Your Ultimate NFL Week 16 Betting Guide: Tips, Picks, Strategies for Every Game

Your Ultimate NFL Week 16 Betting Guide: Tips, Picks, Strategies for Every Game article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes, Todd Gurley, Ben Roethlisberger

  • If you're looking for comprehensive betting and fantasy football previews for every Week 16 game, you've come to the right place.
  • Our experts cover trends, sharp action, fantasy football sleepers and make the case for a few bets.

All odds as of Friday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.

Betting odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys

  • Spread: Cowboys -7
  • Over/Under: 48
  • Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBC

Betting market: Spoiler alert: the public is betting the Cowboys. Sixty-seven percent of spread bets are taking Dallas, but 63% of actual dollars wagered are on the Bucs (check out the live data here).

This line was at -7 for most of the week, but a vig of -115 has pushed the Cowboys to -7.5 at some books. — PJ Walsh

Trends to Know: Dallas was shut out 23-0 in Indianapolis in Week 15. It is rare for teams with a winning record to go scoreless in a game: The Cowboys are just the 24th team to do it since 2003.

According to our Bet Labs data, the previous 23 teams went 11-11-1 against the spread in their next game.

Under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are 4-8-1 ATS following an outing where they scored fewer than 10 points. — John Ewing

This week, one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, the Cowboys (19.2 points per game), will face one of the worst defensive teams in the league in the Buccaneers (28.8 PPG).

Since 2003, when a team is allowing fewer than 20 PPG, faces a team allowing over 28 PPG, the better defensive team has struggled against the spread, going 8-15-2 (34.8%) in this spot. — Evan Abrams

The Bucs have really struggled on offense the past two weeks scoring 14 points or fewer in back-to-back games.

Since 2003, teams that have scored 14 points or fewer in consecutive games, facing a team allowing fewer than 20 PPG in December or later, are 41-27-1 ATS (60.3%).

Since 2010, those teams are 16-8-1 ATS (66.7%) and have covered the spread by 3.4 PPG. — Abrams

Playoff picture: Dallas can officially clinch the NFC East with a win. Doing so would almost certainly lock the Cowboys into the 4-seed, as they’re two games behind the Bears. Scott T. Miller

Biggest mismatch: Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. Bucs Run Defense

Our Anthony Amico did a great job breaking down this matchup, and I agree with his assessment that Elliott vs. the Bucs’ rush defense will define this game.

Even though the Cowboys aren’t as strong as they used to be on the interior of their offensive line, Elliott easily leads the league with 286 carries and 1,349 rushing yards. Not once this year has Zeke had fewer than 15 carries per game.

Since his rookie season in 2016, Elliott is the only player in the league to average more than 100 yards rushing per game. In fact, Elliott ranks second all time with his per-game rushing average of 101.6 yards, trailing only Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown, who has 104.3.

Zeke should have a massive performance against the Bucs, who rank dead last with a 61.3 Pro Football Focus run-defense grade.

Tampa has a good defensive interior with tackles Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea, but linebackers Devante Bond and Adarius Taylor and dime-backer Andrew Adams are exploitable with respective 60.6, 35.7 and 30.6 PFF run-defense grades.

I can’t imagine not betting the over on Zeke’s rushing yardage prop. — Matthew Freedman

DFS edge: Since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper in Week 9, Dak Prescott’s 17.6 fantasy points per game rank sixth among quarterbacks. Prescott draws a favorable matchup against a Buccaneers defense that’s allowing 6.2 yards per play (second-highest).

Prescott has also been tremendous at home this season, averaging 8.15 yards per attempt and 261.86 passing yards per game, compared to 6.44 yards per attempt and 214.71 passing yards per game on the road.

Dak is the 14th-most expensive quarterback on DraftKings’ main slate, but he boasts the fifth-highest median projection. — Justin Bailey

Which team is healthier? Buccaneers 

The Cowboys are expected to have starting guards Zack Martin (knee) and Xavier Su’a-Filo (eye), but tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist) doesn’t appear any closer to returning.

The defense could use the services of defensive tackle David Irving (ankle) against the Buccaneers’ above-average pass offense.

The Bucs are tentatively expected to welcome back DeSean Jackson (thumb), although the defense will have to live without safety Justin Evans (toe) for the remainder of the season.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Buccaneers +7.5

With or without Cooper, the Cowboys’ core offensive strength is still Elliott and the run game, but that brand of football isn’t conducive to blowing opponents out.

This season, for instance, the correlation of simple passing efficiency as measured by net yards per attempt is more than three times more correlated to average point differential (0.68 correlation coefficient) than simple rushing efficiency as measured by yards per carry (0.22).

Even since Cooper joined the team, Dallas’ net YPA is 6.18, 17th in the league, and well behind Jameis Winston’s mark of 6.84 (10th). I’m in agreement here with The Action Network’s Power Ratings, which have this spread at Dallas -6.

Six of the Cowboys’ eight wins this season have come by seven points or fewer, meaning they’ve outscored an opponent by enough points to cover this spread just twice in 14 games. — Chris Raybon

Betting odds: Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles

  • Spread: Eagles -1
  • Over/Under: 46
  • Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: Following their big Week 16 win over the Rams, the Eagles have attracted a slight majority of bets. Their 54% of bets has generated 67% of the money wagered as of writing (see live data here), which has moved this line from a pick’em to -1.

Meanwhile, 69% of bets and 97% of dollars are on the over, which has ticked the number up from 45 to 46.Danny Donahue

Trends to know: The 7-7 Eagles are in the playoff hunt and will need a win to make the postseason.

Recreational bettors often overvalue home-field advantage and playoff motivation. Teams like the Eagles with a win percentage between .500 and .667 have gone 91-119-5 (43%) against the spread when playing at home in Weeks 15-17. John Ewing

The Eagles pulled off their biggest upset since 1985 with last week’s win over the Rams. Since 2003, teams coming off a win as a double-digit underdog are 28-37-4 (43.1%) ATS in their next game, including 15-24-3 (38.5%) ATS over the past decade. Evan Abrams

Playoff picture: It’s pretty simple for Houston: Win and you’re in. A victory would also obviously help the Texans’ chances of getting a first-round bye. They’re currently the 2-seed, one game up on the Patriots.

New England has a very easy schedule down the stretch (home vs. Bills and Jets), so a loss from Houston could prove costly.

The Eagles still have a real shot to make the dance (40% odds, according to our simulations). They’ll be big Lions fans on Sunday, as a Vikings loss and an Eagles win would result in Philly grabbing hold of the 6-seed. — Scott T. Miller

Biggest mismatch: Texans’ Pass Offense vs. Eagles’ Pass Defense

Deshaun Watson has taken a league-high 52 sacks, but the Eagles have the fifth-worst mark in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate and a secondary that’s been shelled with injuries.

Backups Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas started at left and right cornerback last week and will likely do so again. Both have subpar Pro Football Focus coverage grades — 62.3 and 65.3, respectively — and are entirely exploitable.

Perhaps this is due to scheme, but the Eagles have been particularly exposed to quarterbacks who can produce with their legs.

  • Marcus Mariota (Titans, Week 4): 344-2-1 passing, 10-46-1 rushing
  • Cam Newton (Panthers, Week 7): 269-2-0 passing, 7-49-0 rushing
  • Blake Bortles (Jaguars, Week 8): 286-1-0 passing, 8-43-0 rushing
  • Dak Prescott (Cowboys, Week 10): 270-1-0 passing, 6-9-1 rushing
  • Prescott (Cowboys, Week 14): 455-3-2 passing, 4-2-0 rushing

While it’s not ideal for Watson to find himself as a road dog, he could be aided by a pass-heavy game script. Veteran receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas should also be able to dominate Maddox and Douglas.Matthew Freedman

Which team is healthier? Texans

Houston’s only players considered to be at serious risk of missing this game are Keke Coutee (hamstring) and Lamar Miller (ankle).

The Eagles have already ruled out Carson Wentz (back) and could be without wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (illness), defensive end Michael Bennett (foot) as well as defensive tackles Fletcher Cox (hip) and Timmy Jernigan (back).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Deshaun Watson

DFS edge: Watson and Hopkins have the second-highest projection together in our FantasyLabs Models.

They have a solid matchup against an Eagles defense that’s allowing 6.0 yards per play and a 40.4% scoring rate to opposing offenses. Both marks rank among the bottom seven in the league.

Hopkins is dominating target share for the Texans, garnering 32% of their targets over the past six weeks while the Eagles secondary is allowing a league-high 206.17 receiving yards per game to wide receivers. Justin Bailey

Bet to watch: Eagles -1, Eagles -0.5 1H

Normally I wouldn’t rush to back a team coming off an enormous road upset in prime time as a near two-touchdown dog, but I have no issues fading a Texans team that continues to be overvalued in the market due to a fraudulent recent win streak and inflated record thanks to one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.

This will be the 10th straight team that the Texans have faced with a record of .500 or worse. And it’s not like the Texans are absolutely bludgeoning these teams: They had four wins by three or fewer points over their nine-game win streak.

This game will come down to the Eagles’ defensive line, which I think will dominate — much like they did against a much superior Rams’ offensive line that ranks fifth in adjusted sack rate. This Texans offensive line is dead last in the same metric.

Unlike Freedman, I expect the Eagles to be all over Watson — the home December crowd won’t hurt — forcing him into a few critical mistakes.

The Eagles also displayed a much more vertical passing game last week with Nick Foles that can translate to success against a Texans defense that ranks 22nd in Football Outsiders’ pass DVOA, including 31st against No. 1 receivers (hello Jeffery) and 29th against tight ends (hello Zach Ertz).

I will split my bet between the first half and full game, as I am a bit concerned about late fatigue along the Eagles’ offensive line … and some of this 2018 late-quarter Texans’ voodoo. Stuckey

Betting odds: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

  • Spread: Patriots -13.5
  • Over/Under: 44.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: As you’d expect, most bettors are backing New England despite the big spread. At the time of writing 63% of bets are on the Pats, though 53% of the money is on Buffalo. This could be a classic sharps vs. squares game.

The over/under has dropped a point, despite 57% of the tickets and money coming in on the over (see live betting data here). — PJ Walsh

Trends to Know: New England has lost back-to-back games for the second time this season. Since 2001, when Tom Brady became the full-time starter, the Patriots are 8-3 against the spread when on a losing streak of at least two games. The Pats haven’t lost three consecutive games since 2002. — John Ewing

The Patriots scored just 10 points against the Steelers in Week 15. It was the third time this season New England has scored 10 points in a game.

Since 2003, when Brady and the Patriots score 10 points or fewer in their previous game, the Pats are 11-0 SU and 10-1 ATS, covering the spread by 11.6 PPG, per our Bet Labs data. — Evan Abrams

Playoff picture: The Patriots lost their stranglehold on the AFC’s No. 2 seed last week after losing to the Steelers. Houston is now in the driver’s seat, but the Texans have a tough matchup at Philly looming.

If Houston loses and the Patriots win as big favorites, New England will again move back into the No. 2 seed, thanks to its Week 1 win over the Texans. — Scott T. Miller

Biggest mismatch: Penalties

The Bills have seen 7.9 penalties for 67.1 yards per game be accepted against them, the second- and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. The Patriots, on the other hand, have committed just 6.0 penalties (tied for sixth) for 47.5 yards per game (third).

Penalties won’t always be a huge deciding factor in every game, but a correlation nevertheless exists between average point differential and both penalties (-0.13 correlation coefficient through Week 15 of this season) and penalty yards (-0.17).

Already a huge underdog, Sean McDermott’s squad can’t afford to spot Bill Belichick any unearned advantages if it wants keep the game within striking distance. — Chris Raybon

DFS edge: Josh Allen has literally been a high-end QB1 since returning from injury in Week 12, as he joins Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson as the only quarterbacks averaging at least 20 fantasy points per game during that stretch.

Mahomes and Watson obviously offer a safer floor in their higher-scoring offenses, but Allen’s downfield mindset and athleticism has made him one of fantasy’s most-entertaining and productive quarterbacks. Overall, Allen ranks first in average target depth (12.03 yards) and second in rushing yards (506) among all quarterbacks.

The second point is especially relevant: If we only accounted for rushing production, Allen would be the league’s RB5 between Weeks 12 and 15 behind only Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, Phillip Lindsay and Saquon Barkley.

Bill Belichick vs. a rookie quarterback is scary, but the Patriots are one of just 10 defenses that have allowed at least 250 rushing yards to quarterbacks this season. Allen’s $5,800 price tag comes with a strong 86% Bargain Rating and GPP-friendly 83% Leverage Rating in our FantasyLabs Models. — Ian Hartitz

Which team is healthier? Bills

The Patriots would’ve won this category had I wrote this on Thursday morning instead of the late afternoon. Alas, Josh Gordon (personal) is suspended, Rob Gronkowski (ankle, back) is suddenly limited in practice again, and running back Cordarrelle Patterson (illness) missed practice.

They’re facing a Bills team expected to welcome back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Chris Ivory (shoulder). Buffalo’s only real question marks are kicker Stephen Hauschka (hip) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (back).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Patriots -13.5

The Buffalo Bills could be in for a brutal beatdown in Foxborough this weekend. By now, most folks know that the Patriots generally cover after a loss.

Since 2003, they are 38-13 ATS following a loss, covering by more than seven points on average. However, most people probably don’t know how they bounce back following a poor offensive showing.

And as Evan said earlier, after games in which they’ve scored 10 points or fewer, they are 11-0 straight up and 10-1 ATS, covering by over 14 points on average. — Mark Gallant

Betting odds: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

  • Spread: Falcons -3
  • Over/Under: 44
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: This line is much different than what was expected last week. Westgate’s lookahead line had Carolina at -6, but the line re-opened at Carolina -3 after their loss on Monday Night Football.

Once Cam Newton was ruled out, the Falcons moved to -2.5 and have since moved to -3 at behind 63% of the early money (check out the live odds here).

The over/under has also dropped quite a bit with Taylor Heinicke under center. The initial line with Newton set to play was between 47 and 48, but that has moved to 44. — Mark Gallant

Trends to Know: The Falcons had an offensive outburst in an easy 40-14 win over the Cardinals at home in Week 15. Bettors shouldn’t bank on another strong performance from Atlanta, though.

According to our Bet Labs data, teams that won their previous game at home by 21 points or more have gone 194-247-15 (44%) against the spread. — John Ewing

Over their past two games, the Falcons have found some of the running game that was missing all season, with 322 yards on the ground.

The Falcons are averaging 90.7 yards per game on the ground in 2018, 31st in the NFL, and has been the case of late, as the Falcons are 24th in rushing over the last five seasons.

Under Matt Ryan, the Falcons are 15-23-2 ATS (39.5%), after Atlanta rushes for at least 100 yards in consecutive games and since 2011, the Falcons are 6-18-2 ATS (25%) in this spot. — Evan Abrams

Playoff picture: The Panthers aren’t eliminated from the playoffs … yet. According to our sims, they have a 0.9% of making it. Here’s the exact scenario that needs to happen:

  • Panthers win out
  • Vikings lose out (against Lions and Bears)
  • Eagles lose to Texans in Week 16
  • Eagles beat Redskins in Week 17

So, yeah, likely not going to happen, but dreamers can dream. Scott T. Miller

Biggest mismatch:  Christian McCaffrey vs. Falcons Defense

McCaffrey leads all running backs with his 97.7% snap rate and is fourth in the league with 288 touches and 1,747 scrimmage yards. With quarterback Cam Newton (shoulder) sidelined and backup Taylor Heinicke slated to make just his first NFL start, the offense could run through McCaffrey even more than it usually does.

The Falcons rank last in the league in defensive DVOA, 30th in run-defense DVOA and 29th in pass-defense DVOA against running backs. They also have the league’s fourth-worst scoring defense

With a Cover 3 defense, the Falcons scheme to limit deep passes and instead funnel short targets to the middle of the field. As a result, they have allowed a league-high total of receptions to running backs each year of head coach Dan Quinn’s tenure.

2018: 101 receptions
2017: 110 receptions
2016: 109 receptions
2015: 118 receptions

In Week 2, McCaffrey had 102 yards on 14 receptions against the Falcons. As the team leader with 110 targets, 94 receptions, 768 yards receiving and six touchdown receptions, McCaffrey could once again get double-digits touches through the air as well as on the ground vs. the Falcons. — Matthew Freedman

DFS edge: With Cam Newton (shoulder) getting shut down for the season, the Falcons have shifted from underdogs to favorites.

This news makes Tevin Coleman intriguing with Ito Smith (knee) on injured reserve. Coleman costs just $4,800 on DraftKings, resulting in a position-high +6.12 Projected Plus/Minus in our FantasyLabs Player Models. — Justin Bailey

Which team is healthier? Panthers

The Panthers will rest Cam Newton (shoulder) for the remainder of the season. They’ll also be without kicker Graham Gano (knee) and outside linebacker Shaq Thompson (shoulder).

Their only other question mark is defensive tackle Kawann Short (calf), but the Falcons face serious question marks with Julio Jones (hip, ribs), Austin Hooper (knee, ankle), defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (groin, shoulder) and cornerback Desmond Trufant (ankle). No. 2 running back Ito Smith (knee, IR) will miss the remainder of the season.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Falcons -3

The line movement makes it tempting to jump on the Panthers as a home dog. The Falcons have not been particularly good this season, and Heinicke can’t really play much worse than Newton has over the past three weeks (6.21 yards per attempt with six interceptions and just two passing touchdowns).

That said, targeting teams with a win percentage below 40% as road favorites has historically been a decent strategy. Those teams have compiled a 49-37-4 ATS record, good for a +10.1% return on investment.

The Falcons are also coming off one of their better performances of the year last week against the Cardinals, while motivation could be an issue for the Panthers.

They gave the Saints their best shot last week, but ultimately came up short. Don’t be surprised if they come out flat now that their season pretty much over and they’re playing on a short week. — Matt LaMarca

Betting odds: Green Bay Packers at New York Jets

  • Spread: Packers -3
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: The Aaron Rodgers scare appears to be all for naught, as the veteran quarterback has confirmed he’ll play on Sunday. The line had initially fallen from -3.5 to a pick ’em with his status in question, but is back up to -3 with him set to play.

Since the line has re-opened, the Jets are actually getting 64% of the (see live data here). The over/under also dipped as low as 44, but is back up to 46.5. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: With a loss on Sunday, the Packers will go winless on the road for the first time since 1958. They’re 0-9 straight up and 1-7-1 against the spread in their past nine road games. Stuckey

The Packers are coming off a hard-fought loss to the divisional rival Bears last week. They’re 13-5-1 (72.2%) ATS in Rodgers’ 19 starts the week after facing Chicago, including 9-0-1 ATS in his last 10 games in this spot, covering the spread by 11.5 points per game.

Rodgers’ last loss ATS in this spot? The famous “Fail Mary” game against the Seahawks in September 2012. Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Jets’ Third Down Defense vs. Packers’ Third Down Offense

The Packers’ third down offense has stalled too many drives compared to its otherwise very impressive marks in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

Some of that has to do with injuries, some with play-calling, some with execution and some with offensive line play (the Packers have given up more sacks on third down than any other team). As a result, Green Bay ranks 22nd in third-down conversion rate (36.9%) after finishing third in the same category in 2016 — Rodgers’ last fully healthy season.

Those troubles should continue against a Jets defense that’s thrived on third downs all season.

New York has held opponents to the second-lowest conversion rate on third downs (32.6%). And it won’t help that Green Bay put Aaron Jones on Injured Reserve after leading the NFL in yards per rush at 5.5 (min. 100 attempts). Stuckey

Which team is healthier? Jets

While Rodgers said he’ll play, it’s unclear whether Randall Cobb (concussion), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), right guard Lucas Patrick (illness) or No. 5 receiver Jake Kumerow (hand) will do the same.

The Jets have already ruled out Quincy Enunwa (ankle), but are healthy aside from linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder), cornerback Daryl Roberts (toe) and right tackle Brandon Shell (knee, IR).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: With Isaiah Crowell (foot) on Injured Reserve, Elijah McGuire played 75% of the Jets’ running back snaps and saw 21 touches (18 carries and three receptions) in Week 15. He’s a strong play regardless of format in what could be a close game with Rodgers at less than 100%.

McGuire is only $4,700 on DraftKings with the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus among running backs on the main slate. Justin Bailey

Bet to watch: Over 46.5

The Jets have a reputation as a terrible offense — and in many cases, it’s well-deserved — but their recent output has been promising: 27 points at the Bills (No. 3 DVOA defense) and 22 points vs. the Texans (No. 7 defense).

The Packers are no where near that level of quality on the defensive end (24th in DVOA), which is one of the reasons this total has risen from 44 to 46.5.

In terms of Green Bay’s offense, I actually think Aaron Jones’ aforementioned injury might help this over hit. Without a reliable RB behind him, expect Rodgers to sling it early and often against the Jets.

And more passes means more chunk yardage gains and, when the incompletions inevitably occur, more clock stoppages.

New York’s defense is exactly middle-of-the-pack, per DVOA, but after digging into the numbers, I think that number is a little inflated. For one, the Jets have played the second-easiest offensive schedule.

And then there’s this: New York’s defense has seen its efficiency fall off as the season has worn on, ranking 25th in weighted DVOA defense, which puts more emphasis on recent performance.

With no weather- or pace-related red flags looming for this game, there are still a couple points of value left in betting the over here. I think this game gets into the 50s. — Scott T. Miller

Betting odds: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

  • Spread: Browns -9
  • Over/Under: 44
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: This line has moved from -7 to -9 as the Browns are a popular pick once again this week, with 55% of the tickets coming down on the Dawg Pound.

Bigger bettors have also been hammering away at the under. Ninety-seven percent of money and 65% of bets have hit the under, moving the total from 46.5 to 44 (see live betting data here). — Danny Donahue

Trends to know: Including his college career, Baker Mayfield is 26-16 ATS as the betting favorite and is 19-9 ATS at home, too. Mayfield has won nine consecutive games straight up as the betting favorite dating back to his days with the Sooners, per our Bet Labs data. — Evan Abrams

Did you know? Since 2003, there have been 960 instances of an NFL team being favored by more than a touchdown. (Faves are 459-489-12 48.4%.)

Of those 960, the Browns were only responsible for three (1-2 ATS) — the fewest of any team over that stretch.

Cleveland hasn’t been favored by more than a TD since Dec. 1, 2013 when it was favored by 7.5 points at home. It lost that game outright to the Jags. — Stuckey

Playoff picture: It’s Week 16 and the Browns haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs. What a time to be alive.

Still, it’ll take a miracle for Cleveland to taste the postseason. Here’s the exact scenario.

  • Browns win out
  • Redskins beat Titans
  • Ravens beat Chargers
  • Dolphins lose to either Jacksonville or Buffalo
  • Giants beat Colts
  • Titans and Colts tie in Week 17

So, yeah, I will personally walk from New York City to Cleveland if the Browns make the playoffs. Scott T. Miller

Biggest mismatch: Baker Mayfield vs. Bengals secondary

Baker Mayfield has objectively balled out over the last two months. He’s largely functioned as a similar monster as rookie year Deshaun Watson, who was more or less the Michael Jordan of fantasy football last season.

  • Baker Mayfield with Freddie Kitchens calling plays (6 starts): 4-2 record, 71% completion rate, 8.7 Y/A, 1,594 pass yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs
  • Deshaun Watson in 6 starts as a rookie: 3-3 record, 63% completion rate, 8.8 Y/A, 1,597 pass yards, 18 TDs, 7 INTs

This week the Browns boast a favorable combined explosive pass play rate along with a favorable matchup in combined net yards per attempt.

The Bengals’ bottom-five defense in both scoring and overall DVOA shouldn’t be a hindrance to more dominance from the potential rookie of the year. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Nick Chubb is heavily involved in the Browns offense, evidenced by his 73.77% market share of carries since Week 10.

During that span, he’s averaging 20.6 touches per game. This week he draws a matchup against a Bengals defense which has struggled against the run all year, ranking 26th in rushing DVOA.

The Browns are presently nine-point home favorites against the Bengals. Historically, running backs on teams with comparable spreads have historically averaged 17.44 DraftKings points per game, per the FantasyLabs Trends tool. — Justin Bailey

Which team is healthier? Browns

The Browns are tentatively expected to be almost fully healthy entering their Week 16 matchup against the Bengals, as only cornerback Phillip Gaines (knee), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (biceps) and center J.C. Tretter (ankle) are thought to be at risk of missing Sunday’s game.

Fourth-overall pick and Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) will return to face Bengals offense that will likely be without Tyler Boyd (knee). The likes of Joe Mixon (wrist), John Ross (knee) and Vontaze Burfict (concussion) should also be considered questionable.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Bengals +9

In case you missed it, the entire Browns roster got revenge in a 35-20 victory in Week 12.

A closer examination of that game, which was lined at a pick’em, shows the Bengals out gained the Browns 372-342. Cincinnati was done in by 13 penalties for 96 yards, two turnovers, and allowing the Browns to score a touchdown in all five red zone attempts.

This is a great spot for the Bengals, who are still playing hard the past two weeks, covering against the Chargers and Raiders.

The Bengals have covered seven of the past eight games in this series, and catch the Browns in a possible look-ahead spot to Baltimore for an outside chance at the playoffs.

An adjustment of 5 points to the line over the span of four weeks is too much. — Collin Wilson

Betting odds: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

  • Spread: Vikings -6
  • Over/Under: 42.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: The Vikings have re-won the public’s heart after their slaughter of Miami. More than 60% of bettors are backing them as less than a touchdown favorite, but the line has remained in that inconsequential -4.5 to -6 range.

There’s yet to be any sharp indicators on either side, so I imagine the line remains in this range until some pros weigh in on the matter (see live betting data here). — Mark Gallant

Trends to know: In Matthew Stafford’s career, he is 20-28-3 ATS (41.7%) when facing NFC North opponents, making him the least profitable active QB against divisional opponents.

When Stafford’s opponent in this spot is above .500, the Lions are 10-18-1 ATS (35.7%), losing three consecutive games in this spot just this season. — Evan Abrams

Did you know? A loss to the Vikings would be the Lions’ 10th of the season and would give the team their 11th season of double-digit losses since 2000 and the fourth in the Matthew Stafford era.

From 1930-1999, Detroit only had 12 double-digit loss seasons. — John Ewing

Playoff picture: To clinch a playoff berth this week, the Vikings need to win and then have the Eagles lose/tie and the Redskins lose.

Even if those last two things don’t happen, Minnesota will still have a good shot to make the postseason, so long as it takes care of business against Detroit.

Our sims currently give the Vikings a 61.3% chance to play in January entering this week. Scott T. Miller

Which team is healthier? Vikings

Only linebacker Eric Kendricks (hamstring) and defensive tackle Linval Joseph (knee) appear to be at risk of missing actual game time for the Vikings. The Lions on the other hand are a walking graveyard.

Starting running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) and defensive tackle Da’Shawn (hand) were each placed on the injured reserve list, while their successors LeGarrette Blount (calf) and Damon Harrison (ankle) should be considered questionable.

The passing game also isn’t at 100%, as receivers Bruce Ellington (concussion) and Kenny Golladay (chest) joined Matthew Stafford (back) as limited participants in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Biggest mismatch and DFS Edge: Adam Thielen vs. Lions secondary

Adam Thielen will be up against a Lions defense which ranks dead last in pass DVOA. And with Darius Slay shadowing Stefon Diggs, Thielen will likely see a lot of Nevin Lawson, Pro Football Focus’ No. 100 cornerback in coverage.

He presently owns the fifth-highest median projection in our FantasyLabs Player Models on DraftKings and FanDuel, and his ownership could be reduced in tournaments if DFS players are turned off by his previous performance. —Justin Bailey


Bet to watch: Lions +6

I have this game being closer to +4 in my power ratings. The Vikings fired their offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after an embarrassing loss on Monday Night Football in Week 14. They felt that they needed to become more balanced and run the ball more.

Sure enough, in Week 15 they blew out the Dolphins with a season-high 220 rushing yards. They are probably going into Detroit with the same gameplan, but could run into a wall.

That wall would be Damon “Snacks” Harrison who the Lions acquired from the Giants in Week 8. Since then, the Lions have allowed 34 fewer rushing yards per game.

I think the Lions surprise here and keep it close. Take the points. — Sean Koerner

Betting odds: New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts

  • Spread: Colts -9.5
  • Over/Under: 47.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: The betting market is fairly split on this uneventful number of -9. The Colts are getting a bit more than 55% coming off their shutout of the Cowboys. The line has been bouncing back and forth between -9 and -9.5. — Mark Gallant

Trends to Know: The Giants were blanked 17-0 last Sunday. Since 2003, teams that were held scoreless in their previous game have gone 54-44-3 (55%) against the spread. If they are an underdog in their next game, like the G-Men, the record improves to 36-22-3 (62%) ATS. — John Ewing

Andrew Luck has closed as a touchdown favorite 11 times in his career, he is 10-1 straight up and 7-3-1 ATS. — Evan Abrams

Eli Manning has opened up as a double-digit underdog eight times in his hall of fame career (tried to sneak that in there), he is 5-3 straight up and 7-1 against the spread, covering the spread by 12.3 PPG. In the Bet Labs database, no quarterback has won more games straight up when opening up as a double-digit underdog than Eli Manning with 5 (right behind Manning? JaMarcus Russell with 4). — Evan Abrams

Playoff picture: The Colts are tied with the Ravens and Titans at 8-6, and according to our sims, they have the best odds to make the playoffs of these three teams (45.7%, compared to 39.3% for Baltimore and 42.0% for Tennessee).

Indy will be big Chargers fans on Saturday night, as LA hosts the Ravens as 4-point favorites.

Regardless of how the other Saturday game (Redskins-Titans), the Week 17 game between the Colts and Titans will have massive playoff implications. — Scott T. Miller

Biggest mismatch: Situational Offense

Look at the efficiency metrics and you wouldn’t think there’s a big gap between these two offenses: Both average 5.7 yards per play, and the Colts rank 12th in offensive DVOA while the Giants rank 17th. But the Colts are putting up 26.6 points per game while Giants have managed just 21.9, and it’s because Andrew Luck and Co. are better at converting third downs and finishing drives. The Colts are No. 1 in third-down conversion rate (48.4%) and No. 6 in red-zone conversion rate (67.9%) while the Giants are No. 26 on third down (34.6%) and No. 28 in the red zone (46.7%).

The Giants’ third-down and red-zone issues will of course be exacerbated if Odell Beckham (quad) misses another game. Eli Manning has converted on 48% of third downs when targeting Beckham but 37% when targeting all others, and Beckham’s four red-zone TD grabs is tied with Sterling Shepard for the team lead. — Chris Raybon

DFS Edge: The Giants boast a trio of underwhelming starting cornerbacks that rank 45th or lower among corners graded by Pro Football Focus: Grant Haley (45), Janoris Jenkins (47) and B.W. Webb (83). Overall, they rank 32nd in DVOA vs. No. 1 wide receivers this season.

You could say T.Y. Hilton has historically dominated indoors and I wouldn’t disagree.

  • T.Y. Hilton career per-game indoors (68 games): 5.1 receptions, 85.4 yards, 0.47 TDs, 38% games with 100+ yards
  • Hilton per-game outdoors (44 games): 4.2 receptions, 61.2 yards, 0.23 TDs, 20% games with 100+ yards

Hilton (ankle) was a game-time decision last week and only wound up playing 41-of-72 (57%) snaps. Be sure to monitor our Week 16 Injury Report for Hilton’s daily practice participation as well as his estimated and official game status.

Hilton costs $7,100 on DraftKings and boasts a massive 28.6-point projected ceiling. — Ian Hartitz

Which team is healthier? Colts

Odell Beckham Jr. (quad) is once again looking very iffy to suit up Sunday, while fellow receiver Russell Shepard (ankle) should also be considered questionable at best. Center Spencer Pulley (calf) and linebacker Alec Ogletree (concussion) each started the week off on the sidelines.

Bet to watch: Colts -9.5

Over the past two years, the Giants’ ability to score and move the ball through the air have been radically dependent on the presence of Beckham.

  • With Beckham (16 games): 21.6 points, 25.4 completions, 1.56 passing touchdowns, 0.75 interceptions, 280.4 yards receiving
  • Without Beckham (14 games): 14.8 points, 21.4 completions, 1.07 passing touchdowns, 0.86 interceptions, 213.4 yards receiving

If Beckham is out, the Giants could struggle to put up points. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley has had a great season, but the Colts are fourth in run-defense DVOA, and just last week they held a superior Cowboys team to zero points at Lucas Oil Stadium even though running back Ezekiel Elliott had 128 yards on 18 carries and seven receptions. Barkley could have a big game, and the Giants could still put up a goose egg.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Colts, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has averaged 103.6 yards per game as a home favorite with quarterback Andrew Luck in the post-Reggie Wayne era (since 2015). And the Giants are dead last in the league in pass-defense DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers. Hilton has massive blow-up potential.

The Colts are fighting for a playoff spot in the AFC and have won seven of their past eight games. The Giants have every motivation to lose and could “earn” a top-five draft pick if circumstances break right.

I don’t like laying a lot of points, but I think the motivated Colts should be double-digit favorites. — Matthew Freedman

Betting odds: Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins

  • Spread: Dolphins -3.5
  • Over/Under: 38
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: Getting 79% of bets, the Dolphins are on pace to be one of the most popular teams on Sunday. Those bets have accounted for only 34% of money, though, meaning bigger bettors are playing the Jags.

Behind that potentially sharp support, this line has fallen from -5 to -3.5.

Big bettors have also taken a liking to the under. While it’s picking up only 40% of bets, the under has drawn 81% of dollars to fall from 39.5 to 38 (see live betting data here). — Danny Donahue

Trends to Know: It has been profitable to bet the over when three conditions are met: low-total, limited wind and non-division game. Check, check, check for Jags-Dolphins. —John Ewing

The Jaguars have scored just 28 total points in their last three games. Since 2003, teams that score fewer than 14 points in three consecutive games are 14-26-1 (35%) against the first-half spread in this spot. — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Turnover differential

While the Jags’ defense still has very respectable numbers (No. 4 in yards per play allowed), it simply isn’t generating enough plays — either via pressure or by forcing turnovers.

On the other side, the Dolphins’ overall numbers have been significantly worse (31st in yards per play allowed), but Miami has been very opportunistic. The Dolphins rank tied for third with an average of 1.9 turnovers per game, while the Jags rank 24th at 1.0. To put that into perspective, the Jags finished tied for first in the NFL in 2017 at more than double their average this year at 2.1 per game.

The Dolphins could improve upon the league’s second-highest opposing interception rate (4.37%, which only trails the Bears) against a Jags team that will certainly turn the ball over. The Jacksonville offense, which has only scored one total TD in the past three games (first time in franchise history), has turned it over an average of 1.9 times per game (third-worst clip in the league).

In a classic late season ugly and meaningless NFL battle between two corpses, Miami’s defense could decide this with a few more momentum-swinging plays. — Stuckey

DFS Edge: Jalen Ramsey hasn’t shadowed during the last two weeks and doesn’t seem like a strong candidate to track Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker or Brice Butler. Production will be hard to come by for any receivers involved in the Dolphins’ run-first offense, as Ryan Tannehill is averaging a pathetic 187.3 yards per game through the air this season.

Jaguars-Dolphins joins Redskins-Titans as the week’s only games with implied game totals under 40 points. These passing “attacks” should generally be avoided in fantasy, but the Dolphins defense is popping a bit in our Pro Models at $2,700 against a Jaguars offense that has scored just 28 total points during their last three weeks with Cody Kessler under center. — Ian Hartitz

Which team is healthier? Jaguars

Leonard Fournette (foot) practiced in full all week, but the coaching staff apparently doesn’t want to overload him with carries moving forward. The offense isn’t expected to welcome back rookie DJ Chark (quad), while the defense is dealing with an injury to safety Ronnie Harrison (knee, IR) shortly after they decided to release Barry Church.

Question marks for the Dolphins include linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee, hamstring), defensive tackle Ziggy Hood (hamstring), cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) and safety T.J. McDonald (foot).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Pass

Our proprietary power ratings made the spread for this game Miami -3.5, so this number has settled into the right spot.

Betting odds: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers

  • Spread: Bears -4
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: This game is eerily similar to last week’s Seahawks-Niners game. The 49ers are getting just 23% of the bets despite their upset of Seattle, but have dropped from -5 to -4 since opening.

They did reach -3.5 at one point, but there was a bit of buyback on Chicago. There have been two sharp money indicators on each side, with both of San Fran’s coming in at +4.5 and both of Chicago’s coming in on -3.5. — Mark Gallant

Trends to know: The 49ers enter Week 16 at 4-10 on the season, marking their fourth-consecutive year with double-digit losses. They have only finished with double-digit losses 11 times in franchise history prior to this streak.

San Francisco has won two consecutive games, though, beating both the Seahawks and Broncos at home. The 49ers have won three straight games just once since November of 2014, the end of last season with Jimmy Garoppolo. — Evan Abrams

The Bears are 10-4 straight up and against the spread this season and have been one of the best all-around teams in the league.

Since 2003, teams that have won and covered at least two-thirds of their games in December or later have struggled on the road, going 42-60-3 ATS (41.2%), losing bettors 20 units.

When the road team is favored in this spot, they fall to 23-41-2 ATS (35.9%), according to our Bet Labs data. — Abrams

Playoff picture: The Bears have a slim chance (12.4% odds, per our simulations) to get a first-round bye. So unless the Rams slip up, Chicago is locked into the 3-seed, with a wild-card date against the Seahawks, Vikings or Eagles looming. Scott T. Miller

Did you know? In the past five seasons, the 49ers are just the second team to have a win percentage of .333 or less in December or later, and play on at least a two-game winning streak.

The other team? Last year’s 49ers under Jimmy G, who won five straight games to end the season bringing San Francisco from 1-10 to 6-10. — Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Bears secondary vs. 49ers receivers

Marquise Goodwin played just 7-of-62 snaps last week, as the 49ers utilized plenty of two-TE sets with Garrett Celek (17 snaps), and also got slot receiver Trent Taylor (15) more involved.

This paved the way for Kendrick Bourne and Pettis to start in two-receiver sets, although Bourne remains a thin play considering he’s surpassed 75 yards just once in 25 career games.

That leaves us with a banged-up Pettis against the league’s premiere defense. Pettis has more or less worked as a true No. 1 receiver since the team’s Week 11 bye in everything except workload-related metrics.

Targets: 26 (T41st among all WRs)
Receptions: 17 (T35th)
Receiving yards: 338 (15th)
Yards per target: 13 (7th)
Receiving TDs: 4 (T2nd)
PPR: 74.6 (13th)

Pettis is capable of having a decent afternoon this Sunday, but don’t expect a massive performance against a secondary featuring three of PFF’s top-15 cornerbacks in Kyle Fuller (No. 3), Bryce Callahan (No. 9) and Prince Amukamara (No. 14).

The Bears rank among the league’s top-five defenses in pass DVOA against WR1s, WR2s, other WRs, and TEs this season. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Richard Sherman has struggled over his last month of football, but the Bears’ low-volume passing attack has resulted in zero games with more than eight targets for any of the team’s wide receivers since Mitchell Trubisky returned in Week 14.

The Bears’ evenly distributed passing game is clearly great for business, although it’s a volatile fantasy situation to target even in a good matchup against the league’s 25th-ranked defense in pass DVOA. None of the Bears receivers have a Projected Plus/Minus of even +1.0 on DraftKings in our FantasyLabs Pro Models despite all being $5,400 or less. — Hartitz

Which team is healthier? Bears

The only Bears at risk of missing Sunday’s game are stud safety Eddie Jackson (ankle) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (elbow).

Meanwhile, the 49ers were cautious with safeties Antone Exum (hip) and Jacquiski Tartt (shoulder), along with linebackers Malcolm Smith (Achilles) and Mark Nzeocha (groin), to open up the week.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: 49ers +4

After cashing with the Panthers Monday night (somehow), I am hoping to provide a pick that won’t need a crazy fumble-touchback rule to succeed.

Let’s go with a fade of the team that dramatically won its division last week — Chicago — that now travels across the country to play the 49ers in a game that seemingly won’t mean as much.

Yes, it’s the typical “letdown spot,” only there’s also really a lot to like about the Niners’ recent play.

They’ve won two in a row, and this is their third straight home game. It’s just a mix of a bad team playing well to close the season facing a good team in a horrible situation because of the big win last week.

And you’re getting 4! Merry Christmas. — Ken Barkley

Betting odds: Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints

  • Spread: Saints -6
  • Over/Under: 53
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: Fifty-eight percent of bettors are laying the points with the Saints, but they’ve accounted for a smaller percentage of actual money (40%). With bigger bettors on the Steelers, this line had dropped from -6 to -5.5, but is back up to -6 as of writing (see live odds here).

At 53, this is the second-highest total on Sunday’s slate. Bets are split 50/50, but the majority of money (67%) is on the under.Danny Donahue

Trends to know: Drew Brees is one of the most profitable quarterbacks in our Bet Labs database with a 141-111-6 (56%) record against the spread since 2003 (including playoffs). But he’s struggled as a big favorite.

In games that Brees is favored by six or more points, he’s gone 41-44 ATS, which means he’s 100-67-6 (60%) ATS in all other games. John Ewing

The Saints’ 12-9 victory over the Panthers on Monday Night Football was the first time Brees had won a game scoring fewer than 14 points.

Since 2003, teams that won their previous game when scoring fewer than 14 points went 87-70-6 (55%) ATS. Ewing

Playoff picture: The Steelers can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, but they need to beat New Orleans and then get losses from Indianapolis and Tennessee to do so.

Pittsburgh will also be keeping a close eye on the Ravens’ Saturday night game against the Chargers. If the Ravens win and Steelers lose, Baltimore would take control of the AFC North with one game to play.

The Saints are all-but certain to have the No. 1 seed (95.7% chance, according to our simulations). New Orleans would have to lose out for a non-No.-1-seed scenario to come into play. Scott T. Miller

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