NFL Week 16 Saturday Games Preview -  Chargers Battle for AFC West and Homefield

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D.S. Williamson

December 21st, 2018

By virtue of their 29-28 come from behind win over the rival Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15, the L.A. Chargers host the Baltimore Ravens in one of the two NFL Week 16 Saturday games with a shot at moving towards an AFC West title and gaining homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. What an incredible twist of events. After the Chargers battle the Ravens on Saturday, the Chiefs play the Seattle Seahawks in the season’s final Sunday Night Football game. That should be a competitive affair. A victory by Los Angeles coupled with a KC loss puts the Chargers a game ahead in the division. It also gives the Chargers the best record in the AFC.

A win won’t be easy. Baltimore’s a half-game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. Pittsburgh battles the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, meaning this could be the week where the Ravens jump ahead in the division.

In the earlier of the two NFL Week 16 Saturday games, Washington tackles the Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The Redskins haven’t yet been eliminated from the playoffs. Although the chances of Washington making the playoffs aren’t great, the Panthers fell out of contention on Monday night after losing to the Saints. Washington can also knock out the rival Eagles with a win in Week 17.

The Tennessee Titans must continue to grab victories to keep their playoff hopes alive. Tennessee can put pressure on Baltimore by beating the Redskins earlier in the day because right now the Titans and Ravens are battling each other for the final wildcard in the conference.

Lots of drama should unfold in both NFL Week 16 Saturday games, and will help get your holiday weekend up and running.

Saturday, Dec. 22

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans -10

Facing the best secondary in the NFL in Week 15, Josh Johnson performed admirably. He completed over 64% of his passes, threw for 151 yards, and threw a touchdown pass. Johnson should have a much tougher time versus the Titans because of what’s at stake, but he showed he’s capable of playing within himself. When I say within himself, I mean that the quarterback doesn’t push harder than he has to. A lot of playing within oneself has to do with strategy.

In this case, Washington coach Jay Gruden will try to control the clock and rush the football against a Titans’ team that allows 110 ground yards per. Although that plan of attack worked against Jacksonville, it’s difficult to see it working against the Titans.

Tennessee is 4-2 ATS in home games this season. While Washington has a winning 4-3 ATS road record, the Titans most definitely step it up in Nissan Stadium. Other trends also point to Tennessee covering the massive number.

The Titans are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 at home, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 in December, and 10-3 ATS in their last 13 on grass. Washington is 5-11 ATS in their last 16 following an SU win.

The spread’s daunting, but all signs point to Tennessee covering. It makes sense to lay the points and put your faith in Derrick Henry, who has been unleashed in the last few weeks of the season.

NFL Week 16 Games Free Pick: Titans -10

Baltimore Ravens at L.A. Chargers -4.5

The betting line in Chargers-Ravens has gone down a point from LAC -5.5. The reason could be that most NFL handicappers aren’t comfortable laying 5.5 points against the team with the best defense in the NFL.

The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the league, but so are the Ravens. Baltimore’s gone 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS in the 5 games since their bye. The Ravens have managed to win games even though they’ve had to start rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Just a couple of days ago, Baltimore went all in with Jackson. Reports said the Ravens will trade Flacco to the team of his choice during the offseason.

It means Jackson gets the call on Saturday. Lamar can have success both in the air and on the ground. He’s averaging 5 yards per carry, but although many believe he’s just a rushing quarterback, he’s improved his decision making. Jackson hasn’t thrown an interception in 3 straight while reaching 60.9% in completions in the Ravens’ last. The Chargers could have trouble defending against a quarterback like Jackson. If they do, LAC might find themselves playing catch up.

That would hurt the Chargers chances of covering the spread because not all LAC trends are favorable. The road team in the matchup is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings while the Chargers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 at home.

Both teams have a lot to play for. The money says Baltimore gets the nod, though. I agree that the Ravens cover, but I’ll take a swing on Baltimore getting the victory. Lamar Jackson’s an x-factor that teams have yet to account for. That, along with the Ravens first ranked defense, gives me confidence that Baltimore wins this game straight up.

NFL Week 16 Games Free Pick: Ravens +195