NFL Week 16  Free Picks - A Truly Difficult Sunday of Handicapping

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D.S. Williamson

December 21st, 2018

Nick Foles took Carson Wentz’s place under center for the Philadelphia Eagles and promptly led the defending champs to a big upset win over the Los Angeles Rams in what would be a shocker if we hadn't also seen this same backup quarterback become a Super Bowl MVP. Foles must continue his late season heroics when the Eagles host AFC South winner Houston on Sunday.

If the season ended today, the Texans would be the second seed in the AFC, but they have yet to nail down a playoff spot. Houston wants to win out to ensure they get into the playoffs. They’re not even thinking about playoff position. The Texans face a difficult task against the desperate Eagles on Dec. 23. A loss along with wins by the Colts and Titans would make Week 17 a scramble for the division. If the Steelers, Titans, Colts, and Ravens all win this week, the Texans would need a victory in Week 17 just to make the playoffs.

The most important game on Dec. 23 might be Steelers at Saints. New Orleans is a game away from locking down homefield advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. Pittsburgh’s situation could be dire if they lost to New Orleans and the Baltimore Ravens upset the L.A. Chargers on Dec. 22.

Check out analysis and picks for Texans at Eagles and Steelers at Saints along with all the other great NFL Week 16 Sunday action.

Sunday, Dec. 23

Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles -2.5

Many point to the Saints or Chiefs, but the most remarkable team in the NFL this season are the Houston Texans. After starting 0-3, the fork was already in Houston before they ran off 9-of-10 to put themselves into a position for a playoff berth and Round 1 bye. Although it's been unreal how Houston turned around their season, they have a losing 6-7-1 record ATS. They’re also 2-8 ATS in their last 10 on grass, 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 in December, and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 in Week 16. A lot of Houston's achievements this season feel like smoke and mirrors. The Eagles take this matchup.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks:  Eagles -145 ML

Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins -4.5

Anybody who tells you they have a good read on Jags-Fins is lying. It’s impossible to handicap a game with stats between two mediocre squads. Trends firmly place me onto Miami’s side. The Dolphins are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 at home and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 versus the AFC. Jacksonville is 1-7-2 ATS in their last 10 and are about as untrustworthy as NFL teams get.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Dolphins -4.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns -7

Here’s another almost impossible Week 16 game to handicap based on stats. The Bengals have covered in their last 2 while the Browns are the hot team after upsetting Carolina and Denver. The Bengals own the Browns going 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings and 4-0 in the last 4 in Cleveland. I’ll take the points.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Bengals +7

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots -12.5

Patriots fans shouldn’t panic even though the house that Bill and Brady built has lost 2 in a row. Most every trend points to New England covering. The Patriots are 4-0 ATS in the last 4 against the Bills. New England’s also gone 13-3 in their last 16 at home versus a team with a losing road record. This is a lot of points to take, but New England is in desperation mode. If we're going to see them at their best, it's in this game where they will remind us all what they're capable of.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Patriots -12.5

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers -3

Which bad NFC South squad drops another in Week 16? Atlanta bombarded the Cardinals in Week 15. The win wasn’t as impressive because...well...the Cardinals stink. Carolina lost to the Saints, but they covered. There’s nothing but competing trends in this game. One that stands out is that Atlanta is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. Taking the points makes sense.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Falcons +4

New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts -9

The Colts are 7-1 SU in their last 8. That’s one of the reasons slightly more backers favor Indianapolis at the massive spread even though the trends point to a Giants cover. NYG is 6-0 in their last 6 on the road, 4-1-1 in their last 6 overall, and 4-0 following an ATS loss. New York’s the team to back.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: NYG +9

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys -7

Dallas crashed and burned in the Week 15 loss to the Colts. Most believe they’ll bounce back with a huge effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Trends point to something different happening. Tampa Bay is 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous. The road team is also 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings while Dallas is 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous and 3-9 ATS in their last 12 in Week 16. Buccaneers will cover as they use the blueprint Indianapolis outlined last Sunday. In the end, this is just too many points.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Buccaneers +7

Green Bay Packers -3 at New York Jets

All the action has gone to the Jets, who opened as a +3 home dog. By kickoff, the Jets might end up the favorites. Only one trend stands out: the New York Jets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Week 16. Because neither one of these squads has much to play for, I’ll base my choice on that stand out trend. To be clear, I don't trust either team in this game, but the Packers look dreadful and may be without Aaron Rodgers. Check the injury report on Sunday.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: NYJ +3

Minnesota Vikings -5.0 at Detroit Lions

The Vikings impressed the public so much after dominating the Dolphins 41-17 that they’ve already beat the Vikings up to -5.0 favorites from their -4 opening line. The trends do give this one to Minnesota, but Detroit has covered in their last 2. I’m just not comfortable laying over 4 points on a favorite battling a rival on the road. At best, Minnesota has been an inconsistent play and every time a bet against the Lions seems too obvious, they've done well.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Lions +5.5

L.A. Rams -13.5 at Arizona Cardinals

The Rams are an awful covering team. LAR is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 versus the NFC, 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7, and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 in December. This should be a low-scoring game with Arizona taking the full 40 seconds between every play on each possession. The Rams could easily beat the Cardinals and still not cover.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Cardinals +13.5

Chicago Bears -4 at San Francisco 49ers

The NFL betting public are in love with the Bears. There are a lot of hot trends that point to the Bears covering, but the one cold trend might make the most impact. Chicago is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 versus a team with a losing home record. They’re also 1-4 ATS in their last 5 in San Francisco. The Bears could relax in this game after winning the NFC North in Week 15. I think the 49ers, who have won 2 straight as a home dog, can upset Chicago straight up and am willing to roll the dice on the 49ers and Nick Mullens churning home field momentum gained after upsetting the Seahawks last weekend.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: 49ers +140 ML

Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints -5.5

NFL handicappers must feel that since the Saints struggled to beat Carolina and the Steelers dominated the Panthers, Pittsburgh’s the play against the spread. How else to explain the line moving from Saints -6.5 to Saints -5.5?

The problem with that logic is that New Orleans is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 at home, 10-2 ATS in their last 12 overall, 25-5 ATS in their last 30 at home versus a team with a winning road record, and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 when playing on Sunday following a Monday night game. New Orleans all the way.

NFL Week 16  Free Picks: Saints -5.5