NFL Week 16 Picks: ATS Predictions For Full Christmas Weekend Slate
'Tis the season for some covers
We can just about guarantee you one thing as we dive into Week 16 of the NFL season: You won’t get a better holiday present than our weekly against-the-spread picks.
With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the NFL will get a rare taste of wall-to-wall action on the actual holiday. Instead of investing a full slate on the big day, though, the league is spreading out the weekend games over two days, with the bulk of the action coming Saturday on Christmas Eve.
Before indulging in their own ho-ho hullabaloos, NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle reconvened for a holiday version of “The Spread,” NESN’s football picks podcast. In addition to their full Week 16 picks, which you can read below, Mike and Ricky broke down their favorite wagers. So, make sure to give that a listen while you do your wrapping this week.
Before diving into their picks, here’s how the guys fared last week.
Now, here are their full Week 16 against-the-spread picks based on consensus betting lines from the NESNBets live odds page.
THURSDAY, DEC. 22
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-1) New York Jets, 8:15 p.m. ET
Mike: Jaguars. No point in overthinking it here. The Jags have the (far) better quarterback, the better head coach, and it’s not like they won’t be prepared for a defense of the Jets’ ilk. The Jacksonville offense just hung 30-plus on the Cowboys, who have a better defense than New York.
Ricky: Jets. Consider me an overthinker. The Jets have the NFL’s fourth-best pass rush, per Pro Football Focus’ grades, and now face a Jaguars offensive line that just lost left tackle Cam Robinson.
SATURDAY, DEC. 24
Atlanta Falcons at (-7.5) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. The Ravens have a couple of significant injuries on defense, with Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters going down Sunday. The loss of Campbell looms especially large up front against an Atlanta rushing attack averaging 181 yards over its last three games. Both teams will run it a ton, making for a low-scoring game that the Falcons find a way to cover by way of some lengthy drives.
Ricky: Ravens. Desmond Ridder, who totaled just 97 passing yards last week in his NFL debut, probably will need to throw the ball at some point, with the Ravens owning the sixth-best rush defense in terms of DVOA. And that — coupled with the cold/windy conditions and Baltimore’s ball-hawking defense — could spell trouble for the Falcons. According to CBS Sports, the Falcons haven’t won a game with kickoff temperatures of 25 degrees or colder since 1966.
(-2.5) Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. It’s a big “if,” but if you take away Detroit’s game-winning touchdown, they had 13 points and averaged 4.7 yards per play against the Jets in Week 15. If the Panthers can get right defensively, the offense should look a little more capable against Detroit’s offense than it did against Pittsburgh.
Ricky: Panthers. Carolina’s strengths — namely, running the ball and limiting opposing passing attacks — give this game outright upset potential.
(-9) Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. This is almost a blind play with Buffalo coming off an emotional win in the division ahead of huge conference games (Cincinnati, New England) to end the season. Plus, the Bears remain the perfect bad team with hope: They have a game-changing quarterback, and they’re competitive just about every week … and then they ultimately lose, improving the draft stock.
Ricky: Bears. Not only are the Bears consistently scrappy underdogs. The weather in Chicago also could limit the explosiveness of both offenses, thereby making this spread far too large.
New Orleans Saints at (-2.5) Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Mike: Browns. It’s going to be cold just about everywhere this weekend, nowhere more so than Cleveland with wind chills below zero. The total already has plummeted to 32. Neither team will want to be here, so I’m gonna just roll with the team that at least is used to the weather and doesn’t have to travel for Christmas.
Ricky: Browns. Explained on “The Spread” why I actually like the under — yes, even at 32 — for this game. And from a side standpoint, the Browns seem like the safer play based on their elite rushing attack. Cleveland, in theory, is well equipped to handle the blustery, foggy, frigid conditions.
Seattle Seahawks at (-9.5) Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. Laying significant points with the Chiefs hasn’t been profitable this season, but Seattle’s injury situation is too much to ignore. Geno Smith will be without Tyler Lockett, and Ken Walker III still isn’t completely healthy. The Seattle defense being awful (25th, DVOA) could help KC’s offense come alive.
Ricky: Seahawks. The Chiefs keep playing down to their competition, and the Seahawks, as a team on the NFC playoff bubble, have plenty of incentive to show up Saturday. That Kansas City has allowed Denver and Houston — two bad offenses — to move the ball in back-to-back weeks is somewhat alarming. And if nothing else, maybe Seattle sneaks in the back door — or, uh, down the chimney?
New York Giants at (-3.5) Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Giants. Is the half-point there to trick us into taking the Giants? Mission accomplished. The Vikings have an undeniable habit of playing super-close games against teams far less talented than them, while the Giants play close games against more superior clubs.
Ricky: Vikings. I will not be tricked. My proudest accomplishment of 2022 might be seeing right through the Giants’ 6-1 start.
(-3.5) Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. Cincinnati could be down two pass rushers with Sam Hubbard’s calf injury keeping him out, but the bigger issue might be the offensive line. Joe Burrow has succeeded in spite of more pass-protection issues. Taking the points, especially given New England’s pass rush, feels like the play.
Ricky: Patriots. New England will neutralize Cincinnati’s high-powered offense enough to hang around. What happens next is anyone’s guess. The Patriots probably need a defensive touchdown or special teams score to pull off the outright upset, but that scenario is very much in play.
Houston Texans at (-4) Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Tennessee has been a mess lately, but I’ve gotta believe they can handle the Texans by at least a touchdown. I guess.
Ricky: Titans. The Texans’ recent moral victories against good opponents were cute. And the Titans (again) are banged up, most notably at the quarterback position. But that only offers value here, with the line dropping from -7.
Washington Commanders at (-7) San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. The Commanders are on shaky ground, as evidenced by Ron Rivera openly contemplating a move back to Carson Wentz. A date with the NFL’s top defense by DVOA is unlikely to get that offense back on track, regardless of who’s throwing the ball.
Ricky: 49ers. Among 42 quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks this season, Taylor Heinicke ranks dead-last in turnover-worthy play rate. He’s also the second-lowest-graded passer on Pro Football Focus, ahead of only Zach Wilson. Throw in Washington’s travel, San Francisco’s rest advantage (playing last Thursday night, whereas the Commanders played Sunday night) and the 49ers’ recent dominance, and this has blowout potential.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-6) Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. With Gardner Minshew, are the Eagles as good as the Trevor Lawrence-led Jags that just beat the Cowboys? For one week with a chance to grab the No. 1 seed, I think so. Philly has made impressive strides against the run, and Dak Prescott (career-worst 3.9% interception rate) continues to battle inconsistency.
Ricky: Cowboys. Sorry, Minshew Maniacs. But the Eagles’ offense simply will not function anywhere close to its normal standards without Jalen Hurts, especially against a Cowboys defense that’s been excellent for most of the season.
Las Vegas Raiders at (-2.5) Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Tough spot here — on the road on Christmas Eve after an emotional win over the Patriots — but the Raiders’ defense just held Mac Jones to 3.6 yards per attempt. Obviously, the Patriots’ offense is broken, but the Pittsburgh attack isn’t much to write home about, either. The Raiders keep it rolling.
Ricky: Steelers. Since T.J. Watt’s return in Week 10, the Steelers’ defense ranks fifth in success rate, in large because of its ability to stifle the run. If that happens here, forcing Derek Carr to throw the ball too frequently, it’ll be bad news for the Raiders. Carr has not been good in cold-weather games.
SUNDAY, DEC. 25
Green Bay Packers at (-5) Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Packers. Two teams trending in opposite directions right now, with Green Bay coming off perhaps its most efficient game of the entire season. There’s some rhythm back in the offense, and the Dolphins are among the worst teams in the NFL at defending passes to running backs. The Packers should be able to keep pace with a steady diet of Aaron Jones.
Ricky: Dolphins. Mike McDaniel had plenty of offensive success against Green Bay while working under Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. So, here’s to that carrying over in Miami, where this week should mark the return of the Dolphins’ ground attack against a Packers defense that ranks 31st in rush EPA and run stop win rate.
(-2.5) Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams, 4:30 p.m.
Mike: Rams. Pass the eggnog.
Ricky: Broncos. Not a huge eggnog guy, but anything to knock me out for these few hours.
(-6.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Anyone who thinks they have a read on the Bucs is lying to themselves. But they did show some life last week, jumping out to a 17-0 lead before Tom Brady turned into 1999 Jake Plummer. That part feels less likely to happen two weeks in a row.
Ricky: Cardinals. Since back-to-back wins (and covers) to start the season, the Bucs have gone 4-8 straight up. And those four wins (against teams with a combined 21-35 record) have come by an average of under four points per game. Just not sure Tampa Bay is capable of controlling anyone right now — even Arizona.
MONDAY, DEC. 26
(-4.5) Los Angeles Chargers at Indianapolis Colts, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Colts. The Colts have been outscored 55-0 in the fourth quarter of their last two games, which seems kind of bad. Take that away, and they’ve been competitive against two Super Bowl contenders in Dallas and Minnesota. If they can avoid another meltdown, I think their defense keeps this thing close as they return home.
Ricky: Colts. The Colts are benching Matt Ryan — again. Ouch. Only this time they’re turning to Nick Foles, who probably will pull off some post-Christmas miracle because he’s Nick Foles.