Week 16 NFL Picks: Underdogs That Will Cover the Spread

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 16: Running back Trent Richardson #33 of the Cleveland Browns runs in a touchdown during the first half against the Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Week 16 of the NFL season is upon us, and all across the nation, bettors are trying to cap off good seasons, or chase the cash they've lost over the past four months.

This is often regarded as the last "real" week of the regular season, especially for handicapping purposes. Whether it be the playoffs or the following season that's distracting them, it's often to discern a team's motivation in Week 17.

So Week 16 is an important week for those who want to put a nice coda on a year of picking games. Let's look at three underdogs that will help bettors do just that:


New England Patriots at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+14.5)

This goes against almost every principle of common sense. You never wanna bet on one of the three worst teams in the league. But you especially don't want to be them against one of the three best teams in the league.


Well, kind of. You can abandon those maxims when you're getting a home team and 14.5 points.

If you're still reticent enough to take the Jags, take solace in this statistic: over the past three years, home underdogs getting eight or more points are 23-3 against the spread. That's an 88-percent coverage rate.

Still not convinced? Fine. How about this: The Jags are 2-0 ATS this season when getting 10 or more points, covering against both the Packers and Texans (whom they took to overtime in Houston).

Betting against the Pats is rarely profitable. Especially coming off a loss. But this week might be the exception that proves the rule.


CLEVELAND BROWNS (+12) at Denver Broncos

This line isn't hard to explain, but it's wrong nonetheless.

Last week the Browns lost by more than 12, at home, to a backup quarterback on a worse team than the Broncos. Likewise, Denver went on the road, played a playoff team, and took a 31-3 lead into the fourth quarter.

But 12 is still a big, crooked number for the Broncos to be laying. Especially against a Browns team that, last week notwithstanding, has been anything but a pushover this season. Last week's game was the first they'd lost by over 10 points since Week 5.

Denver's last two home games were an eight-point win over Tampa and a seven-point win over San Diego. The Browns are similar to, if not better than, both of those teams. Expect a similar margin of victory.


SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (+2.5) at New York Jets

Consider yourself lucky—and savvy—if you managed to get this at plus-3. But even at a less-discounted 2.5, the Chargers remain a good bet in Week 16.

And I say that in spite of a listless home performance against Carolina last weekend. I don't think that's the Chargers team we're gonna get this week. I think we're gonna get the Chargers team who marched into Pittsburgh and delivered a convincing loss to the once-feared Steelers.

But I don't need to talk anyone into betting against the Jets, right? Not after what happened in Tennessee last Monday night. We watched the wheels fall off Rex Ryan and Co. last weekend, and Sunday we'll see the aftermath. 

Phillip Rivers hasn't looked like himself this season, but against Greg McElroy, in the youngster's first start, he still gives the Chargers a substantial advantage at quarterback.

There's only one offense here capable of moving the football. Take them with confidence.