NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Cardinals, Raiders, Jaguars Among Spreads To Target, Plus Bengals-Ravens Total
Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Bengals QB Joe Burrow prepares for a snap against the Ravens
NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
I’ll be picking five NFL sides each week of the season for DraftKings‘ Pro Football Millionaire Pick’Em contest. Note that the spreads for this contest lock on Wednesdays, so some will be stale by the time you read this and thus not readily available outside of the contest. But you can check real-time NFL odds here.
I’ll also outline the rest of my betting card for the week below (click here to skip ahead).
NFL ATS Picks For Week 16
Here were the five sides for this week’s pick’em contest entry:
- Cardinals -1.5: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
- Bengals -2.5: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Jaguars +2.5: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Raiders -1.5: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
- Dolphins +3.5: Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Due to COVID and injury concerns among NFL teams, as well as the lack of available information early in the week, we’ve changed many of our preliminary list of picks given out in our weekly YouTube segment and have finalized our picks in this week’s Pick’Em Column.
1. Cardinals -1.5 vs. Colts
This is a pure numbers play with the lookahead line on this game being Cardinals -4. Although the Cardinals’ loss to the Lions does warrant an adjustment, I’m not sure it warrants one this large. Nonetheless, this represents an ideal spot to back the Cardinals in a matchup against a Colts team that is 17th in Dropback EPA and 26th in Dropback Success Rate (49.7%) — I’m expecting a bounce-back performance from Kyler Murray and this passing offense.
The Colts are dealing with injuries on the offensive line to center Ryan Kelly and guard Mark Glowinski, which may negate the advantages Indy has running the football with Jonathan Taylor against this Cardinals defense that has struggled to stop the run. Ultimately this game will come down to whether or not Carson Wentz can keep up with this Cardinals offense. Wentz comes off a game in which he completed just five of 12 passes for 57 yards with one touchdown and one interception. That won’t cut it here — and based on how Wentz has struggled against pressure, he could be in trouble against this Cardinals defense given the injuries on the offensive line. I’ll lay the 1.5 with the Cardinals as they should bounce back in a spot where they’re undervalued by the market.
2. Bengals -2.5 vs. Ravens
I love this spot for the Cincinnati Bengals who face a Baltimore Ravens team they absolutely dominated with a 41-17 win in Week 7. The Ravens are just 26th in Dropback EPA/play and are 31st in explosive pass play defense, allowing 12% of passes to go for 20 yards or more. This presents an ideal matchup for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and this entire Bengals offense. Even more ideal is that this is a depleted Ravens secondary missing their star cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The Ravens injury report is lengthy with CB Anthony Averett, S Brandon Stephens, CB Chris Westry and DB Anthony Levine all questionable for this matchup.
Of course, much of the talk will be about if Lamar Jackson will return for this game, but it’s looking increasingly clear that Tyler Huntley will get the start. I personally don’t think it matters too much either way as Jackson has thrown 16 TDs vs. 13 INTs in 2021 and is suffering a severe ankle injury that will hamper his ability to run. Should he go, the Bengals have an advantage. Should Huntley start, I don’t believe he can keep up with this Bengals offense. The Ravens needed multiple double-digit fourth-quarter comebacks to cover the past two weeks and I’m willing to bet on it not happening again.
3. Jaguars +2.5 at Jets
I know this is uglier than a Master P sneaker, but that’s life in the NFL betting world. Sometimes you have to take the ugliest dogs and live with it knowing you have a positive expected value proposition long term. After the firing of head coach Urban Meyer last week, the Jaguars closed as 5.5-point favorites against the Houston Texans before eventually losing 30-16, but I felt this was the spot to target. The New York Jets are one of the worst teams in the league, ranking 28th in Football Outsiders total DVOA, 23rd on offense and 32nd on defense.
Zach Wilson particularly struggles against pressure where he has just a 43.7% passer rating. The Jaguars have a 24.8% pressure rate so I expect them to cause some problems in this matchup. On defense, the Jets are dead last in EPA/play, meaning Trevor Lawrence could potentially have the best game of his career.
The real edge here lies in the Jets having a COVID-19 outbreak that’s left them missing head coach Robert Saleh and 21 player this week, including WR Elijah Moore, LG Alijah Vera-Tucker, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and CB Michael Carter II. This team is decimated on both sides of the ball and I can’t pass up the chance to get a motivated Jaguars team at +2.5 points just one week after losing their first game without Meyer.
4. Raiders -1.5 vs. Broncos
Much of this handicap has to do with the downgrade from Teddy Bridgewater to Drew Lock, who had 17 touchdowns to 17 interceptions in 13 games last season. He’s a significant downgrade as he was 33rd in adjusted completion percentage on short passes and had the fifth-most turnover-worthy plays in 2020. Denzel Perryman is back in the lineup for the Raiders and they should be able to slow down this Broncos offense.
The Raiders have struggled offensively since Jon Gruden’s resignation and dropping Henry Ruggs III for his involvement in a deadly crash. Still, the last time these two teams met the week after Gruden’s departure the Raiders won 34-24 with Derek Carr completing 18 passes for 341 yards in one of his more dominant performances of the season. I’m willing to bet on a similar result here.
5. Dolphins +3.5 at Saints
The New Orleans Saints have been one of the most inconsistent teams of this NFL season. They have wins over the Buccaneers (twice), Packers and Patriots, but have losses to the Falcons, Panthers and Giants. They’re an up-and-down team and it’s tough to know when they will show up. I’m betting it won’t be this week as they’ll be playing with third-string quarterback Ian Book getting the look with Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian on the COVID-19/reserve list.
As a result, this is a stale number with the Saint dealing 3.5 while the betting markets are currently sitting at Dolphins -2.5. The Dolphins will have all their weapons with the return of Jaylen Waddle to pair with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki — this feels like another spot where they should find some success offensively. I’ll back the Dolphins getting 2.5 points against a Saints team that is likely to have more players listed on the COVID-19/reserve list.
More NFL Picks For Week 16
Bengals-Ravens Over 44.5
This is probably my favorite pick when it comes to the Week 16 slate as my model actually makes this game 46.5. As I mentioned above, the Ravens are just 26th in Dropback EPA/play and are 31st in explosive pass play defense, allowing 12% of passes to go for 20 yards or more. Expect the Bengals to get whatever they want offensively. With the Ravens likely chasing points in this matchup, I’m expecting a higher scoring game.