a prime-time affair billed as a possible Super Bowl preview. 

    That will not keep them from taking the brunt of the Patriots' revenge, however. This Jaguars team is like a lamb being led to slaughter. I would not be surprised to see this one end up in the 45-10 sort of range. The possible return of Rob Gronkowski makes this visit even more brutal.  


    PICK: Jaguars (+14.5)

New Orleans Saints (+3) at Dallas Cowboys

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    Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are entering must-win territory in Week 16, and if the 2012 season has taught us one thing recently, it is that Romo usually bounces back with a solid performance following a loss. 

    But Romo is not coming off a loss, and Steve Spanuolo's scheme is seeming to finally catch on. The Saints are improving as a defense. The offense is getting Mark Ingram more involved and slowing the pace down.

    I don't like it for the Cowboys. I don't like Drew Brees coming back to Texas, playing on a field with a big, blue star on it—the same kind he went bananas on in high school as a state champion. The Cowboys are 1-6 against the spread at home this season. Give me Drew Brees plus three points. 


    PICK: Cowboys (-3)

Washington Redskins (-6) at Philadelphia Eagles

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    This line opened at 4.5 and made a quick shift to six with the news of Robert Griffin III's return. 

    This makes sense because the last time that Griffin played the Eagles, he went absolutely bananas. Griffin has played better away than he has at home this season, and Alfred Morris showed us last week that he is a very capable back even in Griffin's absence. 

    The more complete team wins here, regardless of how much better the Eagles seem to be when featuring young defensive line talent like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham.


    PICK:  Eagles (+6)

St. Louis Rams (+3) at Tampa Bay Bucanneers

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    Did you see what Sam Bradford did in St. Louis' Week 15 loss to Minnesota?

    He went off and played one of his best games of the season. The Rams defense was a few Adrian Peterson monster plays away from ending any glimmer of playoff hope that still remains in Minnesota.

    I like this streak to continue in Week 16 against one of the league's most suspect secondaries, as Bradford's full complement of receivers are rounding into full health for the first time since the midseason mark. 

    St. Louis has only failed to cover the spread in one away game this season, while the Bucs have either lost or pushed more times than they have won at home. 


    PICK: Bucs (-3)

New York Giants (-2.5) at Baltimore Ravens

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    Forgive me, Baltimore fans, but this is the only way I can say it. Eli Manning is clutch, while Joe Flacco is the kind of guy I can imagine talking about himself being clutch. 

    I see a fourth straight loss coming for the Ravens, as the Giants are in absolute must-win mode. I feel very comfortable with the thought of Eli Manning coming through in this situation. Just as comfortable as I feel about Joe Flacco leaving his business unfinished. 

    Baltimore will travel to Cincinnati in Week 17 with the AFC North division still up in the air. 


    PICK: Ravens (+2.5)

Minnesota Vikings (+7.5) at Houston Texans

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    We know one thing for sure about this game. It will feature two runners who will be remembered as the gold standard of our current NFL era. 

    Outside of Adrian Peterson, though, the Vikings simply don't have much offensive firepower. The Texans are a hard team to get defensive pressure on, and Matt Schaub is a tough QB to rattle. 

    Even given the lack of any true receiving playmaker outside of Andre Johnson, the Texans still at least boast one Andre Johnson-type player while the Vikings, without Percy Harvin, are the league's most one-dimensional offense. 

    Adrian Peterson will get his, but this one ends up in a solid Texans win. 


    PICK: Minnesota (+7.5)

Cleveland Browns (+13) at Denver Broncos

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    I trust no veteran during a playoff stretch run more than Peyton Manning, and I think the Cleveland Browns are in disarray, but 13 points? 

    As bad as Cleveland has been, they have actually played a lot of very close games in losses and have only lost by a margin of two touchdowns on three occasions this season. 

    The Broncos are much better against the spread away this season than they have been at home, and this line seems fishy to me. We know that Denver will come into this game knowing they need to take care of business to lock up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, and I believe they will do so. 

    Just in a much closer game than what people expect. 


    PICK: Broncos (-13)

Chicago Bears (-5.5) at Arizona Cardinals

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    Which Cardinals team shows up? That is my big question. Last week, we caught a rare glimpse of what will be looked back on as one of 2012's oddest storylines. The fact that Arizona came into the season red hot, with guns blazing. 

    They looked like that team last week in their drumming of the Detroit Lions, but looked like the hapless Cardinals we have come to know much better in the week prior when Seattle hung 58 on them in a shutout loss.

    If I have to choose one side: I'm taking the headset up in the booth with Cardinals DC Ray Horton. I don't trust Jay Cutler under adversity, and I don't trust him in must-win situations. Horton will be dialing up everything he has in the book and bringing it. 


    PICK: Bears (-5.5)

San Francisco 49ers (-1) at Seattle Seahawks

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    Too easy. Give me the NFL's hottest, most play-making defense in a division matchup with huge playoff implications. 

    The last time these two teams faced off, Russell Wilson was not the quarterback that he is today, and Marshawn Lynch was held out of the end zone in a 100-plus yard rushing effort.

    The biggest difference is the defense, though. The group has been built to make a juggernaut, and the Seahawks currently are one.

    Did I mention that Seattle hasn't lost against the spread once at home this year? Like I said, too easy.


    PICK: 49ers (-1)

San Diego Chargers (+2.5) at New York Jets

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    I was met with much criticism when I predicted preseason that the Jets were the third-most likely team in the NFL to finish the season without making the playoffs, but it turns out I was right. 

    The Chargers are an afterthought as well. Two pathetic teams that have seen their windows pass and will now likely be in limbo for years to come.

    I would hate to bet on either team, but if I have to, I am going to obey one rule that hasn't let me down: Do not buy stock in the New York Jets, period.


    PICK: Jets (-2.5)