NFL Odds & Picks for Week 16: Colts vs. Steelers, Bears vs. Jaguars Among 5 Best Buy-Low Betting Spots
Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Pittsburgh Steelers fans cheer
As the NFL regular season progresses, the betting market becomes more efficient. Most years, my edges start to bottom out in Weeks 12-15.
However, that usually changes in the final two weeks of the season as certain narratives drive some value, in my opinion. Specifically, teams that need to win tend to get overvalued against teams playing for absolutely nothing.
I also think we have some overreactions in the market based on what we saw during a wild and wacky Week 15.
Here are my favorite spots for Week 16. Get ready to hold your nose.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET | Amazon Prime
Home-field advantage is generally worth less in division games, but even more so here with San Francisco now playing its home games in Arizona. The Cardinals have won two straight, but did so against a completely hobbled Daniel Jones and a decimated Eagles secondary.
I still have questions about this team.
Arizona needs to win this game, while it doesn’t mean anything to San Francisco. I think that’s driving some of the line value here.
We also have some flawed recency bias after some fluky San Francisco results over the past month. Yes, the 49ers have lost four of their past five, including a blowout loss on national TV to the Bills, who seem to be blowing out everyone these days.
But take a look at San Fran’s other four games:
- L at Saints (outgained NO 281-237)
- W at Rams (outgained L.A. 345-308)
- L at Cowboys (outgained DAL 458-291)
- L vs. Football Team (outgained WAS 344-193)
The Niners have been plagued by turnovers, defensive touchdowns and some just plain old bad bounces. They’re still moving the ball and getting a bit healthier in the secondary (even if Richard Sherman can’t go).
San Francisco also could get star tight end George Kittle back, which would be a huge boost to the offense.
It’s worth noting that C.J. Beathard will start at quarterback for the 49ers. He’s gone 1-9 as a starter, but isn’t a material downgrade, in my opinion, from Nick Mullens, who has killed San Francisco with turnovers lately.
All of the pressure is on Arizona, while San Francisco would love nothing more than to avenge a loss earlier this season and spoil its division rival’s playoff chances.
I see value on the “road” underdog here in a game I think goes down to the wire.
Pick: 49ers +5
Miami Dolphins vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET | NFL Network
The Dolphins have been very kind to bettors this year. Miami has been the most profitable team to bet on in 2020 with an (against-the-spread) ATS record of 11-3. Washington and Buffalo are tied for second at 9-5 ATS.
However, I’m still not fully sold. The defense is very well-coached and solid on the back end, but there are holes up front.
The Dolphins have also benefited from an extreme amount of turnover luck this season. The regression monster looms for a team that paces the league with 26 takeaways to date.
I also still have questions about the offense, which is led by a rookie quarterback and a banged up group of receivers. Everyone has seemingly forgotten that this same team got embarrassed in Denver as a 4-point favorite a month ago.
You have to love the weekly perception shifts in the NFL.
I make this game closer to a pick’em (click here to track projections for every NFL game), so I’ll gladly take the field goal with the home dog that has a few extra days of preparation here for an East Coast team coming out West.
The Raiders aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention yet, but they basically have no shot. All of the pressure is on the rookie quarterback and a Miami team that could miss out on the postseason with a loss.
I expect Derek Carr to give it a go under center, but there isn’t an enormous drop off with Marcus Mariota, who got some reps in last week.
This is a classic buy-low/sell-high spot on the Raiders, while also being one of the best overall NFL betting values of the season per our NFL PRO Report.
Pick: Raiders +3
Chicago Bears vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday at 1 p.m. ET | CBS
There’s no doubt that the Chicago Bears offense is playing much better since Mitchell Trubisky regained his starting role. Chicago has scored at least 30 points in each of its past three games. It also hasn’t hurt that David Montgomery has been running like a mad man since returning from injury.
Amazingly, if the Cardinals lose on Saturday, the Bears would jump them for the final playoff spot in the NFC with a win over the Jaguars.
While the offense has certainly performed significantly better, the Bears did benefit from facing three poor defenses in Minnesota, Houston and Detroit. They’ll get to face another on Sunday in Jacksonville, but this line has simply gotten too high.
I think we are getting value based on recency bias (Jacksonville was blown out two weeks in a row while Chicago looks better). Additionally, we have the narrative that Jacksonville will tank for Trevor Lawrence since the Jets’ win over the Rams last week put the Jaguars in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 overall draft pick.
I find that logic nonsensical.
I don’t really think NFL teams tank. These are still players and coaches fighting for their jobs. Just look at the Jets last week in Los Angeles.
This Chicago offense isn’t suddenly a top-tier unit, so I’ll take my chances here on the home dog that I make closer to +5.5. Remember, this Jags team has six one-possession losses this year.
Just a few weeks ago, the Browns were -6 (and won by 2) at Jacksonville with Mike Glennon under center. Now, the Bears are laying 7.5 (click here for the latest NFL Week 16 odds) against either Glennon or Minshew?
Pick: Jaguars +7.5
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans
Sunday at 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Credit to the Bengals for pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the year over their division rival on Monday night. The defense came out fired up from the jump, but let’s not act like the offense did anything special. The Bengals had only 150 total yards through three quarters and benefited from countless short fields following Pittsburgh turnovers.
This is still an offense led by a bad backup quarterback. Don’t forget that the Bengals did nothing on offense in their three prior games without Joe Burrow, averaging fewer than 4 yards per play.
This is also a short week for Cincinnati after an extremely emotional win. Cincy may lay a complete egg.
The Texans are also an ideal teaser piece. If you’re looking for a team to pair them with, I’d tease the Rams up over 7 in a great buy-low spot for Sean McVay’s bunch.
Pick: Texans -8.5
Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday at 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to Week 16 in 2012. The Ravens had just dropped their third straight game and everyone was selling Joe Flacco.
They had a home game against the New York Giants, who needed a win for their own playoff chances. A win would lock up the division for the Ravens, who closed as 2.5-point home underdogs.
Sound familiar? That’s almost the exact scenario we have here.
For what it’s worth, the Ravens won that game by 20 and then went on to win the Super Bowl. I’m not saying the Steelers are a Super Bowl-caliber team, but I am saying this is the time to buy them.
Look, I was driving the bus that this Steelers team was overrated when they started off 11-0. The offense, which has no rushing attack and zero explosiveness downfield, is simply flawed. The defense is still rock solid, but has dealt with some recent injuries and benefited from a very easy schedule.
Well, after facing their seventh backup quarterback in 14 games, the Steelers have bottomed out in the public perception department. The entire world has shifted from thinking they’re a Super Bowl contender to thinking they won’t win another game.
As a result, we saw this lookahead line of Steelers -2.5/-3 flip all the way to +2. That’s an outrageous adjustment.
And it’s not like the Colts aren’t without flaws. Their defense has been very shaky of late and their offense, which has faced the easiest schedule of defenses in the NFL, has been average at best this season.
In fact, some advanced metrics suggest that the Colts have faced one of the three easiest schedules of pass defenses over the past 25 years. Per my ratings, the Colts have faced only two top-15 defenses all season — and did nothing in either against Chicago and Baltimore.
The perception of the Colts would also be much different had three of their recent wins gone the other way. They beat the Packers in overtime and benefited from two late Houston fumbles near the end zone.
I haven’t bet the Steelers straight up one single time this year, but I’m pulling the trigger here. We also have a dome team playing outdoors in the cold, which favors the Steelers.
Pittsburgh is an ideal teaser piece at +1.5 or better. And for you trend folks, this is a classic Mike Tomlin spot.
As an underdog against teams with winning records, Tomlin has gone 24-9-1 ATS (72.7%), covering by just fewer than six points per game. He’s the most profitable coach in this situation in our Action Labs database.
Pick: Steelers +2