NFL Week 16 Betting Guide: Odds, Props and Picks

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 22, 2018

NFL Week 16 Betting Guide: Odds, Props and Picks

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    Week 16 has always been a little odd. Your focus might not entirely be there with the holidays in full swing, and a given team's focus might not entirely be there because it's got nothing to play for, making it difficult to get a read on a number of games.

    But moneymaking opportunities still exist on the penultimate weekend of the 2018 NFL regular season.

    Here's our latest look at Week 16, with a guide for upcoming games, notes on spreads, over/unders and moneylines, top picks and the lock of the week.


Moneyline Picks and Picks Against the Spread

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    Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans (-10.5, 37.5 O/U): Redskins -10.5 and Titans -490

    Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers (-4, 42 O/U): Chargers -4 and -200

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (-7, 48 O/U): Cowboys -7 and -299

    New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts (-9.5, 48 O/U): Colts -9.5 and -430

    Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5, 46 O/U): Eagles -1.5 and -118

    Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins (-3.5, 38.5 O/U): Dolphins -3.5 and -187

    Green Bay Packers (-3, 46.5 O/U) at New York Jets: Jets +3 and +130

    Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-9, 43 O/U): Browns -9 and -408

    Minnesota Vikings (-6, 42.5 O/U) at Detroit Lions: Vikings -6 and -258

    Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-13.5, 44.5 O/U): Patriots -13.5 and -790

    Atlanta Falcons (-3, 44 O/U) at Carolina Panthers: Falcons -3 and -148

    Chicago Bears (-4, 43 O/U) at San Francisco 49ers: 49ers +4 and Bears -205

    Los Angeles Rams (-14.5, 44 O/U) at Arizona Cardinals: Rams -14.5 and -750

    Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints (-6, 53 O/U): Saints -6 and -250

    Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, 54.5 O/U) at Seattle Seahawks: Seahawks +2.5 and +131

    Denver Broncos (-3, 42 O/U) at Oakland Raiders: Raiders +3 and +135

Stay-Away Games

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    Packers (-3) at Jets

    For some reason a less-than-100-percent Aaron Rodgers is suiting up for a Green Bay team that was eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15. But Rodgers hasn't been himself all season and has a mere 84.3 passer rating in his last four games. While you may be tempted to jump on the Pack with just a three-point sacrifice, that's still dangerous.

    Not that the Jets are a safer bet. Hard to be confident in an erratic 4-10 team that is facing the highest-rated passer in NFL history, regardless of recent results. Gang Green played very well last Saturday against the Texans but still lost by seven points. Two weeks earlier, they led the Titans all day but still fell by four. They've also lost five games by 14-plus points this season.

    Which Sam Darnold will show up? Will we see the opportunistic Jets defense that helped them beat the Bills in Week 14? Or will it be the impotent D that had zero takeaways from Week 7 to Week 12?

    Too many questions in this matchup between teams that have nothing on the line.


    Giants at Colts (-9.5)

    The Colts just shut out an NFC East team, while the Giants were just shut out by an AFC South team. But that doesn't mean you should gladly back Indy and spot Big Blue nine points. The yo-yo nature of this league makes mean-reversion something to watch for in this matchup, especially considering the Giants offense has both exploded and imploded in polarizing outings without Odell Beckham Jr.

    Are the Giants phoning it in? Or was last week's loss an aberration for a team that had won four of five? Is the Indy defense for real? And are we sure the Colts won't lay another offensive egg just a few weeks after being shut out in Jacksonville?

    Again, all of the questions aren't ideal, especially with the backdoor cover up for grabs with that high line.

    I'm leaning in the Giants' direction, but it's really hard to get behind that team at the moment.


    Rams (-14.5) at Cardinals

    On one hand, six of the last seven two-touchdown road favorites failed to cover the spread. On the other hand, are you really willing to bet on an Arizona team that was just embarrassed by the Falcons?

    The Cardinals have lost an NFC-high five games by 17-plus points this season, and it's fair to wonder what they'll have left in the tank against a Rams team that likes to bully weak opponents. Los Angeles crushed Arizona 34-0 back in Week 2.

    But a lot has changed since then, and the Rams have struggled in back-to-back losses. An argument could be made that they're due to bounce back and take no prisoners, but it's also possible they've lost their mojo.

    You're better off waiting to find out.


    Bears (-4) at 49ers

    The 49ers are the problem here. On paper, they're an injury-ravaged team starting a third-string quarterback with no incentive to win while jockeying for NFL draft positioning. But in reality they've won back-to-back December games over strong opponents (Denver and Seattle), and they're at home again.

    Heck, they can even lose to the traveling Bears by a field goal and still cover, which is why I'm leaning San Francisco's way. But that lean isn't worth anyone's hard-earned money. Chicago is still a substantially healthier and more talented team, and the Bears have plenty to play for now that the Rams have allowed them to join the race for a first-round bye.

    Chicago has already stumbled on the road in Miami and New York this season. Could the Bears get caught in a trap following an emotional, division-clinching victory over their biggest rival? Let's find out with no skin in the game.


    Broncos (-3) at Raiders

    As Bleacher Report's blurb on this matchup in our weekly ATS picks stated: "Focus on the many games that matter on Dec. 23 instead of the one that doesn't on Christmas Eve."

    The Broncos hit an early December wall following the losses of Chris Harris Jr. and Emmanuel Sanders to injury, and now they've got nothing to play for at 6-8. Now they go up against a team that is used to having nothing to play for but still performed impressively in recent home matchups with the Chiefs and Steelers.

    Could the Raiders be inspired to beat one of their best rivals in what might be the last-ever game at Oakland‚ÄďAlameda County Coliseum? It's possible, but you're still only getting three points with a three-win team that is coming off a two-touchdown loss to the Cincinnati freakin' Bengals.

    Just stay away and enjoy the holidays.

Prop Bets You Can Take to the Bank

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    Ravens at Chargers: Keenan Allen under 60.5 receiving yards (-120)

    Not only is Allen dealing with a hip injury, but he's also going up against a Baltimore defense ranked sixth in the NFL in terms of DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) by Football Outsiders when defending No. 1 receivers.

    He's been held to fewer than 60 yards just three times this season, but considering his injury and the defense he's facing, it's worth betting that Philip Rivers will spread the ball around to a wide variety of his weapons in what should be a close, defensive battle Saturday night.


    Jaguars at Dolphins: Under 4.5 total touchdowns (-161)

    Only the Bills have scored fewer touchdowns than the Jaguars (23), who don't appear to have a lot left in them following a lackluster home loss to the Redskins. Jacksonville also has had the worst red-zone offense in the AFC the last three weeks, while the Dolphins' red-zone offense ranks 27th overall.

    Throw in that the Jags also have a top-10 red-zone defense, and this is looking like a game that will have plenty of field-goal attempts but not a lot of pay dirt.


    Bears at 49ers: 49ers most turnovers (+110)

    This one looks like a no-brainer. The Bears lead the NFL with 35 takeaways, while the 49ers have an NFL-low five takeaways. That discrepancy is incredible.

    There's always a decent chance this prop will result in a draw, but San Francisco has lost the turnover battle in five consecutive games, while the Bears have won it in eight of their 14. There's no reason to believe those trends will change Sunday.


    Texans at Eagles: DeAndre Hopkins over 91.5 receiving yards (-105)

    Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles have surrendered a league-worst 93.5 yards per game to No. 1 receivers this season. And Hopkins is no ordinary No. 1 receiver. He's coming off a 170-yard performance against the Jets, and he's been targeted at least 10 times in three consecutive games.

    It's obvious Deshaun Watson likes to lean on Hopkins in big spots, and there's a good chance the Texans will be fighting for four quarters in a close game Sunday in Philly. Look for Hopkins to receive plenty of targets as a result. He should go over 100 yards easily against a depleted Eagles secondary.

Spreads to Bet

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    Ravens at Chargers (-4)

    Five NFL teams have surrendered more than 27.0 points per game this season, and those are the five teams Lamar Jackson has faced since becoming the Ravens' starting quarterback in Week 11. And yet even against those soft defenses, Jackson completed just 58.9 percent of his passes and averaged a mere 6.5 yards per throw. 

    Saturday night in Los Angeles, the raw rookie out of Louisville will be exposed by a top-10 defense that won't likely let him run all over the place. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Derwin James and the underrated Darius Philon will make life a lot harder than it's been for Jackson, who has rushed for 427 yards in his first five starts.

    Los Angeles has yet to give up more than 50 yards on the ground to a quarterback this season, even though it has faced Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Marcus Mariota, Jeff Driskel and Patrick Mahomes (twice). 

    The Ravens will likely hang around because their defense is good enough to do so and because the Chargers don't have much of a home-field advantage at the StubHub Center, but laying four points with the hotter and more talented Bolts in Carson is an easy decision. 


    Steelers at Saints (-6)

    It's one thing to beat the limping, suddenly-mistake-prone Patriots at home. It's another thing to hang with the mighty New Orleans Saints on the road. So don't assume that because the Steelers beat the Pats in Week 15 they'll cover a six-point spread at the Superdome in Week 16. 

    New Orleans hasn't won a home game by fewer than 10 points since Week 2, while Pittsburgh struggled immensely in its last three road games against 4-10 Jacksonville, 6-8 Denver and 3-11 Oakland.

    Sure, the Saints offense went cold for much of a three-game road trip through Dallas, Tampa and Carolina, but a unit with that many weapons is bound to break back out, and this seems like an appropriate time. The Steelers were struggling to make plays on defense before the Patriots game in Week 15, and they don't generate a lot of turnovers on that side of the ball. 

    The offense, however, has turned it over 11 times in the last five weeks, which doesn't bode well against a D that has 12 takeaways in the same time frame. 

    This is not a spot to trust the erratic, banged-up Ben Roethlisberger, especially without both Le'Veon Bell and James Conner in the offensive backfield. Since Week 10, the Saints have surrendered a league-low 12.3 points per game and are tied for the NFL lead with 14 takeaways.

    With the Saints inspired to clinch the NFC's top seed in front of their home fans, this might not even be close.


    Chiefs at Seahawks (+2.5)

    The Seahawks just burned us as our lock of the week, but we're heading back to that well now that they're back home and inexplicably getting points from a hurting opponent. 

    Without Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs were pushed to their limits by the Raiders, they needed overtime to beat Lamar Jackson at home and they lost at home on a Thursday to the Chargers. That's significant because home favorites were 11-0 on Thursdays this season before Kansas City fell last week to a Bolts team that was without its top receiver and its top two running backs and hadn't won in Kansas City since 2013.

    Now the Chiefs have to face a Seahawks team that is fighting for a playoff spot in prime time. And they have to do so in Seattle, where the Seahawks have the NFC's best home record since drafting Russell Wilson in 2012. 

    Seattle has won three consecutive games at CenturyLink Field by a combined 44 points, while the Kansas City defense has given up 35.0 points per game during a poor four-game stretch. The Chiefs have the league's worst run defense in terms of DVOA, while the Seahawks' rejuvenated running game is No. 1 in yards per game. 

    Look for the more battle-tested, experienced and healthy team to come through at home. 

Line Movement

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    Texans at Eagles: Texans -3.5 to Eagles -1.5

    That opener hit before the Eagles shocked the football world with an emphatic upset over the Rams on Sunday night, leading many to jump on the Nick Foles train. But it was probably too high to begin with, considering that the Eagles always had the biggest matchup advantage in this game.

    That defensive front is likely to pick on Houston's terrible offensive tackle duo of Julie'n Davenport and Kendall Lamm all day.

    You're allowed to still have concerns about the Texans, so this violent swing makes sense.


    Bengals at Browns: Browns -7 to -9

    The Browns bandwagon is fuller than Santa's sleigh, guys. This is only the second time this century (and the first time in over a decade) that Cleveland has been favored by nine or more points. We're on the Browns, but we hope you locked them in early in the week because they've moved to -10 in a lot of spots.

    The difference between -7 and -10 can be massive, especially considering the Browns have won by nine-plus points in just two of their last 49 games. But they did beat the Bengals by 15 points on the road last month, and at one point they led that game 28-0. 


    Falcons at Panthers: Panthers -3.5 to Falcons -3

    We were on the Panthers before this line swung as a result of Carolina's decision to sit quarterback Cam Newton.

    Is the difference between an ailing Newton and a healthy Taylor Heinicke worth seven points? Considering that the eliminated Falcons are coming off a surprisingly impressive victory while the Panthers appear to be throwing in the towel with an undrafted quarterback who has three career completions, Atlanta should probably be the pick well above -3. 


    Chiefs at Seahawks: PK to Chiefs -2.5

    Foreboding as it may be, this movement is good news for anyone on the Seahawks who waited. Some books are even offering Seattle +3, which just seems odd considering the state of both teams. 

    We're expecting the Seahawks to run all over Kansas City's frail defense while winning the turnover battle at home. 

Easy Over/Unders

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    Rams at Cardinals: Over 44 points

    Tried not to overthink this total, which has for some reason dropped by more than a full field goal since opening at 47.5. I was on the over back in those opening days, so it's an easy selection now that we're sub-45. 

    The Rams single-handedly scored 34 points in their last meeting with Arizona, and they've averaged exactly 34.0 points per game in their four matchups with teams that are currently 5-9 or worse. They could easily cover this total on their own against a team that surrendered 40 points to the resigned Falcons in Week 15, but the Cardinals have still been good for double-digit points in 11 of their last 12 games‚ÄĒthough they were shut out in their Week 2 loss to the Rams.

    Garbage time included, look for Arizona to score 13 to 20 points in its home finale, easily pushing this game above 44. 


    Giants at Colts: Under 48 points

    Not sure oddsmakers or the public have caught up with the Indianapolis defense, which has allowed 10 or fewer points in three of Indy's last five games and is surrendering an AFC-low 12.2 points per game since Week 11. 

    That unit is coming off a shutout victory and is facing an offense that was shut out last week. Will the Giants score this time? Without Beckham against a D that is getting the most out of Darius Leonard, Margus Hunt, Anthony Walker, Jabaal Sheard and Quincy Wilson, it's possible the Giants will again settle for a single-digit scoring output. 

    So why is this total so high? The Colts offense has been good with Andrew Luck finally back on track, but that unit was also shut out earlier this month and hasn't scored more than 27 points since Week 11. 

    This one isn't coming close to that total, just as Indy's last five games fell short. 


    Steelers at Saints: Under 53 points

    As good as the Indy defense has been down the stretch, it has been outdone by a Saints D that has surrendered 17 or fewer points in six consecutive games.

    Led by Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, Demario Davis and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore, that unit is for real. And now it'll go up against a mistake-prone Pittsburgh offense that has averaged only 20.3 points per game in its last four road outings. 

    To boot, the Steelers again won't have breakout back/Le'Veon Bell replacement James Conner. And while Conner's backup, Jaylen Samuels, performed well last week against the Patriots, he was was ineffective in his first start one week prior in Oakland. 

    But there's no assurance the Saints offense will wake up and account for most or all of that high total. Not only did New Orleans average just 16.7 points per game on its recent three-game road trip, but the Steelers defense is also coming off a tremendous performance in a 17-10 victory over New England. 

    With tensions high on Sunday, I'm not even sure these teams will combine for 40, let alone 50. 

Value Bets

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    Jaguars at Dolphins (-187)

    Leery of a three-point spread plus a hook in Sunday's battle between north and south Florida? This might be a field-goal game between two "meh" teams, and if you're unable or unwilling to buy back a point to secure Miami at -2.5 or -3, take solace in the fact that the Dolphins are reasonably priced on the moneyline.

    And the way things are going with the Jaguars, a Miami win at home at least feels pretty secure. 

    The Jags are toast coming off consecutive embarrassing losses, the second of which led to another dose of factious comments from the outspoken Jalen Ramsey. Are they still playing hard? It doesn't look like it, and they might not have much incentive to change that against a still-alive Dolphins team that is 6-1 straight-up at home this season. 

    Meanwhile, Jacksonville's only road win this year came by five points over the Week 1.

    Betting the equivalent of $19 to make the equivalent of $10 on the Dolphins winning outright seems like a safe approach.


    Chiefs at Seahawks (+131)

    We've already suggested you grab the Seahawks plus 2.5 points, and if you think this one could go either way, you might want to consider buying half a point to cover yourself in case of a three-point Kansas City victory.

    But if you're confident Seattle will win at home just as it has done 78 percent of the time with Russell Wilson at quarterback, you're better off taking a favorable moneyline than an ATS bet that would cost you about -125 with a half-point purchase. 

    Oddsmakers and/or the betting public are overrating the Chiefs, who haven't played a strong game across the board since beating the Cardinals 26-14 in mid-November. Seattle is much better defensively, it has a jaw-dropping matchup advantage on the ground on offense, and it has the more reliable, experienced quarterback. 

    I know it's scary considering that this is a matchup between the top seed in the AFC and a team fighting for a wild-card spot, but I'd take that +131 and run. 


    Texans (+113) at Eagles

    We're not picking the Texans to win this game, but that doesn't mean they don't represent fantastic value at +113. And frankly, if you think they're covering a 1.5-point spread as an underdog, you're better off risking a tie or a one-point loss and getting +113 instead of -105 or -110. 

    Can the Texans pull it off? Of course. The Eagles secondary is still a mess, DeAndre Hopkins poses more of a threat to said secondary than anyone on the Rams roster did last week, and Philadelphia has lacked consistency all season. That win in Los Angeles might have been an aberration, and it's not as though the Texans don't have Super Bowl talent with Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. 

    Ultimately, we believe Jim Schwartz' defensive front will be too much for Houston's horrendous offensive line, but this is still likely to be a close game. And right now, you can get favorable odds for the team with the much better record. 

Sucker Bet: Packers -143 over Jets

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    If you aren't going to take the Titans -10.5, don't take them at -490 on the moneyline because you figure they'll at least win outright, because oft-unreliable Tennessee is liable to burn you at that price. Don't become enticed by the fact that the Bears cost just -199 on the moneyline in San Francisco, because the 49ers are a hazard at home. And whatever you do, don't drop the equivalent of $14 to make back the equivalent of only $10 just because the Packers are playing Aaron Rodgers. 

    The Jets aren't fooling around right now, and it's important to remember that the Packers have been bad with Rodgers all season. That won't likely change now that they're out of contention. 

    You just can't sacrifice money in support of a team that's 0-7 on the road, at least when said team is indeed on the road. 

    A hobbled Rodgers isn't healthy, running back Aaron Jones is out, Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga and Jimmy Graham are hurt (though the latter two will play Sunday), and the relatively unscathed Jets looked energized the last two weeks against Buffalo and Houston. 

    It's just not worth it. 

Lock of the Week: Vikings -6

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    Not only did the Minnesota offense turn the corner with interim coordinator Kevin Stefanski running the show for the first time in Week 15, but the Vikings defense has also quietly found another gear as well. 

    Minnesota just embarrassed Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill in back-to-back weeks, limiting those two quarterbacks to just 21 completions on 44 pass attempts (47.7 percent) for 180 total yards and zero touchdowns. Their combined rating: 49.3. 

    So good luck to the struggling Matthew Stafford (listed as questionable), who has an 83.8 rating in his last eight games, is dealing with a back injury and again won't have top running back Kerryon Johnson. 

    While the Vikings are fighting for a playoff spot, the Lions have nothing to play for. They've been crushed by injuries on both sides of the ball, and they've lost three of their last four home games by at least seven points. 

    Seven is the magic number in this one. Minnesota isn't even giving up a touchdown, despite the fact that it beat the Lions 24-9 when the two met last month and the fact that the Vikes took care of Detroit by a touchdown when the two met at Ford Field last November. 

    The Vikings scored 30 points in that game and are coming off a 41-point performance against the Dolphins. With a balanced approach taking pressure off quarterback Kirk Cousins, it's fair to wonder if the Lions' depleted defense can handle that unit without the likes of Ezekiel Ansah and Da'Shawn Hand (Damon Harrison and Devon Kennard are both battling injuries as well but haven't been ruled out).

    Most importantly for Cousins and the Vikings, this isn't a high-pressure prime-time game against an elite opponent. It's one of nine early-Sunday games, which is this team's sweet spot. Since Week 6, they're 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 17.3 in 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.  


    All moneylines, spreads and over/under totals are via OddsShark and accurate as of Friday evening. All other bet types are through OddsChecker and accurate as of Friday evening.

    Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.