Bleacher Report's Expert Week 16 NFL Picks

BR NFL StaffDecember 22, 2022

Bleacher Report's Expert Week 16 NFL Picks

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    Ezekiel Elliott (left), Dak Prescott (middle) and CeedDee Lamb (right)
    Ezekiel Elliott (left), Dak Prescott (middle) and CeedDee Lamb (right)AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

    Bleacher Report's NFL experts huddled for an emergency virtual meeting, but they didn't discuss holiday plans. No, they talked about how they can break out of a slump in time to stuff your stockings with winning picks for Week 16.

    As a group, NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brent Sobleski, Kris Knox and Maurice Moton, editor Wes O'Donnell and B/R Betting host of "Winners Only Wednesdays" Greg Ivory sit right on the .500 mark, and they feel the pressure to get back into the green this week.

    Our crew has learned hard lessons about taking double-digit favorites in recent weeks, and with temperatures dropping across the country, they expect more close margins even in games between playoff contenders and bottom-tier teams.

    Before we move ahead, let's take a look at our betting leaderboard with Week 15 results in parentheses.

    1. O'Donnell: 111-106-7 (7-8-1)

    2. Moton: 107-110-7 (5-10-1)

    T-3. Davenport: 104-113-7 (2-13-1)

    T-3. Ivory: 104-113-7 (7-8-1)

    5. Sobleski: 103-114-7 (9-6-1)

    6. Knox: 99-118-7 (8-7-1)

    Consensus picks: 97-97-7 (4-8-1)


    Lines are from DraftKings as of Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 4 p.m. ET. Check DraftKings for the latest odds info. Information on public betting trends is courtesy of the Action Network. ATS records are provided by TeamRankings.

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-8) at New York Jets (7-7)

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    Trevor Lawrence
    Trevor LawrenceDavid Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Editor's Note: Jaguars defeated the Jets 19-3 on Thursday night.

    DraftKings Line: Jets -1.5

    The New York Jets look to snap a three-game losing streak on Thursday night, and to do that, they must ramp up their scoring rate. They'll host the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have racked up 76 points in their last two outings with quarterback Trevor Lawrence on a tear from the pocket.

    Since Week 9, Lawrence has thrown for 14 touchdowns and just one interception; Jacksonville went 4-2 in that stretch.

    In contrast, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, who went No. 2 overall behind Lawrence in the 2021 draft, has continued to struggle in his second season, throwing for six touchdowns and six interceptions with a 54.9 percent completion rate in eight contests.

    Our crew backed the Jaguars because of Lawrence's recent strides, though O'Donnell isn't quite sold on Jacksonville and expects Gang Green to turn this matchup into a slow-paced battle.

    "The only one of our crew on the rarely favored Jets—and I'm not even a Jets fan. Ultimately, I'm still not enough of a believer in the Jaguars, despite Lawrence's undeniable ascension, to string together three straight wins. New York has suffered tough defeats in Minnesota, in Buffalo and to the roaring Detroit Lions in the last three weeks.

    "Quinnen Williams, a genuine game-time decision, would be a welcome boost for Gang Green's defense if he plays. Regardless, I'm leaning on the Jets to grind out this game on the ground in hopes of keeping Lawrence out of rhythm and oft-maligned Zach Wilson efficient. This is a risky wager, but I'm taking the side of streaks snapping in this topsy-turvy NFL season."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Jaguars

    Ivory: Jaguars

    Knox: Jaguars

    Moton: Jaguars

    O'Donnell: Jets

    Sobleski: Jaguars

    Consensus: Jaguars +1.5

    Score Prediction: Jaguars 23, Jets 20

Buffalo Bills (11-3) at Chicago Bears (3-11)

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    Josh Allen
    Josh AllenAP Photo/Joshua Bessex

    DraftKings Line: Bills -8.5

    On a five-game win streak, the Buffalo Bills may have their sights set on the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but they shouldn't overlook the Chicago Bears, who have lost four of their last five games by just five or fewer points with Justin Fields under center.

    While our panel expects the Bills to beat the Bears, who are on a seven-game losing streak, Moton gave the nod to Chicago against the spread because he believes the weather will even the playing field.

    "In temperatures that will 'feel like' it's several degrees below zero, the Bears should be able to hang with the Bills because of their No. 1-ranked ground attack. Though the Bills field the eighth-ranked rushing offense, their high-octane aerial attack won't be on a full display in windy conditions.

    "Both signal-callers in this game lead their respective clubs in rushing, though Fields has racked up numbers on the ground at an exceptional rate and became the third quarterback to run for at least 1,000 yards in a season. Moreover, Chicago activated Khalil Herbert (hip) from injured reserve, who averages six yards per carry. Assuming the explosive ball-carrier suits up, one can argue that the Bears have the better rushing trio (running backs plus quarterback).

    "The Bills will win this contest because they're the better team, but the Bears will challenge them in a run-heavy battle."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Bills

    Ivory: Bills

    Knox: Bills

    Moton: Bears

    O'Donnell: Bears

    Sobleski: Bills

    Consensus: Bills -8.5

    Score Prediction: Bills 24, Bears 13

Detroit Lions (7-7) at Carolina Panthers (5-9)

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    D'Andre Swift
    D'Andre SwiftAP Photo/Seth Wenig

    DraftKings Line: Lions -3

    The Carolina Panthers will host the red-hot Detroit Lions, who have won three consecutive games and six of their last seven outings. Detroit is also tied with the New York Giants for the second-best record against the spread (10-4).

    As the Lions push for a wild-card playoff spot, the Panthers still have a chance to catch the 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the NFC South title. Moton backed the better overall team to cruise toward a victory.

    "The Lions should comfortably cover a three-point spread with the Panthers, who must win with their ground game in a low-scoring contest because they don't trust quarterback Sam Darnold to do anything more than manage the offense.

    "This season, the fifth-year signal-caller hasn't thrown more than 24 passes in any of his three starts, making 14 or fewer completions in those outings. Keep in mind that Detroit has allowed an average of 55.7 rushing yards over its last three outings.

    "Over the past month, Detroit has shown it can beat opponents on the ground with a two-man backfield that features D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, through the air with Jared Goff, who's thrown for eight touchdowns without an interception since Week 12, and with a gritty defense that's forced a turnover in all but one game this season.

    "Detroit will keep its win streak intact and cover the spread with a physical performance, puncturing Carolina's 22nd-ranked run defense."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Lions

    Ivory: Lions

    Knox: Lions

    Moton: Lions

    O'Donnell: Lions

    Sobleski: Lions

    Consensus: Lions -3

    Score Prediction: Lions 26, Panthers 20

Seattle Seahawks (7-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)

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    Patrick Mahomes
    Patrick MahomesAP Photo/David J. Phillip

    DraftKings Line: Chiefs -10

    After a 21-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks have had extra time to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs.

    The Seahawks must make do without wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who, according to head coach Pete Carroll, may miss just one game following finger surgery. For now, wideout Marquise Goodwin will likely fill a void opposite DK Metcalf on the perimeter. Perhaps tight end Noah Fant, whom Seattle acquired in the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade, will take on a bigger role in the passing game as well.

    While most of our panel gave the nod to the Chiefs as quarterback Patrick Mahomes puts together an MVP-caliber season, Sobleski picked the Seahawks to cover because of Kansas City's shaky defense, which ranks 22nd against the pass and 19th in scoring.

    "Quietly, the Chiefs defense hasn't been playing all that well as of late. Losing to the Cincinnati Bengals and giving up 431 yards is somewhat acceptable, considering how good the Bengals are performing in recent weeks. Russell Wilson and Co. putting up 320 yards, albeit in garbage time, is unacceptable.

    "If the Texans had better QB play and playmakers, Kansas City likely loses that game this past weekend. Seattle is a better team than the Chiefs' last two opponents, that's for certain. The Seahawks may not have an explosive offense, but Geno Smith is a capable starter with a good enough supporting cast to keep this close enough or manage a backdoor cover."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Chiefs

    Ivory: Chiefs

    Knox: Chiefs

    Moton: Seahawks

    O'Donnell: Chiefs

    Sobleski: Seahawks

    Consensus: Chiefs -10

    Score Prediction: Chiefs 35, Seahawks 24

Cincinnati Bengals (10-4) at New England Patriots (7-7)

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    Joe Burrow
    Joe BurrowAP Photo/Peter Joneleit

    DraftKings Line: Bengals -3

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick should pull up footage of his 2014 press conference when he said, "we're on to Cincinnati." The Patriots lead skipper probably wants to forget about wideout Jakobi Meyers' inexplicable mistake on a lateral pass that allowed Las Vegas Raiders edge-rusher Chandler Jones to score on a fumble recovery.

    Surprisingly, a Belichick-led team doesn't seem well-coached in all situations right now. Most of our panel expects the Cincinnati Bengals to thump the Patriots, except Davenport. He made the case that New England's seventh-ranked scoring defense can slow down the Bengals, who come into this contest on a six-game win streak.

    "These are two teams barreling and different directions. The Bengals are the hottest team in the league, while the Patriots are dealing with the sudden disappearance of Meyers, who went into Belichick's office after last week's stunning loss to the Raiders and was never seen or heard from again.

    "Kidding aside, the Patriots are reeling after last week's debacle, but they remain one of the league's better defensive teams. The Bengals, on the other hand, quietly have problems on the edge after Sam Hubbard joined Trey Hendrickson on the shelf last week. The Patriots may not win this game, but they can keep it close—close enough that I'll take the points."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Patriots

    Ivory: Bengals

    Knox: Bengals

    Moton: Bengals

    O'Donnell: Bengals

    Sobleski: Bengals

    Consensus: Bengals -3

    Score Prediction: Bengals 21, Patriots 16

Houston Texans (1-12-1) at Tennessee Titans (7-7)

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    Derrick Henry
    Derrick HenryAP Photo/Ashley Landis

    DraftKings Line: Titans -4

    In the last four meetings between these teams, the Houston Texans have beaten the Tennessee Titans or lost by one possession.

    The Texans have just one victory, but they nearly upset the Dallas Cowboys (27-23) and the Kansas City Chiefs (30-24) over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, the Titans have lost four consecutive games, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill will attempt to play through an ankle injury. With that said, he has an "uphill battle" to suit up, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

    Our panel is split on this game, but Moton provided reasons to lay the points with Tennessee.

    "This spread opened at eight points, which is a good bet in favor of the Texans, but the line dropped four points. With a slimmer margin, bettors should back the Titans, who come into this contest desperate for a victory. Tennessee ran for a whopping 314 yards on Houston's defense in a 17-10 win in Week 8. We should expect a similar run-heavy game plan and outcome with Tannehill battling an ankle injury.

    "Even if Tannehill doesn't suit up, Tennessee proved it can beat Houston with rookie third-rounder Malik Willis, who started in the first division meeting. The Texans have been a pesky opponent for two of the league's top teams over the past couple of weeks, but the Titans get off the schneid and win by a touchdown with another exceptional rushing performance."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Texans

    Ivory: Titans

    Knox: Texans

    Moton: Titans

    O'Donnell: Titans

    Sobleski: Texans

    Consensus: None

    Score Prediction: Titans 20, Texans 14

New Orleans Saints (5-9) at Cleveland Browns (6-8)

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    Nick Chubb
    Nick ChubbFrank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    DraftKings Line: Browns -2.5

    Despite their sub-.500 records, the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns remain alive in playoff races. The Saints can still catch the 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South, and the Browns have an outside shot at an AFC wild-card berth, so we should expect a competitive interconference matchup.

    The Browns have picked up some steam in recent weeks, winning three of their last four games. Even though Deshaun Watson has thrown for just two touchdowns and two interceptions with a 60.9 percent completion rate in three contests, Cleveland's run-first offense has been the biggest factor in its last three wins, averaging 168.7 yards on the ground in those victories.

    Knox highlighted the Browns defense, their ground attack and the weather in his decision to back Cleveland.

    "If this were a larger line, I probably wouldn't pick Cleveland," he said. "The Browns offense has been quite bad ever since Watson joined the lineup, and I think they'll struggle to move the ball through the air once again. However, I see three things working in Cleveland's favor here.

    "One, the Saints haven't been great at forcing turnovers. They have the fewest interceptions (three) and takeaways (10) for the season. Meanwhile, New Orleans has coughed it up 22 times on offense. Cleveland can win the turnover battle, especially at home.

    "Secondly, the Saints have struggled to stop the run, allowing an average of 4.6 yards per carry. I think Nick Chubb (if healthy) and Kareem Hunt will impact this game a lot more than Watson does.

    "Thirdly, we're likely to see extreme cold and snow in Cleveland this weekend. That will work against the dome team as Cleveland clings on to its slim playoff hopes for another week."

    Bettors should keep an eye on Chubb's status for Saturday's game. He missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday because of a foot injury. Without him, D'Ernest Johnson would likely split the rushing workload with Hunt.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Saints

    Ivory: Browns

    Knox: Browns

    Moton: Browns

    O'Donnell: Browns

    Sobleski: Browns

    Consensus: Browns -2.5

    Score Prediction: Browns 24, Saints 20

New York Giants (8-5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (11-3)

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    Saquon Barkley
    Saquon BarkleyRob Carr/Getty Images

    DraftKings Line: Vikings -4.5

    Coming off the biggest comeback in NFL history, the Minnesota Vikings will try to maintain their momentum in a tough matchup with the New York Giants, who hold the No. 6 seed in the NFC.

    If the Vikings start off flat as they did last week, don't expect another miracle in Minneapolis. Half of our panelists have a skeptical eye on Minnesota because the club fell behind by 33 points against a bottom-tier Indianapolis Colts squad. O'Donnell presented some key numbers against the spread in his decision to go with Big Blue.

    "You already know the storyline: Minnesota clinched the NFC North last weekend with the NFL's largest comeback in history by erasing a 33-point deficit in the second half. The Giants, meanwhile, have yet to score 30 points in any game this season. Justin Jefferson will be a problem for the Giants secondary, and New York has only notched two wins in its last six games.

    "But New York is 8-2 ATS as an underdog, 4-1 ATS and 4-2 straight up as an away team, and 7-2 ATS in non-division games. Outside of the Eagles drubbing them in Week 14, the Giants have a tendency to muddy up games enough to stick around, while Minnesota, despite its lofty record, also rarely wins pretty. There's certainly a scenario in which Minnesota runs away with this game, but I'll stick to the trends and take the points."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Giants

    Ivory: Vikings

    Knox: Vikings

    Moton: Giants

    O'Donnell: Giants

    Sobleski: Vikings

    Consensus: None

    Score Prediction: Giants 28, Vikings 27

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) at Baltimore Ravens (9-5)

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    Tyler Allgeier
    Tyler AllgeierAP Photo/Daniel Kucin Jr.

    DraftKings Line: Ravens -7.5

    Last week, Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder had an uneventful debut against the New Orleans Saints, going 13-of-26 passing for 97 yards with 38 rushing yards. This week, he'll face the Baltimore Ravens' 25th-ranked pass defense, though the unit has tightened up since the team acquired linebacker Roquan Smith.

    Since Smith joined the defense in November, Baltimore has allowed 195 passing yards or fewer in five out of six contests. On a sour note, for the Ravens, they may play their third consecutive game without quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has a sprained PCL. As of Wednesday, he's yet to practice, which means Tyler Huntley could start against Atlanta.

    As Moton points out, the Falcons should and will likely lean on their ground attack to keep pace with the Ravens in freezing temperatures.

    "If Jackson returned to practice and seemed likely to play in this game, the Ravens would be the obvious pick, but that's not the case. As one of several contests that may have frigid kickoff temperatures, this Falcons vs. Ravens matchup will boil down to dueling top-three rushing offenses.

    "The Falcons placed running back Caleb Huntley on injured reserve, and quarterback Marcus Mariota is out for the season as well, but rookie fifth-round running back Tyler Allgeier had a breakout Week 15 outing, rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. He'll pair with Cordarrelle Patterson to keep Atlanta's third-ranked run game on track in a battle with Baltimore's second-ranked ground attack.

    "Lastly, over the past three weeks, the Ravens have scored two touchdowns with Huntley under center, so bettors shouldn't have much confidence in this team's ability to cover a 7.5-point spread without Jackson."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Falcons

    Ivory: Falcons

    Knox: Falcons

    Moton: Falcons

    O'Donnell: Ravens

    Sobleski: Falcons

    Consensus: Falcons +7.5

    Score Prediction: Ravens 17, Falcons 14

Washington Commanders (7-6-1) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4)

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    Nick Bosa
    Nick BosaSteph Chambers/Getty Images

    DraftKings Line: 49ers -7.5

    The Washington Commanders have lost some of their sizzle, or they need to play a team other than the New York Giants to get back in the win column.

    Between Weeks 6 and 12, the Commanders went 6-1, but they tied with the Giants and then lost to them on the other side of a bye week. Though quarterback Taylor Heinicke has had some decent showings since he took over for Carson Wentz in Week 7, Washington leans heavily on its ground attack, rushing for 137-plus yards in six consecutive contests.

    The Commanders may find it difficult to operate their run-first offense against the San Francisco 49ers, who allow the fewest rushing yards per game this season, but Sobleski thinks Washington will do enough on the ground to cover the spread.

    "This selection is more about Washington's ability to keep games tight rather than picking against the 49ers. Interestingly, San Francisco won seven straight by an average margin of 16.6 points. Conversely, the Commanders' last seven games have been decided on average by six points.

    "What this contest really comes down to is whether a physical Washington run game can churn out some yards against San Francisco's top-ranked defense. The combination of Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson give Washington a legitimate shot to keep this a low-scoring affair and much tighter than seen regularly during the 49ers' recent winning streak."

    While Sobleski makes some good points, bettors should note that the 49ers have a 5-1 record against the spread as a home favorite.

    Predictions

    Davenport: 49ers

    Ivory: 49ers

    Knox: 49ers

    Moton: 49ers

    O'Donnell: 49ers

    Sobleski: Commanders

    Consensus: 49ers -7.5

    Score Prediction: 49ers 26, Commanders 17

Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

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    Tony Pollard (left) and Ezekiel Elliott (right)
    Tony Pollard (left) and Ezekiel Elliott (right)Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    DraftKings Line: Cowboys -5

    In the first meeting between these NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys didn't have their starting quarterback, Dak Prescott, and had to roll with Cooper Rush. They came up short 26-17 in Week 6.

    This week, the Philadelphia Eagles have a question mark at quarterback as Jalen Hurts deals with a shoulder sprain. He hasn't practiced in preparation for the upcoming matchup, and Gardner Minshew could make his first start of the 2022 campaign.

    With that said, our crew couldn't come to a consensus here. Half of the panel has faith in Minshew and his experience (22 career starts) to keep the score within a field goal. On the other hand, Knox can see the Cowboys running away with a victory by a sizeable point margin.

    "This is admittedly a larger line than what I'd like to see, though I'm assuming the uncertain status of Hurts has a lot to do with it. Whether it's Hurts or Minshew for the Eagles, I think this will be an extremely competitive game that the Cowboys manage to take with a late drive.

    "Philadelphia is the more complete team, and the Cowboys' banged-up defense may be problematic. However, the Cowboys match up extremely well with Philadelphia in one aspect. They can run the ball, and the Eagles haven't been great at stopping the run. They've surrendered an average of 4.7 yards per carry, which ranks 25th in the NFL.

    "I expect Dallas to lean heavily on Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott here, keeping Philly's offense off the field and avoiding a repeat of last week's defensive meltdown. The Eagles won the first matchup by nine but benefited heavily from three Dallas turnovers (four counting a turnover on downs in DAL territory) and Prescott's absence. The Cowboys will take better care of the football and claim a little revenge in the rematch."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Eagles

    Ivory: Cowboys

    Knox: Cowboys

    Moton: Eagles

    O'Donnell: Cowboys

    Sobleski: Eagles

    Consensus: None

    Score Prediction: Cowboys 28, Eagles 23

Las Vegas Raiders (6-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8)

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    Josh Jacobs
    Josh JacobsMichael Owens/Getty Images

    DraftKings Line: Steelers -2.5

    Las Vegas Raiders edge-rusher Chandler Jones sealed a Week 15 victory over the New England Patriots with a fumble recovery for a touchdown, which added to a topsy-turvy season for the Silver and Black.

    Over the past two weeks, the Raiders have made it difficult for bettors. As favorites in Week 14, they gave up 14 points in 3:19 seconds in a 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. This past Sunday, they crushed anyone who backed the Patriots (-1) with two touchdowns in 32 seconds in a win.

    How will the Raiders' next outing pan out? Moton thinks Vegas has enough playmakers to overpower Pittsburgh's defense in frosty conditions.

    "The Raiders and Steelers will play outdoors in what will feel like sub-zero degree temperatures. With that in mind, Vegas has a workhorse running back in Josh Jacobs, who leads the league in rushing with 1,495 yards to go along with 11 scores on the ground. Between some hard-nosed runs, the Raiders can take a few shots downfield to Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow out of play-action designs.

    "Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett has made strides, but he's thrown for just four touchdowns and eight interceptions in 10 games (nine starts). Pittsburgh's ground attack averages 4.1 yards per carry, which ranks 25th leaguewide while Vegas ranks fifth with five yards per rush attempt. The Raiders offense will bring more heat than the Steelers unit on a blustery cold night on Christmas Eve.

    Predictions

    Davenport: Steelers

    Ivory: Raiders

    Knox: Steelers

    Moton: Raiders

    O'Donnell: Raiders

    Sobleski: Raiders

    Consensus: Raiders +2.5

    Score Prediction: Raiders 24, Steelers 21

Green Bay Packers (6-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-6)

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    Tua Tagovailoa
    Tua TagovailoaAP Photo/Adrian Kraus

    DraftKings Line: Dolphins -3.5

    The Miami Dolphins just went 0-3 on a three-game road trip. They lost by an average of 8.3 points to playoff-caliber teams. Have we overestimated them?

    Though the Dolphins have quality wins against the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills from early in the season, Miami's 26th-ranked scoring defense has allowed at least 23 points in each of the team's previous three outings. Meanwhile, in the same stretch, the Green Bay Packers have averaged 28.3 points per game.

    Our panel favors the Dolphins, who have a 3-1 record as a home favorite against the spread, but Davenport pointed to Miami's suspect defense in his decision to pick Green Bay.

    "The Packers have a little positive momentum for the first time in a long time after winning two straight, while the Dolphins are suddenly desperate to keep their playoff hopes from fading farther after dropping three in a row," he said.

    "The Dolphins shouldn't have much difficulty moving the ball in this one, but the Packers probably won't either—Miami's defense is becoming a cause for legitimate concern, especially against the pass (ranked 27th). The Packers will probably attempt to use running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to control the clock and dictate tempo, and I think they can do that well enough to at least keep this game close. Green Bay winning outright isn't completely outside the realm of possibility."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Packers

    Ivory: Dolphins

    Knox: Dolphins

    Moton: Dolphins

    O'Donnell: Dolphins

    Sobleski: Dolphins

    Consensus: Dolphins -3.5

    Score Prediction: Dolphins 28, Packers 22

Denver Broncos (4-10) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10)

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    Baker Mayfield
    Baker MayfieldStacy Revere/Getty Images

    DraftKings Line: Broncos -2.5

    Three months ago, this game seemed like a marquee matchup, but the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams head into this contest out of playoff contention with 4-10 records.

    Russell Wilson, who missed the previous week because of a concussion, has played through his worst season, and the Rams had to claim Baker Mayfield off waivers to patch up their quarterback situation with Matthew Stafford on injured reserve. Los Angeles has a run-first offense, with wideouts Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II also on injured reserve.

    Moton took the Broncos to cover because of their defense and a running back they plucked off the New Orleans Saints practice squad back in October.

    "In a matchup between the league's lowest-scoring teams, bettors should take the club with the stingier defense. The Rams lost starting center Brian Allen and wideout Ben Skowronek for the season, which doesn't bode well for Mayfield as he prepares to go against the Broncos' fifth-ranked defensive unit, which has allowed the third-fewest points.

    "Wilson has been a disappointment, throwing for 11 touchdowns and six interceptions in 12 outings, but he has decent playmakers who can attack Los Angeles' 21st-ranked pass defense. Wideout Jerry Jeudy and tight end Greg Dulcich could have big games, and wide receiver Courtland Sutton (hamstring) may return from a two-game absence.

    "We won't see an offensive masterpiece, but the Broncos cover thanks to their defense and running back Latavius Murray, who ran for 130 yards and a touchdown last week."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Rams

    Ivory: Rams

    Knox: Rams

    Moton: Broncos

    O'Donnell: Broncos

    Sobleski: Rams

    Consensus: Rams +2.5

    Score Prediction: Rams 20, Broncos 16

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) at Arizona Cardinals (4-10)

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    Tom Brady
    Tom BradyAP Photo/Peter Joneleit

    DraftKings Line: Buccaneers -7.5

    Most of us have waited for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to flip the switch and morph into a playoff-contending juggernaut for months. Perhaps we should come to the realization that the Buccaneers are just a mediocre squad that will squeak into the playoffs because they play in a bad division.

    The Buccaneers have the league's worst record against the spread (3-10-1), but Moton explained why he laid the points with them on behalf of the panel's unanimous decision.

    "Don't throw a party for the Buccaneers after they thump a lowly Arizona Cardinals team that will trot out third-string signal-caller Trace McSorley in place of Colt McCoy (concussion) on Christmas. With a downgrade at quarterback, Arizona will struggle against Tampa Bay's 10th-ranked scoring defense.

    "The Buccaneers' biggest issue is on the offensive side of the ball. Since Week 13, they've committed nine turnovers. If quarterback Tom Brady and Co. protect the ball, Tampa Bay should be able to go up and down the field against the Cardinals, who have allowed the most points per game for the 2022 term.

    "The Buccaneers have only scored more than 23 points once this season (which came in a loss), which makes them a shaky bet with a 7.5-point spread, but the Cardinals' suboptimal quarterback situation and their porous defense give Tampa Bay a good shot to cover this week."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Buccaneers

    Ivory: Cardinals

    Knox: Buccaneers

    Moton: Buccaneers

    O'Donnell: Buccaneers

    Sobleski: Buccaneers

    Consensus: Buccaneers -7.5

    Score Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Cardinals 16

Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) at Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1)

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    Justin Herbert
    Justin HerbertAP Photo/Kyusung Gong

    DraftKings Line: Chargers -5

    We should all assume that interim head coach Jeff Saturday isn't going to get the full-time job as the Indianapolis Colts' lead skipper. On his watch, the team allowed the biggest comeback in NFL history, squandering a 33-point lead to the Minnesota Vikings.

    On Wednesday, the Colts announced that Nick Foles will start over Matt Ryan, whom the team has benched for the second time this season. The former hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since Week 16 of the 2021 campaign.

    Typically, teams rebound from embarrassing losses with a competitive performance, but Moton doesn't see how the Colts recover from their historic debacle with minimal second-half production over the past couple of weeks.

    "The Colts haven't scored in the fourth quarter since their Week 10 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. They've lost the points battle in the second half of their previous two games 69-9. Under Saturday, Indianapolis has fallen apart, and the club won't find its way under the bright lights of Monday Night Football with Foles under center.

    "The Chargers have limited their last two opponents to 17 or fewer points without safety Derwin James Jr. or edge-rusher Joey Bosa. James (quad) could return to action for this contest, but even if he doesn't, Los Angeles should roll the Colts, who won't have star running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle) on the field for the remainder of the 2022 term.

    "At some point, quarterback Justin Herbert will pick apart a defense that allowed Kirk Cousins to throw four touchdowns in the second half of last week's historic game. Chargers cover against a hapless Colts squad."

    Predictions

    Davenport: Chargers

    Ivory: Chargers

    Knox: Chargers

    Moton: Chargers

    O'Donnell: Chargers

    Sobleski: Chargers

    Consensus: Chargers -5

    Score Prediction: Chargers 28, Colts 20


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