Identifying Underdogs and Continuing to Profit - NFL Week 16 Picks
We continue with our NFL picks and predictions with a focus on underdogs. A 2-0 week with another outright underdog winner on the 49ers runs the record to 31-19 ATS on these pages with 25 outright underdog winners. The Panthers hung on for the cover in a 12-9 defeat but Cam Newton and the Panthers offense was pretty pitiful. Newton is clearly not healthy, and he'll sit this week as another backup quarterback starts joining other backup quarterbacks that have started since November in Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York (Jets), Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington.
The final weeks of the season often show some inflation on the point spreads, and most public bettors continue to bet the favorites, especially on the road, with a majority of the bets and wagering support. Week 16 has three double-digit favorites and two other teams laying 9 to 9.5 points. The look ahead lines for Week 16 and 17 anticipate teams in need and higher projected lines, and our continued reminder to use due diligence in researching lines and selecting quality online options from the leading online sportsbooks including reduced juice shops that offer the best experience and security to ensure you're getting paid. You cannot control market moves, but you can anticipate and make an effort to bet better numbers when available.
Over the last seven weeks, we've gone 17-7 ATS with 14 outright underdog winners. Hopefully you've seen the power of playing a portion of your wager on the money line as well with the outright underdog winners.
Lets' go inside the numbers and recognize also that the point spread comes into play less than 15% of the time in competitively lined games (6 or less), so pick the SU winner and you likely have the ATS winner as well.
Fairway’s Football Forecast provides the weekly NFL picks and projections looking for value with insight and analysis you can bet on. If only we knew when the bad calls, missed calls, fumbles and game changing plays or untimely and unwarranted penalties were going to occur.
A home underdog target again this week knowing that road favorites are just 9-11 SU and 7-12-1 ATS the last three weeks, and a Fairway farewell to Oakland, as the Raiders play their final home game in front of their faithful fans in what could be a night of chaos and confusion with the team playing elsewhere next season before moving to Las Vegas in 2020.
103 Buffalo (+13.5) at New England - Bills Money Line +615
114 Philadelphia (-1.5) vs Houston – Eagles Money Line -125
132 Oakland (+3) vs Denver - Raiders Money Line +135
New England at Buffalo - We'll start with some info that will make big favorite bettors and Patriots backers feel better. Favorites of -11.5 or more points in Week 16 and 17 are 24-12 ATS in recent years and the under is 20-4 if the total is less than 46 since 2013. That total profile fits this game and I agree with the match-ups that less scoring is more likely. The Patriots (9-5) enter off two consecutive losses in December for the first time since 2002. But following New England's 17-10 loss at Pittsburgh which temporarily knocked them from a No. 2 seed and first round bye in the upcoming AFC playoffs, the Patriots return home being priced again like an elite team, which New England is not. The Bills (5-9) had a chance to beat the Patriots in Buffalo Oct. 29 trailing just 12-6 in the 4th quarter taking back this same price. But the Patriots miraculously covered, when Bills backup QB Derek Anderson threw an 84-yard pick six in the closing six minutes to lose 25-6. Now rookie QB Josh Allen tries to provide plays to keep the Bills within striking distance, and he'll likely be one of the keys in the running game with the Bills running back situation and injuries curtailing the ground game. But Buffalo's defense continues to perform at a high level ranking No. 3 in the league allowing just 4.9 yards per play (NE 5.9) and 292 yards per game - 83 YPG fewer than the Patriots. The Bills defense can pressure QB Tom Brady, who will not be throwing to suspended WR Josh Gordon, and Buffalo's stifling secondary and pass defense is allowing a league low 187 passing yards per game. Buffalo has been making steady progress since early Nov. when they blew out the Jets in New York 41-10. Coach McDermott continues to motivate the players and they are performing better while winning three of their last five games with two close losses. Get the balls out of your bag and step up to the tee this week with a bet on Buffalo.
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Houston at Philadelphia - The price suggests the Eagles (7-7) are inferior in this match-up and we'll play the home team as a very slight favorite. Remember in Week 2 when the Eagles were a 6.5-point home favorite against the Colts and dominated Indy more than the final 20-16 score? The Colts out-played Houston twice this season while going 1-1. After escaping New York last week with a 29-22 win and fortunate cover or push, the Texans (10-4) are going to have a tough time getting out of Philly with any brotherly love. Houston is currently the No. 2 seed for the upcoming AFC playoffs, and the Texans have plenty to play for in the final two weeks and a stronger defensive front to lean on. Still, Houston has given up 24 touchdown passes, and in their last four games, opponents have averaged 9.3 yards per attempt and have a 70.3 completion percentage. The Eagles are still alive for a NFC wild card following last week's big road win at LA 30-23 as a 13-point underdog against the Rams. The Eagles averaged a strong 6.6 yards per play in victory. Will Philly suffer a letdown or can QB Nick Foles deliver more late season magic for the Super Bowl champs? The Eagles defensive front is still stout and will pressure QB Deshaun Watson, who has been sacked a league-high 52 times. Watson has been effective in recent weeks completing at least 71% of his passes in four straight games. But with leading rusher Lamar Miller a game time decision following an ankle injury last week, the Texans will have to pass more to have a shot to beat the Eagles as Houston managed just 47 rushing yards against the Jets last week. The Eagles have one of the league's best red zone defenses, and Houston ranks near the bottom in red zone offense. The Texans soft schedule facing the worst passing offenses nearly every week has helped them go from worst to first in the AFC South. A plus-10 turnover differential has also helped, and while the Texans have won five straight road games heading to Philadelphia, this situation and scheduling is not favorable and we bet Houston will find this host and environment too tough to handle.
Denver at Oakland - This is likely the Raiders last home game playing at the Coliseum in Oakland. It's been a lost season for Oakland (3-11), but Denver (6-8) as a road favorite has about as much appeal as their crappy coach, who buried the Broncos with another losing season in his 2nd and final year as head coach in Denver. Just 10 days until Vance Joseph is given the pink slip by GM John Elway, and it can't come soon enough for Broncos fans. More disastrous decisions last week from the sidelines as Denver has lost back-to-back games to the 49ers and Browns and is decimated in the secondary. The Raiders offensive line is a disaster and Oakland's run defense is allowing a league-worst 146 rushing yards per game. Derek Carr has protected the football and passed well under pressure, and he'll need to be the difference on offense for the Raiders as he was two weeks ago in a home win over Pittsburgh 24-21. The Raiders had the Broncos beat in Denver in Week 2 but let the game slip away 20-19. While we don't know what will happen on or off the field on Christmas Eve with the chaos in Oakland, it's likely plenty of mistakes and mishaps will be gift wrapped and we're betting Denver will be the more misguided team in the Black Hole, and that the Raiders will at least play with pride in their farewell and finale in Oakland.
Enjoy the Christmas holiday and NFL Week 16 picks, and hope you profit from the experience.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay