- Still clinging to their slim playoff hopes, Miami and Cleveland are in favorable spots to cover as home favorites in Week 16—regardless of their postseason odds.
With the playoffs only a couple weeks away, bettors only have two Sundays left to choose from a full slate of games. Read on to see who our experts like for Week 16.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-7)
Sun. 12/22, 1:00 p.m. ET
Pick: Browns -7
When these two AFC North rivals first met this season on Nov. 25, the Browns traveled to Cincinnati and put a beatdown on the Bengals, grabbing a 28-0 lead in the first half and never looking back. Baker Mayfield had arguably his best performance as a pro, completing 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Cincinnati QB Jeff Driskel, in for the injured Andy Dalton, managed to throw for only 155 yards despite attempting 29 passes in Cincy's ill-fated comeback attempt. A lone bright spot for the Bengals on the day was wideout Tyler Boyd, who caught seven balls for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Less than a month later, things have only gotten better for the Browns—and worse for the Bengals. Cleveland has won four of its last five, and is technically still in the playoff hunt in the AFC. Cincinnati, meanwhile, needed a home game against the lowly Raiders this past weekend to break a five-game losing streak. Dalton is on IR, as is star wideout A.J. Green, and now it seems like Boyd may also be out for the year after spraining his MCL against Oakland. With the Bengals' 28th-ranked pass defense (7.6 yards allowed per attempt) making the trip to Cleveland—where the fanbase is as riled up as any in the NFL right now—there's no reason to believe Mayfield won't have a field day once again. — Sam Chase
Green Bay Packers at New York Jets (PK)
Sun. 12/22, 1:00 p.m.
Pick: Packers (PK)
Like many college bowl games, this Week 16 matchup between two teams who won’t be heading to the postseason may come down to motivation. There are jobs on the line, but also pride—particularly for the Packers, who are 0-7 on the road this season. They’ll get one more shot this week against a 4-9 Jets team that has probably played above expectations but remains as dismal as Sunday’s forecasted weather in northern New Jersey.
Both teams missed their featured running backs last week, and more experimentation could be in the cards. But as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center for Green Bay, he’ll give it the old college try. That’s not to say that he’s the same player he was before the Packers’ season went off the rails—he’s thrown for under 300 yards in seven of the past eight weeks—but he’s still tossed just two interceptions all year for a 5-8-1 team.
As uninspiring as the Packers have been, the Jets have lost seven of their last eight. The Jets are 20th in the league in passing yards allowed, which may be the tonic Rodgers needs to get back to his former self, at least for one week. Heading into this season, you would have never believed this line—but it’s harder still to believe that Green Bay can’t manage to cover it. — Ed McGrogan
Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins (-4.5)
Sun. 12/22, 1:00 p.m.
Pick: Dolphins -4.5
The Jaguars come into this one having lost nine of their past 10 games, and they’ve failed to cover the spread in any of those nine losses. Their most recent loss was as a seven-point home favorite on Sunday against a Washington squad with journeyman Josh Johnson under center, the team’s fourth different starting quarterback in as many weeks. Jacksonville, which scored its only touchdown in the 16-13 defeat on a punt return, countered with Cody Kessler, who has led the team to one touchdown drive over its past 31 possessions. Kessler completed nine of 17 passes for 57 yards with an interception in his third start since replacing Blake Bortles.
Miami, meanwhile, has turned the ball over only twice in the four games since quarterback Ryan Tannehill returned from injury after the Dolphins’ Week 11 bye. Teams coming off back-to-back games in which they didn’t commit a turnover are 52-19-4 against the spread since the start of 2009 (which includes a 7-0 ATS mark this season) when facing an opponent coming off a game with a turnover margin of minus-two or worse. The Dolphins come into this one having gone 8-2 both straight up and against the spread at home since the start of last December. One of the two losses came in the 2017 season finale against a Buffalo squad fighting for a playoff spot, which is the position in which Miami finds itself heading into Sunday. — Scott Gramling
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (+2.5)
Mon. 12/24, 8:15 p.m.
Pick: Raiders +2.5
Nobody needs to hear more about how embarrassing of a season this has been for the Raiders. Oakland is right there in the mix for the worst record in the league, and things haven’t been much better off the field either. Despite that, there is plenty of value in backing the Raiders in this meeting with the Broncos on Monday night. For one, Oakland is 4-2 against the spread in its last six games against Denver, and the team has also won and covered in its last two home games against the Broncos. It helps that Denver is struggling right now. Over the last two weeks, Denver lost (and failed to cover) as a favorite over both the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. The offense has fallen apart in that span, averaging just 16.5 points per game in those two contests. The Broncos could struggle again in what should be an incredible environment in Oakland. The Raiders might be awful this season, but fans won’t have many more chances to show up and support their team in a night game. With Oakland’s impending move, the faithful will show up and make it difficult for Denver to win. — Zachary Cohen