With the 2019-20 NFL season drawing towards a conclusion, oddsmakers are constantly adjusting lines to account for the performance of players and teams in Weeks 1-15.
Injury updates on star players such as Dalvin Cook (shoulder) could soon change the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for Week 16 of the NFL season.
At PlayPicks, we feel confident with the information that we have to start making our picks against the spread.
In this weekly column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NFL slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Week 16 Best Bets
Arizona Cardinals (+9.5) at Seattle Seahawks
This line is way too big for a division game that could easily go down to the wire, as most Seahawks games have this season. Seattle only has one double-digit win all year, and while it came in Week 4 at Arizona, this Cardinals team is playing much better and is coming off an emphatic win over Cleveland. Further evidence of Arizona’s improvement is a pair of competitive losses to mighty San Francisco and a 4-1-1 record ATS in road games this year. Seattle is 6-10-1 ATS as a home favorite over the past three seasons and 1-2 over its last two home games against Arizona, with the sole win coming by 3 points.
Kliff Kingsbury was ultra conservative with play-calling in his first matchup with Seattle and Kyler Murray was still learning how to play in the NFL. Murray owns an 89.8 passer rating since that contest and has 5 TD passes with a rushing score in his last two road starts. Seahawks stud DL Jadeveon Clowney (illness) and Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) may not be at full strength if active this Sunday. Seattle is down to 22nd in DVOA rush defense after coughing up 307 rushing yards their last two games and Arizona is getting great production on the ground with Kenyan Drake supplanting David Johnson as lead back.
Carolina Panthers (+6.5) at Indianapolis Colts
It seems the Panthers are rightfully being regarded as a backsliding team by sportsbooks, but why aren’t the Colts getting the same treatment? Both teams have dropped six of their last seven and Indy looked completely feeble while coughing up an NFL record 29-for-30 passing to Drew Brees on Sunday night. The Colts will likely try to get back to their ground-and-pound approach against a struggling Panthers defense, yet that approach has given them the seventh-slowest pace in neutral situations. Slow games equal close games, which is why Indy only has one double-digit win all year, and it came against a quitting Jacksonville defense.
Carolina should at least be inspired to bounce back with Will Grier taking over for sitting duck Kyle Allen. A third round pick, Grier posted great numbers at West Virginia with a 67% completion rate and 37:8 TD:INT ratio his senior year. He’ll be willing to push the ball downfield more than game-manager Allen, and is mobile enough to avoid some of those easy sacks. Of course, he’ll have the best player on the field at his disposal in Christian McCaffrey. The Colts run a conservative defensive scheme that funnels targets underneath, and they’ve given up the fourth-most receptions (86) to RBs this year. Grier can dump the ball to CMC and let him work, a strategy that allowed the Panthers to come back and cover against Seattle last week.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6) at Chicago Bears
This number has been bet up from opening at Chiefs (-4) but is likely still low given the mismatch. The biggest difference for the Chiefs this year is not the continued greatness of Pat Mahomes, it’s the dramatic improvement of their defense. KC ranks sixth in DVOA pass defense with Tyrann Mathieu and company logging eight interceptions with just four TD passes allowed over the Chiefs last four games. KC still has a below average run defense, but lucky for them the Bears offensive line is 31st in adjusted line yards (3.67) and power run blocking per Football Outsiders.
Chicago still has a plus defense, which creates some risk that a low-scoring game could end within a 6-point margin. Yet it’s supposed to be in the high 30s on Sunday night and Mahomes just shredded a good defense in a blizzard, so it’s safe to say Andy Reid and his staff will have some wrinkles ready to use their speedy receivers against the Bears big secondary. Chicago’s pass defense has been worse at home with an 86.5 passer rating and 8:2 TD:INT ratio allowed. And Mahomes is 12-4 with a stellar 114.5 passer rating and 44:9 TD:INT ratio in his career on the road.
Bonus Best Bet
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
While they’ve struggled against basically every other division, the Cowboys are a league-best 14-2 ATS against NFC East foes over the last three seasons and 4-0 ATS when facing division opponents this year. They absolutely pounded the Eagles in their last matchup and were apparently inspired by a Jason Garrett pre-game speech, leading to a resounding home win over the Rams last Sunday.
Dallas has far more talent than the Eagles on both sides of the ball, especially when you consider all the injuries to Philly’s skill players on offense. The Eagles had to claw back from deficits to beat the Giants and Redskins the past two weeks and the Cowboys are almost impossible to catch if you spot them a lead and let Ezekiel Elliott eat.
NFL Week 16 Picks Against The Spread
Buffalo Bills (+7) at New England Patriots
The Patriots mystique can only take them so far, as they’ll face a top 3 defense at home with their bottom 10 offense struggling to find any sort of consistency.
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Tennessee Titans
The Saints are absolutely locked in and loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Ryan Tannehill’s incredible run could come to a crashing halt in this one.
New York Giants (+2.5) at Washington Redskins
The Giants are holding RBs out of the end zone and the Skins have basically no other way of scoring right now. Eli Manning should manage the game and get another win.
Green Bay Packers (+5.5) at Minnesota Vikings
This spread is too big for a huge NFC North implications game on Monday night. Aaron Rodgers should at least concoct a late drive to make things close, if not win outright.
Houston Texans (-3) at Tampa Bay Bucs
The Texans are surging and the Bucs are riddled by injuries as the season winds down. Even Houston’s struggling secondary should be able to contain a receiver corps that’s led by Breshad Perriman.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) vs Los Angeles Rams
Technically the Rams still have a shot to make the playoffs with help, but the Niners should put that to bed with a dominant defensive effort against poor Jared Goff. San Francisco has to be steaming after blowing a lead at home to the Falcons.
Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) vs Oakland Raiders
The Raiders will sit Josh Jacobs (shoulder) and also be without LT Trent Brown (chest), a recipe for disaster for a run-first team that is turnover prone when Derek Carr is asked to do too much.
Atlanta Falcons (-7) vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville rallied to spoil the Raiders farewell home game, but could easily lay down at the Georgia Dome if things go poorly in the first half.
Cincinnati Bengals (PK) at Miami Dolphins
Joe Mixon and the Bengals ground game had them competitive against the Patriots last week before Andy Dalton tossed a couple picks. They should get back to a ground-and-pound approach on a rainy afternoon in Miami.
Denver Broncos (-6.5) vs Detroit Lions
The Lions don’t have any skill players left other than Kenny Golladay, and he should get shadow treatment from shutdown CB Chris Harris Jr.
Cleveland Browns (+10) vs Baltimore Ravens
It would be a bold call to take the Browns after their players reportedly started begging other teams to trade for them, but AFC North games just have a tendency to be close and physical.