Friday, December 23, 2016

NFL Picks, Week 16

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays. Home teams in CAPS.

CHICAGO (+3) over Washington
I've been assuming Chicago will get blown out for weeks now, and it just doesn't happen. A 6-point loss to the Titans, a 20-point win over the 49ers, and 3-point losses to the Lions and Packers. Those are some good teams and some teams playing very well that Chicago has pushed to the brink (and then there's the 49ers), and Washington is coming off of a very unimpressive loss to the Panthers. Add in the general road struggles for the Redskins (0-4-1 in their last 5 road games), and I'm picking da Bears. 

BUFFALO (-4) over Miami
Fun fact: The Dolphins haven't win in Buffalo since 2011. The average margin of defeat has been 14.75 points. And this Dolphisn team doesn't have their starting quarterback available. 

Atlanta (-3) over CAROLINA
Carolina seems to have taken that spanking in Seattle on national television personally, as they've beaten both San Diego (ehh) and Washington (mildly impressive) by double digits since. Now they get an honest-to-goodness playoff team to grapple with, and I'd be lying if I said I expected this mini-run to continue. 

Minnesota (+6.5) over GREEN BAY
I believe Minnesota's defense has figured out how to play the Green Bay offense, and I believe they will be able to cool off the currently red-hot Aaron Rodgers. I don't believe Sam Bradford and the black hole that is their running game will be able to beat Green Bay, but I do believe this will be a tight game that comes down to the last possession (Minnesota's) where we'll see if they can drive down the field for a game-winning touchdown (they can't).
NEW ENGLAND (-16.5) over New York Jets
Bryce Petty on the road against a Patriots team with something to play for...hmmm....oh, and the Jets have been mailing in their season ever since the previous Patriots game 4 weeks ago. Don't be fooled by the win in that stretch, it was against the 49ers. It doesn't really count. 

Tennessee (-5) over JACKSONVILLE
Gus Bradley was doing a bad job with the Jaguars, it's true. But merely changing coaches isn't fixing Jacksonville's broken Blake Bortles doll. I'm not sure there's anyone out there that can fix it, but if that person does exist it will take a hell of a lot more than 6 days to do it. 

San Diego (-5) over CLEVELAND
All football hope remains lost in Cleveland. The Indians just executed a nice signing though. 

OAKLAND (-3) over Indianapolis
I'm actually surprised this line isn't higher. I know the Colts just walloped the Vikings, but the Vikings don't have a real offense. Oakland absolutely does, and while Andrew Luck can put up points too, his defense isn't going to be able to slow down the Raiders in Oakland.
Tampa Bay (+3) over NEW ORLEANS
The Buccaneers are simply a better team. And unlike the Cardinals (apparently), Tampa Bay has a defense.
LOS ANGELES (-4) over San Francisco
Two betting strategies are going head to head here. On the one hand, I've got don't back the Rams when they're giving points. To call that offense "JV" would be giving it altogether too much credit. On the other hand, I've got don't back the 49ers under any circumstances. As appealing as it is to take the points here, I can't get the 49ers-Jets game from 2 weeks ago out of my head, where the 49ers went up 14-0 against a clearly checked-out Jets team, then let Bryce Petty bring them back and win that game in overtime. Not the 49ers it is.
SEATTLE (-8.5) over Arizona
Seattle is a different team at home. I mean, they even beat the Rams by 21. I know that doesn't sound impressive but just trust me. And while Arizona had a terrific defense at one point this season, last week's results (losing to the Saints 48-41) don't exactly inspire hope that the Cardinals can hold the Seahawks to 6 points again. 

HOUSTON (PICK 'EM) over Cincinnati
This pick is a condemnation of the 2016 Bengals, not an endorsement of the 2016 Texans.
Baltimore (+5.5) over PITTSBURGH
I do think Pittsburgh wins this game (and thus the AFC North), mostly because Ben has been a completely different (read: good) quarterback at home versus what he's put up on the road. But I don't believe they'll win by enough points to cover this spread.
KANSAS CITY (-3.5) over Denver
Denver's ship is taking on lots of water, and the defense is collapsing under having to carry the entire load. Kansas City shocked me by coughing up that lead to the Titans last week, but I believe they rebound an keep Denver's offense wallowing in misery and incompetence. 

Detroit (+7.5) over DALLAS
With the Giants losing last night, Dallas has locked up the top seed in the NFC. While I don't believe they sit the important players, I don't think they'll have their edge for this one, and I think Detroit covers here. 

This week: 1-0 (Whoo-hoo!)
Last week: 7-9 (.438)
Season: 107-107-9 (.500)

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