NFL Week 16 is when predictions get tough against the spread again. Teams are fighting for playoff spots, then there are those who are looking to next year.
Nostrathomas Predicts NFL Week 16
The work now is identifying which teams will be going through the motions. NFL players aren’t going to lay down but if there’s nothing to look forward to but the end of Week 17, they’ve been known to mentally pack it in.
For NFL Week 15, Nostrathomas was 2-2 on his top picks, 9-4 against the spread and 8-5 straight up. The record for the year is now, 23-25-2 on top picks, 95-94-2 against the spread and 122-61-2 straight up.
NFL Week 16 Best Bets
Chicago Bears -4 vs San Francisco 49ers (4:05 ET PM; Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA)
Last week, the Chicago Bears wrapped up their first NFC North title since 2010 but they still have more to play for in the final two weeks of the season. Chicago still has a chance to slip past the Los Angeles Rams for a first-round bye in the postseason.
The road isn’t going to be easy for Chicago though. The San Francisco 49ers are coming off two straight wins at home. The first of those knocked the Denver Broncos out of serious playoff contention. The second surprised the postseason entrenched Seattle Seahawks.
Nostrathomas has picked against San Francisco for two straight weeks but it’s tough to see them pulling off a third straight upset against the Bears. Out of the 23 statistical rankings that Nostrathomas compiles each week, Chicago is in the league’s top five in 15 of them.
Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson may be out for this game but 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens still has the rest of the Bears defense to contend with. Don’t look for San Francisco to pull off their third straight home upset.
Chicago Bears 27 San Francisco 49ers 17
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Miami Dolphins -3.5 (1 PM ET; Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL)
Jacksonville is the perfect example of a team that’s mailing it in for the remainder of 2018. They couldn’t even beat the Washington Redskins at home last week. Even sadder, Washington started Josh Johnson at quarterback. That’s the same Josh Johnson who hadn’t taken a snap in an NFL game since 2014.
Miami Dolphins 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
New York Giants vs Indianapolis Colts -9.5 (1 PM ET; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
The Indianapolis Colts have fought their way back from a hole the size of a crater to the brink of a playoff spot. They can’t take their foot off the gas yet though. As of this writing, the Tennessee Titans have won their Saturday game 25-16. That forces Indianapolis to win to keep pace.
Odell Beckham will be out for the New York Giants in this game which puts a lot of pressure on Sterling Shepard and running back Saquon Barkley to pick up the slack. The problem for New York is that their defense has to contend with Andrew Luck at home and they don’t have the weapons to compete.
Indianapolis shut down the visiting Dallas Cowboys last week and should be able to do the same to the Giants.
Indianapolis Colts 30 New York Giants 10
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Dallas Cowboys -7 (1 PM ET; AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX)
The Cowboys were ready to wrap up their NFC East title last week but ran up against a brick wall called the Indianapolis Colts. This week they’ll try to close out the division against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay is 30th in Nostrathomas’ statistical power rankings and it’s likely that Black Monday will claim Dirk Koetter and his staff when the season is over.
The Buccaneers have only won once in 12 career games at Dallas. The Cowboys are also 5-2 against the spread at home this season. This week Dallas finishes off their late-season NFC North comeback and locks up the division title.
Dallas Cowboys 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
Best of the Rest
Kansas City Chiefs -1.5 vs Seattle Seahawks (Sunday Night Football; Century Link Field, Seattle, WA)
Sunday Night Football has had some fantastic games this season and the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Seattle Seahawks shouldn’t disappoint. If the Los Angeles Chargers lose to the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City will have a chance to lock down home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The Seahawks can lock down a spot in the NFC field if they win.
Kansas City has the edge statistically but not by much. Russell Wilson may not get the ball downfield as consistently as Patrick Mahomes but he’s just as capable of a playmaker. What killed Seattle last week was a franchise record 148 penalty yards.
Playing in Seattle is tough for any team but one trend that is hard to ignore, since 2014, Andy Reid and the Chiefs have a 15-5 record in the month of December. Kansas City is also on extra rest this week. The game will be close but Nostrathomas is taking Kansas City to win and cover.
Kansas City Chiefs 29 Seattle Seahawks 26
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New Orleans Saints -6.5 (4:25 ET PM; Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA)
As tough as things have been for the New Orleans Saints over their last three games, they still put one of the premium offenses in the league on the field each week. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they ended a three-game losing streak with a tough 17-10 win over New England at home but the road has not been their friend lately.
The Saints are back home after a three-game road trip and should be able to get their offense back in gear.
New Orleans Saints 32 Pittsburgh Steelers 27
Houston Texans +2.5 vs Philadelphia Eagles (1 PM ET; Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA)
Last week, Philadelphia became the second straight team to embarrass the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football. They’re also at a point in the season’s script where backup quarterback Nick Foles takes over the reins from Carson Wentz and guides the Eagles to another Super Bowl win.
It would be easy to take the home team in this game but Houston has a few advantages that shouldn’t be overlooked. First, the Eagles are only 2-5 this year against teams that are heading into Week 16 with a record over .500. Second, the Texans are 4-1 in games in the Eastern Time zone this season. Their only loss was a 27-20 Week One loss to the New England Patriots. Third, Philadelphia is only 2-6-1 against the spread in their last nine at home.
Take the road dog to ground the Eagles 2018 playoff dreams.
Houston Texans 25 Philadelphia Eagles 22
Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns -10 (1 PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)
The Cleveland Browns are a double-digit favorite this week. Take a second and let the reality of that statement sink in. The line for this game opened with Cleveland favored by seven and as of Saturday morning, has been bet up to -10. The Browns haven’t been favored by this many points in a game since 2010.
This game is a tough pick considering that Cleveland can still finish this season over .500 while the Cincinnati Bengals are playing for pride. The Browns are also looking to sweep a season series against Cincinnati for the first time since 2002. They crushed the Bengals 35-20 in Week 12.
It’s a big spread but Cleveland is finishing strong and the Bengals are beat up.
Cleveland Browns 29 Cincinnati Bengals 17
Minnesota Vikings -6 vs Detroit Lions (1 PM ET; Ford Field, Detroit, MI)
The Minnesota Vikings have the best defensive front in football right now. That defense sacked Matthew Stafford 10 times in Week Nine and there’s no reason to think the Detroit Lions will be more successful in protecting Stafford this week.
This game isn’t in prime time so Kirk Cousins should have a strong game at quarterback. Take Minnesota to win and cover.
Minnesota Vikings 24 Detroit Lions 17
Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots -13.5 (1 PM ET; Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA)
The Patriots are undefeated at home this season and need a win to keep the heat on the Houston Texans in the AFC. New England has covered the spread in their last four against the Buffalo Bills and is 5-1 in their last six at home. The Patriots are also 19-7 in their last 26 against the spread at home.
New England Patriots 29 Buffalo Bills 13
Los Angeles Rams -14 vs Arizona Cardinals (4:05 ET PM; State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ)
In their last three games, the Los Angeles Rams have won big and covered against the Arizona Cardinals. Two of those wins have been shutouts. Jared Goff has hit a rough patch this season but he should get better this week.
Los Angeles Rams 32 Arizona Cardinals 13
Games of the Weak
Atlanta Falcons -3 vs Carolina Panthers (1 PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)
This game was supposed to have playoff implications. Instead, we get a battle between two of the most disappointing teams in the league this season.
The Carolina Panthers finally decided to shut down Cam Newton this week in favor of backup Taylor Heinicke, who will be making his first career start. Fortunately for Carolina, they still have Christian McCaffrey as their dual-threat running back.
For the Atlanta Falcons, they still have one of the top passing attempts in the NFL. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been as potent a quarterback/wide receiver combination as they’ve ever been. It’s the rest of the team that’s been falling apart around them.
Carolina is on short rest this week and on a six-game losing streak. The Falcons are putting the superior quarterback on the field and should win their second in a row.
Atlanta Falcons 25 Carolina Panthers 20
Green Bay Packers -3 vs New York Jets (1 PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
The Green Bay Packers are 0-7 away from Lambeau Field this season but are still a better team than the New York Jets. That and Aaron Rodgers is expected to start despite a groin injury and the Packers having nothing to play for.
Green Bay Packers 24 New York Jets 20
Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders +3 (Monday Night Football; Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA)
There was a time when this battle would draw fans from all over the country to Monday Night Football. Is this the swan song for the Oakland Raiders before their move to Las Vegas? That remains to be seen. What is definite is that the Denver Broncos will continue their end of season slide.
Oakland Raiders 19 Denver Broncos 16