AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Week 16: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
- Game of the Week: Falcons plus-5.5 at Saints (Poll consensus year to date: 7-7-1)
- Saints minus-5.5 — 63.5%
- Falcons plus-5.5 — 36.5%
This poll is closed, see Full Results »
Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
A friendly sports book teller looked down at the ticket Monday afternoon, smirked and supplied a punch line with minimal enthusiasm.
“A push? It’s like kissing your sister,” he said.
Based on how the Sunday of week 15 ended, he had probably repeated the phrase a few hundred times. Three of the four final games last Sunday resulted in a push by the closing spread, including the New England Patriots’ controversial 27-24 escape at Pittsburgh and the Dallas Cowboys’ nearly-as-bizarre 20-17 win over the Raiders.
The other game where the house had to refund bettors on both sides was the San Francisco 49ers’ 25-23 edging of the Titans.
For as much as week 15 will be remembered by every favorite winning outright, the onslaught of pushes was just as rare.
Talking Points was able to battle through them to still have a strong week, going 7-5-3 against the spread to put the season record picking every game against the spread at 119-97-7.
Check below for picks on every week 16 game, separated as always into three separate confidence categories with corresponding records. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.
Seattle Seahawks plus-5 at Dallas Cowboys Seattle’s stunning 42-7 loss as a 1-point favorites to the Rams last week has resulted in a steal of price this week. Despite the loss, these teams sit in the same position with 8-6 records and nearly identical point differentials — Seattle’s plus-27 to Dallas’ plus-25 — meaning the spread should be Dallas minus-3.
New Orleans Saints minus-5.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons Falcons continue to be overvalued because of the good fortune that’s fallen their way this season, including a pair of 3-point wins where they were outgained by nearly 1 yard per play in each of the last two weeks. By Football Outsiders’ estimated wins metric, the 9-5 Falcons have played more like a 7-7 team.
Cleveland Browns plus-6.5 at Chicago Bears The Browns do one thing extremely well — Stop the run. They’re first in the NFL in allowing 3.3 yards per carry, which should come in handy in turning Chicago one-dimensional to force all the pressure on the green Mitchell Trubisky.
Arizona Cardinals minus-3.5 vs. New York Giants Arizona is more efficient in every area of the game, and therefore, should be laying a higher number of points. Teams typically perform worse traveling West, a fact that was better reflected in last week’s early line of Arizona minus-7.
Tennessee Titans plus-7 vs. Los Angeles Rams There’s no better time to sell high on a team than when they’re coming off of something that’s being considered a franchise-changing blowout victory and attracting 90 percent of the action. The Rams are real Super Bowl contenders, but the hype may have gone too far as the number on this game last week was only minus-3.
Philadelphia Eagles minus-8.5 vs. Oakland Raiders Nick Foles looked more than capable of filling in for Carson Wentz with 237 yards and four touchdowns on 24-for-38 passing in a 34-29 win over the Giants as 7.5-point favorites. Things should only get easier going up against a Raiders’ pass defense ranked last in the NFL by DVOA.
Detroit Lions minus-4.5 at Cincinnati Bengals Lions are battling to make the playoffs, while the Bengals appear to have quit on the season. Cincinnati has gotten outscored 87-17 dating back to the second half of its week 13 loss to Pittsburgh, where it blew an early 17-point lead.
Miami Dolphins plus-11 at Kansas City Chiefs Over the last month, the Dolphins have performed more like a league-average team than one entrenched at the bottom like earlier in the season. A league-average team shouldn’t get this many points against an inconsistent opponent like the Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers plus-4.5 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Jimmy Garoppolo is not the only one elevating the 49ers down the stretch, as their defense has also coalesced to allow less than 5 yards per play over the last month. It should be enough to slow the surprising tear that Blake Bortles is riding, which has resulted in Jacksonville drawing three-fourths of the early action in this spot.
Los Angeles Chargers minus-6.5 at New York Jets Jets quarterback Bryce Petty is helpless, as his 4 yards per attempt and sub-50 quarterback rating can attest. And now he might be facing the best pass defense he’s seen in his career, as the Chargers are third in the NFL in giving up only 6 yards per attempt.
Washington Redskins minus-3 vs. Denver Broncos It’s premature to refer to the Broncos’ two-game win streak as a ‘resurgence’ considering it’s come against the lowly Jets and Colts. Washington might be the most beaten-up team in the league, but still has the offense to put away Denver.
Minnesota Vikings minus-8.5 at Green Bay Packers Vikings’ defense tortured Brett Hundley even more than most teams in their first matchup, notching four sacks and snatching three interceptions. This line will be on the way up, so might as well take the value while it’s under double digits.
Indianapolis Colts plus-13.5 at Baltimore Ravens These are the two worst offenses in the league with the Ravens gaining 4.7 yards per play to the Colts’ 4.6 yards per play. Only one of them, however, is being asked to lay two touchdowns.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus-10 at Carolina Panthers Carolina was a 1.5-point underdog ahead of beating Tampa Bay 17-3 in the teams’ first meeting this season. An 11.5-point swing on the spread feels severe, especially considering Tampa Bay has played better the last three weeks and is unlucky to have gone 0-3 during the stretch.
New England Patriots minus-12 vs. Buffalo Bills Back to not betting against the Patriots unless it’s absolutely necessary. And it’s not necessary in a series where Tom Brady has gone 27-3 straight-up and 18-9-1 against the spread.
Pittsburgh Steelers minus-9 at Houston Texans Can’t consider a home underdog with no teeth unless there are double digits involved. Injuries have taken their toll on Houston, which has looked like a minor-league team in failing to cover three in a row.