A Closer Look At The Expert Predictions For 2016 NFL Week 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)NFL Week 16 Free Pick: New Orleans (-2.5)302 Even with Jameis Winston commendably losing 20 pounds in the offseason in order to get in better shape for the 2016 season, the reality is that it will take more than a fit Winston to win this game. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have owned this series, with an 8-1 record in their last 9 overall vs. Tampa Bay, including a 4-1 mark in the last 5 vs. Tampa Bay in New Orleans. But more importantly, the Saints have plugged a majority of the defensive holes that bothered them in 2015 when Tampa Bay stole a game at the Mercedes Superdome, meaning New Orleans is highly likely to be a better unit. This should allow the hosts to emerge victorious in this home game that could have major implications on the AFC South title race.
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-6.5)NFL Week 16 Free Pick: New England (-6.5)
Muhammad Wilkerson is a happy man after scoring a deadline-day contract with the Jets and latest reports suggest that he is well on course to play in Week 1 of the new season. That’s a big sigh of relief, I guess, for many New York fans who were scared about losing the Pro Bowl defender. The waters are, however, still far from calm in New York. Harvard graduate and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who carried the Jets (like his books) on his arms en route to a solid 10-win season in 2015, is still unhappy about his unresolved contract issues. So bad is the situation that the free agent QB isn’t talking to his closest friends, not even his every-day chat-buddy and No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall. In Marshall’s words, Fitz’s uncharacteristic lack of communication is scary, not just for him but for the whole franchise. Obviously, the Jets have Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as quarterback options, but we all know better than to trust the Jets for a big season with the erratic Smith or the inexperienced duo of Petty and Hackenberg under the center. Without Fitpatrick, the Jets are nearly just as good as their 4-12 campaign in 2014. Until the Fitz issue is resolved amicably, I’ll be picking against the Jets, especially in their games against elite opposition. And last I checked, Tom Brady and the Patriots are the realest definition of elite opposition, so allow me to stay true to my word by banking on the Pats—winners of their last 7 straight vs. Jets at the Gillette Stadium—to bring the bacon home.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5)NFL Week 16 Free Pick: Tennessee (+4.5)*
Jacksonville has won its last two straight home games vs. Tennessee over the past two seasons, so this meeting will be an opportunity for the Jags to extend that home winning streak against the Titans. The biggest boost, though, for Jacksonville to win this game will be the fact that Blake Bortles has been consistently taking positive strides in his game since entering the league two years ago and the team has surrounded him with some solid value pieces ahead of the new season, creating huge expectations for his third year as a starter. That said, the Titans, who will be led by sophomore QB Marcus Mariota, equally have big ambitions of their own, hoping that the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner will be able to get the best out of the talented players signed by Tennessee in the offseason. An interesting and dicey matchup can thus be expected when these two teams clash in Week 16. Winning-wise, I am currently leaning on Jacksonville, though I think the win margin will be very tight (a field goal at most), so taking Mariota and the Titans for the points (+4.5) should offer some solid value for Tennessee backers in the ATS lines.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5)NFL Week 16 Free Pick: Kansas City (-1.5)
After losing to Denver by 7 points in Kansas City, the Chiefs beat Denver by 16 points in the return fixture at Mile High, leaving these divisional opponents with one win apiece for the season. Most notably, though, home loss by the Chiefs came early in the season when Kansas City was still in the process of experimenting with a variety of options in the defense, something that allowed Denver to steal the game at the very end. By the time the Chiefs finished the regular-season on a franchise-record 10-game winning streak, Andy Reid boys were an entirely different team, allowing just 12.8 PPG in the 10-game stretch. That, of course, included the 29-13 road win at Denver. With all indications pointing towards another solid season for the Chiefs (featuring an efficient offense and solid defense); beating Denver should be very possible, especially considering that Denver looks poised to struggle offensively due to its iffy situation at quarterback.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)NFL Week 16 Free Pick: Seattle (-3.5)
This NFL pick is not about motivation and talent because we all know that these two teams will have both assets in abundance when they meet in this second-last game of the season. Instead, like in all big games, I am basing this pick on who has been the dominant team in recent history and where the game will be played. Accordingly, Seattle has won more games over Arizona in recent times and the game will be played at CenturyLink Field (a place Seattle usually plays its best football), so the early NFL betting tip here is that you should lean on the Seahawks for the win plus the manageable point spread.