Week 16 NFL Picks – TJ Calkins Weekly

19 December 2019

NFL Betting Picks

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, we have a really good idea of the playoff picture and which teams will still be playing with some extra juice with postseason life and seeding in mind.

Week 16 NFL Picks

In the AFC, the Ravens, Pats, Chiefs and Bills have already punched their ticket to the postseason. The Texans would need some truly miserable luck to not clinch a playoff berth and the last spot, with greater than 99% certainty will go to either the Titans or the Bills. The Ravens and Pats have the inside track to first round byes. The Browns and Raiders have not been mathematically eliminated but are cooked for all intents and purposes. The eliminated teams are the Jets, Dolphins, Broncos, Chargers, Bengals, Colts and Jaguars.

In the NFC, the punched playoff tickets include the Saints, 49ers and Packers. For all intents and purposes the remaining three slots will go the Seahawks and Vikings, with the final spot going to the team that wins the NFC North between the Eagles and Cowboys. The Rams are not mathematically eliminated but are a real longshot. The eliminated teams include the Redskins, Giants, Cardinals, Bears, Lions, Bucs, Panthers and Falcons.

With so many eliminated teams, it’s not a task to see which teams are playing just for pride and which teams are playing for something bigger.

We have a different scheduling structure this week with no more Thursday Night Football. Instead, this week we have a three game slate on Saturday with the remaining games played on a typical Sunday and Monday schedule. Next week will be unique as well with all games being daytime on Sunday.

Let’s get to the games.

🔥 Play Of The Week 🔥

New Orleans Saints 11-3 at Tennessee Titans 8-6

1PM EST

Opening Line: Saints -1.5 and 51
Current Line: Saints -1 and 51

Drew Brees has bounced back in a big way the past couple weeks after looking very ordinary and potentially washed when he came back from the thumb injury. He certainlt had wildly concerning games against the Falcons and Bucs, but has turned it back on the last two weeks, throwing for a combined 656 yards and 9 touchdowns. This should be a spot he needs to keep that streak rolling as the Titans look to keep their playoff hopes alive and bounce back from a back breaking loss to the Texans in which they “only” scored 21 points. This was a step back for a Titan offense that had been wrecking the league and it is likely there was something learned in that game about sticking to the run too long if its not quite working. The outcome may have been different if they turned exclusively to Tannehill earlier in the second half. The Saints defense played great at home against the Colts on Monday night, but this remains an exploitable secondary and we should get a fun entertaining game with a great scoring pace. The Saints are scoring 36 points per game over their last five and the Titans are scoring 34.2 points per game in that span. While there is a slight lean to the home team in this one, the over is the way to go with two teams playing very high end offense.

Betting Pick: Over 51
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Saturday Slate

Houston Texans 9-5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-7

1PM EST

Opening Line: Buccaneers -1 and 53
Current Line: Texans -3 and 51

The Texans came up with a mammoth win last week, being the first team in over a month to keep Derrick Henry in check and beating the Titans in a close game to take the inside track on the divisional crown. The Bucs are eliminated but continue to be quite effective with their passing game on offense, and continue to be the most likely team to be involved in high scoring games in the NFL. The bummer for the Bucs is that after losing Mike Evans in week 14, they lost both Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller to injury in week 15, and are down to just replacement level players at the wide receiver position. The Bucs secondary continues to be exploitable by the wide receiver position, and Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller should truly have a field day in this one. The passing volume and scheme of the Bucs will be enough to put some points on the board, but I don’t believe this game ends up being all that close. The Texans individual matchups for the wide receivers are truly going to be the difference maker in this one. The Texans will get a reasonably easy win in a high scoring affair. The over becomes very attractive being bet down to 51 quickly. Take both the Texans and the over.

Betting Picks:
Texans
-3
Over 51

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Buffalo Bills 10-4 at New England Patriots 11-3

4:30PM EST

Opening Line: Patriots -7 and 38.5
Current Line: Patriots -6.5 and 38.5

While both teams are locked into the postseason already, there is still a good deal to play for on both sides. The Bills can still win the division with a win in this game and some help in another Pats loss in week 17. The Patriots are still fighting to get a first round playoff bye so this one should be intense, even though there is playoff safety for both teams. Both teams have offensive limitations and the defenses are the strengths of the respective teams. The Bills are stout across the board and their defense came up big last week in Pittsburgh, securing five takeaways to punch their playoff ticket. On offense, the scrambling and called running ability of quarterback Josh Allen should have them moving the ball at least somewhat consistently and it brings a scoring floor. The Patriots limited offense doesn’t have a go to wild card like that, and they could have even more problems scoring than the Bills in this very low total game. The first matchup was a 16-10 Patriots win and we have every reason to expect another game with offensive anemia on both sides. When 6.5 points are available in a game like this, it is extremely attractive. The line is far too wide and the Bills have a real shot at winning this one. Take the points.

Betting Pick: Bills +6.5
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Los Angeles Rams 8-6 at San Francisco 49ers 11-3

8:15PM EST

Opening Line: Pickem and 46.5
Current Line: 49ers -6 and 45

The Rams tricked us a little bit in weeks 13 and 14. They switched up the offensive structure to be designed more around the power run game and utilizing Tyler Higbee at TE and Robert Woods at WR in the passing game. This design worked well at Arizona and at home against Seattle, but it was wildly ineffective as they were dismantled in Dallas last week. Each week of film on something from a scheme perspective mitigates the advantages it has and it appears the Cowboys were the scheduling beneficiary of what to look for and how to stop it. In the first matchup with the 49ers, the Rams weren’t able to do much at home in a 20-7 loss. Jared Goff completed just 13 passes in that game for a mind numbing 73 yards. While I don’t expect a full blown repeat of this, I do think there are schematic components to the 49er defense that will continue to give Goff problems. On the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers are improved since their week 6 matchup with the Rams. They have switched to Raheem Mostert as their lead running back and the trade for WR Emmanuel Sanders has opened up the passing game with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel already in place. Look for the 49ers to end the Rams playoff hopes and to keep themselves in position for a first round bye in the playoffs with a home win on Saturday night.

Betting Pick: 49ers -6
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Sunday Slate

Jacksonville Jaguars 5-9 at Atlanta Falcons 5-9

1PM EST

Opening Line: Falcons -7 and 46
Current Line: Falcons -7.5 and 45.5

The Jaguars were left for dead after five consecutive blowouts and shockingly went to the west coast and stole a win away from the Raiders, essentially crushing their playoff hopes. It was shocking because the Jags were a turnstile to opposing running backs and Josh Jacobs played with a full workload and did next to nothing. So the Jaguars are still capable of showing some fight, but its not something to bank on. The Falcons passing offense is back to full strength with Austin Hooper in the lineup and they scored 29 on the 49ers last week in an impressive road win. The Falcons pass defense is still quite exploitable and DJ Chark is likely to be back for the Jaguars this week. Even with all the flaws and warts of the Jaguars overall, their offense is still capable of putting some points up and this total just sits at far too low of a figure. Since we don’t know the level of effort the Jags will be putting in on defense, we can’t fully trust the Falcons as a play but we can certainly play the over.

Betting Pick: Over 45.5
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New Orleans Saints 11-3 at Tennessee Titans 8-6

1PM EST

Opening Line: Saints -1.5 and 51
Current Line: Saints -1 and 51

Drew Brees has bounced back in a big way the past couple weeks after looking very ordinary and potentially washed when he came back from the thumb injury. He certainlt had wildly concerning games against the Falcons and Bucs, but has turned it back on the last two weeks, throwing for a combined 656 yards and 9 touchdowns. This should be a spot he needs to keep that streak rolling as the Titans look to keep their playoff hopes alive and bounce back from a back breaking loss to the Texans in which they “only” scored 21 points. This was a step back for a Titan offense that had been wrecking the league and it is likely there was something learned in that game about sticking to the run too long if its not quite working. The outcome may have been different if they turned exclusively to Tannehill earlier in the second half. The Saints defense played great at home against the Colts on Monday night, but this remains an exploitable secondary and we should get a fun entertaining game with a great scoring pace. The Saints are scoring 36 points per game over their last five and the Titans are scoring 34.2 points per game in that span. While there is a slight lean to the home team in this one, the over is the way to go with two teams playing very high end offense.

Betting Pick: Over 51
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Pittsburgh Steelers 8-6 at New York Jets 5-9

1PM EST

Opening Line: Steelers -3 and 38.5
Current Line: Steelers -3 and 38.5

The Steelers offense had real problems against the high end Buffalo unit this past week, and the lost put a real damper on their playoff hopes. The high end Bills secondary was too much for game manager Duck Hodges, but the Jets secondary is quite the opposite. They are highly exploitable and just what is needed for the Steelers to get back on the right track. The Steelers defense is, by my view, the best in the league and one that is opportunistic and puts points on the board. This matchup will be one where Sam Darnold reverts to “seeing ghosts” as he famously said with a hot mic on the sideline of his four interception game this season. Assuming Duck Hodges gets away from the interceptions that killed the team against the Bills, this one should be far wider than the betting line suggests. The Jets have had a mostly easy stretch of matchups over the second half of the season, but this one mist closely resembles the 33-0 shutout they had laid on them at home against the Patriots. Take the Steelers to smash the Jets.

Betting Pick: Steelers -3
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Carolina Panthers 5-9 at Indianapolis Colts 6-8

1PM EST

Opening Line: Colts -6.5 and 46.5
Current Line: Colts -7 and 46.5

The Panthers played the Seahawks tough last week and scored 24 points on the back of the usual suspects, Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore. These two will keep continue to keep the team afloat and competitive in most weeks, but have a rookie quarterback making his first career start this week, in Will Grier. Grier will likely not make the interception mistakes Kyle Allen has quickly become notorious for. Protecting the ball and letting the playmakers make plays has been the recipe for the Panthers offense all along and they should be better off for making the change. The Colts have quietly fallen apart on the same level as the Panthers, losing four straight games and five of six. Their run game has fallen apart and that was the lifeblood of this offense. I view this game as being very close but I believe the Panthers will have the better ability to sustain drives and a full touchdown spread here is extremely attractive. Taking the Panthers and the points in a matchup of two bad teams.

Betting Pick: Panthers +7
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Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

4:05PM EST

Opening Line: Chargers -6.5 and 47
Current Line: Chargers -5.5 and 45.5

What appeared to be an ascending quicker than expected Raider team has quickly fallen apart as they have now lost four straight games, including a loss the Jaguars and a mind blowing 31 point loss to the Jets. They have been exposed as a team that was overachieving earlier in the season and one that can’t continue to put teams away, even if playing from ahead. What has been consistent is their inability to remain competitive and keep pace in games where they face a negative game script (trailing early). This has very much been the case in their last two road games, games in which their margin of defeat is a combined 74-12. Despite the Chargers propensity for laughable errors, they are likely in a spot where they can get away with said mistakes or, unthinkably, not make them at all for a week and roll to an easy win. The Chargers are certainly the more talented team and any lead created is likely an insurmountable one for Derek Carr and co. It feels gross to bet on the Chargers, but hold your nose and fire away in this one.

Betting Pick: Chargers -5.5
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Dallas Cowboys 7-7 at Philadelphia Eagles 7-7

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Pickem and 47.5
Current Line: Cowboys -2.5 and 46

This is the most straightforward game of the week in terms of playoff implications. The winner of this game controls their own destiny or clinches the NFC East outright. If the Eagles win, they would also need a win in week 17 or a Cowboys loss in week 17 to win the division. If the Cowboys win, they clinch the division by way of owning the divisional record tiebreaker and week 17 will be irrelevant for both teams. This is a game where I don’t expect the world from Dak Prescott as he is dealing with minor injuries to his left hand and index finger on his right (throwing) hand.  In 12 career games against the Eagles, he has just an 8/7 TD to interception ratio and has been sacked 17 times. Both the interception and sack figures are the highest against any opponent. Carson Wentz has been better against the Cowboys. In six career games he holds an 11/2 touchdown to interception ratio and has been sacked 12 teams. I view the quarterback and passing stats as wildly important in this game as I don’t believe either team will find success running the ball, and the more effective passing game is likely the winner. The Cowboys wide receivers could have problems as Amari Cooper has been mostly ineffective on the road this year and has the widest gap of all wide receivers between home and road games. It’s been Michael Gallup and others that the Cowboys have been forced to lean on in road games, and the team is 3-4 on the road. It should be noted that the Cowboys are 3-1 against teams below .500 on the road and 0-3 against teams .500 or better. If this game were in Dallas I would very much be interested in the Cowboys, but it is a complete flip with the game in Philly. The outdoor conditions and homefield advantage will prove to be the advantage for the more playoff atmosphere tested Eagles and I believe they win outright.

Betting Pick: Eagles +2.5
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Arizona Cardinals 4-9-1 at Seattle Seahawks 11-3

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Seahawks -9.5 and 48.5
Current Line: Seahawks -9.5 and 50

The Seahawks laying more than a touchdown continues to be an automatic attack spot for me. Despite having 11 wins, they have won just one single game by more than a one score margin. I’ve covered weekly the way they embrace close games and generally don’t make attempts to pull away. The Cardinals are also a more complete team with Kenyan Drake elevated to being the top running back. He had his career game last week in their trouncing of the Browns and will be a large factor in this one. This play is simply one of attacking exploitable coaching philosophy and will find success far more often than failure. Take the points against the Seahawks.

Betting Pick: Cardinals +9.5
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Kansas City Chiefs 10-4 at Chicago Bears 7-7

8:20PM EST

Opening Line: Chiefs -4 and 45
Current Line: Chiefs -5.5 and 45

The Bears will continue to have significant limitations on offense as long as Mitchell Trubisky is under center, but they have been competent enough of late. The problem they are facing is a fully healthy Patrick Mahomes and company that are quietly playing at as high of a level as last year. I don’t believe the Bears to be at a level that will slow the Chiefs enough to win this game, and the Chiefs are on a four game winning streak that includes a road win at New England. The Bears level of success this season has been very well correlated with their level of competition, as six of their seven wins have come against teams .500 or worse. Of their seven losses, five have come against teams .500 or better and all five of those losses have been by at least seven points. Look for that trend to continue Sunday night as the Chiefs seek a first round bye against the eliminated Bears.

Betting Pick: Chiefs -5.5
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NBA Betting with TJ CalkinsTJ Calkins – NFL Expert

TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday.

 

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