Last week was a Christmas miracle. I got 11 games right, giving me my best week of the year since week eight and pulling me just barely ahead of .500 on the year. If I had that good of luck last week, imagine the kind of luck I’ll receive this week when nearly all of the games will be played on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I’m talking like get every game right kind of luck, or at least I’m hoping for that. There are only three weeks left, which means I should have a decent idea of what these teams are, but this year has been weird, so I really don’t. So, here are my picks for week 16 of the NFL season. I’m banking on the Christmas spirit to guide me in making these picks to ensure that they are all correct.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5) over New York Jets
The Jaguars and I have had a rocky relationship. I was super in on them to start the year but then they cooled off, big time, and kind of let me down. But now the Jags are back and better than ever and I am back on the bandwagon in a big way. Both the Jaguars and the Jets are fighting for a playoff spot, which makes this game incredibly important for both of them. But I’m going to go with the team with momentum right now because I think that definitely plays a part when teams are playing on a short week. And since the Jaguars beat the Cowboys last week and the Jets lost to the Lions, I trust Jacksonville to be better in this game and get the win.
New York Giants (+4.5) over Minnesota Vikings
Yes, the Vikings made one of the best comebacks of all time last week but let’s not forget how they got to the place where they needed a comeback. Giving up 33 points in one half to the Colts is not exactly the most inspiring brand of football. And the Giants are better than the Colts, so if the Vikings come out flat again, they won’t be as lucky. Even if the Vikings do win, I see this being a close game because almost all Minnesota games are. This game truly has the possibility to go either way given the unpredictability of both teams, so give me the underdog and I’ll hope that the game stays close.
New Orleans Saints (+2.5) over Cleveland Browns
The Browns have been a mixed bag since Deshaun Watson’s return. They’ve won games but not because of anything Watson has done. So, that put me in an interesting position here because I don’t trust the Browns, but I don’t trust the Saints either. This is another example of taking the underdog because it gives you the most coverage, But I also think the Saints do have a good shot to win this game. I believe in the talent of the Saints. They can still rely on Alvin Kamara, Chirs Olave, and others on that offense, even if it is being led by Andy Dalton. Plus, the Browns may not even have Nich Chubb so I feel confident that the Saints can get this done.
Detroit Lions (-2.5) over Carolina Panthers
The Lions are going to make the playoffs. That is a thing that is going to happen this year. So, if we work backward from that, it means they’ll need to win this game against the Panthers. It’s not really a hot take to suggest that anyway because the Lions look like the far superior team. The Detroit offense is legit, it can score in bunches. And since Carolina does not have a defense that I believe can stop them, nor an offense I believe can outscore them, it seems like a pretty easy decision to pick the Lions to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) over New England Patriots
A lot of people were calling the Bengals a trap team last week when they were favored by the same amount over the Buccaneers. And then they killed them and made everybody saying that look dumb. I picked the Bengals last week so I’m doing it again, this time against a Patriots team that is probably worse than the Bucs. The Bengals are just rolling right now and are playing very well. The Patriots, on the other hand, are coming off of one of the most embarrassing losses in NFL history, so it may take them an extra week to recover from that one. And having to try to stop Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins is not what you want to be doing a week after losing to a Chandler Jones stiff arm.
Buffalo Bills over Chicago Bears (+8.5)
You know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Last week I picked the Bears to lose but cover against the Eagles and I’m doing it again this week against a similarly good team. The Bills will win this game, I think that’s a pretty safe bet, but I can see the Bears getting another backdoor cover with a late, meaningless touchdown. Plus, Justin Fields is just electric and while he is no Josh Allen, he can still put up some points on the Bills’ defense. Plus, maybe this game is impacted by the cold weather in Chicago and leads to a low-scoring affair, which would favor the Bears covering as long as they show up a bit on offense.
Houston Texans (+4) over Tennessee Titans
OK, let me explain myself here with a few simple reasons. 1) I still believe that the Texans will end the year with more than one win. 2) I also believe, or want to believe, that the Jaguars will make it into the playoffs, which means the Titans will have to lose down the stretch. 3) The Titans will have Malik Willis starting at quarterback, and he is still not ready for that responsibility yet. 4) the Texans played the Chiefs close last week, so maybe that momentum will carry over and lend itself to an upset.
Kansas City Chiefs over Seattle Seahawks (+10)
The disrespect thrown at the Seahawk with this line is. . . fair? I don’t know what to think about them being 10-point underdogs when they may still end up making the playoffs, but I really can’t disagree. Seattle has one of the worst defenses in the league and Kansas City is very good at scoring on bad defenses. The Seahawks will also be without one of their best offensive weapons in Tyler Lockett, which is going to make it even harder for them to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and crew. But with all that being said, I still think the Seahawks can cover this spread, mainly because I still want to think of them as a solid team. I would be surprised if this game ends up being decided by more than 10 points, but it’s not impossible.
Baltimore Ravens over Atlanta Falcons (+7.5)
The Falcons are no longer a guaranteed cover every week like at the start of the season, but their DNA is still one of a team that plays close games. And with the Ravens extremely banged up at the moment, especially at the quarterback position, it feels safe to pick the Falcons to cover. Both these teams like to run the ball a lot, so the clock should drain fast and the score should stay low. I wouldn’t be surprised if neither of these teams makes it into the 20s on the scoreboard, which would make it a lot easier for the Falcons to cover this spread.
San Francisco 49ers (-7) over Washington Commanders
I don’t prefer to take the favorites on such large spreads when I still believe the underdog is a good team, but the 49ers are built different. A lot of attention has been being paid to Brock Purdy and that offense and with good reason considering Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel are very good football players. But the defense should be the story in San Francisco because that unit is the best in the league. And the defense is going to be why the 49ers cover this spread. I think the Commanders will struggle to score on the Niners, as many teams do, and that will lead to this game being a comfortable San Francisco victory.
Dallas Cowboys over Philadelphia Eagles (+5.5)
This is an incredibly tough game to predict this week. The Eagles will be without Jalen Hurts, but Gardner Minshew is more than capable of stepping in and playing well. And at the same time, the Cowboys just lost to the Jaguars last week, so they’re not necessarily lighting it up at the moment. But if I believe that the Eagles will suffer another loss or two this year, which I do, then I kind of have to pick the Cowboys to win here. But If I still believe in the Eagles as a good team even without Hurts, which I do, then I also have to pick Philly to cover. So, I guess this is where I end up.
Las Vegas Raiders (+2.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers
The Raiders had a disastrous start to the season but have since turned it around and are playing some pretty good football. The Steelers have also turned their season around a bit, just not to the same effect. I think the Raiders are a significantly better team than the Steelers at the moment, so I feel comfortable picking them to cover, especially as underdogs. Las Vegas’s biggest weakness is its defense, but Pittsburgh doesn’t have an offense that I feel is prepared to take full advantage of that. The Raiders should absolutely be able to outscore the Steelers, and the team that outscores its opponent tends to win the game.
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) over Green Bay Packers
I appreciate what the Packers have been doing recently by beating teams that they are better than, but that isn’t the case this week. The Dolphins are a better squad. Offensively, defensively, and probably even on special teams, Miami is just better. And the Packers don’t even have the weather-based advantage this week because they’re playing this game in Miami. Unless Green Bay can turn back the clock about a year and be the team from last season, the Dolphins are going to win this game fairly easily with their explosive offense.
Los Angeles Rams (+2.5) over Denver Broncos
The less I say about the game the better it will be for my sanity because this game is going to stink. Both offenses are terrible so if you like points you’ll hate this matchup. I’m picking the Rams for two reasons. The first is that they are the underdog and I like to pick the underdog when I think the game could go either way. The second is that the Rams winning would be the best result for the Seahawks because it would make the Broncos’ first-round pick end up earlier in the draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) over Arizona Cardinals
I’m also going to keep this one short because this game might stink too (dang, the NFL really didn’t want us to enjoy football on Christmas). I also have very simple reasoning for this pick. The Cardinals lost to the Broncos last week. The Broncos stink which means by the transitive property, the Cardinals also stink. And I definitely wouldn’t pick the Broncos to cover this spread, so I’m certainly not picking the Cardinals. Plus, there is no way Trace McSorley can outduel Tom Brady. If that happens then football is canceled.
Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5) over Indianapolis Colts
I saw everything I needed to see to pick this game last week when the Colts had a meltdown of epic proportions against the Vikings. It was so bad that the Colts have now gone to Nick Foles as their starting quarterback, which I’m sure prompted plenty of ‘he’s still playing’ responses from fans everywhere. I also am a big believer in the Chargers, possibly too big of a believer, so I have to pick them against a potentially disastrous version of the Colts, who will also be without Jonathan Taylor.