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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Saturday, 21 December 2019

NFL Week 16 Picks 2019 (December 21-23)

As we get down to the final couple of weeks of the NFL regular season it means the Thursday Night Football feature of the first fifteen weeks of the season is over.

Instead in Week 16 we have three games scheduled to be played back to back on Saturday with the remaining thirteen games set for Sunday and Monday. Unsurprisingly there are some huge games to come this week as we move to within two weeks of the start of the NFL PlayOffs and some Divisions will finally be given the clarity that has been missing.

Most notable is the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles which is going to determine the destiny of the NFC East. If the Cowboys win they can rest players in Week 17 as they will have secured the Division, while the Eagles remain in a position where they can win out and take the crown and not many would expect them to slip up in Week 17 if they are able to see off Dallas on Sunday.

Another big game comes on Monday Night Football as the Green Bay Packers take on the Minnesota Vikings with both still in a position to win the NFC North. Like the East, one of those teams, Green Bay, can win the Division with a victory, while the Vikings will need to win both remaining games and hope the Packers slip again.

Seeding is also going to be impacted by the games played this week, while the final spot in the AFC PlayOffs will be fought out through the last two weeks of the regular season. All in all it makes for an exciting time ahead of the NFL PlayOffs which are about as fun as any sporting event you will get to witness over a calendar year.

Week 16 Picks
Week 15...

Honestly I wish I could erase it from my memory with some bad breaks added to back Picks resulting in a killer week.

For the second time in the space of a few weeks I was undone by a Defensive player scoring with double zeroes on the clock as a team tried to find a miracle play deep in their own territory. First it was the San Francisco 49ers and this week it was the Philadelphia Eagles and you really cannot make that up.

Added to that was the frustration of Seattle giving up fourteen points in the last five minutes of their game with the Carolina Panthers while leading 30-10. The Seahawks won, which is all they will care about, but a winning Pick turned into a push and just those two games alone broke the back of the Week 15 performance.

It has been my worst season for a long time, and the chances of having a winning year like 2018 has diminished massively. Back to back miserable weeks have destroyed those chances to be perfectly honest, but it is no point chasing after those results.

Instead I will stick to the process, which has been impacted by ridiculously poor luck at times, and I will be looking for six winning weeks in a row to end the 2019 season.

Picks will be added to this thread and hopefully I can begin the 'six winning weeks' right here in Week 16.

Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick: The first game of Week 16 is going to come from Florida in the early afternoon spot as non-Conference opponents meet. There is plenty on the line for the visitors Houston Texans who moved to 9-5 with a vital win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 15 and a win would lock up the AFC South and a likely spot in the Wild Card Round barring some improbable results in the final nine days of the season.

The spot is not ideal for Houston who play this game between the double header against their main Divisional rivals Tennessee and the win last week has put them in a very strong position even if they were to lose this game. I don't think anyone associated with Houston are going to want to let the Divisional race go down to the final weekend and they control their own destiny, but the Texans will also win the Division if the Titans fail to beat New Orleans at home on Sunday so there is a chance to 'take a breath' here.

They can't afford to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even if the PlayOffs are long gone for the NFC South team in what has proven to be a very tough Conference. The Buccaneers have actually won four games in a row though and they are back up to 7-7 as they chase a winning record for the first time since 2016 and only the second time since 2010.

Bruce Arians has shown he can mould this team and turn around their fortunes, but it is Jameis Winston who has really given the team something to think about. At 3-7 it was looking like the former Number 1 Pick in the Draft was going to be released, but Winston has produced some staggering numbers during this winning run and he is the first Quarter Back in NFL history who has thrown for at least 450 passing yards in back to back games.

It might be more difficult for Winston this week as he will be missing both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, two Receivers who are about as good as any tandem in the NFL. This means relying on some lesser lights, but it didn't hinder the Buccaneers too much in Week 15 and they are facing a Houston Secondary which has struggled as injuries and a lack of a pass rush have been difficult to disguise.

Jameis Winston can be guilty of holding onto the ball for too long and Interceptions continue to blight his game, but Arians is actually happy with what he has seen from the Quarter Back. I think the Buccaneers will continue to lean on the Winston arm in this one especially as they have not been able to run the ball with any kind of consistency and I don't think Tampa Bay will expose some of those issues that Houston have had on the Defensive Line.

It is possible that Winston's last two games will just have Houston drop one or two more men into coverage and that can aid the Tampa Bay rushing numbers, but either way I do think the Quarter Back can have another big showing.

And with that in mind I think there is every chance we are going to see a shoot out here where the team with the ball last can win outright. Deshaun Watson and the Houston Offense will not have missed the amount of yards that Tampa Bay have also been allowing and Bill O'Brien will be urging his players to not rely on other teams for their PlayOff spot but go out and take it.

Much is going to rely on Watson and the passing game because it has been very difficult to run against the Tampa Bay Defensive Line all season. In 2019 they are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry, but have improved that to 2.8 yards per carry in their last three games and the Buccaneers should not fear what Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson bring to the table.

The latter could be more of an issue when it comes to seeping out of the backfield and becoming a check down target for Watson, but for the most part it is going to be about the talented Texans Receivers going up against a vulnerable Secondary. Those Secondary numbers have looked better in recent games, but Deshaun Watson is a much better Quarter Back than Nick Foles, Jacoby Brissett and David Blough and he will find the openings.

One concern for Watson will be dealing with the Tampa Bay pass rush considering his propensity to throw Interceptions when put under pressure. I love what Watson brings to the table, but when he feels that pressure he can force throws and I think that may give the Buccaneers a chance to stall some drives, especially when they get the Texans into third and long spots.

Even with the injuries this feels like a good spot to back the Buccaneers even if their season is over. The Texans can win and earn their spot in the PlayOffs, but the schedule is as poor as it can be and getting a start with Jameis Winston in his current form and fighting to reman the Tampa Bay starter looks hard to ignore.

Houston have played well on the road, but you can't ignore the fact they are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven as the favourite. The Buccaneers have not been a good home team to back against the spread, but I think the spot and the fact they could easily throw a backdoor cover in this one against a porous Houston Secondary is enough reason to take the points on offer.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots Pick: There is still a chance for the Buffalo Bills to dethrone the New England Patriots and win the AFC East, although they are going to need to win out and hope the Patriots lose both remaining regular season games.

At least one of those games is in the control of Buffalo who visit Foxboro with their 10-4 record in Week 16 of the regular season. They are a game behind the New England Patriots at 11-3, but the Bills will lose the tie-breaker if they finish with the same record and Buffalo will need help from rivals the Miami Dolphins in Week 17 to have a chance of overtaking the Super Bowl Champions.

All Buffalo will be concentrating on is winning this game which will secure the Number 5 Seed in the AFC at the very least and a return to the PlayOffs. Credit has to be given to Sean McDermott deserves a lot of credit for the overall development of this team and the Bills have a legitimate Defensive unit and an improving Quarter Back in Josh Allen which is going to be encouraging for the fan base.

The win at the Pittsburgh Steelers last week showed Buffalo that they can handle the pressure of big games on the road, but they can only further that belief within themselves by winning in Foxboro. Of course that won't be easy after New England snapped their two game losing run with a big win at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15, but things are not going the way the Patriots have come to expect and even that win came in a game in which the Bengals earned more yards.

Most of the struggles have been on the Offensive side of the ball and amazingly a team with an 11-3 record did not get one player from the Offense being picked for the Pro Bowl. That underlines how poorly the Patriots have played as Tom Brady has not had any consistent help from his Receivers who are either inexperienced or not good enough to fill the gap that was left by Rob Gronkowski.

It would be more than a surprise if Brady was to have a big game against this Buffalo Defensive unit which seems to be getting better and better. When these teams met at the end of September, Tom Brady has just 150 passing yards and I am not sure he is going to be much better in this one with Buffalo capable of shutting down things through and air and bringing a strong pass rush to the table

Instead the Patriots will rely on Sony Michel and James White to try and establish the run and give Brady a chance of making short completions to keep the chains moving. Stopping the run has been the one weakness of the Bills Defense through much of the season, but it is all relative and they have looked a little better in recent games and McDermott is going to believe his team will avoid being blown out.

The key for Buffalo is seeing how much they have learned from scoring just 10 points against the Patriots in their first meeting in 2019. Josh Allen was Sacked five times that day, but I have been really impressed with his development and Allen is coming off a strong enough showing to believe he can keep things rolling.

However they are facing the strength of the Patriots team which has been the much improved Defense that has been the basis of their success. In recent games New England have strengthened their play on the Defensive Line which, like Buffalo, had been one of the weaknesses on that side of the ball that teams have tried to exploit.

Even then you have to like what Joe Mixon did for the Bengals in Week 15 and Buffalo will be looking for Josh Allen to use his legs and be well supported by both Devin Singletary and Frank Gore. The Bills be looking to keep themselves in front of the chains which will be important for them if they are going to earn the upset here and avoiding penalties has to be urged to the players before this game kicks off.

I do like how Josh Allen is throwing the ball, but I don't think he can expect John Brown and his small Receiving corps to have a lot of success in this one. The Patriots Secondary are dangerous with an ability to make big plays and turn field position very quickly so Allen is going to have to be careful with the ball and make sure he doesn't make the mistakes to cost his team.

Both Offensive units will be thinking the same way and the team that can limit the mistakes will likely win this game. I think Buffalo were the better team when they met in September, but they still fell short against the long-term dominant team in the AFC East and it is hard to imagine them winning here in Foxboro.

However they are 3-1-1 against the spread in their last five visits to New England and the Bills are 5-0-1 against the spread in their last six as the road underdog.

It has long been a short journey to the poor house when backing against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, but they are 1-5 against the spread in their last six when playing teams with a winning record. This is a lot of points to cover if you believe the Patriots are going to struggle to crack 20 points and I think Buffalo have the momentum to run the AFC East leaders very close in this game.

Josh Allen can make one or two big throws to keep Buffalo in this one even if they may narrowly miss the upset on the road.

Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers Pick: A defeat to the Atlanta Falcons is not a fatal one for the San Francisco 49ers who know they can finish with the Number 1 Seed in the NFC if they win out. It was perhaps not a major surprise that an injury hit 49ers team struggled as much as they did in Week 15 against a motivated Atlanta team trying to show their beleaguered Head Coach that they are still behind him.

This week there will be no excuses for San Francisco and another defeat will likely end their chances of the top Seed in the NFC. They will still have a chance to win the Division, but momentum is a big thing for teams just two weeks out from the PlayOffs and I think that is something that Kyle Shanahan will be preaching to his players.

San Francisco look much healthier coming into Week 16 which bodes well for them and I think we will see a much better all around effort. They are also going to be facing a Los Angeles Rams team who dropped to 8-6 in Week 15 in a road loss to the Dallas Cowboys, one that is likely going to see the team that finished as NFC Champions last season miss the PlayOffs completely in this one.

There is still an outside chance for the Rams, but they have to win out and a lot of things need to break their way- most projections give them a 5% chance of making the PlayOffs and those are odds I would not be keen on backing especially in light of the performance against the Dallas Cowboys who did whatever they liked Offensively.

Last week it was the 49ers who had been suffering, but the Secondary and Jared Goff might be hurting for the Los Angeles Rams going into Week 16. Goff definitely did something to his thumb in the loss to Dallas and there is every chance that he will be anything but at 100% for this game against a team who didn't give him much to work with the first time they met this season.

The Rams will have to lean on Todd Gurley and hope the Running Back can at least give the team a chance to move the ball. Throughout the season the one weak point of the 49ers Defense has been when it comes to stopping the run, but if the Secondary is back to full health I do think they can take chances to step up and make sure they force Jared Goff to beat them by taking away Gurley.

Throwing the ball against this Secondary is not going to be easy for Goff if he is having some trouble with his thumb, although the 49ers numbers are skewed by the 46 points allowed at the New Orleans Saints. That game has not had a massive dent on the season numbers, and I do think the 49ers will be able to make life very difficult for Jared Goff in this one.

I would expect the San Francisco pass rush to also be a little more effective in this game and they can pressure the Rams into mistakes, although expecting them to restrict Los Angeles to 7 points is unlikely to happen again.

At the same time I do think the 49ers are in a much better place Offensively than where they were when the teams met in mid-October. Jimmy Garoppolo has gotten back to the kind of level that had many questioning the New England Patriots for trading away the Quarter Back and I do think he is comfortably over the ACL injury suffered last season which had him playing a touch nervous earlier in the season.

This time Garoppolo is facing a Rams Secondary which has added Jalen Ramsey and improved significantly with him in the line up. However injuries have left the Rams vulnerable and we saw that last week in their defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, while it is very likely that Garoppolo will simply look to avoid Ramsey by throwing away from him.

The reality also is that the San Francisco 49ers are a team who love pounding the ball right down the throat of their opponents and they would have seen the success Dallas had doing that last week. All season it has been an Achilles Heel for the Rams and I imagine the 49ers are going to have a lot of success running the ball and opening things up for the play-action for Garoppolo.

San Francisco should be able to have the more consistent success of these two teams and I think that will help them come through with a win and a cover. The fact that the Rams have essentially blown their chance of making the PlayOffs has to be a factor here and I am not sure the Quarter Back is healthy enough to take on a Defensive team as good as the one the 49ers have.

There are some good trends that favour the Rams, but I think it is a good thing for San Francisco backers that they were beaten last week too. That should focus the 49ers who are the better team and with the higher motivation to perform and I will look for them to win by a Touchdown to earn the cover here.

New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans Pick: They may have lost a big Divisional game at home in Week 15, but the Tennessee Titans remain alive in their bid for a place in the PlayOffs. At 8-6 the reality is that the Titans need to win out and a defeat on Sunday will be enough to see them scrambling for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC.

They will need some luck at that point, but the Titans also know back to back wins might be good enough to take them to the post-season. There is even the possibility that the AFC South Division will be on the line in Week 17 if the Titans win and the Houston Texans fail to do that when the play on Saturday, but Mike Vrabel and his players have to focus on the team in front of them.

It is far from an easy game for the Titans when they host the New Orleans Saints in the final game to be played in Tennessee this regular season. The Saints crushed the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football which has taken them to 11-3 for the season and New Orleans have to be looking to win out and hope that is enough to at least give them a Bye through to the Divisional Round when they will host at least one PlayOff game.

For a while you would automatically be looking to fade New Orleans when they play outside of their home SuperDome, but this is a team with an improving record against the spread on the road. You have to respect that and the performance of Drew Brees on Monday Night Football when he snapped record for Touchdown passes thrown in the regular season while only having one incompletion on the night.

Drew Brees can pick up from where he left on Monday as he faces a Tennessee team which is dealing with a couple of key injuries in the Secondary. That has been part of the problem for them in slowing down the pass in recent games, although it has been a season long concern too, and Brees should be able to find some holes to exploit with Michael Thomas his main threat that no one has been able to really slow down.

It will be on Brees arm in Week 16 because it is hard to run against the Titans Defensive Line which has been clamping down on teams and holding them to 4 yards per carry in the last three games. Alvin Kamara has not been as effective this season without complement Mark Ingram, but I do think Brees will need to use him as a check down in the passing game with the Titans capable of getting pressure up front and at least force the ball out of the Quarter Back's hands quicker than he may want.

Even then I can't see the Titans completely shutting down the powerful New Orleans Offensive unit, but they will feel they can bounce back and have a big performance after losing to the Houston Texans at home. That loss is a bad one to take at this stage of the season, especially as Tennessee looked the better team for much of the game, but Ryan Tannehill and company are playing well enough to bounce back in the right way.

Unlike the Saints, I do think Tennessee have a much better chance of establishing the run through the slightly banged up Derrick Henry. It is very much the key to the entire game plan as it opens things up for Tannehill when it comes to the passing side of the attack, and the injuries on the New Orleans Defensive Line has given teams a chance to really pound the rock against them.

That is important to control the clock and try and cool down the New Orleans Offense by keeping them on the sidelines, and it will also give time for Ryan Tannehill to help his team get back to winning ways. The former Miami Dolphin Quarter Back has been in good form since taking over as starter for Tennessee and even though New Orleans have signed reinforcements to the Secondary we may not see the full impact of that until Janoris Jenkins settles into the game plan in the next couple of weeks.

The pass rush pressure could be a problem for Tannehill to deal with, but if Tennessee are running the ball as effectively as they have been I think they can get into a position to earn the upset.

There are some very impressive trends behind New Orleans, but they are facing a Tennessee team who are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight as the home underdog. This game means plenty to the Titans and I think that will see them keep this competitive, while having the chance to oppose the public and the Saints on a short week is the play.

I would have loved to have waited to get a full three points on this one, but I will take the Titans with the start.

Carolina Panthers @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: A six game losing run has cost the Carolina Panthers the chance of reaching the PlayOffs and a four game losing run has done the same for the Indianapolis Colts. These two teams meet in Week 16 of the NFL season and you do have to wonder how much focus these two teams will have on a non-Conference game with nothing on the line.

Well it isn't completely nothing for teams who will want to show they have pieces that should be kept together for a much better 2020. Two Quarter Backs will want to display they can perhaps be potential leaders for their respective teams and there is some pressure on Jacoby Brissett at the Colts having struggled in recent weeks in a long season when Indianapolis were looking to replace Andrew Luck.

That pressure won't be as significant on Will Grier who is going to make his debut for the Carolina Panthers who have pulled the plug on Kyle Allen. All of the statistics suggested Allen was not going to be the right player to take Carolina forward and the team have a big decision to make in the off-season as to whether they want to trade away Cam Newton or go back to the veteran as the starter for the team.

Will Grier has two games to try and show what he can offer Carolina and he is facing an injury hit Indianapolis team whose Secondary have been struggling in recent games. Even then you are not completely sure how a young Quarter Back will cope, but Grier can also look to lean on Christian McCaffrey and at least be given the chance to make plays from third and manageable spots.

It might not be the game in which McCaffrey can have a huge game on the ground, but he will be used by Grier when he slips out of the backfield and this is a chance for the Quarter Back to have a strong outing.

I expect running the ball will be easier for the Colts even though Marlon Mack has not been at his best since returning from an injury. That isn't a massive concern for me though because the Panthers Defensive Line has been porous on the ground and it would be a surprise if the Colts are not able to get something going which could mean a game that goes by a little quicker than others kicking off at the 1pm slot.

By attacking teams on the ground Jacoby Brissett is saved from having to try and win games without some injured Receivers which have hurt the Indianapolis consistency. There have been some decent throws made by Brissett, but he does lack consistency and he will be put under pressure by the Panthers pass rush.

That makes it difficult to believe in the Colts and asking them to cover what looks to be a very big line, even though Carolina have been lacking intensity too. Both teams have lost too many games in a row which leads me to believe it will be another close one on Sunday.

Indianapolis are 1-6-2 against the spread in their last nine games against a team with a losing record and I will take the points with the visitors and look for them to keep this close enough.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Jets Pick: A home defeat to the Buffalo Bills in Week 15 means the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to need to win out to guarantee their spot in the PlayOffs. Mike Tomlin deserves a lot of credit for the Steelers to even be this close to the PlayOffs considering the injuries and departures suffered by Pittsburgh over the last several months.

The 8-6 record is the same one as the Tennessee Titans hold, but Pittsburgh look to be edging them in terms of the tie-breaker and destiny is within their own control. They are favourites to win in Week 16 and Pittsburgh fans will be in a rare position of hoping the Baltimore Ravens also win which could mean they will be resting players in Week 17 as that win would secure Baltimore the Number 1 Seed in the AFC.

It all sounds well and good for the Steelers, but they have to make sure they don't overlook a New York Jets team that looks healthier than they were last week. The season might be over for the Jets, but they can play spoiler in the last couple of weeks as they face the Steelers and Bills and that should inspire some players who are also going to be questioning where their future lies.

One of those that should be looking to have a huge game is Le'Veon Bell who is expecting to hear it from the Steelers fans travelling to New Jersey after sitting out the entire 2018 season while in Pittsburgh. As much as Bell will want to have a big impact in the game, there have not been great running room for him behind the Jets Offensive Line and Bell has not been employed as he would have liked by the game planning Head Coach Adam Gase has put together throughout the season.

I do think the team mates for Bell will want to show their support for the Running Back, but it may be Sam Darnold who actually pushes the Jets forward in this one. This is not an easy game for the Quarter Back who saw 'ghosts' when playing the New England Patriots and now has to deal with another Defensive unit which does build plenty of pressure up front.

The pass rush has resulted in Interceptions and the Pittsburgh Secondary have played well in recent games which does make it hard to see Darnold having a huge game. However the Quarter Back does have some talented players that can make plays for him and it is still very hard to look at the spread and work out how Devlin Hodges is leading a game as a road favourite.

Hodges has been little more than a game manager for the Steelers, but he is coming off a rough outing against the Bills. Granted Buffalo have a much better Secondary than the one that New York Jets will be running out there, but a healthier Jets team are no slouches either.

Jamal Adams is trending towards playing which is a huge boost for the Jets and the Steelers are going to have to use James Connor and hope he can keep Hodges in manageable downs and distances. I do think Connor can have some success with the way the Jets Defensive Line has tried to control things up front, but I can't have the Steelers in such a strong position on the spread.

It feels like a spread that is taking into consideration how much this game means to the Steelers, but the Jets have been a team that have performed well as a narrow underdog. They are 3-1 against the spread this season when given less than 7 points as the underdog, while they are 7-2-1 against the spread in their last ten against a team with a winning record on the road.

Pittsburgh have some nice trends favouring them, but they are just 12-27-2 against the spread in their last forty-one when facing a team with a losing record at home. It can be easy to just think you can turn up and win games, but the Jets have fought hard in the second half of the season and I think this is enough points with which to back the home underdog.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns Pick: They might be one win away from securing the Number 1 Seed in the AFC and making sure the PlayOffs run through their own, but don't think for a minute that this game doesn't mean even more to the Baltimore Ravens. A 12-2 record underlines how well Baltimore have played in the regular season, but one of those losses came to the Cleveland Browns whose hopes of making the PlayOffs are on life support.

The Browns blew out the Ravens on the road, but that has proven to be a high point in the season for them and they need to win out and hope a lot of things go their way to turn it around at this late stage. The blow out at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15 suggests the players don't really believe they are going to do that, while there is a disharmony in the locker room that has seen some key players openly courting opponents to 'come and get them' in the off-season.

Cleveland will have some big decisions to make in the off-season after the disappointment of last season, although it should not take much to motivate them or the fans when the Baltimore Ravens come calling. Motivation is one thing, but I do think this is going to be a huge test for a banged up Baker Mayfield who looked a little beaten last week.

While the game is close the game plan should be simple for Cleveland considering the obvious issues that the Baltimore Defensive Line have had in controlling the run. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield, Cleveland should be able to pound the ball with some real success in this one, although you can't really trust the Coaching to stick with the obvious play after what we have seen all season.

It is also a plan that works while things are close, but it could be difficult for Cleveland if they begin to chase points. The Baltimore pass rush has come alive in recent games which has led to improved play from the Secondary, while neither Jarvis Landry or Odell Beckham Jr sound like they are too happy playing in Cleveland and have been banged up.

That makes it hard to see how Cleveland would have consistent success throwing the ball so it is key they keep this one close and at least stick to the plan from the opening.

Running the ball is going to be prevalent in this game with Baltimore basing a lot of their success on the legs of Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram. The injuries and suspensions on the Defensive Line have just seen teams begin to dominate Cleveland in the trenches and the performance of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15 will be offering the Ravens massive encouragement that they can do the same.

I do think Baltimore will be able to have a lot of success pounding the rock as they have throughout the season and they are better Coached than Cleveland which will make a big difference to them. In recent games Jackson has not had the same passing threat, but those numbers were being skewed after facing the Buffalo and San Francisco Secondaries which are amongst the very best in the NFL, while last week Jackson was looking like the dual-threat we have seen all season.

With the pass rush losing some of its potency thanks to Myles Garrett's suspension, Lamar Jackson should have time to attack a Secondary that might be forced to play in one on one coverage so more players can come up and stop the run. The balance Baltimore should have will give them every chance of recording another dominant win against one of the lesser teams in the NFL and the motivation for revenge simply can't be ignored.

Baltimore have had a few additional days to prepare for this game which will suit John Harbaugh just fine and I am looking for the Ravens to come up with a big win on the road.

The Ravens are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games as the road favourites while the Browns have a miserable 7-18 record against the spread in their last twenty-five as the home underdog. Cleveland also have a miserable record when playing teams with winning records and they are 2-8-1 against the spread in their last ten at home against the Ravens.

There is no doubt this is a very big number to cover on the road, but Baltimore shouldn't want to put the handbrake on at any time and that can lead to a big win.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: Excuses are going to be in short supply for either the Dallas Cowboys or the Philadelphia Eagles for a lost 2019 season as one is certainly going to be missing the PlayOffs. This is essentially a PlayOff game in Week 16 with the winner taking control of the NFC East.

Well for the Dallas Cowboys it means more as a win will secure the Division title for the second season in a row and also mean holding the Number 4 Seed no matter what happens in Week 17. Late scores helped the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants and Washington Redskins in consecutive weeks, and their situation is very clear too as they need to win out to secure their place back in the post-season.

No one is going to be forgiving their team for letting them down, and I am not surprised this is the big game of the week the networks wanted to broadcast.

At this stage of the regular season injuries are going to be an issue throughout the League, but I do think the Eagles and Cowboys have more than what would be their fair share. The Eagles have had Carson Wentz looking like he is as healthy as he has been in Week 16 for a couple of seasons, but his Receiving corps is banged up and Lane Johnson is set to miss another game which is going to make it very difficult to find the consistency Philadelphia want to see.

There have been moments Wentz has taken some criticism, but I do think it is harsh on him considering the supporting cast. A lot of pressure is going to be on Wentz' shoulders because the Cowboys have actually been strong at defending the run for the most part of late, although injuries might have weakened them up front too.

The Eagles would love to establish the run which will open things up for their Quarter Back and I do think Carson Wentz could have a very successful day if they can do that. Dallas have been criticised for playing with a basic pass protection and one that is easy to read for Quarter Backs pre-snap and that has seen the Cowboys give up some big yards in recent games.

You can't really trust the Philadelphia Receivers completely without Alshon Jeffrey around, but they can still make some plays for Wentz and I do think there is a chance for the Eagles to have a decent day Offensively.

It is something you have to question about Dallas who have a banged up Dak Prescott taking limited snaps in practice during the week. I don't think he is going to have a lot throws in this one considering the problems he has had being able to throw the ball over the past few days and like the Eagles, Dallas are going to want to pound the rock with Ezekiel Elliot.

Elliot powered the win over the Eagles at home, but you do have to wonder if he can replicate the performance against this strong Defensive Line. The weaknesses are in the Secondary, but if Prescott is not able to throw with the kind of accuracy he would like, I do think it will be difficult for Dallas to win here.

Gripping the ball with limitations will be a problem for Prescott who is going to be facing a strong pass rush too and I think turnovers may provide the difference on the day. If the Eagles sense Prescott is not comfortable throwing, that could also see them double down on clamping down on Elliot and putting Dallas into a tough situation to keep the ball moving.

I am surprised by how poor Philadelphia's record is as the home underdog, while Dallas are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven here. However it feels like Carson Wentz is in a better position to expose issues in the opponent's Secondary compared with what could be a banged up Dak Prescott and I will take the points with the home team here.

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: Things have become very simple for the Seattle Seahawks after Week 15 and that is they will finish with the Number 1 Seed in the NFC if they win their remaining two games. However they are involved in the very tight NFC West which means a defeat in either of their remaining two games, especially the one next week, could see the Seahawks drop to the Number 5 Seed in the Conference and having to likely win three road games to make the Super Bowl.

With that in mind it could be easy for the 11-3 Seahawks to perhaps overlook this opponent and focus on the big game with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17 which will decide the Division.

Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson won't want to lose their grip on the Number 1 Seed by losing, but the Seahawks have been involved in so many close games that it is not impossible to believe they can win another tight one in Week 16.

Two games are left for the Seahawks in the regular season and the first of those is against the Arizona Cardinals who are coming off a solid win over the Cleveland Browns. The Cardinals have had an inconsistent season which is not a surprise with both a rookie Head Coach and Quarter Back, but Kyler Murray has shown enough to believe he can be a solid performer at this level.

The passing side of his game is going to need some time to improve, but Murray is a threat with his legs and the Cardinals should have some real joy with Kenyan Drake and David Johnson also capable of rushing the ball. All season the Seahawks have not been very good at stopping the run and with the injuries they are suffering on the Defensive side of the ball it would be a real surprise if they have a very strong day up front in this one.

I also have to say those injuries are going to contribute to the Secondary perhaps being vulnerable so Kyler Murray might have one of his better games all around in this one.

It is definitely the kind of performance you would expect where Arizona can score enough points to stay within this spread. That is no disrespect to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, but I am not sure why they will want to blow out the Cardinals and so winning by a wide margin to cover this spread is the furthest thing from their minds.

Like Arizona, I do think Seattle will be able to pound the ball with success against the weakness of the Cardinals Defensive Line. Chris Carson had a big week in the win over Carolina and he should pick up from where he left off while Wilson is also capable of ripping off some gains with his legs when the pocket collapses.

There continue to be Offensive Line concerns when it comes to pass protection and Arizona do generate a good pass rush, but it might not be critical to the outcome if Seattle are running the ball as they should be able to. It should also mean Russell Wilson is able to use run-option and play-action to open up the passing game and there are some vulnerabilities in the Arizona Secondary which can be exposed.

The Seahawks might not have the biggest names on the Receiving unit, but they are talented playmakers which can help Russell Wilson put his team in a position to win the game.

We all know playing here is a huge advantage to Seattle, but they are just 2-5 against the spread in their last seven at home, while they are also 2-5 against the spread in their last seven as the home favourite.

It has been a struggle at times for Arizona in the 2019 season, but they are 9-4-1 against the spread in their last fourteen games as the underdog. The underdog has also thrived in this NFC West rivalry game and the road team is 8-1-1 against the spread in the last ten between these teams which backs the decision to take the points with the Cardinals.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears Pick: This game was not flexed out of the Sunday Night Football slot a couple of weeks ago as it looked like it could be very important for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears. However both teams have virtually concluded their regular season with the Chiefs likely heading to the Wild Card Round of the PlayOffs and the Chicago Bears missing out completely.

Even then other networks were not happy about losing their top games of Week 16 and it means this game remains where it is. If New England have been beaten on Saturday this could be a much more important game for the Chiefs who would love to get a Bye into the Divisional Round, while it is also the first time Matt Nagy will be Coaching against his mentor Andy Reid.

Nagy has admitted it is going to be a strange situation for him, while he has some big decisions to make in the off-season with the Bears. The biggest is dealing with Mitchell Trubisky and whether Matt Nagy believes he is a Quarter Back that can take the Bears to the next level after a mixed season in 2019.

In recent games Trubisky has shown he can be a productive player at this level, but a poor start in Green Bay cost the Bears and the loss knocked them out of the PlayOffs. He has not been as willing as a runner as in the last couple of years in the NFL, but Trubisky is likely going to need to make sure he is willing to scramble for some yards in this one.

Chicago have not run the ball as well as they would have liked, and this is going to be a challenge for them against a much improved Kansas City Defensive Line. There are still one or two holes that teams in the PlayOffs will be looking to exploit, but the whole Chiefs Defensive unit have shown improvement down the stretch which makes them dangerous in the post-season.

The Bears do have some Receiving threats who will feel they can win their battles on the outside, but the Chiefs Secondary have looked better and I think it will be difficult for Chicago to make consistent plays in this game.

A strong pass rush is helping the Kansas City Secondary too and I do think they are going to make some stops which gives Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Offense a real chance of a strong showing.

Much is going to depend on Mahomes who played well in cold conditions in Week 15. The Chiefs have not been able to run the ball very effectively as they have been dipping deep into the depth chart thanks to injuries, but Damien Williams is possibly back to give them a slight boost.

Even then I am not sure they are going to be able to rip off some big gains and it will be up to Mahomes to show off his arm strength. Everyone in the NFL knows how capable Mahomes is throwing the ball and from awkward spots on the field and I don't think he will be able to be slowed down by a Bears Secondary which has just struggled of late.

The pass rush has not been very good in recent games and you have to wonder how much energy the home team will have with the PlayOffs gone thanks to a loss to the hated Green Bay Packers. Chicago finish the season with another Divisional rival so it would not be a huge surprise if they are not able to produce a top effort in this one even on Sunday Night Football.

Chicago have been a very good home underdog to back, but this is almost a meaningless game between two Divisional rivals and they are 1-6 against the spread following a loss. The Chiefs have been a strong road team to back under Andy Reid and I am going to join the public in backing them to cover on the road.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: A loss for the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday has confirmed the Minnesota Vikings spot in the PlayOffs and there has been talk that they will shut down Dalvin Cook for the last two weeks of the regular season. The star Running Back is missing out on Monday Night Football, but the Vikings also know they need to win out and hope the Green Bay Packers lose in Week 17 against the Detroit Lions to have any chance of winning the NFC North and hosting a PlayOff game.

It is something of a long shot for the Vikings especially when you think Green Bay finish up with the Detroit Lions, while they are also unlikely to improve their Number 6 Seed in the NFC.

Playing a Divisional rival is going to be motivation anyway, but you do have to wonder if the Vikings are keen to show off too much of their creases Offensively or Defensively when there is every chance they could play the Green Bay Packers again in the PlayOffs. Mike Zimmer is going to want to keep one or two things under his hat before potentially playing the Packers in just two weeks time and it does make me wonder if we are going to see a top effort from them even in this prime time spot.

Being without Dalvin Cook is a huge blow, but Kirk Cousins has to be given some credit for his play over the last several weeks. This is a Quarter Back who has rightly been criticised or performances in big games in the past, but Cousins has been playing more level headed and avoiding the mistakes which have blighted him. The Vikings want him to be more than a game manager, but Minnesota also believe their Defensive unit and run game can carry them some way.

If Cook was playing I think the Vikings would have been able to pound the rock with some success, but they are going to be down to a third string Running Back. In recent games Green Bay have shown some strength on the Defensive Line too and it might force Kirk Cousins to have to make some big plays through the air to keep the chains moving.

With Adam Thielen back in the line up, Cousins could have some successes in this one even against a decent Green Bay Secondary. Stefon Diggs is another threat for the Vikings, while Kirk Cousins has been well protected by his Offensive Line in recent games to think they can move the ball, although perhaps not with the consistency they would want.

The game is a big one for the Green Bay Packers as they have a chance to not only clinch the Division, but remain in the hunt for a top two Seed in the NFC which is going to be huge for them. It would mean at least one home game in the PlayOffs and also having a Bye through to the Divisional Round, although there are still some question marks about whether the Packers have enough Offense to have a very deep run in the post-season.

Some might criticise me for saying that about any team led by Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers have scored more than 24 points once in their last six games. There has been something of a shift in the way that Green Bay want to approach things as they look to pound the ball to open up the passing game and it has been a successful part of their Offense.

The Aaron making a real impact for Green Bay is Jones, not Rodgers, and I think he and Julian Williams can do the same running the ball for the Packers in this one. While the Vikings are known for their strong Defensive play, they have given up 4.2 yards per carry in their last three games and I think the run will be something the Packers can establish here.

Both Jones and Williams are likely going to be used by Aaron Rodgers as threats coming out of the backfield too, especially as a way to just ease the Minnesota pass rush which has been firing. Davante Adams is a Receiving threat for Green Bay too and I do think Rodgers can find him out of play-action if they are running the ball like they can and it should give the visiting Packers a chance to keep this one close.

Mike Zimmer does regularly have his team playing their best Football which makes Minnesota a very strong team to back against the spread with a lot more wins than losses on those marks. However this is a game that might not mean as much to them as it does to the Green Bay Packers and that motivation as well as getting points with a Quarter Back like Aaron Rodgers makes the visiting team the one I want to get behind.

The Packers have not had much success here in recent seasons against the spread, but I will take the points here with a more motivated visitor. It should be a fun game to watch even if not having the same meaning it might have done for both a couple of weeks ago and I will look for the Packers to cover even if they are not able to win the game.

MY PICKS: Tampa Bay Buccaneers + 3.5 Points @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills + 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (2 Units)
San Francisco 49ers - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Tennessee Titans + 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Carolina Panthers + 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
New York Jets + 3 Points @ 2.05 Bet365 (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 9.5 Points @ 1.86 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Philadelphia Eagles + 2 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals + 8.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kansas City Chiefs - 6 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers + 4.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)

Week 15: 1-7-1, - 12.28 Units (18 Units Staked, - 68.22% Yield)
Week 142-5, - 6.36 Units (14 Units Staked, - 45.43% Yield)
Week 135-3, + 3.26 Units (16 Units Staked, + 20.38% Yield)
Week 124-2, + 3.20 Units (12 Units Staked, + 26.67% Yield)
Week 114-3-1, + 1.48 Units (16 Units Staked, + 9.25% Yield)
Week 104-3, + 1.10 Units (14 Units Staked, + 7.86% Yield)
Week 94-4, - 0.64 Units (16 Units Staked, - 4% Yield)
Week 82-4, - 4.20 Units (12 Units Staked, - 35% Yield)
Week 72-4, - 4.10 Units (12 Units Staked, - 34.17% Yield)
Week 66-3, + 4.84 Units (18 Units Staked, + 26.89% Yield)
Week 54-5, - 2.72 Units (18 Units Staked, - 15.11% Yield)
Week 43-6, - 6.54 Units (18 Units Staked, - 36.33% Yield)
Week 35-2, + 3.28 Units (12 Units Staked, + 27.33% Yield)
Week 23-4, - 2.70 Units (14 Units Staked, - 19.29% Yield)
Week 14-4, + 0.16 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Season 201953-59-2, - 22.22 Units (225 Units Staked, - 9.88% Yield)

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