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NFL Odds, Picks: Our Best Bets for Week 16 Christmas Slate

NFL Odds, Picks: Our Best Bets for Week 16 Christmas Slate article feature image
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Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: A Christmas Cardinal.


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NFL Odds & Picks

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Packers vs. Dolphins Spread
1 p.m. ET
Jaylen Waddle Receiving Yards
1 p.m. ET
Packers vs. Dolphins Spread
1 p.m. ET
Packers vs. Dolphins Spread
1 p.m. ET
Buccaneers vs. Cardinals 2H Total
8:20 p.m. ET
Mike Evans Receiving Yards
8:20 p.m. ET

Pick
Packers +3.5 & ML (+200)
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Brandon Anderson: Everyone saw the Dolphins lose by a field goal in Buffalo and came away impressed — I’m not seeing it.

Miami’s offense got two 67-yard plays but was otherwise tepid. Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t as bad as he had been the previous two games, but that doesn’t mean the passing game looked good.

Miami ranks 20th in DVOA over the last three games, including 21st on offense. Teams have suddenly found ways to jam its speedy receivers and take away the middle of the field. And the Dolphins still aren’t finding many answers outside of the occasional big play when their speed breaks the defense.

Green Bay has disappointed this season, but its been more average than bad, with two egregious flaws: Run defense and the special teams. Luckily for them, Miami has not been great running the football, and its special teams are miserable, so the Dolphins aren’t built to take advantage of Green Bay’s weaknesses.

The Packers pass defense is actually pretty good, and the offense has been, too — even better than Miami’s lately. The Packers rank seventh in offensive DVOA on the season, and that’s up to third over the past six weeks.

Green Bay runs the ball efficiently and could chew up clock, while Aaron Rodgers has found rhythm with his receivers and should exploit a beatable Miami pass defense.

I wrote about both of these teams in last week’s Friday Futures: Miami to miss the playoffs, and Green Bay to make the playoffs. I still like both plays, and they were in part because of this specific matchup.

Rodgers is 14-9 ATS (61%) as an underdog, covering eight of his last nine and winning seven of those eight outright. I like the Packers to do the same here, winning in Miami and making one final push for the playoffs.

I’ll play the cover and the moneyline.

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Pick
Jaylen Waddle Over 63.5 Receiving Yards
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

John LanFranca: Quite a bit of recency bias is baked into this prop.

Before Weeks 13 and 14, when Waddle was dealing with injury, he cleared this number in nine of 11 games and averaged 87 yards per game. Last week, he proved he is back to his explosive self, yet the line on this prop did not follow him back into the mid-70s, where it should be.

The Packers play zone coverage at a 72% clip, and Waddle’s target share tends to increase when teams choose not to play man defense. He’s targeted on only 18.3% of his routes against man coverage, but the ball is thrown his way on over 25% of his routes against zone coverage, per Sharp Football.

The Packers are league average or slightly below on defense against the pass. They have faced a league-low number of pass attempts this season, but they’ve surrendered 7.3 yards per attempt (21st). Both Tyreek Hill and Waddle are in position to put up big numbers, but the latter’s prop is simply mispriced here.

I’d play the over on Waddle up to 65.5.

Pick: Jaylen Waddle Over 63.5 Receiving Yards



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Pick
Packers +3.5
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Anthony Dabbundo: Green Bay is the healthiest it has been all season and Aaron Rodgers looked spry off the bye week with his full complement of weapons available in a dominant home win against the Rams on Monday night.

The Packers are a live underdog in Miami because the defense is well-equipped to take away the strengths of the Dolphins offense. Miami lives in the deep middle of the field and the Packers defense is top three at taking away that area, per DVOA.

Stopping the Miami rushing attack will be a problem, however, as the Packers have major defensive holes in stopping the run. But Tua Tagovailoa also has been fortunate to not have more turnovers this season. The Miami quarterback has 15 turnover-worthy plays and the Dolphins offense won’t be so fortunate if Tagovailoa doesn’t tighten his play.

Based on our Action Network Luck Rankings, the Packers have been one of the least-fortunate teams in the NFL. They are one of the best buy-low teams as the offense is trending up in a major way and actually has been a top-five rushing unit over the last six weeks.

Despite all the narratives about the problems in Green Bay, Miami has major defensive flaws too and won’t get enough stops to get the margin required. I wouldn’t bet this if it hit +3, but anything +3.5 or better is good on the Packers on Christmas Day.


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Pick
Packers +3.5
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Blake Krass: The Dolphins are broken.

After going on a five-game winning streak and becoming the darlings of the league, they have since lost three in a row and their playoff chances are in flux. Tua Tagovailoa, who was seen as an MVP candidate not too long ago, has really struggled over his last three games.

The Packers, meanwhile, are starting to look like Aaron Rodgers’ Packers again. Their defense is starting to play better and they are playing balanced football behind an efficient run game and Rodgers making big throws.

The Packers have a top-10 pass defense (per DVOA) but are last against the run. I think that is an okay formula against the Dolphins. Where Miami hurts teams is throwing the deep ball to Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. The Packers should be comfortable with them running the ball a lot and limiting possessions.

The Packers should be able to run the ball well as they have all season. That should set up Rodgers for a lot of success against the Dolphins’ 26th-ranked pass defense.

Green Bay has won 14 straight December games. This is when Rodgers thrives. I just have this feeling he is going to keep winning and carry this team into the postseason. I think they win this game, or worst case, keep it within a field goal. I would play this to +3.



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Pick
Buccaneers 2H Over 20
Best Book
Time
8:20 p.m. ET

Billy Ward: This game has a somewhat surprisingly low total of roughly 40 depending on the sportsbook.

On the one hand, it makes sense. Tampa Bay has struggled offensively this season, and Arizona is without Kyler Murray for the rest of the season. On the other hand, Brady has been better since the bye week, and neither team features an elite defense. This game is also one of the few this weekend without significant weather concerns.

So, why the second-half total rather than the full game? It comes down to the teams’ expected pace.

Both squads play considerably faster in the second half of games. The Bucs — eight-point favorites — also rank second in the league in pace when leading by a touchdown or more.

The Cardinals check in at 10th when playing from behind, which is their fastest score-based split. Since the likeliest scenario is the Bucs controlling the game, we’re betting on a faster second half.

As an added bonus, the Cardinals are considerably worse defensively against the run. That means the Bucs should continue to have success offensively while trying to kill the clock.

I’d take this one down to 20.5 at -110.


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Pick
Mike Evans Over 57.5 Receiving Yards
Best Book
Time
8:20 p.m. ET

Nick Bretwisch: Mike Evans has been a bit of a letdown throughout this second half of the season but enters a must-win, primetime game in a fantastic get-right spot.

The Cardinals secondary will again be without top cornerback Byron Murphy which leaves the big-bodied Evans the opportunity to feast on the outside against Marco Wilson and Antonio Hamilton, who’s questionable for this game.

If Hamilton is to be ruled out, this matchup gets even better for Evans against the duo of Wilson and backup cornerback, Christian Matthew. No one on this Arizona secondary can muscle up with Evans.

Look for Tom Brady to take advantage of that early in what should be a statement game for the Buccaneers offense that will welcome back All-Pro offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.


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