Week 16 NFL Bets & Picks: An Under & 2 Underdogs To Back This Sunday
Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson, Aaron Donald
NFL Bets & Picks
Senior betting analyst Chris Raybon — who is 410-320-19 (56.2%) all-time on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action app — breaks down his top three picks for Sunday’s Week 16 slate.
Giants at Ravens
Both teams operate slower than average: According to Football Outsiders, the Giants rank 20th in situation-neutral pace (30.5 seconds per play) while the Ravens rank 31st (32.6). Both defenses are also top-10 in lowest average depth of target allowed, which also works to lengthen scoring drives and minimize the chances of chunk plays.
The Ravens started the season 7-4 toward the under before their three-game over streak, but that should come to end against the Giants, who are 11-3 toward the under. The Giants won’t score much — they rank 31st with 17.2 points per game — but they also have the ability to make the Ravens work hard for points: The Giants are fourth in red-zone touchdowns conversion rate allowed (53.4%).
The Giants defense can take away wide receiver Marquise Brown with cornerback James Bradberry, and the Ravens aren’t equipped to beat the Giants where they are most vulnerable: Against non-primary receivers (32nd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA).
I like this under down to 43.5 points.
Broncos at Chargers
The Chargers Charger-ing was outdone by the Raiders Raider-ing last week, giving Anthony Lynn just his 10th win against the spread (ATS) in 29 games at home as head coach of the Chargers. But they’re still a team to bet against, especially up against Vic Fangio, who is 3-0 straight up and ATS vs. Lynn.
The Chargers and Broncos are ranked 28th and 30th in overall DVOA, and the Chargers never had a home-field advantage to begin with, so -3 is extremely generous.
The Broncos ran into the buzzsaw that is the Bills last week and got blown out, 48-19, so it’s easy to forget that the Broncos knocked off the Panthers as underdogs for a 32-27 win the week before and hung with the Chiefs in a 22-16 loss the week before that.
Historically, the market tends to undervalue teams on the road the week after a blowout loss, especially when facing a non-elite favorite. According to our Bet Labs data, teams coming off a loss of 20 or more points and facing an opponent with a winning percentage of .600 or worse have covered at a 61% clip since 2003:
Rams at Seahawks
The Rams committed the most heinous of football atrocities last week, handing the 0-13 Jets their first win despite closing as 17.5-point favorites.
Jared Goff admitted they were looking ahead to this game, and good news for the Rams is that they’ve tended to rebound strong off losses in Sean McVay’s tenure, going 14-4 straight-up and 12-5-1 against the spread. On the road after the loss, the Rams have covered in 8-of-9.
Schematically, McVay has done some of his best work against the Seahawks: The Rams are 4-1 over their last five against the Seahawks, with the only loss coming by a single point on a missed game-winning field goal by Greg Zuerlein last season.
The Rams rank No. 6 in Football Outsiders’ overall DVOA, three spots better than the Seahawks, which is notable in a situation like this since there hasn’t been any home-field advantage in the NFL this season.
The Rams’ biggest edge comes on defense, where they rank fourth in defensive DVOA while the Seahawks rank 20th. Jalen Ramsey and Co. enables them to be one of the few teams capable of limiting D.K. Metcalf, who caught just two passes for 28 yards in the first matchup while Seattle scored 16 points, its second-lowest total of the season.
I would bet the Rams down to a pick ’em.