Week 16 gives us NFL games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Does it get any better? Happy Holidays for sure! Now, let’s make some money to pay for those holiday presents. Here are my best bets for NFL Week 16.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best lines before placing your wager. For this post, my lines are via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Carolina Panthers +2.5 at Washington Football Team
There is just something about Teddy Bridgewater as a road dog that I love. It’s probably the fact that he has made me so much money in that spot, including last weekend at Green Bay. Fun fact: As a road underdog, Bridgewater is now 19-2 against the spread (ATS) in his career.
And, despite their 4-10 straight up (SU) record, Carolina is 8-6 ATS, and has a tendency to hang around in most games down to the wire. The Panthers have covered eight of their last nine times they have been underdogs, including all six road games in that span.
There is also a good chance star running back Christian McCaffrey will be back this weekend. While Mike Davis has filled in amicably for CMC, the offense is more dynamic if McCaffrey returns.
On the flip side of the ball, Washington’s quarterback situation is still in flux. Alex Smith is dealing with a calf injury and last week’s starter, Dwayne Haskins, is under investigation by the NFL for going to a strip club Sunday night. Yes, you read that right.
While I love Ron Rivera and Alex Smith, this line smells a little fishy to me. I see Carolina as a live dog in this spot, so I’ll take the points and sprinkle a little on the moneyline +115. And, if the line is a little too short for your comfort, the Panthers are a good team to add to a teaser, as it would push the line through the key numbers of six and seven.
Indianapolis Colts -1 at Pittsburgh Steelers
This line swung from Steelers -2.5 to the Colts now being favored. Of course this adjustment occurred after Pittsburgh’s abysmal performance against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. Now, ordinarily I would be buying low on an 11-3 team coming off a few bad games, but the Steelers look like they have some deeper issues.
Big Ben’s arm strength looks diminished, the WRs are dropping everything and the team has multiple injuries on both sides of the football. But more than that, their offense has become predictable mainly due to Roethlisberger’s struggles throwing downfield and the Steelers’ having zero running game.
The Steelers currently rely on short passes to get down the field. As a long-time Bears fan who has seen a similar offense via a myriad of quarterbacks and offensive coordinators, trust me when I tell you, that won’t get it done against good defenses.
That is exactly what the Colts bring to the table this weekend, as they are ranked 6th in defensive DVOA. On top of those issues, the Steelers are on a short week, which is another plus for Colts bettors, as Pittsburgh is 0-3 ATS on short rest this season.
Overall, Pittsburgh has been fortunate to face a string of backup quarterbacks that helped inflate their record. The Colts are tied for the lead in the AFC South and are heating up at the right time. In a battle of two teams going in opposite directions, I like the Colts and would play them up to -2.
Colts-Steelers Under 45
I'm going back to the well in this one for a lot of the aforementioned reasons. And, as putrid as Pittsburgh looked against the Bengals, they are still ranked No. 1 overall in defensive DVOA. I see this game playing out as a low-scoring slugfest all the way down to the fourth quarter.
Despite getting a matchup between two top-six defenses, the public still likes the over early in the week. While that’s not the end-all, it does make me like this bet just a little more. That, and the fact that it should be a crisp 35 degrees at kick-off, is always a good setting for a defensive battle.
Atlanta Falcons +11 at Kansas City Chiefs
Call me crazy, but I like the Falcons in this spot Sunday. The Falcons covered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend and have been competitive as a whole since Raheem Morris took over as head coach. Atlanta has shown they can match just about any team score for score and their defense has steadily improved throughout the season.
The Chiefs, despite their 13-1 SU record, are just 7-7 ATS. While I don’t see Atlanta winning this game outright, it’s just too many points to pass up as the Chiefs have won six consecutive games by just one-score.
Kansas City will be huge favorites in both of their upcoming games, which means they should secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. I don’t see them putting the pedal to the metal this weekend, so the backdoor will always be open. Take the points.
These player prop odds are not up yet, but I like the following bets in the Chicago Bears vs. Jacksonville Jaguars game:
Cole Kmet 1st touchdown, Cole Kmet anytime touchdown
David Montgomery 1st touchdown, David Montgomery anytime touchdown
I’m a little apprehensive laying the 7.5 with the Bears this weekend, but they should be able to put up points against the lowly Jaguars defense. It looks like the Jags are packing it in for the season and they are 31st in defensive DVOA. Jacksonville has allowed 11 touchdown receptions to tight ends, and 18 to opposing running backs this season.
Both Kmet and Montgomery have gotten more reps and their offensive production has taken off since Bears head coach Matt Nagy relinquished play calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. There’s no reason we shouldn’t reap the benefits, so sprinkle a little on these player props this weekend.
I spoke with Andrew Mannino, PointsBet USA’s Sr. Trading team member, to get his point of view on this week’s NFL games.
Have you guys taken any early sharp action on the NFL games?
“Yes, Buffalo -6.5 got hit quickly with sharp action pushing the line to 7. Miami -2.5 also got hit right out of the gates, so we’ve moved it to -3, even money. We expect it to stay there.”
Was the big line move in Colts-Steelers caused by respected money or an overreaction from how bad Pittsburgh has looked?
“It’s an overreaction. Recency bias from the public's idea of who Pittsburgh is and the narrative around them. We’re seeing the backlash against that with the Colts here.”
What games so far have the largest public action on them?
“No surprise, but Vikings-Saints leads the way because it is on Christmas Day. Early games tend to get most of the attention. After that, it’s on Eagles-Cowboys and Bears-Jaguars. We’re seeing mostly one-sided betting on the favorites in all three of these games.”