COVID continues to wreak havoc on the NFL Odds and schedule this season. Over 150 players found themselves on the reserve/COVID list as of Monday evening. This has left some teams scrambling to fill their depth chart and has threatened further postponements.
Favorites followed perhaps their best week, 11-3 in Week 14, with a push in Week 15. Favorites and Underdogs split the 16 games against the spread, 8-8. However, favorites went 3-1 against the spread in the four postponed contests.
Last week’s scoring binge, with 10 games hitting the Over, didn’t happen in Week 15. The Under bounced back, going 10-6. The Under is now 120-85 in non-overtime games this season.
Keep a close eye on player availability before placing any of your bets this week. NFL Bye Weeks have finished for the season, so there’s a full slate of games to bet on this week. Don’t miss the NFL Week 16 Picks and Predictions piece that navigates through all of the Week 16 NFL lines.
Despite all the COVID uncertainty, the NFL Week 16 slate features a number of actionable lines and totals to bet this weekend. Here’s a look at five NFL best bets to follow for Week 16.
The Buffalo Bills play the New England Patriots in what might be the marquee matchup of the NFL Week 16 slate of games. Last week’s results, with Buffalo winning and the Patriots losing, has added divisional stakes to this contest. The winner will have the inside track at this year’s AFC East crown and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.
The Bills (8-6, 8-6 ATS) positioned themselves to retake the AFC East by winning over the Carolina Panthers last week. The Bills harried Cam Newton in that one, sacking him four times and grabbing an interception in the 31-14 victory. Buffalo enters Week 16 among five 8-6 AFC teams.
The Patriots (9-5, 9-5 ATS) fell behind 20-0 in their Saturday night loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week. New England lost its grip on the 1-seed in the AFC with the lost. Uncharacteristically sloppy play from the Patriots led to the big hole, one they couldn’t quite claw their way out of.
The last time these two teams played they scored a total of 24 points. Now, that game was played in difficult weather conditions, but New England only attempted three passes all night and focused almost entirely on the run game. If that’s the same game plan for Week 16, then the Under seems like the right play.
The trends point toward the Under as well. In the last seven meetings between these two clubs, the Under hit five times. The Under is 5-2 in the last seven matchups in New England.
There are more Under trends for the Patriots, too. The Under is 6-0 in New England’s last six December games, and 15-7 in its last 22 games overall. The Pats have seen the Under hit in five of their last seven against AFC East opponents. The Under is 4-1 in New England’s last five home games versus a team with a winning road record, and 18-7 in its last 25 games following a straight up loss.
The Los Angeles Chargers play the Houston Texans in this matchup of conference rivals on Sunday afternoon. The Chargers find themselves bunched among the nine teams fighting for the final three playoff spots in the AFC. Their loss last week pushed them into the Wild Card race. The Texans, meanwhile, enter this one with the ability to play spoiler at this point of the season.
The Chargers (8-6, 7-7 ATS) squandered an opportunity to take control of the AFC West division with their 34-28 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Justin Herbert completed 22 of 38 passing, for two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for another score. The Chargers offense, though, came up empty on three red-zone drives.
The Texans (3-11, 6-8 ATS) grabbed their third win of the season, and second over the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the 30-16 victory last week. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills won for the first time as a starter and the Texans used a 98-yard kickoff return to help take control of that game.
The Texans’ home win over Jacksonville in Week 1 is the team’s only home win of the season. Since then, Houston has gone 0-6 straight up and 2-4 against the spread in its last six home games. Houston is 2-10 straight up and 5-7 against the spread in its last 12 games as a home underdog.
Houston ranks 31st in the NFL in scoring with 14.8 points per game and 29th in scoring defense, allowing 26.6 points per game. They’re 32nd against the run, allowing 145 rushing yards per game. And when the Texans lose, they tend to lose big. Houston’s 11 losses come by an average of 18.5 points per game. Only three of the 11 losses have come by less than 10 points this season.
Houston doesn’t have anything to play for at this point, and winning might not be in the franchise’s best interests. The Chargers, on the other hand, need this win, even amid the COVID concerns in their building. A loss here would drop LA in the AFC playoff standings and hurt their conference record.
The Detroit Lions play the Atlanta Falcons in this matchup of conference rivals on Sunday afternoon. This game is one of the few contests in the NFL Week 16 slate of games without much playoff importance. The Lions have long been eliminated from postseason contention, despite their upset win last week. The Falcons, meanwhile, saw their postseason lives take perhaps a deathblow with their loss last week.
The Lions (2-11-1, 9-5 ATS) scored the biggest upset win of the weekend, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 30-12 in Week 15. Goff outplayed Murray last week, but he unfortunately landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, so his availability is in question for this game at Atlanta.
Since Goff is reportedly vaccinated, he’s not out of the picture this week just yet thanks to the new COVID protocols. Tim Boyle could get another start if Goff can’t go. But in his lone start this year, Boyle put up one of the worst lines of the year: 15 for 23 for just 77 yards and 2 interceptions against the Cleveland Browns in Week 11.
The Falcons (6-8, 6-8 ATS) playoff hopes took a major hit with their 31-13 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. Although they were longshots to get into the playoffs prior to Week 15, Atlanta needed a win and help. Now, they’ll need to win-out and that still wouldn’t guarantee them a postseason berth.
Atlanta’s struggled at home this season, going 0-5 at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Their lone “home” win this season came against the Jets in London. That said, Atlanta’s 3-2 as the moneyline favorite this season. The Falcons are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games following both an ATS loss and a straight up one. They’re 4-1 against the spread this season versus a team with a losing record.
This could be a huge let-down spot for the Lions. Following their first win of the season, a 29-27 upset of the Vikings in Week 13, Detroit laid an egg on the road against the Broncos, 38-10. This week, they’re on the road again, following a surprising upset victory, and now they might be without their starting quarterback. The Lions are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games following a straight up win.
In perhaps the quirkiest of trends, Atlanta’s 8-1 against the spread in their nine Week 16 games. Meanwhile, the Lions are 0-5 against the spread in their last five Week 16 games.
The Chicago Bears play the Seattle Seahawks in this matchup of conference rivals on Sunday afternoon. This game is another one of the few in Week 16 with only marginal playoff impact. Both teams enter following disappointing losses in Week 15. The Bears were officially eliminated from postseason contention with their loss, and Seattle
The Bears (4-10, 4-10 ATS) lost for the eighth time in their last nine games, this one a 17-9 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings. Chicago’s offense moved the ball reasonably well, but couldn’t find the end zone until the game’s final play. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields went 26 of 39 for 285 yards and that touchdown, but couldn’t get the Bears into the end zone on the team’s previous four trips inside the 20-yard line.
The Seahawks (5-9, 7-7 ATS) saw their streak of nine consecutive winning seasons come to an end after their 20-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. Although the Seahawks are still mathematically alive in the playoff race, the odds are as slim as they get at this point.
This game features a pair of struggling offenses. With Fields at quarterback, the Bears average just 17 points per game. Since Wilson’s return from his finger injury, the Seahawks have put up only 16.8 points per game. They’ve scored 20 points or fewer in four of those six.
Digging deeper, these offenses seem allergic to the end zone of late. Chicago ranks 27th in red zone scoring percentage and 28th in red zone touchdowns scored. Seattle’s only marginally better, ranking 26th in red zone touchdowns scored and 28th in red zone scoring percentage.
The Seahawks defense has been particularly stingy this season. They rank fifth in total touchdowns allowed, and ninth in red zone touchdowns allowed. Chicago’s defense has done well to get after quarterbacks this season, registering the third-most sacks (40). Seattle’s surrendered the fifth-most sacks so far (42).
The Trends favor the Under as well. The Under is 4-1 in Chicago’s last five games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous contest. The Bears have seen the Under hit in nine of their last 13 games this season. Under is 10-2 in the Seahawks’ last 12 games following an ATS loss. Seattle’s seen the Under hit in four of their last five home games, and in 20 of their last 28 games overall.
The Miami Dolphins play the New Orleans Saints to close out the NFL Week 16 slate of games on Monday Night Football, barring additional postponements. This game carries with it playoff implications as both teams remain very much in the playoff race. The Dolphins have used a six-game winning streak to push back into the postseason picture. The Saints, meanwhile, scored a huge upset last week to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Dolphins (7-7, 7-7 ATS) started slowly against the Jets last week, but used a defensive surge in the second half to win their sixth straight game. The victory kept Miami alive in the playoff hunt. The Dolphins defense registered a season-high six sacks last week. After falling behind 17-7 at the half, Miami’s defense held the Jets offense scoreless, allowing just two completions to Zach Wilson in the third and fourth quarters.
The Saints (7-7, 7-7 ATS) kept their playoff hopes alive with a surprising shutout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints sacked Tom Brady four times and forced two turnovers in this one. The defensive effort buoyed a lackluster performance from the offense.
Miami ranks 15th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 22.3 points per game. Over the last three games, however, that figure sits at 14.3. The defense hasn’t allowed more than 17 points since Week 8, and have limited their opponents to 10 points or fewer in four of their last six.
The advanced statistics back up the dominant Dolphins defense, too. Miami’s allowed only 0.342 point per play this season, and only 0.25 over their last three.
New Orleans is riding an elite defense as well, ranking sixth in the NFL in points per game allowed (20.4). That number dips to only 12 over their last three games, as the Saints shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their last matchup. The Saints have been elite on a per-play basis as well, surrendering only 0.317 points per play on the season. But they’ve struggled at home, giving up 0.46 points per play this season.
The Saints offense has scored 17 points or less in three of the last four games, with the 30-point outlier coming against a terrible New York Jets defense. In his last three starts, Taysom Hill has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in two of those three contests and did not get over 100 in his QB rating. He threw four interceptions in his recent start against the Cowboys, and Miami has a similarly ball-hawking defense.
Miami, meanwhile, has scored over 30 points in two of their last three, and haven’t scored fewer than 20 points since Week 9. Miami’s defense has forced 12 turnovers during this six-game winning streak. The Saints are 2-7 this season when turning the ball over at least once.
The Dolphins are 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven games as a road underdog and last seven games overall. Miami’s 5-1 ATS in their last six games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game. The Dolphins are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight December games.
The Saints, meanwhile, are just 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games, and 1-5 against the spread in their last six on Monday Night Football. New Orleans is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven following an ATS win.
Both teams desperately need a win, but Miami’s offense seems more functional at this point with Tua Tagovailoa under center and these defenses are nearly even.