Every week, I am picking NFL games against the spread. And making bets that I think are profitable. The first few weeks, I tried to be a tough guy and make millions of bets. I lost lots of dollars. I started limiting myself and have been quite profitable ever since. I plan to continue this for eternity.
However, last week was absolutely putrid, mainly because I took a rare, big moneyline bet on the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. They lost. It was miserable. Fortunately, the week before was absurdly profitable, and the two weeks canceled each other out. I am only slightly down money, despite the pathetic start. I am learning.
Here are my NFL Week 16 picks and bets.
Realize: betting NFL is really hard. These picks are meant to hopefully help you out a bit, but mainly to entertain you. They AREN’T meant to be followed blindly. Listen, and hopefully be entertained by my childish jokes. Or at least say something mean about me so I can get a good cry in.
I will make a pick for every game. But if I don’t specifically recommend a bet, I’m just throwing darts. Don’t listen to my advice. The pick is there so I can have a record for picking every game, one that will undoubtedly suck. And then you can make fun of me. I’m a man of the people. As always, I hope you argue with me on Twitter.
For the actual bets, I will keep track of my record and profits/losses. Unlike my NHL/NBA “how not to lose your money gamblin’ “ series, a normal bet will be to win $100, for tracking purposes, because I’m a hypothetical high-roller, and you are too. There will be occasional double, triple, quadruple, and probably even quintuple bets.
Carolina Panthers* (-3) over New Orleans Saints
I don’t understand why this line isn’t, at the very least, shaded to -3.5. What could convince you to take the Saints?
The Panthers have been impressive in every single home game. Their only close call was against the Patriots, when the Patriots still had GRONK and were playing well. And they won.
The Saints have been bad in every single road game. Really. They have three wins. They barely beat the Bucs and Falcons, two of the worst teams in the league. They lost to the Jets and Rams. Their only semi-impressive road game was a close win over the Bears, in which they were outgained by a lot.
The Saints killed the Panthers a few weeks ago. But that was the New Orleans Saints. Not the Outside Of New Orleans Saints. They are two different teams. New Orleans is quarterbacked by all-timer Drew Brees, and has a very good pass defense. The Outside Of New Orleans Saints are quarterbacked by some asshole with a birthmark on his face who likes to throw interceptions. They have a horrible pass defense. They are opposites, except for their shared birthmark.
Bet: Panthers -3 (-120), $120 to win $100
Houston Texans* (+10.5) over Denver Broncos
Is this a joke? Are we really gonna get the chance to bet on the Denver team total over 31? The implied score line, given Denver -10.5 and a total of 51.5, is Denver 31, Houston 20.5. I guess there’s a solid chance they’ll shade it to 31.5, but still. This is absurd.
Denver has scored 31+ points in 11 of 14 games. Two of the unders were against the Chargers, which made sense because of their style of play, as I explained last week. The other was against the Chiefs, who have a good defense and play a similar time-eating style.
Houston is actually eighth in the NFL in time of possession (SD is 1st and KC is 5th), so there is a slight concern there. Keep Peyton off the field, and he can’t score.
But, still: The Broncos score a TD on 78.33% of red-zone appearances. The Texans allow one on 69.77% of appearances. The Broncos have the best, quickest-scoring offense in the league. They need a win. Houston’s weak-link on defense is in the secondary. Peyton Manning treats weak secondaries like Pacman Jones treats women. The Texans have allowed 25+ points in 10 of 14 games. They’ve allowed 30+ four times.
I like the regular over too, but I can’t trust this Houston team to do anything good, ever.
Bet: Broncos team total OVER, most likely, at 30/30.5… to win 100/200, not sure yet
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5.5) over St. Louis Rams
This was a real anus-clencher for me at first. (I tried to think of a synonym for eyebrow raiser… do people clench their anuses when confused?)
Aren’t these teams pretty similar? Why so many points? But then I realized that +3.5 is very similar to +5.5, and my anus relaxed. But, I still like the Bucs.
There are reasons for this.
1. Overall season stats suggest the Bucs are slightly better.
Tampa is 23rd in offensive DVOA. St. Louis is 23rd. Tampa is 6th (really) in defensive DVOA. St. Louis is 13th. These are both actually decent teams, but the Bucs look a bit better, especially when you consider their brutally-slow start. Since they’ve turned things around, they look like the (slightly) better team.
2. It’s a good matchup.
The Rams have some impressive wins, but their win over the Saints was mainly because they won the turnover battle, 3-0, and their win over Chicago was aided by Chicago letting them run for 8.9 yards per rush, a standard day against the Bears.
Their only good performance against a good defense was back in Week 1, against the Cardinals, when Sam Bradford was alive and (somewhat) well. The Bucs have a good defense. They stop the run. Make the Rams one-dimensional, and they can look quite awful. And on offense, the Rams’ weak link is their secondary, which meshes well with the Bucs (relative) strength: Mediocre Mike Glennon.
3. I’m selling high on the Rams.
You often get a bit of extra value on a team coming off a big win. Not only is there letdown potential for the team, but also there’s the fact that bettors have gotten all worked up with their recency bias. (The Rams just beat the Saints.)
Bet: Bucs +5.5 (-110), $100 to win $90.91 AND ML (+200), $20 to win $40
Buffalo* (+2.5) over Miami Dolphins
I was really hoping for +3 or even +3.5 here, but I did not get it. Sigh.
Regardless, as I’ve been saying all year, the Bills are GOOD at home. They should’ve beaten New England in Week 1, beat Carolina and Baltimore, took Cincy to OT and annihilated the Jets. They probably would’ve beaten the Chiefs if not for Jeff Tuel. Their only bad, non-Tuel home game was an OT loss to the Falcons. They’re 5-2 ATS at home.
I’ve been wayyyy down on the Dolphins all year, and they’ve burned me a few times. So maybe that’s blinding me. Buffalo is 2nd in pass-defense DVOA. Miami is 29th in run-defense DVOA. I think the Bills will run for over a (one-hundred-yard) bill. I think Ryan Tannehill will struggle. I think the Bills will get to him. He’ll be sad. They’ll lose. I think. I hope.
I considered taking the Bills on the moneyline instead of buying an expensive half-point. I decided for the costlier, more-risk-averse strategy, given that it’s cold out and my scrotum is shriveling.
UPDATE: E.J. Manuel and Stevie Johnson were just announced as OUT, yet the line hasn’t budged. This is surprising, as I thought it’d get up to +3. I’m going to wait and hopefully get that number. If I don’t, I’ll probably still pull the trigger, but not quite yet.
Bet: Bills +3, I hope
Arizona Cardinals (+10.5) over Seattle Seahawks
Something like 57% of all NFL games have gone over the total this year. That’s insane. But it’s also why a game between arguably the two best defenses in the NFL has a relatively high total of 43. Last year, this would probably be ~37.
Nothing crazy here, because betting on unders this year is like betting on constipation after late-night Taco Bell, but the Cardinals will really struggle on offense, but should have a shot on defense.
Bet: UNDER 43 (-110), $110 to win $100
Green Bay Packers (+/- AMBIGUOUS NUMBER) over/maybe not over Pittsburgh Steelers*
Damn Aaron Rodgers, holding up our gambling with his injury. Selfish. SOFT. Because we have no line… let’s play, guess that line!
I guess that if Aaron Rodgers plays, this will be Packers -3.5. If he doesn’t, it’ll be Steelers -4. Let’s see if I’m right! Fun!
New England Patriots (+2.5) over Baltimore Ravens*
The Ravens have a top defense. They’re good against the run and pass, and they’re especially good at home.
The offense, however, as I’ve described before is:
1st down: run for maximum of two yards.
2nd down: Flacco deep rainbow.
3rd down: Flacco deep rainbow.
A small percentage of the time, this results in a large gain. Most times, a punt.
The Baltimore offense is 30th in DVOA, barely ahead of the Jets and Jaguars. They average 4.6 yards per play. That is 31st in the NFL… behind even the Jets.
New England’s defense is struggling a bit, but mainly against the run. The Ravens literally can’t run on anybody. They’re only passable performance was running for 174 yards against the Bears, but running for 4.2 yards per carry against the Bears is like going to a bar full of attractive, desperate women and going home with an expensive, wrinkly prostitute. But, hey, you GOT IT IN, bro!
My point is: This total is inflated, because everybody is talking about how every game is going over. Seriously, why is this total above 44 vs. the Gronk-less Pats? I do not know. 11 of Baltimore’s 15 games have gone under 44 points. It appears the overadjustment has arrived. And OVERadjustment paves way for UNDERS.
Bet: UNDER 45.5 (-110), $275 to win $250
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over Chicago Bears
I will keep this short and sweet: the Bears give up 5.2 yards per carry. They have one of the worst run defenses I’ve ever seen. They will be able to score on the Eagles, but I do not see how the Eagles’ top-ranked-DVOA run offense will ever be stopped.
I’m facing LeSean McCoy in both of my fantasy leagues, and I’m terrified.
(Still, this Philly defense is scary bad, and this is just a small pair of bets.)
Bets: Eagles -2.5 (-130), $65 to win $50 AND OVER 56 (-110), $27.50 to win $25
Atlanta Falcons (+13) over San Francisco 49ers*
Atlanta is going to get torched by San Francisco. However, their offense has become solid again as Steven Jackson and Roddy White have gotten healthier. They’re not as bad as their full-season numbers look. I think Atlanta should be able to get to at least 20 points, and San Francisco will have no trouble on offense. I like the Atlanta team total over, too, but I think the game over is safer.
This total is deflated because of Atlanta’s early-season offensive struggles. Also, Kaepernick is heating up with Crabtree back.
Bet: OVER 45 (-110), $110 to win $100
Tennessee Titans (-5.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee is sneaky-mediocre; Jacksonville is improving from all-time-bad, to this-season bad. I would rather read Blaine Gabbert’s email inbox than watch or bet on this game.
(This is what I assume Blaine Gabbert’s inbox resembles:)
Cincinnati Bengals* (-7) over Minnesota Vikings
The Bengals defense is still elite, but is somewhat-vulnerable vs. the run post-Geno-Atkins’ death, and the Vikings are weirdly almost-competent on offense sometimes. (Though last week was just the Eagles being awful.) Assuming Adrian Peterson comes back, this could get surprisingly interesting. Maybe. I don’t know why you’d bet on this.
Dallas (-2.5) over Washington Kirk’s Cousins Vinny And Robert
Team that just lost massive lead to Matt Flynn vs. team that just committed seven turnovers and is generally putrid. (Although I’m a bit surprised this line isn’t -3… maybe I’ll grow the balls to take the Cowboys by Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs* (-7) over Indianapolis Colts
Ah, the battle between the two teams least deserving of their gaudy records.
New York Jets* (-2.5) over Cleveland Browns
New York Giants (+8.5) over Detroit Lions*
The Giants look like they’ve given up. The Lions do too, which is weird since they were playing a must-win game last week.
Oakland Raiders (+10) over San Diego Chargers*
I actually think this line is a little high, because both defenses are equally disgusting, last week’s performances aside. But, yeah, Philip Rivers is gonna have a field day.
Good luck, friends. Please hit me up on the Twitters to argue, call me names, ask a question, or say anything else that comes to mind. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear from you, friend.
Last Week’s Betting Record: 4-7 (.364) (-$1,100)
Since Limiting My Crazy, Overextended Self: 50-32 (.601) (+1,742.43)
Overall Betting Record 70-55 (.560) (-215.91)
Dart-throwing record: 114-105 (.521)