It hurts us to say this, but there are only two weeks to go in the NFL betting season.
Things change at this time of year, with many teams desperate for wins to improve playoff positioning or even qualify for the post-season, and others who can’t wait for the year to end.
(We’re looking at you, Chicago Bears.)
Week 16 NFL Betting Lines: Our Quick Takes
In Thursday Night Football, the Jaguars are 3.5 point favourites at home to the Titans. Seriously, when was the last time the Jaguars were favoured by 3 points over anyone? The last time Jacksonville was favoured at all was Week 4 of the 2012 season against the Bengals (the Jags lost 27-10). This line is as much about how much Tennessee sucks right now as it is about how the Jags are improving.
Saturday Night Football games return this week, one of our favourite holiday traditions. The Eagles are 8-point favourites at the Redskins, mostly because Philadelphia has lost two in a row and people expect the Eagles to bounce back big. In the other game, San Francisco is a 1-point favourite at home to the Chargers in a meeting of two teams whose post-season hopes are basically dead. Tough to know what to expect from either team in that one, though we trust San Diego more than the 49ers right now.
To start Sunday’s early games, the Dolphins are 7 or 6.5-point favourites (depends where you look) at home to the Vikings. Both teams are coming off tough losses, Miami losing a must-win game in New England and the Vikings blowing a 14-point lead to lose in the fourth quarter at Detroit. Lean to Minnesota here, since having your playoff hopes die is harder to get over than not quite pulling off an upset.
The Packers are laying 10.5 points at Tampa Bay. Really? Green Bay has a losing record on the road this season, which everyone seems to forget about. That said, you know Aaron Rodgers and company will be pissed off and focused after laying an egg last weekend in Buffalo.
New England is also a double-digit road favourite, laying 10.5 points at the Jets. Laying 10+ points on the road is not a long-term winning NFL betting strategy, but can you really take New York here? We’ll likely pass on this one.
Massive game in Pittsburgh has the Steelers as 3-point faves over the Chiefs. It’s really hard to argue with this line as we see this being a tight game that goes down to the wire, given what’s at stake for both clubs. Maybe a lean to the under 46.5, which seems suspiciously high for a cold-weather game in Pittsburgh. Then again, this isn’t your daddy’s Steelers defence.
Interesting game in Carolina as the Panthers are 3-point favourites over the Browns. Cam Newton returns at QB for Carolina, which is still in the NFC South playoff picture. Can Johnny Manziel improve on his awful starting debut for Cleveland last week? We doubt it. Panthers will likely play this one close to the vest to protect Newton, relying more on their defence. Under 40.5 makes sense to us.
Ravens badly need a win in Houston, where Baltimore is laying 5 points. The Ravens can clinch a playoff spot if they win their last two games of the season. They get a break as the Texans have real issues at QB after Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie backup Tom Savage were both injured last week. Texans are still technically alive in the AFC playoff hunt as well, but not really. We expect Baltimore to win, but we’re not fans of laying more than a field goal on the road. This game makes sense to use on a 6-point NFL teaser.
Remember when the Rams got no respect from the NFL oddsmakers? A week ago, St. Louis was a 5-point favourite over the Cardinals. Now the Rams are laying 5 points again, this time to the Giants. St. Louis has the benefit of a few days of extra preparation time (they played last Thursday) and we see the Rams defence forcing Eli Manning into a few mistakes this week. Lean to the Rams.
Bills are 5.5 point favourites at Oakland. Hmmm, let’s see. Buffalo coming off a home victory over the Packers, now having to fly out to the west coast to play a crappy team and having the pressure of needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt? That Bills defence is rock solid, but we’re not sure the Buffalo offence can cover this big of a number on the road. Big lean to Oakland.
Dallas comes back home after a big win over the Eagles and hosts Indianapolis as 3-point favourites. Cowboys are weird, winning on the road and losing at home. If this line gets up to 3.5, we like the value with the Colts.
Ultimate insult of the week: NFC WEST LEADING Cardinals are 7.5 point home UNDERDOGS to Seattle on Sunday Night Football. We know Arizona lost another QB last week, but seriously, what do the Cardinals need to do to get some respect? Seattle looks like it’s rolling right now and did manhandle the Cards earlier this season at home. Expect Arizona to be fired up to prove people wrong yet again. We love the Cardinals this week on national TV.
Final game on the Week 16 NFL betting lines is Denver favoured by 3.5 points at Cincinnati on Monday Night Football. Broncos have been oddly quiet lately, relying on their defence more than Peyton Manning to win their last three games despite not scoring in the 30s. Bengals are coming off a statement shutout at Cleveland, humiliating Johnny Manziel in his debut as a starter. This should be another defensive slugfest in cold Cincy, so we’re looking at the points and the under as the way to go.
Week 16 NFL betting lines
(as of Thursday afternoon at Pinnacle Sports)