NFL Week 16 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. Last week, I had a mediocre set of picks. I went 10-6 straight up and 7-9 against the spread. My lock of the week sadly didn’t come through (11-4 for the season). Odds for this week’s NFL games have been published. Just a quick reminder that we have three games on Saturday, so make sure you get your NFL picks in your Pick’em pool early.
You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
Houston (-2.5) @ Tampa Bay
This game is a good candidate for the over with QBs Jameis Winston and Deshaun Watson facing bottom-half ranked secondaries. While both QBs will light up the stat line, I think a game this close will come down to turnovers. Look for the Bucs to hang in this one, but for Jameis to make a mistake in crunch time. Texans 34-31.
Buffalo @ New England (-6.5)
The Bills find themselves within a game of the Patriots in the standings and will head to Foxborough to try and gain a share of the division lead. Josh Allen will have his work cut out in this contest, as he’ll face one of the league’s best defensive units in the league in one of the league’s toughest atmospheres. While many see this as a potential changing of the guard in the AFC East, I think that Brady & Bill have a few more wins up their sleeve. Julian Edelman looks like he’ll be good-to-go on Saturday, which is good news for Tom Brady. The Patriots RBs will have to be heavily involved, as Buffalo has struggled against the run at times this year. I think that the Michel/White combo, along with a steady dose of TB12 to Edelman should be enough to outscore the Bills. Against the spread, I’d take Buffalo with the points… but think New England will squeak out a win at home. Patriots 21-17.
LA Rams @ San Francisco (-6.5)
San Francisco is coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Falcons on their home turf. LA, on the other hand, never stood a chance playing Dallas last week. Clearly, their defense has some vulnerabilities against the run, despite having one of the league’s best DLs in Aaron Donald. I suspect Kyle Shanahan will aim to exploit this weakness with his squad of running backs and that San Fran will rebound in this one at home. 49ers 25-17.
Jacksonville @ Atlanta (-6.5)
Jacksonville surprised me last week, showing a lot of heart with their late win in Oakland. Now, they must face a Falcons team that has rallied behind Dan Quinn. This is the same Atlanta team that knocked off San Francisco on the road just last weekend. Jacksonville’s defense has really struggled this season, and I believe that the Matt Ryan/Julio Jones combo will give them fits all day. Jones is almost impossible to cover, and I don’t think Jacksonville has the secret to stopping him. The defense has made great strides and I don’t think Minshew has the long ball to beat them over the top. Provided Devonta Freeman can keep the Jags guessing with some effective running, I think the Falcons should win comfortably at home. Falcons 30-20. (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Baltimore (-9.5) @ Cleveland
The Browns are turning into a soap opera and should hear some Boo Birds come Sunday at home. Baltimore is the best team in the AFC and has the eventual MVP running their offense. Lamar Jackson is an absolutely transcendent talent and I don’t see any way that this Browns defense can slow him down. With Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry asking for teams to “come get” them, and Baker Mayfield not playing his best football, I don’t think this game will be very close. Ravens 34-20.
Carolina @ Indianapolis (-6.5)
Frank Reich and the Colts were decimated by New Orleans on Monday Night Football. The good news is that they’re heading back home for this contest against the Panthers. Unfortunately, that’ll bring RB Christian McCaffrey to town. Were it not for the amazing season that Lamar Jackson is having, McCaffrey might be the frontrunner for MVP. I think he’ll keep the Panthers firmly in this contest and will give them a great chance to win. QB Will Grier will start his first-ever game for the Panthers, and that makes me a bit nervous. I’m sure McCaffrey will be the focal point of the Carolina game plan, but Grier will have to throw eventually. I’m not convinced he’ll be amazing, but I do think he’ll provide a spark compared to what Kyle Allen had done as of late. Let’s not forget– even with Kyle Allen, the Panthers played a respectable game against Seattle last week. Carolina will have to contain Marlon Mack and make Jacoby Brissett beat them. If they can do this, and they force-feed McCaffrey, I think they can pull out this upset on the road. Panthers 24-23.
Cincinnati (-0.5) @ Miami
Ouch… I doubt many will tune into this game. The Bengals got their first win of the season a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins have stumbled to a 3-11 mark on the season. In the end, this game will be sloppy and really is a coin flip. Cincinnati certainly has a few weapons with Joe Mixon peaking as of late, and WR Tyler Boyd continuing to be productive. Miami has WR Devante Parker who has enjoyed a fantastic breakout campaign. Both defenses are below average, and frankly, so are both offenses. In the end, I feel like I’d rather take Fitzmagic playing at home with absolutely nothing to lose. Give me the Dolphins– what the heck? Dolphins 24-23.
Pittsburgh (-2.5) @ NY Jets
Pittsburgh dropped a pivotal game to Buffalo last weekend. Duck Hodges was ineffective and will need to do more to earn this team wins down the stretch. With RB James Conner back in the fold and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster likely to return, the Steelers offense certainly gains a nice boost. On the other side, RB Le’Veon Bell will play against the Steelers for the first time since departing Pittsburgh earlier this year. Could he be out for revenge? I’d imagine so. However, Bell hasn’t been the same this season, and this Pittsburgh defense is for real. TJ Watt is playing some amazing football, and the unit has proven to be one fo the league’s best. Despite the Bell revenge narrative, I like Pittsburgh to take this game on the road. Steelers 24-20.
New Orleans (-2.5) @ Tennessee
Tennessee fell to the Texans last weekend, as their placekicking woes loomed large yet again. New Orleans dismantled Indy on Monday Night Football in what was a historic night for QB Drew Brees. With DB Adoree’ Jackson set to return, the Titans secondary will have to be at their best with WR Michael Thomas coming to town. Thomas has had a historic season and leads the league in both receptions and yardage. Look for the Titans to devote a lot of attention to Thomas on Sunday. I suspect they’ll look to guard him with either Logan Ryan or Jackson, and to rotate Safety Kevin Byard over to Thomas’ side for some extra attention. Truthfully, the Titans can’t stop Thomas… they can only hope to contain him. Let’s not forget, though, the legendary Brees isn’t quite the same outside of the Dome. I believe in the Titans and think that they’ll look to get out to an early lead attacking the Saints’ injured defensive line with Derrick Henry. If Ryan Tannehill can make some clutch throws to AJ Brown & Company, I really do think Tennessee can pull this one out. Titans 28-27.
NY Giants @ Washington (-1.5)
Washington has played some respectable games over the past few weeks. Bill Callahan’s run-first mindset has helped Washington control the clock and keep games close– giving them at least a chance to win most weeks. I think this trend should continue at home this week. Dwayne Haskins played his best game as a pro against Philadelphia last week, and Terry McLaurin returned to his early-season form, torching the Eagles for 130 yards and a TD. The Giants will likely turn back to QB Daniel Jones, which can only mean one thing– turnovers. If Washington can force a couple of timely takeaways, I like them to take this game at home. Redskins 23-20.
Dallas (-1.5) @ Philadelphia
Dallas really impressed a lot of people last week as they blew out the Rams and lit up the scoreboard with a potent rushing attack. Dak Prescott told reporters he should start against the Eagles, and Dallas will certainly want all hands on deck for this battle. RB Ezekiel Elliott was fantastic last weekend, and will need to be again. However, the Eagles’ run defense is the defense’s strength and will undoubtedly focus on limiting Zeke’s effectiveness. Even though Carson Wentz has been playing well, I don’t think he has the weapons to score with Dallas in this one. The Cowboys are quite stingy against the Tight End, so they’ll aim to shut down Zach Ertz– who also happens to be Wentz’ #1 target. RB Miles Sanders will look to build on his fantastic performance from a week ago, but Dallas’ defense isn’t exactly a pushover. In the end, I think Dallas will ride the momentum from last week and steal this one in Philly. Cowboys 24-20.
Detroit @ Denver (-6.5)
David Blough struggled mightily against the Buccaneers last weekend. Let’s not forget– Tampa Bay’s secondary is one of the league’s worst. I have major concerns about Blough traveling to Denver to face a notoriously strong defense on the road. Although the Broncos weren’t at their best last week in Kansas City, I think QB Drew Lock has his best days ahead. WR Courtland Sutton will look to make a huge impact in this one, lining up against a struggling secondary that yielded 450+ yards and 4 TD to Jameis Winston last week. I suspect Sutton will have one of his best games of the year on Sunday, and that Phillip Lindsay will pace the rushing game. I’ll take the Broncos at home in this one. Broncos 28-20.
Oakland @ LA Chargers (-6.5)
Both of these California squads took tough losses last week. The Chargers’ offense is littered with weapons, but the team just hasn’t “clicked” yet this year. RBs Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon have formed a potent duo in the backfield, while WR Keenan Allen continues to catch balls at an amazing rate. Add in WR Mike Williams, who has blossomed as of late, and there’s a whole lot for Oakland to defend here. Although Derek Carr & TE Darren Waller have formed quite the connection this season, there aren’t too many other players on the Raiders offense that concerns me. With Josh Jacobs missing this game, I’d give the Chargers a firm advantage and think they’ll take this one at home. Chargers 30-22.
Arizona @ Seattle (-9.5)
While the Cardinals knocked off the Browns last weekend, they’ll have to travel to one of the league’s toughest venues to play the NFC’s top team. Russell Wilson and company are staring down the #1 seed in the playoffs, and I don’t think they’ll lose focus in this contest. Kyler Murray will have his first encounter with the 12th Man on Sunday, and if the forecast holds true, it might be cold and wet. Wilson has plenty of experience playing in this weather, but I’m sure Murray won’t be quite as comfortable. Look for RB Chris Carson to have an absolutely monstrous game against the weak Arizona run defense and for Seattle to control this game from start to finish. Seahawks 33-20.
Kansas City (-5.5) @ Chicago
Kansas City has a chance at home-field advantage with a few more wins and some New England losses. They’ll need to knock off the Bears to keep those hopes alive. QB Patrick Mahomes will need to be at his best playing in Chicago, but I feel that his duo of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce will make this Chicago defense miserable on Sunday Night. The key will be whether the Chiefs can offset their passing attack with an effective run game. RB Damien Williams might return, but if he doesn’t, LeSean McCoy & Darwin Thompson will have to shoulder the load. The Bears played the Packers to a close game last week, but I don’t think this Chiefs offense will be much easier to stop. Kansas City has a lot on the line, while the Bears are on the outside looking in. I think that Mahomes & Co. will rise to the occasion and get this pivotal win in Chicago. Chiefs 31-23.
Packers @ Vikings (-5.5)
One game separates these two teams in the NFC North– so this game will be huge. Kirk Cousins certainly plays better at home, and finally has his WR corps back intact. Adam Thielen returned last week to join Stefon Diggs, catching all 3 of his targets as he was eased back into action. However, it’s looking like Minnesota will be without their top two running backs. Dalvin Cook is nursing a shoulder injury, while Alexander Mattison also looks unlikely to play with a sprained ankle. This isn’t good news for the Vikings’ chances, but Mike Boone played quite well in relief last week. If Boone can prove effective again this week, then it certainly helps Minnesota’s offensive balance. Green Bay will be at full strength and ready to defend their position at the top of the standings. RB Aaron Jones has had a breakout season, offsetting the uncharacteristically pedestrian season that Aaron Rodgers has produced. Rodgers will have to be at his best on Monday night and will need to focus on WR Davante Adams to do the bulk of the work. Between Jones and Adams, I think the Packers will keep this game very close. To me, the loss of Cook really shrinks the margin in this one. I believe the Vikings’ defense (led by Daniele Hunter) is one of the league’s best, and that they will propel this team to win on Monday Night. However, I like Green Bay with the points. Vikings 28-27.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…