After 15 weeks of NFL action the end of the season is finally in clear sight. Every team in the league has two games remaining, and within those potential wins and losses are a slew of playoff scenarios that we can finally understand without working through advanced calculus.
With different motivations in play for every NFL team, it’s also a great week for gamblers to make a little extra profit to cushion their bankrolls heading into the playoffs.
Last week our picks against the spread went a disappointing 6-8-2. We’ll do our best to get things back on track and finish the season strong.
Also, we’ve made it deep enough into the season that there’s no longer any “Thursday Night Football” to suffer through, so take the extra time to look over your betting sheets one more time this weekend so you’re ready to take on the sharps on Saturday. And if you’re itching for a bet to make, you can find all of our college bowl picks against the spread up through Christmas here.
Take a look below for our best bets of Week 16.
LAST WEEK: 6-8-2
Indianapolis Colts (+13.5) at Baltimore Ravens (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
The pick: Colts +13.5
The logic: The Ravens have shown a tendency to throttle opponents this season, but this is still too many points. The Colts have played the AFC North tough this year, and getting close to two touchdowns is always a welcome gift when betting on the NFL.
Minnesota Vikings (-9) at Green Bay Packers (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET)
The pick: Packers +9
The logic: Aaron Rodgers might be done for the season but the Packers aren’t a team to roll over against a division rival. Plus the Vikings are the team that took Rodgers down with an injury in the first place, and Green Bay might be looking to exact some revenge with a win in front of the home crowd.
Cleveland Browns (+6.5) at Chicago Bears (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Bears -6.5
The logic: The Browns have lost by six or more their last seven games. While this is their last real chance for a win on the season with a matchup against the Steelers ahead of them next week, I’m not going to fool myself into betting on the Browns again. I’ve lost enough money on them this year.
Detroit Lions (-4.5) at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Bengals +4.5
The logic: On one hand, the Bengals quit on Marvin Lewis after the news came out that their head coach would not be returning next season, resulting in a 34-7 thumping at the hands of the Vikings. On the other hand, maybe they want to get Lewis one last home win as a thank you for his 15 years of service to the team.
When in doubt, take the points. But I would stay away from this one, there are better games to bet.
Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) at Tennessee Titans (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Titans +6.5
The logic: The Titans continue to be a disappointing team in my eyes, but their loss to the 49ers last week wasn’t as bad as it looks on paper and the Rams win over the Seahawks surely has them overvalued in this spot.
Miami Dolphins (+10.5) at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Dolphins +10.5
The logic: Jay Cutler threw three touchdowns two weeks ago to beat the Patriots, and then threw three interceptions last week to lose to the Bills. He’s due to bounce back!
Buffalo Bills (+12) at New England Patriots (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Bills +12
The logic: The Patriots beat the Bills 20-3 just three weeks ago, but I think Buffalo will be a bit more ready for their second meeting. And with Buffalo on the cusp of breaking an 18-year playoff drought – the longest active streak in the NFL – it’s hard not to cheer for the underdog.
Atlanta Falcons (+5.5) at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Falcons +5.5
The logic: With both teams still in the thick of an NFC race that refuses to shake out, there’s a ton on the line for both teams. I expect the Falcons to show up and keep things close at the very least.
Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) at New York Jets (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Chargers -6.5
The logic: The Chargers feel like just the type of team to come up with enough to make the playoffs just a week too late. They still have an outside shot at the postseason, but will need to win their last two and get some help along the way.
Denver Broncos (+3.5) at Washington Redskins (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Redskins -3.5
The logic: Kirk Cousins is either playing for a contract or playing to force the Redskins to franchise tag him yet again and pay him north of $US34 million next season. Meanwhile, the Broncos don’t even know who is playing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+10) at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Buccaneers +10
The logic: Double-digit division game. I know the Panthers still have everything to play for and the Buccaneers are licking the wounds of a lost season, but close your eyes and make the bet. It works out more times than it doesn’t.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5) at San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
The pick: 49ers +4.5
The logic: Last week the 49ers were down a point to the Titans with a minute left. Jimmy Garoppolo got the ball back in his hands and lead the Niners down the field to set Robbie Gould up for the decisive field goal.
The Niners were 1.5-point favourites. They won by two. I had bet on the Titans.
My apologies to Jimmy Garoppolo. I will never doubt you again.
Seattle Seahawks (+5) at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
The pick: Cowboys -5
The logic: This line is two points too high, but we’re still backing the Cowboys here because the only way this story ends is when their postseason hopes are dashed in the final game of the season. We still have a game to go before the Dallas collapse. Plus, Zeke is back.
New York Giants (+3.5) at Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
The pick: Giants +3.5
The logic: The Giants looked like they had the Eagles number last week right up until the point that they didn’t. Still, scoring 29 was the most active offensive performance that the G-Men have had all season, and the team looks to be trending in the right direction.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-9) at Houston Texans (Monday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
The pick: Steelers -9
The logic: Antonio Brown might be out until the playoffs, but the Steelers are not at all short on offensive weaponry. And with the race for home field and a first round bye still going strong in the AFC, Pittsburgh has no reason to let up in this game.
Oakland Raiders (+8.5) at Philadelphia Eagles (Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET)
The pick: Eagles -8.5
The logic: Nick Foles has played the Raiders once before in his career. In that game he threw for seven touchdowns, tying Peyton Manning and six others for the record, and the Eagles won 49-20. Foles threw for four touchdowns last week in his first start of the season for Birds, but he was just getting warmed up.
LAST WEEK: 6-8-2
Now check out our Week 16 Power Rankings
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