Things do not always go the way you expect in the NFL, but there are a number of games in Week 16 that are very predictable.
With about half of the league still contending for spots and position in the postseason, you can expect each of those squads to provide maximum effort to come through with wins. Meanwhile, many of the eliminated teams spend the final few weeks working out younger players to attempt to improve for the future.
Although teams always find a way to surprise (see: Minnesota Vikings Week 15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles), this situation creates a few easy opportunities to pick games against the spread.
Here is a look at full picks for the week, followed by the biggest locks with lines courtesy of Vegas Insider.
|Miami Dolphins||Buffalo Bills||MIA -2.5||Dolphins|
|New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers||CAR -3||Panthers|
|Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||DAL -3||Cowboys|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||St. Louis Rams||STL -5||Rams|
|Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI -3||Eagles|
|Cleveland Browns||New York Jets||NYJ -2.5||Jets|
|Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||KC -6.5||Colts|
|Minnesota Vikings||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -7.5||Bengals|
|Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||DEN -10.5||Broncos|
|Tennessee Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||TEN -5||Jaguars|
|Arizona Cardinals||Seattle Seahawks||SEA -10.5||Cardinals|
|New York Giants||Detroit Lions||DET -9||Lions|
|Oakland Raiders||San Diego Chargers||SD -10||Chargers|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||GB -1||Packers|
|New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||BAL -2.5||Ravens|
|Atlanta Falcons||San Francisco 49ers||SF -13||49ers|
Spread info via Vegas Insider
Miami Dolphins (-2.5) over Buffalo Bills
Thad Lewis and the Bills did beat the Dolphins in Miami earlier in the year, but these both appear to be different teams at this stage of the season.
The Dolphins have won three games in a row to control their own destiny in the AFC, thanks in large part to the improved play of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports talks about the maturity of the young player:
The past month has shown us that Tannehill is on his way to being much more of a franchise passer than he is a bust. The second-year passer has impressed the past three weeks, throwing eight touchdown passes and two interceptions as the Dolphins have won all three games. In those games, he's thrown for an average of 281 yards and completed close to 65-percent of his passes.
Phil Simms was another person discussing the bright future for Tannehill:
Although he could face a lot of pressure from the Bills defense, his poise in the pocket will allow him to find targets down the field and continue his recent hot streak.
Meanwhile, Buffalo has lost two of its last three against teams with a combined 12-30 record. With Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reporting EJ Manuel will miss the game, the Bills will struggle to even keep this game close.
Denver Broncos (-10.5) over Houston Texans
One of the biggest problems for a top team at this point of the year is looking past an inferior opponent. Fortunately for the Broncos, Peyton Manning will not let that happen. According to Stuart Zaas of DenverBroncos.com, the quarterback had this to say about upcoming game:
I think we’ve done a good job of treating all our opponents the same. We don’t look at records, we look at the tape. On offense we see a good defense. We see some outstanding players when you’re talking about guys like (defensive end Antonio) Smith and (defensive end J.J.) Watt and guys that can dominate a football game.
It is clear the Broncos will be ready for this matchup, especially with 10 days to prepare after playing on Thursday night.
On the other hand, the Texans have not shown much effort lately with 12 losses in a row after a 2-0 start. The most recent defeat was a 25-3 throbbing at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts.
Tania Ganguli of ESPN reports that both Case Keenum and Ben Tate are out for this game, which certainly limits the offensive output for the Texans. In all likelihood, this game ends in a blowout.
Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) over Minnesota Vikings
That extra half of a point is one of the scariest things in gambling. However, the only reason this line is even close is the fact that the Vikings pulled off an improbable upset over the Eagles in Week 15. However, the change in location will make a huge difference.
Minnesota does not have a single win in an opposing team's stadium this year, although the past two have been close. Still, the inability to finish will come up big against a Bengals team that is a perfect 6-0 at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincinnati ranks fifth in the league against the run, thanks in large part to the play of middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The undrafted player currently leads the NFL in tackles, although he is still underrated, as noted by Coley Harvey of ESPN:
Amazingly, Burfict isn't even in the top 10 at his position among the fan's Pro Bowl vote. That's mind-boggling to me. #Bengals— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) December 19, 2013
He should be able to slow down whoever starts at running back for the Vikings and keep the offensive output low.
On the other side of the ball, Andy Dalton should have a big game against the third-worst passing defense in the league. As long as he avoids turnovers, this game should never truly be in question.
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