NFL Week 16 Betting Picks and Predictions

December 23, 2020

Week 16 is upon us, and I hope that means you are playing in many of your fantasy league Super Bowls, in addition to locking in the NFL picks from this column. I know I dug a hole early in the year, but we are officially out and into profit moving into this week.

We have 11 teams in the league officially eliminated from playoff contention, and there will be more this week. Some teams will win their games and still be eliminated only due to other teams in the race also winning.

There will also be some teams that do not want to win, namely the Jaguars. They lucked into Trevor Lawrence on Adam Gase and the Jets incompetence last week, they won’t be so dense as to return the favor. If that Jets win didn’t occur last week, they would be a wildly attractive home dog against the Bears this week. Since they will lose at all costs, we will have to sit that one out.

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What we will have this week are three barking dogs, and by that I mean very live underdogs that are in great spots while getting points, with an under mixed in. We will also have one favorite on Monday Night that should roll on a team with nothing left to play for, but you will have to check back Sunday for that piece. Also check back Saturday for prop plays, but we have our Friday, Saturday and Sunday plays ready, let’s get to them.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Betting Plays: Vikings +7 and under 51

4.30PM EST, Christmas Day
Opening Line: Saints -6.5 and 52.5
Current Line: Saints -7 and 51

This Christmas Day game should be a tight one, and that is mostly because the Saints offense is not operating at peak capacity. Michael Thomas has hit injured reserve and he joins Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris on that list. Now all signs point to Tre’quan Smith missing this game with an ankle injury, and that will likely leave the Saints with just Emmanuel Sanders and Juwan Johnson at wide receiver.

Johnson appears to be a sub replacement level player. Granted it is a small sample, put Johnson has eight targets on the season. He has caught two passes for 16 yards. I find the lack of wide receiving ability for the Saints quite alarming, as I think the Vikings are most exploitable on the perimeter. The Saints are not a team that will run a power run ball control offense with their top back in Alvin Kamara, so the outcome of this game may very well come down to Sean Payton’s game plan.

It may be prudent for this to be a game for a heavy workload for Latavius Murray, who is much more of a straight line grinder than Kamara is. If this is not the game plan, we might see a lack of open pass catchers and see Brees struggle, and in turn, have trouble scoring.

On the other side of the ball, the Saints pass rush has been an exceptional quality for their defense, and they will need to show up from cover to cover on Friday. If and when the offense has trouble scoring, the Vikings will be able simply hand the ball to Dalvin Cook often, and that in and of itself will be a perfect opportunity for the Vikings. They can shorten the game, use play action to slow the rush and play a close game.

If some plays are made in the passing game, and make no mistake, Thielen and Jefferson are more than capable, the Vikings could be playing from ahead, and that is a perfect recipe for them against a Saints team simply lacking pass catchers. This is a phenomenal spot to take the points and also take the under, as I see that as set far too high.

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Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

Betting Play: Bengals +8

1PM EST
Opening Line: Texans -8.5 and 45
Current Line: Texans -8 and 46

This line is perhaps the biggest head scratcher of the year, and I understand how saying ‚Äúthe Bengals are getting far too many points‚ÄĚ comes across. However, we saw them beat the Steelers last week and we can now confidently say they move from helpless to capable with Finley under center and most importantly, not Brandon Allen.

Gio Bernard finally looked healthy as well, and the defense showed up. Now, could this be a one week anomaly? Absolutely. Here’s the thing of it. Even if both the running game and defense take a step back, it will not matter a great deal in this matchup.

The Texans without Will Fuller are simply an anemic offense. They have now played three games since his PED suspension They are 0-3 in those games, have not eclipsed 20 point scored in any game, and average 15.7 points scored. That’s just the offense though, and that is the better side of the ball for the Texans.

The Texans have allowed at least 25 points in each of the last four weeks and are allowing 29.7 points per game on the current losing streak. They remain an absolute sieve to the run and do not have a redeeming quality at any level. Their incompetence truly cannot be overstated. With Finley and any level of competence under center for the Bengals, the Texans should not be favored. They certainly should not be favored by more than a score. No matter who it is, their opponents will score on accident against the Texans, and any remotely competent team playing them and getting eight will be an auto play.

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