Every favorite won straight up in Week 15, except for maybe the Chargers (depending on the line you saw). The season has pretty much followed that script. Should I just pick all favorites from now on and save myself the time of trying to think about … anything?
On to the Week 16 picks, with selections being both straight up and against the spread unless noted otherwise. If you have any questions, catch me on Twitter (@jhalpin37).
(Home team in CAPS.)
Week 15 records: 12-4 SU, 8-5 ATS (NE-PIT, TEN-SF and DAL-OAK were pushes)
Overall: 139-85 SU, 111-102 ATS
RAVENS (-14) over Colts
The Colts are bad, the Ravens are good, so the Ravens will win at home. That’s the easy part. Will they cover a two-touchdown spread? Probably. The Colts have played five games on the road against teams with current records of .500 or better. They’ve lost those games by 37, 28, 14, 20 and six points, with the close game against a Bills’ squad that is probably the worst of the bunch.
The pick: Ravens win and cover
Vikings (-9) over PACKERS
With the Packers eliminated from playoff contention, Aaron Rodgers has been placed on injured reserve, ruining our Saturday night entertainment. While Rodgers was injured, the Pack was 3-4 without (usually) being an offensive train wreck.
The Vikings are among the NFC’s elite and should win, but they haven’t beaten anyone by double digits on the road (the win over the Browns was a neutral-site game). Look for the Pack to keep it close. If they win, the Week 17 NFC playoff implications will be huge.
The pick: Vikings win, Packers cover
BENGALS (+5) over Lions
Are the Bengals rolling over? Maybe. Banged up? Definitely. But, it’s difficult to buy the 8-6 Lions as a road favorite, as they’re pretty mediocre. Three weeks ago, the Bengals almost took down the Steelers at home. Show some pride, guys. If you won’t win it for Marvin Lewis, win it for me.
The pick: Bengals win and cover
TITANS (+7) over Rams
I’ve been railing on the Titans all year long. They’re overrated, haven’t beaten many good teams, yada yada yada. All that was meant to convey that they’re merely an average team, and not, say, the Browns. I’ll be happy to take any average team AND seven points against a West Coast squad traveling east for a 1 p.m. kickoff. Even if that squad is the Rams.
The pick: Titans win and cover
CHARGERS (-7) over Jets
In five career starts, Bryce Petty has piloted the Jets to 71 points (14.2 ppg), with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. I don’t like his chances of playing even adequately against a Chargers’ team fighting for its playoff life.
Warning: The Jets are 6-1 ATS at home. But ...
The pick: Chargers win and cover
CHIEFS (-10) over Dolphins
I’m not claiming that I have the weird, inconsistent Dolphins figured out, but they’ve lost their last four road games by an average of 22.5 points. The resurgent Chiefs should blow these guys out at Arrowhead.
The pick: Chiefs win and cover
PANTHERS (-10) over Bucs
I was tempted to pick the Bucs to keep this one close, as Jameis Winston has played well in three contests since returning from his injury. But the Bucs’ injury report takes longer to read than this weekly article, they’re 1-5-1 ATS on the road, and the Panthers have averaged nearly 33 points over their last five games.
The pick: Panthers win and cover
REDSKINS (-3.5) over Broncos
Will the Broncos start Brock Osweiler or Paxton Lynch? I don’t care.
The pick: Redskins win and cover
SAINTS (-5.5) over Falcons
As a Charlotte resident, I’m absolutely rooting for a Falcons’ win that would likely set up an NFC South winner-take-all Week 17 matchup between them and the Panthers. But did you watch the Falcons Monday night? I was unimpressed, as I’ve been for most of the season. The Saints should take this one.
The pick: Saints win and cover
PATRIOTS (-13) over Bills
The Pats won by 20 at Buffalo a few weeks ago. While the Bills have been a pleasant surprise this season and remain firmly in the playoff hunt, I think they’re gonna get whacked in Foxborough.
The pick: Patriots win and cover
BEARS (-6.5) over Browns
It’s absolutely within the realm of possibility that the Bears will lay enough of an egg to lose to the Browns at home. However, even though the Bears are 2-5 at Soldier Field this season, they beat the Panthers, and battled to close losses versus the Falcons, Steelers, Vikings and Lions. Oh, and I’m done picking the Browns. Maybe my reverse jinx will make them win.
The pick: Bears win and cover
Jaguars (-4.5) over 49ERS
All aboard the Jimmy Garoppolo bandwagon! The Niners have won all three of Jimmy G’s starts, against the Bears, Texans and Titans. The Jags are certainly a step up in class, making this game a tough call. I flip-flopped on my pick, as my gut told me to bet the Niners. Then I realized that my gut has told me that far too often about underdogs this season.
The pick: Jaguars win and cover
COWBOYS (-5.5) over Seahawks
If the Cowboys win and remain in playoff contention, we’re probably getting a Cowboys-Eagles Sunday night game in Week 17. NBC won’t be able to resist it, and they’ll pass up both Panthers-Falcons and Jags-Titans to get it, even if those other games have division title implications. Sigh … they’re gonna get it.
The pick: Cowboys win and cover
CARDINALS (-3.5) over Giants
What a miserably terrible game, with quarterback play featuring Drew Stanton and the corpse of Eli Manning. Don’t watch it, don’t bet on it, don’t even read about it.
Actually, check that. Bet against the Giants - bigly. They’re awful.
The pick: Cardinals win and cover
Steelers (-10) over TEXANS
After unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, you get to unwrap the football gift of watching T.J. Yates play quarterback. Thanks, Santa!
The Texans have been in a death spiral since DeShaun Watson got hurt, losing six of seven, including home games against the Colts, Cardinals and 49ers. They’re really bad.
With that said, the Steelers’ six road wins have been by a combined total of 37 points, and they’re giving 10 here without Antonio Brown. That’s too rich for me.
The pick: Steelers win, Texans cover
EAGLES (-9) over Raiders
Fun fact, courtesy of OddsShark: The Raiders are 5-20 in their last 25 games on the East Coast. But since they just got eliminated from the playoffs, figure to again be without Amari Cooper and will face an Eagles’ team that can clinch the NFC’s top seed, I’m sure that this week will be different. Or not.
The pick: Eagles win and cover
The Saints over the Jets was an easy call last week. Too easy.
This week’s slate includes five double-digit favorites, but we’ve used all of them. Four more teams check in between seven and 10 points – the only one of those we haven’t picked is the Vikings, and they’re on the road (which we usually don’t like).
Is an anti-Browns selection (the Bears, in this case) always a safe play? Maybe, but the Bears are pretty bad. I prefer the Redskins and Cardinals at home versus bad opponents. Let’s go with the ‘Skins versus overmatched Denver QB Paxton Lynch.
Week 1: Bills (win)
Week 2: Ravens (win)
Week 3: Panthers (loss)
Week 4: Seahawks (win)
Week 5: Eagles (win)
Week 6: Broncos (loss)
Week 7: Rams (win)
Week 8: Bengals (win)
Week 9: Texans (loss)
Week 10: Lions (win)
Week 11: Chiefs (loss)
Week 12: Patriots (win)
Week 13: Chargers (win)
Week 14: Steelers (win)
Week 15: Saints (win)