Even 16 weeks into the NFL season, oddsmakers still have a way of surprising bettors with some interesting point spreads.
The idea of the lines is to create a tough decision on what would be otherwise obvious picks straight up. However, there are a few easier choices based on one-sided lines that seem too big or too small for the teams competing.
Obviously, the NFL always has a tendency of surprising people virtually every week, but there are some relatively safe picks available for the weekend. Here is a look at the more interesting picks of Week 16, along with a full list of point spreads 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 -4||Rams|
|Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI -3||Eagles|
|Cleveland Browns||New York Jets||NYJ -1||Jets|
|Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||KC -7||Colts|
|Minnesota Vikings||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -8.5||Bengals|
|Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||DEN -10||Broncos|
|Tennessee Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||TEN -5||Jaguars|
|Arizona Cardinals||Seattle Seahawks||SEA -10||Cardinals|
|New York Giants||Detroit Lions||DET -10||Lions|
|Oakland Raiders||San Diego Chargers||SD -10||Chargers|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||GB -1||Packers|
|New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||BAL -2||Ravens|
|Atlanta Falcons||San Francisco 49ers||SF -14||Falcons|
Spread info via Vegas Insider
Miami Dolphins (-2.5) at Buffalo Bills
Although the Bills did beat the Dolphins earlier in the year, these are very different teams at this point of the season.
Miami has won three games in a row and has put itself in good position to qualify for the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill has especially been impressive, as noted by Phil Simms:
With his poise in the sight of a lot of pressure, the second-year quarterback has proven that he can overcome whatever the Bills defense throws at him.
Meanwhile, Buffalo has played three games in a row against 4-10 teams and has only come out with one win. To make matters worse, starting quarterback EJ Manuel will be out with a knee injury, according to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald.
Even on the road, the Dolphins should be able to keep up the recent winning streak and stay in playoff contention.
Carolina Panthers (-3) vs. New Orleans Saints
The general theory when it comes to betting lines is that home-field advantage is worth three points. However, the New Orleans Saints should gain or lose close to 10 based on location.
At home, they are 7-0 and have been generally dominant. On the road, they are 3-4 and have lost some very winnable games. ESPN Stats and Information also points out that the scores have been very different:
The Saints PPG differential at home this season is +17.5. On the road, it's -4.7 PPG.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 20, 2013
We’re kind of proving you guys (media) right, right now, which is unfortunate because we certainly don’t feel that way about ourselves. The record doesn’t lie. We have to play better on the road. No excuses, we have to play better on the road and we will.
Carolina struggled in New Orleans two weeks ago, but the Panthers should be ready to go in a very important home game. They are 6-1 at Bank of America Stadium, with the one loss coming against the Seattle Seahawks in the first game of the year.
It is hard betting against a 10-4 team, but this spread should be much higher simply based on location.
St. Louis Rams (-5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay has played well in the second half of the season, but the offense remains suspect. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has regressed since his hot start, and the running attack has gone quiet as well.
Meanwhile, the Rams will cause even more problems with a pass rush that ranks fifth in the NFL in sacks this season. Drew Brees found this out the hard way in Week 14 when he was sacked four times and hit seven times.
This pressure will cause Glennon to make mistakes that the Rams certainly know how to take advantage of at home.
In the last two games in the Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis beat the Saints and Chicago Bears by a combined 32 points. The Rams totaled a plus-six turnover differential in these two contests.
As long as Kellen Clemens avoids mistakes (five interceptions in four losses as starter, zero interceptions in three wins), St. Louis should get another big win.
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