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February 18, 2019

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Vegas pick’em: NFL Week 16 winners against the spread

Nick Foles

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles walks across the field during a game against the Rams Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles.

Week 16: Chiefs at Seahawks

Which side would you take in Chiefs at Seahawks? (Poll consensus year to date: 10-3)
Chiefs minus-2.5 — 54.8%
Seahawks plus-2.5 — 45.2%

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.

Bookmakers enter week 16 on a tear.

The final three games of Week 15 all fattened their profit margins. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers all came through as sparsely-bet underdogs to take a chunk out of the betting public’s bankroll.

The former two both won outright, beating the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, respectively, to wipe out the vast majority of parlays that made it through the rest of Sunday’s slate. At William Hill sports books, the Patriots drew 87 percent of the money wagered in their game against the Steelers while the Rams commanded 71 percent versus the Eagles.

And then the Panthers added a bonus for the house by staying within the number in a 12-9 loss to the Saints as 6-point underdogs on Monday Night Football.

It’s hard to have holiday cheer while inadvertently leaving presents for the casino, so let’s try to turn to sleigh around this weekend.

Check below for picks on all of the Week 16 games, separated into three confidence categories. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.

Plays (23-27-1)

Jacksonville Jaguars plus-4.5 at Miami Dolphins Jaguars fell to 2-6 in games decided by less than a touchdown with last week’s 16-13 loss to Redskins, a stretch of bad luck that’s left them perceived as worse than they’ve actually played. On the season, Jacksonville’s point differential is actually five points better than Miami’s.

New Orleans Saints minus-5.5 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Have a hunch that the Saints’ offensive slowdown is nothing to be concerned about. This isn’t a vintage a Steelers’ defense, as it ranks 21st against the pass in the NFL by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and Drew Brees should take advantage to cement his MVP candidacy.

Leans (37-21-3)

Cincinnati Bengals plus-9 at Cleveland Browns It’s taken years, but the Browns might finally be overvalued by the betting market. This line was only minus-7 last week, and there’s no reason why Cleveland’s 1-point win in Denver should cause this large of a swing.

New England Patriots minus-12.5 vs. Buffalo Bills Oh, look, it’s the biannual tradition of writing off the Patriots after a string of losses. If history repeats, a resounding victory will end the penning of the dynasty’s obituaries prematurely.

Baltimore Ravens plus-4.5 at Los Angeles Chargers Rarely want to back a team at its market peak like the Chargers, which are a legitimate Super Bowl contender but haven’t faced an above-average defense in more than a month. Now they must take on a Ravens’ team that ranks first in the NFL in allowing only 4.7 yards per play.

Philadelphia Eagles minus-2 vs. Houston Texans Number looks right, but give the coaching and situational edges to the home team. It’s a must-win for Philadelphia, and in what should be a close game, it’s easier to trust Doug Pederson than Bill O’Brien.

Guesses (55-50-6)

New York Giants plus-9.5 at Indianapolis Colts It’s one of the oldest rules in handicapping: Extreme performances are misleading. A team is never as great as it looked in a flawless performance, or as poor as it looked in a disastrous showing. This matchup hits on both counts, as the Colts had their best game of the year in a 23-0 win over the Cowboys last week while the Giants were helpless in a 17-0 loss to the Titans.

Atlanta Falcons minus-3 at Carolina Panthers The line shifted 6.5 points when the Panthers announced they were shutting down Cam Newton and starting Taylor Heinicke at quarterback. It’s an inexact science, but that change seems like it should be worth at least a full 7 points.

Denver Broncos minus-2.5 at Oakland Raiders Two weeks ago, the Broncos were on a three-game win streak and this spread would have been creeping up on a touchdown. The only potential value here comes with the favorite.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus-7.5 at Dallas Cowboys Much tougher call at 7, but the availability of the extra half-point at a couple books makes Tampa Bay a much more attractive side. Dallas hasn’t given this many points all season for a reason: It doesn’t have the offense to justify such a high spread.

Minnesota Vikings minus-5.5 at Detroit Lions Call it a leap of faith, but the Vikings still have the talent to be extremely dangerous heading into the playoffs and they appeared to channel it in last week’s 41-17 victory over the Dolphins as 7.5-point favorites. Not often passing on a chance to back Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer, who’s 50-27-1 against the spread for his career, at a reasonable number against a bad team.

San Francisco 49ers plus-4 vs. Chicago Bears Looked much more appealing when the line was a point higher, but still impressed by how well the 49ers have played in pulling upsets at home over the last two weeks. Not an easy trip for the Bears, which could be somewhat content after clinching the NFC North title.

Tennessee Titans minus-10 vs. Washington Redskins Titans are overvalued, but can’t possibly back a Josh Johnson-quarterbacked side against a team fighting for a playoff spot. There’s a major difference between playing a team mired in a lost season like the Jaguars, which the Redskins upset last week, and one on a three-game win streak in an attempt to extend their season.

Kansas City Chiefs minus-2 at Seattle Seahawks Yet another game with a perfect line in a slate full of them, but believe the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL, and therefore, must believe they emerge when they need it most. Seattle’s defense is also a concern, as it’s giving up 6.1 yards per play to rank 28th in the NFL and may be hard-pressed to contain Kansas City.

New York Jets plus-3 vs. Green Bay Packers There appears to be at least a minor chance that the Packers sit Aaron Rodgers, and they have a history of being completely uncompetitive without him. Even if Rodgers does play, this spread isn’t prohibitive with the Jets’ defense capable enough to keep them in the game.

Arizona Cardinals plus-14 vs. Los Angeles Rams Consider it the ultimate catch 22. No interest in backing a Cardinals’ team that’s comfortably the worst in the NFL. Also have no interest in laying two touchdowns on the road.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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