NFL Betting: Week 16 Best Picks and Advice

During the NFL season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will break down every single point spread using lines as of Thursday morning. Here are his thoughts on the Week 16 slate.

Note: Nate will discuss all of his college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast that drops every Tuesday and Thursday. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.

Sides I Like

Panthers (+2.5) over Lions: There are several bad weather situations on Saturday around the NFL, and this is one of them. There won’t be any precipitation or high winds, but temperatures in the 20s for Charlotte is cold and factors into my handicap for this game.

Last week, I thought it was the perfect time to sell high on a Lions team that covered six games in a row with a QB in Jared Goff who historically has struggled in cold weather. The Lions had an away game against a Jets team that I thought was getting Mike White back. White ended up not getting cleared to start and the Jets had to turn to turnover-prone Zach Wilson instead. The Lions won 20-17 and scored their only offensive touchdown on a fourth-and-inches play from midfield with under two minutes left in the game. I’m not going to complain about losing the bet, but I also don’t regret making it and I’m fine with trying to fade Detroit in their second-straight road game.

The Panthers lost last week after getting bet out to a field goal favorite against the Steelers. They still have a chance to win the NFC South, and I like them here in the underdog role against the Lions.

Patriots (+3) over Bengals: The Bengals go back on the road for the second straight week and are in a similar setup to what they played in last week. Cincinnati was a field goal favorite on the road at the Buccaneers in Week 15. They are currently a three-point road favorite against the Patriots, which is fair since Tampa Bay and New England are about equal teams in my numbers.

What gets me on the Patriots here is how the Bengals won last week. Cincinnati got down 17-0 late in the first half and cut the lead to 14 before halftime. Then, Tampa Bay proceeded to botch a fake punt on the first drive of the second half and turn the ball over in each of their next four possessions. That led to 24 points by Cincinnati, and all four of those scoring drives were less than 40 yards. The Bengals won the game 34-23, but benefitted more from Buccaneers ineptitude than earning the win themselves. If Cincinnati loses that game, the point spread for this game in New England would be under a field goal.

The Patriots lost in horrific fashion last week, but they still have a shot at earning at Wild Card spot if they win this game. In a game with a low total and chilly weather, I’ll side with Bill Belichick’s team as a home underdog.

Sides I’m Considering

Ravens (-7) over Falcons: Cold temperatures and high winds are expected in Baltimore for this Saturday afternoon game. Not the ideal setup for a Falcons team that plays in a dome with a rookie QB in Desmond Ridder making his first road start. Even if the Ravens sit Lamar Jackson again this week with his knee injury, I could only consider the home team in this game. Using the Ravens as a teaser leg is how I’ll look to invest in Baltimore this week.

Commanders (+7) over 49ers: The 49ers have been a dominant team in the last two months, winning seven in a row (covering in six of them) and already clinching the NFC West with three games to spare. Brock Purdy has led San Francisco to three wins since taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, and the 49ers’ defense is playing at an elite level. But I’m going to be contrarian here and consider betting on the Commanders because the 49ers are pretty much locked into the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NFC.

The Commanders are coming off a bad loss on Sunday night to the Giants, which is a blow to their playoff chances. However, Washington was able to move the ball and outgained New York by 99 total yards. Last week, the Commanders were a four-point favorite in the game and now are a big underdog, which suits QB Taylor Heinicke better. As good as Purdy has looked so far, asking him to cover a touchdown spread against a competent team playing for their playoff lives seems like a stretch. I’m not enthusiastic about stepping in front of the 49ers, but I will at least consider the underdog, especially if this like gets up to +7.5.

Eagles (+6) over Cowboys: Early in the day on Monday, the Cowboys were anywhere from -1 to -2 for a home date against the Eagles. My initial thought was that I wanted to bet Dallas at less than a field goal, but also was worried this game lost some meaning after the Eagles’ extended their NFC East lead to three games with three weeks left.

Bets then started to come in on the Cowboys Monday afternoon to bring this game all the way to Dallas -6. There were rumors swirling that Jalen Hurts was injured and those rumors were confirmed by multiple reporters. It’s an injured shoulder for Hurts that he sustained in last week’s game and the point spread movement would indicate he’s a longshot to play this week.

Gardner Minshew would get the start for the Eagles in place of Hurts, and I don’t believe the downgrade from Hurts to him is as large as the odds suggest. Minshew is a very capable backup and the Eagles have the offensive line and weapons for him to be a short-term answer as Hurts gets healthy for the postseason. My plan for this game is to wait until Hurts is ruled out and look to bet on Philadelphia. I would prefer +6 on the Eagles, but would be fine with a smaller bet down to +4.5.

Raiders (+2.5) over Steelers: Another weather situation to pay attention to for a Saturday night game in Pittsburgh where the temperatures are forecasted for 10 degrees. That isn’t good for a team from Las Vegas that isn’t used to that weather, but I’m still looking towards the Raiders in this game.

I don’t think much separates these two teams from a power rating perspective, so I had some interest in the Raiders when they were at +3 earlier this week. The Steelers are going back to rookie Kenny Pickett, but Mitch Trubisky did a solid job running Pittsburgh’s offense last week in a win over the Panthers. I’m not sure if Pickett is the best option for the Steelers if they want to win, but understand the long-term plan for developing the rookie. In a game with a low total of 38, I’ll look to tease the Raiders up through +3 and +7 and pair them with the Raiders.

Packers (+4) over Dolphins: This is one of three Christmas Day games on Sunday and by far the best one. The number for this game got as high as Dolphins -6 before the Packers played on Monday night. Green Bay won and covered at home against the Rams, and then his line dropped on Tuesday to as low as Packers +3.5. I do think the number is currently correct, but wouldn’t be surprised if Green Bay won this game.

The season hasn’t gone as planned for the Packers, but they’ll have a shot to make the playoff with a win down in Miami before closing the season at home against the Vikings and Lions. Green Bay got a little healthier after their Week 14 bye week and could be undervalued against a Dolphins team off a three-game losing streak. Maybe the math doesn’t support betting Green Bay at this point, but some other factors point to the Packers being the only side I can bet in this game.

Colts (+4.5) over Chargers: I have learned throughout the season the Chargers are a team to bet against as a favorite, but bet on as an underdog. They’re a favorite here for this Monday night game at the Colts, so I’ll be considering Indianapolis.

There are definitely some concerns betting the Colts, as I highlighted in last week’s article. Some new concerns have come up with the team after they blew a 33-0 halftime lead to the Vikings last Saturday. You have to wonder how the team will respond after a loss like that. The line for this game got up to Chargers -4 with the news that RB Jonathan Taylor would likely bet out for this game. Then the point spread ticked up some more on Wednesday when Jeff Saturday announced Nick Foles would start the game for Matt Ryan. I don’t think much separates Ryan and Foles at this point in their careers, and think there’s been an overreaction to the number because of Taylor’s injury and the Chargers being in playoff contention. If I do bet it, I’ll likely wait as long as possible before kickoff on Monday.

Game-Time Decisions

Jaguars at Jets (-2): This is a fascinating game to watch with playoff implications for both teams on a Thursday night. This game won’t be as chilly as other outdoor games around the country, but rain is expected in New Jersey and temperatures in the 40s is cold for a team from Jacksonville. I don’t want to bet on the Jaguars coming off an overtime win over the Cowboys and traveling on a short week. I also want no part of the Jets when Zach Wilson is the starting quarterback.

Giants at Vikings (-4): The Giants and Vikings have been two of the more fortunate teams in the NFL this season. They have both consistently won close games and their records don’t match their underlying statistics. Since these are two teams I’m looking to bet against the rest of the season, I won’t have a play this game.

Saints at Browns (-3): Out of all the bad weather situations this Saturday, the one is Cleveland looks the bleakest if you’re a fan of good offense and a lot of points. The forecast is calling for cold temperatures, heavy wind and a chance of snow. Those conditions are reflected in the total, which got bet down to 32.5. I want to make the case for the Browns against a dome team from New Orleans, but I have trouble getting behind the favorite in a game that is expected to be this low-scoring.

Bills (-8) at Bears: The conditions in Chicago will be similar to Cleveland, as winds will be high and temperatures in the single-digits. This is a similar underdog number to what the Bears were last week when they covered at home against the Eagles. With the uncertainty of how this game will play out because of the weather, I’ll likely pass here.

Texans at Titans (-3): Chilly temperatures are expected in Nashville and there’s plenty of line movement to discuss. The Titans have been bet down from -7 to -3 with QB Ryan Tannehill unavailable with an ankle injury. That means it would be a Malik Willis game for the Titans, which could suit Tennessee’s offense well because they’ll just run the ball. Derrick Henry has rushed for over 200 yards in four straight games against the Texans. But the Titans are a very banged-up team right now and the Texans have played better the last two weeks, so I’m going to stay away for now.

Seahawks at Chiefs (-10): The Seahawks have come back to earth since their bye week and sit at 7-7 with serious doubts they’ll make the playoffs. I want to make a case for the Chiefs here, but have some concerns about their defense playing well enough to cover a big number in this spot.

Broncos (-2.5) at Rams: This is one of the Christmas offerings and features two teams that have won four games apiece this season. Not what we expected when this game was scheduled back in May. It appears Russell Wilson will be back after being held out of a concussion last week. I don’t have much more to offer from a betting perspective on this game.

Buccaneers (-7.5) at Cardinals: Another Christmas Day game that looked good on paper before the season and now it isn’t. The Buccaneers are in first place in the NFC South with a 6-8 record, so at least there’s some playoff impact on this game. But the Cardinals are down to third-string QB Trace McSorley and that’s why the line has moved from -3.5 to -7.5 throughout the week.