Every week during the NFL season, there are certain teams that become popular picks against the spread. However, once the bandwagon begins to overflow, the line shifts and the pick becomes far less appealing as Sunday approaches.
That's why targeting teams that aren't getting any hype, and therefore getting a more balanced line, is usually the way to go. Week 16 is no different. There are some overlooked favorites that deserve strong consideration.
With that in mind, let's examine three teams that should cover the spread this weekend. All odds are courtesy of 5Dimes.eu.
New York Jets (-1)
The Jets have needed a change at quarterback for a while. They finally decided to make the switch this week, sending Mark Sanchez to the bench in favor of Greg McElroy, who showed good poise in relief duty three weeks ago.
In reality, it didn't matter if the Jets chose McElroy or Tim Tebow. Simply making the change should provide a spark to a team that was going through the motions in Monday night's loss. It was clear something needed to be done to shake them up.
It gives the Jets an advantage heading into a game against the San Diego Chargers, who fall into the same group of disappointing teams as New York. They haven't made any major changes, though, and lost Ryan Mathews in a blowout loss to the Carolina Panthers last week.
Which of these teams is the best pick?
Chicago Bears (-5.5)
The Arizona Cardinals ended a nine-game losing streak last week, but it's hard to imagine them keeping it close against a Bears team that will be playing for its playoff life. In terms of talent, the Bears have a significant edge.
While Chicago has hit the skids lately—losing five of six—it's only because the schedule has been extremely difficult. None of the team's losses over that span were of the bad variety. Getting to face the Cardinals will be a relief.
Currently sitting in seventh place in the NFC, the Bears know they can't afford another loss with so many teams in the wild-card mix. Expect the team's defense to step up in a major way against Arizona's brutal passing attack to secure a big win, literally and figuratively.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
The Bucs are coming off a terrible performance against the division rival New Orleans Saints. With two games left, including Sunday's clash with the St. Louis Rams, now's the time the players decide to either fight on or pack it in until 2013.
That's where having Greg Schiano leading the way will come into play. The fiery head coach isn't going to let his team slack off, and players that do will get replaced. It's the type of attitude a coach needs at this point in a forgettable season.
On the flip side, the Rams have played the San Francisco 49ers tough twice, but haven't been able to match that intensity in other games. The Bucs should win by at least a touchdown, but this won't be the most exciting game of the week to watch.