Freedman: 10 NFL Betting Picks Based on Week 16 Trends
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer
- Matthew Freedman identifies 10 NFL trends worth betting for Week 16, featuring spread and over/under picks.
Although I am not a “trends bettor,” I find that trends help me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games.
Using our Bet Labs database, I have uncovered 10 intriguing NFL trends for Week 16.
Odds as of Monday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Buffalo Bills +6.5 at New England Patriots
Quarterback Josh Allen isn’t a great player, but he has improved in his second season and is good enough in general to keep games close.
The Patriots are struggling on offense, ranking just No. 25 with 5.0 yards per play, and on defense, they could be without starting cornerbacks Jason McCourty (groin) and Jonathan Jones (groin), which is a big problem, because the secondary is the team’s strength.
In his 25 career starts, the Bills are 15-9-1 against the spread (ATS), good for a 20.5% return on investment. On the road, he is 9-2-1 ATS (53% ROI) and as an underdog, he is 10-4-1 ATS (36% ROI).
As a road dog, he is 7-2-1 ATS (45.2% ROI).
Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots Under 38.5
This feels like it will be a defensive slugfest. The Pats are No. 1 with 4.5 yards per play allowed, and the Bills are No. 4 with 4.8.
And I’m generally all over Bills unders. Head coach Sean McDermott is a defensive-oriented guy, and since he joined the franchise in 2017, the Bills are 28-18 (19% ROI) to the under.
And with Josh Allen, the Bills have a perfectly under-prone offense. Allen is inaccurate (56.5% career completion rate). Allen turns the ball over (21 interceptions, six lost fumbles in 26 games). Allen runs whenever possible (7.3 carries per game).
And yet Allen is just good enough to keep drives going and to prevent opposing offenses from incessantly getting the ball back.
In Allen’s 25 career starts, the Bills since last season have played a strong style of low-scoring complementary football (per RotoViz Team Splits App).
- Allen’s starts (25 games): 19.8 points scored, 17.4 points allowed
- Other starts (five games): 12.8 points scored, 32 points allowed
In Allen’s 25 starts, the Bills under is 18-7 (39.9% ROI). And on the road, where the team probably plays a little slower and with more offensive conservatism, the under is 11-1 (78.6% ROI).
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
New Orleans Saints-Tennessee Titans Over 51
The Saints have been one of the league’s most offensively potent teams for years, and since quarterback Ryan Tannehill became the starter for the Titans in Week 7, points have flowed like wine.
- Tannehill’s starts (eight games): 30.2 points scored, 23.4 points allowed
- Other starts (six games): 16.3 points scored, 15.3 points allowed
In Tanny’s eight starts, the over is 7-1 (72.5% ROI).
Miami Dolphins -1 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Even with quarterback Andy Dalton back in the starting lineup, I have no respect for the 1-13 Bengals, who are No. 32 with 15.1 points per game.
In Dalton’s 11 starts, they have a point differential of -9, having allowed 25.2 points and scored just 16.2.
The Dolphins aren’t much better — they’re No. 32 with 31.1 points per game allowed — but the Dolphins are at least giving full effort and playing as if they actually care about winning.
And they have been significantly better since their Week 5 bye.
- Weeks 1-4 (four games): -34.3 point differential, 6.5 points scored, 40.8 points allowed
- Weeks 5-15 (10 games): -5.7 point differential, 21.5 points scored, 27.2 points allowed
After going 0-4 ATS in September, the Dolphins are 7-3 ATS (35% ROI) since the bye week.
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 at New York Jets
The Jets have potential with quarterback Sam Darnold, but he has 27 interceptions and four fumbles lost in 24 starts, and Darnold faders are 15-8-1 ATS (27.9% ROI).
And that record can’t be blamed on HC Adam Gase: This negative trend predates him.
- Darnold Faders in 2018 (13 games): 8-4-1 ATS, 30.9% ROI
- Darnold Faders in 2019 (11 games): 7-4-0 ATS, 24.3% ROI
As for the Steelers, despite their Week 15 loss to the Bills, they have been a winning team since they lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2 and added defense-altering safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week 3.
- Weeks 1-2 (two games): -16 point differential, 14.5 points scored, 30.5 points allowed
- Weeks 3-15 (112 games): +3.5 point differential, 20 points scored, 16.5 points allowed
Since Week 3, the Steelers are 9-3 ATS (47.4% ROI).
New York Giants-Washington Redskins Under 42
The Redskins under interim offensive coordinator Bill Callahan have leaned on the run and slowed the game down — presumably in order to keep games close and ensure “respectable losses” — and that’s resulted in low-scoring affairs.
With Callahan, the Redskins are 6-3 (28.5% ROI) to the under, and I don’t think that’s a fluke. When Callahan was last a coach — with the 4-12 Raiders in 2003 — he called the game with a similar “Let’s keep this thing close” mentality, and he had a similar over/under record.
With his two losing teams, Callahan is 16-8-1 to the under (27.5% ROI).
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Oakland Raiders-Los Angeles Chargers Under 47
Since the Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017 and started playing in the miniature StubHub Center — now Dignity Health Sports Park, although it will always be the StubHub in my heart — they have been one of the league’s most under-friendly home teams.
Is there a reason for the StubHub under? My sense is that the Chargers simply lack the home-field advantage most teams have. On the road, they have averaged 23.4 points per game, but at home they have experienced just a slight uptick to 24.1.
Without the natural home-field scoring boost most teams get, the Chargers are understandably prone to the under in LA. The StubHub under is 14-7 (29.2% ROI).
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles Under 47.5
If the Cowboys win, they will be the NFC East champions. If the Eagles win, they will take the division as long as they dispense with the 3-11 Giants in Week 17.
Given what’s at stake, I expect both teams to slow the game down, look to keep the score close and play with more intention.
And that makes sense: Whenever divisional opponents face off in the final month of the season, we typically see lower-scoring games. The teams are familiar with each other, the weather is colder and they tend to be a little more conservative on offense.
In the Bet Labs database, the December divisional under is an A-graded 288-217-12 (10.9% ROI).
Plus, quarterback Dak Prescott has trended toward the under whenever the Cowboys have traveled. Outside of the domed AT&T Stadium, the Dak under is 19-12 (17.8% ROI).
Sunday Night Football
Kansas City Chiefs -5 at Chicago Bears
The 10-4 Chiefs are riding high with a four-game winning streak, and the 7-7 Bears have officially been eliminated from playoff contention with their Week 15 loss. I think the Bears will have a hard time getting up for this game.
And the Chiefs are especially good on the road. Under HC Andy Reid (since 2013), the Chiefs have been one of the league’s few teams to score more points on the road than at home, putting up an NFL-high road/home offensive differential of +2.8 points.
Given their penchant for road scoring, Reid’s Chiefs have been the league’s best visiting team during his tenure, going 35-18-1 ATS (29.9% ROI).
Monday Night Football
Minnesota Vikings -4 vs. Green Bay Packers
Under Mike Zimmer (since 2014), the Vikings have had all sorts of regular-season ATS edges.
- At home: 31-14-1, 33.7% ROI
- As favorites: 36-18-1, 29.4% ROI
These trends make sense within the context of who Zimmer is as a coach and what kind of team the Vikings are.
Zimmer is a focused, no-nonsense, risk-adverse, process-oriented, defense-directed “manager” (for lack of a better word), and the Vikings are a disciplined team that doesn’t often make big mistakes.
They don’t waste the natural advantage they have at home. And they don’t play down to the level of their underdog opponents. And this week, two of Zimmer’s historical edges line up.
As home favorites, the Vikings are 25-10-1 ATS (38.4% ROI).
Matthew Freedman is 520-389-21 (57.2%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
He’s the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.