Which teams are Jenny Vrentas and Andy Benoit backing in this week's slate? Their picks and more in MMQB's best bets for Week 16.
The MMQB staff is back with six of our top bets this week, including one picking an outright upset win.
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Carolina Panthers
The Falcons won the teams' first meeting by seven points. This game is in Carolina, but with Cam Newton shut down for the rest of the season, the Falcons have a clear advantage this weekend. — Jenny Vrentas
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7) at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys offense struggled against the blitz last week at Indy. The Bucs are not a big blitzing team, but prior to last week, neither were the Colts. Expect the Bucs to come after Dak Prescott. If the Cowboys do win, it will be by a closer margin than seven. — Andy Benoit
Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins (-4)
The Dolphins are 6-1 straight up and against the spread at home this year, including a perfect 4-0 when Ryan Tannehill has been in the lineup (including wins over the Titans and Patriots—yes, Miami Miracle but they would have covered anyway). They're actually averaging 27.5 points per game in those four Tannehill home starts.
As for the Jaguars, they've been humiliated each of the past two weeks, first a night full of wedgies from Derrick Henry then a loss to Josh Johnson, a QB who has played for 12 teams and, until last Sunday, had never won a start. I can't imagine how disinterested the players must be to play for a coaching staff that insists on starting Cody Kessler, a half-step above three kneel downs and a punt on every possession. Jacksonville's offense has scored a total of 21 points in Kessler's three starts. — Gary Gramling
Baltimore Ravens +180 ML at Los Angeles Chargers
Don't expect Los Angeles to pull off another comeback victory this week. After moving the ball late in Pittsburgh and Kansas City, the Chargers return home to face the league's best pass defense in terms of yards per attempt. And on the other side of the ball, Baltimore has been relentless on the ground, trailing only the Seahawks in rushing yards per game. If Lamar Jackson can earn the visitors an early lead in front of a docile crowd, look for the Ravens to hold on for an upset that would shake up the playoff race. — Jacob Feldman
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-8.5)
Laying over a touchdown with the Browns, even these obviously improving Browns, feels like a lot, yet it’s the one bet that really jumped off the page at me this week. It’s time for everyone to get comfortable with the fact that the Browns are, at worst, competent, and, at best, a team that would be looking like a strong playoff contender this year if the NFL season were 18 or 20 weeks long. Just four weeks ago, the Browns went into Cincinnati and came out with a well-earned 35-20 victory. Baker Mayfield has been on fire under Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens, completing more than 70% of his passes for 1,594 yards, 8.66 yards per attempt, and 13 touchdowns against five interceptions in six games since the coaching change.
The Bengals are a shell of the team that started the season 4-1, and Tyler Boyd could join Andy Dalton and A.J. Green on the shelf this week. The Browns are going to be a popular pick to make the playoffs next season—rightfully—and the turnaround started about two months ago. It will continue unabated on Sunday. — Michael Beller
Baltimore Ravens (+4.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
I just really like this spot. The Chargers are coming off an emotional comeback road win against the Chiefs, and I expect them to be a little flat here at home. In fact, the Chargers haven’t performed that great at “home” (it’s more like a neutral field honestly). They’ve blown out the Raiders and Cardinals, lost to the Chiefs and Broncos, and beat the lowly 49ers (quarterbacked by C.J. Beathard) and Bengals by a combined seven points. The Bengals game was coming off another huge road comeback win against the Steelers, and Los Angeles couldn’t pull away from a Jeff Driskel-led team.
Now the Chargers have to go up against an elite Ravens defense. While star tailback Melvin Gordon is slated to return, Keenan Allen is questionable with a hip injury and Austin Ekeler is doubtful. On the other side, while the Chargers have a strong pass rush and overall pass defense, they only rank 18th in DVOA against the run. The Ravens have been running the ball down people’s throats with Lamar Jackson under center, and in a crucial game for their playoff hopes, expect them to do the same in front of a tepid Los Angeles atmosphere. — Max Meyer