A shootout between two underachieving teams? You might want to avoid that. (Seth Wenig/AP)
Week 16 of the NFL season is here. Time to place your bets.
Which games should you pick and which should you avoid? Joe Fortenbaugh and Tom Mantzouranis break down everything you need to know entering this weekend’s NFL action.
Joe Fortenbaugh: Panthers -3 vs. Saints. New Orleans has problems traveling far beyond that stench of urine that permeates the nostrils of any passerby within 200 yards of Bourbon Street. In seven home games this season, the Saints are 7-0 while amassing averages of 32.8 points and 439.7 total yards per game, with sack and turnover differentials amounting to +10 and +5, respectively. But the 2010 champs can’t handle life away from the Voodoo Dome. On the road, the Saints are 3-4 while averaging just 18.4 points and 354.2 total yards per game to go with the team’s -5 turnover differential and +3 sack differential. The Panthers are in a revenge spot here and are 5-0-1 ATS in their last six games at home, while the Saints are 0-5 ATS in their last five road games and 1-4 ATS over their last five trips to Carolina.
The Playbook: Previewing Panthers-Saints, Ravens-Patriots, more Week 16 games
Tom Mantzouranis: Ravens -2.5 vs. Patriots. The Patriots are living on the edge. Sure, they're 10-4, but they're not far from being 6-8. Their record and reputation have masked the fact that they're not, really, all that great of a team. New England has the 21st best defense and 13th best offense, according to Pro Football Focus, and it's needed Touchdown Tom to bail them out against some pretty bad teams. The Ravens know how to beat the Patriots and fluster Brady, and even without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the Baltimore defense should be up to that task again. The Ravens offense is still struggling, but Ray Rice is coming off two of his better games this season, and Dennis Pitta is continuing to round into form. The key here is the 2.5-point line. Anything north of that and I don't like this nearly as much.
Cover-Two: With Gronkowski out, can the Patriots' running backs carry them?
NFL Week 16 Betting Odds
|Matchup||Date & Time||Line||Over/Under|
|New Orleans at Carolina||12/22 1 p.m. ET||Carolina -3||46.5|
|Dallas at Washington||12/22 1 p.m. ET||Dallas -2.5||53.5|
|Miami at Buffalo||12/22 1 p.m. ET||Miami -2.5||42.5|
|Tampa Bay at St. Louis||12/22 1 p.m. ET||St. Louis -4.5||43|
|Cleveland at NY Jets||12/22 1 p.m. ET||NY Jets -2.5||40.5|
|Indianapolis at Kansas City||12/22 1 p.m. ET||Kansas City -6.5||45|
|Minnesota at Cincinnati||12/22 1 p.m. ET||Cincinnati -8||47.5|
|Tennessee at Jacksonville||12/22 1 p.m. ET||Tennessee -5||44|
|Denver at Houston||12/22 1 p.m. ET||Denver -10||52.5|
|NY Giants at Detroit||12/22 4:05 p.m. ET||Detroit -9||49|
|Arizona at Seattle||12/22 4:05 p.m. ET||Seattle -10.5||43|
|New England at Baltimore||12/22 4:25 p.m. ET||Baltimore -2.5||44.5|
|Oakland at San Diego||12/22 4:25 p.m. ET||San Diego -10||50.5|
|Pittsburgh at Green Bay||12/22 4:25 p.m. ET||Green Bay -7||44.5|
|Chicago at Philadelphia||12/22 8:30 p.m. ET||Philadelphia -3||55.5|
|Atlanta at San Francisco||12/23 8:40 p.m. ET||San Francisco -13||45|
Stay Away From
Fortenbaugh: Lions -9 vs. Giants. I’m not laying nearly double digits on an undisciplined group of underachievers who have covered the number a whopping one time over their last five home games. But I’m also not interested in backing the league’s top turnover machine (39 through 14 games), which has covered a grand total of only three road point spreads over its last 11 attempts.
Mantzouranis: Titans -5 at Jacksonville. The Titans have been unpredictable, playing well in losses and poorly in wins, and they're on an extended road streak. The Jaguars have been feisty, but just fell to the Bills. The line is right smack-dab in the middle of no-man's land. So: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Best Of The Rest
Fortenbaugh: Bengals -8 vs. Vikings. Similar in style to the Saints, the Cincinnati Bengals have been smashing opponents at Paul Brown Stadium this season. Marvin Lewis’ crew is 6-0 both straight-up and against the spread at home in 2013, winning by an average of 16 points per game with a +9 sack differential and +5 turnover differential. Note that Cincy is 5-1 ATS over its last six games coming off a loss, while Minnesota is 1-4 ATS over its last five contests following a win.
Bills +2.5 vs. Dolphins. Miami has won four of its last five and covered the number in six of its last seven. Buffalo is without starting quarterback EJ Manuel. So the likely scenario here is that the public jumps on a red-hot Dolphins squad while failing to take into consideration that the Bills are 6-2 ATS over their last eight home games. I’ll assume the contrarian position for this one.
Mantzouranis: Buccaneers +4.5 at Rams. The Rams are getting too much credit for that dominant win against the Saints last week. The Buccaneers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven, and they've got the type of defense that can stymie Zac Stacy. Kellen Clemens hasn't really been a liability, but do you trust him to win a game by himself? These teams are just too close, and in that situation, take the points.
Cowboys -2.5 at Redskins. I know, I know, I'm a masochist. But I think the Cowboys are going to use the woeful Redskins pass defense to exorcise the demons of that terrible collapse to the Packers. Over the last two years, Tony Romo's had five multi-interception games (discounting last week). In the following games, here are his QB ratings: 97.1, 109.3, 150.5, 90.8, 102.9. He bounces back, and this week's matchup with Washington is the perfect opportunity for that. Dallas' defense isn't that great either, and Kirk Cousins was a huge volume passer last week, but in a shootout I like Romo-Bryant more than the Redskins' attack, especially with such a tiny line.
[si_video id="video_C6B467E8-4317-34B2-8D9C-0C558446A397" height="470"]
FARRAR: Why did the Cowboys abandon the run game?