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NFL Expert Picks: Ravens-Chargers, Patriots-Bills, More Week 16 Bets

Dec 23, 2018 7:53 AM EST
Credit:

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Russell Wilson

  • The Action Network experts break down their favorite Week 16 NFL bets, including Ravens-Chargers and Chiefs-Seahawks.
  • We've also got against-the-spread and over/under picks for Bills-Patriots, Packers-Jets and much more.

Week 16 is always one of the best regular NFL weekends of each season. And this year is no different, especially considering we have two primetime AFC showdowns with massive playoff implications on back-to-back-nights. And you just can’t beat late season meaningful Saturday NFL action.

Believe it or not, only two teams (Chargers, Chiefs) in the AFC have clinched a playoff spot headed into Week 16 — and they both are in a division that remains up for grabs. Not one single division title has been clinched in the AFC.

And while three teams in the NFC have clinched their divisions, there is still certainly plenty of postseason intrigue. The NFC East is still up for grabs, and the wild card race could still get very interesting — especially if the two leaders (Vikings,  Seahawks) go down in games that are certainly no guarantee.

Our staff has angles on a number of those and other highly-anticipated Week 16 matchups, two of which we have a consensus on: Giants at Colts (-9.5) and Vikings at Lions (+6). And for even more in-depth analysis on Sunday’s slate, check out our betting guides for every single game.

Let’s get into our 15 favorite bets for Week 16, which can hopefully help you find a winner or two you otherwise wouldn’t have spotted. After a solid 9-5-1 week, our NFL staff picks now sit at 123-110-14 (52.8%) for the season.

Let’s make it five straight winning weekends as we get even closer to the NFL postseason. We will get things started with a side and total on Saturday night’s AFC showdown between the Ravens (+5) and Chargers.


>> All odds pulled on Dec. 21, so slight line variations are possible. Download The Action Network app to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.


SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Stuckey: Ravens +5 & Under 43.5

Saturday, 8:20 p.m. ET on NFLN

The Ravens offense has undergone a fascinating midseason transformation from one of the NFL’s worst rushing offenses to one of the most prolific ground games we have ever seen.

Since Jackson took over under center, the Ravens have run the ball 233 times for 1156 yards (4.96 yards per carry) in five games. That comes out to an average of 43.6 attempts per game, which is a single-season pace of 745.

Interestingly enough, that would break the single-season record held by the 1977 Raiders (681). It’s also a pace of 3,699 yards, which would also break the single season rushing yards record held by the 1978 Patriots (3,165)

  • Week 11 vs. CIN: Jackson 26 for 119 (Team 53 for 267); 19 passes
  • Week 12 vs. OAK: Jackson 11 for 71 (43 for 242); 25 passes
  • Week 13 vs. ATL: Jackson 17 for 75 (49 for 207); 26 passes
  • Week 14 vs. KC: Jackson 13 for 71 (39 for 198); 26 passes
  • Week 15 vs. TB: Jackson 18 for 95 (49 for 242); 23 passes

It all starts with Jackson, who has rushed the ball 85 times for 431 yards (5.07). That’s a full season pace of 1,379 yards, which would shatter Michael Vick’s single-season QB rushing record of 1,039 yards in 2006.

As a result, the Ravens have had a stunning advantage in total plays over their opponents during that stretch.

  • CIN: 75-54
  • OAK: 69-56
  • ATL: 77-45
  • KC: 68-83
  • TB: 74-47

Baltimore has averaged over 15 more plays per game than  its opponents, which is almost Army-esque.

That said, the output is certainly not sustainable, as the Ravens have benefited from a five-game stretch seeing five of the worst run defenses in the NFL. However, I can say with full confidence the Ravens will at least keep up the rushing volume.

And they do get the benefit of playing another team that ranks in the bottom half of the league in rush defense DVOA (Chargers 18th).

You can run on the Chargers, especially up the middle. In fact, the Chargers don’t have a single interior defender ranked in the top 30 in run defense, per PFF — and Bosa/Ingram both rank outside the top 30 in run defense among edge defenders (min. 200 snaps).

Baltimore will run it 40-plus times and have more success doing so.

On the other side of the ball, while the Chargers had zero top-30 interior run defenders, all three of the Ravens starting down linemen in their 3-4 scheme rank in the top 30: Michael Pierce, Brandon Williams and Brent Urban.

Not many casual fans know the name Michael Pierce, but he has been dominant. PFF actually ranks him in the top 5 among overall interior linemen.

  • Aaron Donald 95.1
  • Fletcher Cox 92.3
  • Damon Harrison 92.1
  • Akiem Hicks 91.4
  • Michael Pierce 90.9

Just look at that company.

The Ravens’ interior defense, in addition to Pro Bowlers up the middle in C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle, is a major reason why they rank in the top five in yards per rush (3.8). They can slow down Gordon, who’s less than 100%.

I also think the Ravens can get to Rivers … frequently. Za’Darius Smith, not Bosa or Ingram, is actually the highest-graded pass rusher (80.2) in this game, per PFF.

The Ravens can really take advantage of a vulnerable Chargers offensive line that ranks 28th in pass blocking, per PFF. The Ravens can specifically take advantage of guards Schofield and Feeney, who PFF ranks as the 74th and 98th best pass blocking guards, respectively. Even Mike Pouncey comes in at a below average 20th among centers.

And the most exploitable matchup will come against RT Sam Tevi, who PFF ranks dead last in pass blocking among all tackles at a grade of 44.5 (min. 500 snaps). Judon and Smith should live in the backfield on passing downs.

The Ravens will cover this game in the trenches on both sides of the ball — and with an advantage on special teams.

In regards to the total, I played the under at 45 — and still like it down to 43. The Ravens will stick to the run and it’s not like the they’ll be able to do much in the air against an excellent Chargers secondary.

The Ravens also have the personnel in the secondary to slow down the Chargers’ passing attack, especially with Allen hobbled. This is the second-overall defense DVOA (and second vs. pass) vs. the second-overall pass offense DVOA.

Lastly, the Chargers are a snail. LA is the slowest team in NFL, averaging a league-high 30.26 seconds per play. Expect Rivers to be fighting the play clock all game (which will also help the Ravens pass rush).

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