NFL Predictions Week 16: Picks Guide, Odds Advice and Schedule Info

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2019

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The NFC East title and a home game in the playoffs await the Dallas Cowboys if they beat the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 16 of the 2019 NFL season.

Losing was becoming a common theme for the Cowboys before last week's trouncing of the disappointing Los Angeles Rams, and Dallas are favorites this Sunday. The league's top-scoring offense will cause a vulnerable Eagles defense problems, but the Cowboy's own D will need to keep Zach Ertz under wraps after the Eagles tight end kept Philly's own playoff hopes alive against the Washington Redskins in Week 15.

Significant business is still at stake in the AFC, where the Baltimore Ravens can confirm home-field advantage. Both rewards appear easily in sight for a 12-2 team set to host the dysfunctional Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens can trust Lamar Jackson and Co. to make sure the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs or Houston Texans will have to win in Baltimore to have a hope of reaching Super Bowl 54.


NFL Week 16: Sunday/Monday Lines, Over/Unders and Predictions (per Caesars)

Sunday, December 22

  • Baltimore Ravens (-490, 49.5) at Cleveland Browns (+390), 1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. GMT (Ravens 37-13)
  • Carolina Panthers (+255, 47.0) at Indianapolis Colts (-310), 1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. GMT (Colts 23-17)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (-130, 45.5) at Miami Dolphins (+110), 1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. GMT (Dolphins 30-21)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (+290, 47.5) at Atlanta Falcons (-350), 1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. GMT (Falcons 21-14)
  • New Orleans Saints (-160, 49.5) at Tennessee Titans (+140), 1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. GMT (Saints 24-20)
  • New York Giants (-120, 42.0) at Washington Redskins (+100), 1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. GMT (Giants 28-23)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (-180, 37.0) at New York Jets (+160), 1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. GMT (Steelers 20-10)
  • Detroit Lions (+270, 38.5) at Denver Broncos (-330), 4:05 p.m. ET/9:05 p.m. GMT (Broncos 23-15)
  • Oakland Raiders (+285, 45.5) at Los Angeles Chargers (-350), 4:05 p.m. ET/9:05 p.m. GMT (Chargers 22-17)
  • Arizona Cardinals (+360, 51.0) at Seattle Seahawks (-450), 4:25 p.m. ET/9:25 p.m. GMT (Seahawks 34-24)
  • Dallas Cowboys (-145, 46.0) at Philadelphia Eagles (+125), 4:25 p.m. ET/9:25 p.m. GMT (Eagles 31-27)
  • Kansas City Chiefs (-270, 44.5) at Chicago Bears (+230), 8:20 p.m. ET/1:20 a.m. (Monday) (Chiefs 26-14)


Monday, December 23

  • Green Bay Packers (+200, 47.0) at Minnesota Vikings (-240), 8:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. (Sunday) (Vikings 24-20)


Back the Ravens to Secure Home-Field Advantage with Dominant Win

There are many reasons why the latest lines have the Ravens as heavy favorites to win in Week 16. The most obvious ones involve the AFC North champions being a powerhouse on both sides of the ball, while the Browns are in danger of becoming a bad soap opera that refuses to end.

Making the path out of the AFC run through M&T Bank Stadium is enough of an incentive for John Harbaugh to keep Jackson on the field this week. This season's dual-threat sensation ought to make quick work of a Browns defense ranked 18th in points allowed.

Worse still for coordinator Steve Wilks, his unit is surrendering 135.2 rushing yards per game. A vulnerability on the ground is the last thing any team needs when facing Jackson:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

There have been 649 individual 1,000 rush yard seasons. There have been 124 individual 30 pass TD seasons. Lamar Jackson is the 1st player in NFL history with both in a season. https://t.co/OE2xQc0gH2

Mark Ingram II's battering ram-like style will offer a punishing complement to Jackson's speed, adding up to a bruising day for members of the Cleveland front seven.

Expect Jackson to also manufacture some big plays through the air. History is on the former Heisman Trophy winner's side against struggling Browns counterpart Baker Mayfield:

NFL Research @NFLResearch

All 4 passer rating leaders won the previous 4 matchups Oh ... and all 4 of the passer rating leaders went on to win MVP that season #Ravens #Browns https://t.co/V6KfuGC79t

Admittedly, Mayfield's sophomore slump owes a lot to the indifferent seasons endured by many of his supporting cast.

Running back Kareem Hunt was a late arrival to the team after serving a suspension, but his recent claim "there were some plays that everybody didn't leave their 110 percent out there the whole play through the whole play, through the whole whistle," during last week's 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, per cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, doesn't bode well ahead of facing the Ravens.

Mayfield will need all of his blockers up for the fight and all of his receivers fully focused against a swarming Baltimore defense led by 8.5-sack edge-rusher Matthew Judon. He and the rest of coordinator Don Martindale's unit will relish the chance to feast on the sulking Browns.


Eagles Can Scrape Past Inconsistent Cowboys

Jerry Jones isn't wrong to tell anybody who will listen his Cowboys should be better. The owner must be baffled by the inconsistency of a group equally capable of putting 44 points on the admittedly free-falling but talented Rams, and also of letting Mitchell Trubisky throw three touchdowns to help the Chicago Bears mark Thanksgiving with a win.

The mercurial nature of these Cowboys means it's simply not safe to trust the odds and back them to seal the division this week. Especially not against a battle-hardened Eagles team used to delivering its best during crunch games in recent seasons.

When it comes to the coaching matchup, Philly's creative sideline general Doug Pederson against Jason Garrett is no match at all. The Eagles have the edge in this area, but keeping Carson Wentz clean against a loaded Dallas pass rush that should be the best in the league with Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett leading the way must be the focus of Pederson's game plan.

If Wentz stays upright, No. 11 will make plays in the clutch, just as rivals Washington found to their cost last week:

NFL Matchup on ESPN @NFLMatchup

Another look at @cj_wentz TD pass to @BoobieMilesXXIV in the corner of the end zone. @MattBowen41 #PHIvsWAS | #FlyEaglesFly @gregcosell | @Tim_McManus https://t.co/fpiYarnmts

Wentz will want Ertz heavily involved after the 29-year-old has tallied 14 catches, 152 yards and three touchdowns the last two weeks. The matchup between Ertz and Dallas' seek-and-destroy linebackers Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee will go a long way toward deciding the outcome.

So will the Eagles' ability to handle Ezekiel Elliott. Specifically, Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz won't want to see his unit getting worked over by the perennial 1,000-yard rusher late in the game:

Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats

Ezekiel Elliott has yet to be tackled at OR behind the line of scrimmage on 22 attempts through the 3rd quarter. Elliott's downhill running style (2.53 seconds behind the LOS) has led to a season-high 82% rush success rate. #LARvsDAL | Powered by @awscloud https://t.co/nG7ZFaR1l5

Elliott averaged five yards a pop when the Cowboys trounced the Eagles 37-10 in Week 7. Having left tackle Tryon Smith healthy enough to double-team at the point of attack and deliver a wallop at the second level has helped Elliott stay productive in recent weeks:

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41

Working on a #Cowboys run game piece for @NFLMatchup. Good one here from the Week 15 win over #Rams. Ezekiel Elliott (24-117-2TD) on the counter scheme — Guard pull + FB lead. Watch LT Tyron Smith work up to the LB off the combo block. https://t.co/p40L8lVtHo

However, these Eagles are a different group when playoff spots are at stake, and a motivated Fletcher Cox always gives them hope of dominating the line of scrimmage. Count on D-tackle Cox, Ertz and Wentz keying another dramatic win at the Linc to keep alive the race in the East.

Elsewhere, expect both the New Orleans Saints to win and keep pace with the San Francisco 49ers in their bids to secure the top seed in the NFC.

The Niners' dramatic 34-31 win over the Rams on Saturday night was enough to put the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs. Even so, a tough defense will frustrate Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers enough for Mike Zimmer's team to win on Monday night and keep things interesting in the NFC North headed into Week 17.