Our Experts’ Favorite Saturday NFL Betting Picks for Rams-49ers
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jimmy Garoppolo
- Our experts reveal how they're betting Saturday's Week 16 NFL slate.
- Find their spread and over/under picks for Texans at Buccaneers, Bills at Patriots and Rams at 49ers below.
- Sean Koerner also highlights his favorite prop bet based on the Buccaneers' depleted receiving corps.
Editor’s note: Picks for games that already kicked off have been moved to the bottom of this story.
The NFL’s gift to bettors? A three-day marathon of action heading into the holiday.
It kicks off with a three-game Saturday slate, featuring the following matchups:
- Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1 p.m. ET
- Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots: 4:30 p.m. ET
- Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers: 8:15 p.m. ET
Our experts reveal how they’re betting these spreads and over/unders below, with their five favorite picks, including Sean Koerner’s favorite prop bet.
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Stuckey: Rams-49ers Under 45
We should get focused efforts from both defenses after embarrassing losses last week. And the Rams still haven’t forgot about the shellacking they suffered in the first meeting with the 49ers earlier this season.
Ultimately, I think both defenses matchup very well with the opposing offenses.
Let’s start with when the Rams have the ball.
The first factor you should weigh is: Can the opponent pressure the quarterback? If the answer is no (see when Los Angeles plays Seattle), then the offense looks fine. If the answer is yes, then the Rams offense essentially falls apart as Jared Goff needs a clean pocket to operate since he lacks mobility and possesses a very mechanical throwing motion.
Well, the 49ers can get pressure as well as any team in the NFL, ranking first in adjusted sack rate. And they can do so simply with the production of their defensive line without having to blitz, which obviously also benefits the secondary, which should be much healthier with Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams expected back.
Goff — one of six quarterbacks who have been under pressure at least 200 times this season — has six touchdowns and six interceptions with a 42.4% completion percentage when under pressure.
When these teams met earlier this season, Goff finished 13-of-24 for 78 yards while the Rams collectively rushed for 165 total yards at only 3.3 yards per rush. The 49ers went into a shell on offense once they got a lead as the staff just knew the Rams weren’t going to get anything going on offense. I’m not sure how much more you can expect this time around as the 49ers pressure should disrupt everything once again.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams defense grades out as legit with one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Keep an eye on Troy Hill, who is one of the most underrated corners this season. Hill, Jalen Ramsey and Nickell Robey-Coleman — one of the best slot corners in the NFL — make up a very formidable secondary that can shut down the 49ers wide receivers.
Plus, Aaron Donald and Co. are stout against the run, ranking in the top 10 in yards per rush and sixth in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA. That’s obviously important against a rush-heavy 49ers offense.
I think both defenses will shine in this late-season divisional rematch, so give me the under at anything 45 or higher.
Stuckey is 312-251-8 (55.4%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Chris Raybon: Texans -3 at Buccaneers
While I usually don’t back the Texans as favorites because Bill O’Brien’s team tends to play down to the competition, I had to jump on them as a short favorite against the Bucs.
Losing Chris Godwin (hamstring, out) is arguably a bigger blow than Mike Evans (hamstring, IR) for the uber-productive but uber-reckless Jameis Winston. Whereas Winston completed 56.2% of his passes with a 7.6% interception rate to Evans, he’s connected on 72.1% of attempts to Godwin with an interception rate of 5.7%.
Meanwhile, the Texans offense should be at full strength with Will Fuller another week removed from his own hamstring issue and Kenny Stills demanding more defensive attention after catching two touchdowns last week.
Winston had previously been profitable to back as an underdog, be he’s just 3-5 against the spread as an underdog this season, according to our Bet Labs data. With a healthier stable of talented skill players and the superior, less turnover-prone quarterback, I like the Texans chances to cover the short spread in a potential shootout.
I jumped on this early at -1, but I still like it as long as it’s not past the key number of -3.
Raybon is 183-138-10 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Sean Koerner: Buccaneers WR Justin Watson Over 2.5 Receptions (-140)
The Bucs will be without Evans, Godwin and Scotty Miller this week. But their lack of depth at wide receiver has created opportunity with player props, as the market is a bit off when it comes to Watson’s receptions.
Watson saw his routes run shoot up to a 62% routes run per drop back over the past two games. With Evans, Godwin and Miller now out, I have Watson’s routes jumping into the 70-75% range. We could see him working out of the slot quite a bit as he’s worked there 38% of the time over the past two games. It could lead to more frequent and high-percentage throws coming his way.
The Bucs are so thin at WR that Breshad Perriman is the new No. 1. He’ll continue to be the field-stretcher, but there’s still a ton of targets to go around.
Ishmael Hyman and Spencer Schnell were recently signed just to field some bodies for depth. Hyman may end up seeing a few targets while the speedster Schnell could see a couple deep targets. We could also see the Bucs line up with more two tight end sets and line Cameron Brate out of the slot.
This is a very tough situation to project, but I still have Watson commanding 6-7 targets in this game, leading to my projection of 3.5 receptions.
Here’s what the probability distribution looks like for him:
I have him going over 2.5 receptions 68% of the time, so the -140 price tag is not enough to scare us away. In fact, I would likely bet this up to -180.
Here’s how the bet would break down if oddsmakers bump it to 3 receptions or your book is offering 3 for this market:
- 2 or fewer receptions (lose the bet): 32.1%
- 3 exactly (push the bet): 21.6%
- 4 or more (win the bet): 46.3%
Koerner is 158-119-2 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Matthew Freedman: Bills +6.5 at Patriots
Josh Allen isn’t a great player, but he’s 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’s 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).
Freedman is 522-393-22 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Sean Koerner: Bills-Patriots Over 37
Yes, it’s easy to imagine this being a defensive struggle. And I don’t think anyone would be surprised if we saw a similar result as when these two teams met in Week 4 and the Patriots won 16-10.
That’s why the public has been hammering the under to the tune of 60% of tickets and money (see live public betting data here). If there were no sharp resistance, it’s likely the total would’ve dropped by more than a half point by now, so the market is behaving in a way that doesn’t scare me away from the over.
There are some underlying factors that could make this game higher scoring than we anticipate.
Both defenses specialize in shutting down their opponent’s passing game, yet are more prone to the running game. The Bills play a soft zone that specializes in taking away boundary wide receivers and is willing to concede to chunk plays on the ground or underneath. This is something the Patriots are more than capable of game planning to exploit. Bill Belichick is arguably the greatest coach of all-time and excels at attacking the other team’s soft spots. Therefore we should see Julian Edelman and James White targeted heavily to move the ball effectively.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have been prone to quarterbacks who can rely on their scrambling ability once the play breaks down. Allen is one of the better QBs at doing just that. The Patriots play heavy man coverage, which can leave their backs turned to the QB and vulnerable to one like Allen who can run for a big gain.
Lastly, this game is expected to have a league-average pace, which can benefit us when a total is as low as 37.5. Yes, this should be a strong defensive battle, but with a number this low, there are enough factors that lean toward an over given the low number we have to clear.
With the market pushing this line down to 36.5 from the 38.5 opener, now would be the time to pull the trigger.
Koerner is 158-119-2 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.