Below are my confidence level straight up picks for Week 16. The picks with a confidence level of 1-5 (a set of selections that have gone 57-26-1 since Week 8) will be available to all NFL Pickwatch readers.
The selections with a 6+ confidence level, a group of games that have netted a 194-76-2 record since 2020 (including 37-16 since Week 4), will be available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers. Pickwatch Pro is a great service that allows subscribers to download the best expert data in the industry, see team-by-team winners for every expert, and provides access to Upset Watch, which has been the ultimate cheat code to beat the sportsbooks over the last six years. Combine those elements with the top level of my weekly picks and it makes for a must-subscribe service for anyone serious about betting.
Jacksonville at NY Jets
These teams are headed in different directions, as the Jaguars have won three out of their last four games, while the Jets have lost four of their last five games.
The problem for the Jets is twofold, as they have defensive and offensive issues. The defensive problems stem from New York allowing 20+ points in three straight games and generating zero takeaways in that span, while the Jets have scored 17 or fewer points in three of the last five contests and given the ball away on five occasions in the past three games.
Jacksonville has proven the be the master of high scoring contests, as the Jaguars have racked up 28+ points in three out of the past four games and tallied 931 offensive yards in the past two matchups combined. Jacksonville’s defense has also been very opportunistic, with 11 takeaways in the past five games.
Merge these trends together and the Jaguars have more paths to victory and thus are the preferred pick.
KC’s pick: Jacksonville
Confidence level: 3
Atlanta at Baltimore
This has the makings of a very low scoring game, as both teams are relying on unproven backup quarterbacks. This will result in a lot of rushing attempts on both sides of the ball, as Atlanta has gained 138+ yards on the ground in seven straight games, while the Ravens haven’t rushed for fewer than 100 yards since Week 1.
This will make rush defense the key in this contest and Baltimore has a gargantuan edge here, as the Ravens have allowed fewer than 100 yards on the ground in six of the past seven contests (including 65 or fewer yards on five occasions), while Atlanta has given up 856 rushing yards in the past five games. Add that to the game being in Baltimore and the Ravens land this one.
KC’s pick: Baltimore
Confidence level: 4
New Orleans at Cleveland
These clubs both have big time playmakers, but right now the Saints and the Browns are each trying to win games in close to the vest mode.
This worked for New Orleans last week, as the Saints gained more than 100 rushing yards for the first time since Week 18 in a 21-18 slugfest against Atlanta. Cleveland followed much the same path against Baltimore, as the Browns posted 143 rushing yards on the way to a 13-3 triumph over their AFC North rivals.
This means that run game consistency may be the key here. That is an advantage for the Browns, as Cleveland has gained 143+ rushing yards in three of the past four games. New Orleans tallied fewer than 70 rushing yards in four out of five games in Weeks 9-13, so the odds are in favor of the Browns keeping their ground attack moving, especially since the Saints allowed 231 rushing yards to the Falcons last week.
KC’s pick: Cleveland
Confidence level: 3
NY Giants at Minnesota
Minnesota feels very comfortable in high scoring games, as the Vikings are 10-1 when they score 23+ points, 9-0 when tallying 24+ points, and 6-0 in shootouts (games where each team scores 24+ points).
The Giants are not the least bit comfortable in high scoring games, as they are 0-5 when allowing 23+ points and 8-1 when allowing fewer than 23 points.
This is not good for New York, as over the past five games, the Giants have allowed 20 and 12 points in games against the Commanders but then allowed 31, 28, and 48 points, respectively, against the Lions, Cowboys, and Eagles. Minnesota’s offense looks a lot more like those last three teams than Washington, so the Vikings are the percentage option.
KC’s pick: Minnesota
Confidence level: 5
Houston at Tennessee
This is apt to be one of the ugliest games of Week 16, as Tennessee has lost four straight games, while Houston weighs in with a nine-game losing streak. Those trends are bad, but the reality is that Lovie Smith has his team fighting hard every week and that moxie nearly led to upsets over Dallas and Kansas City.
Tennessee really can’t say the same, as the Titans seemed to run out of gas after leaning heavily on power football for weeks following an 0-2 start. This has resulted in Tennessee not playing with as much energy as they did before and when that is added to the firing of the club’s general manager a few weeks ago and loss of Ryan Tannehill this week, the Texans are the selection in the upset pick of the week.
KC’s pick: Houston
Confidence level: 2
Philadelphia at Dallas
The tenor of this game is very different now that Jalen Hurts is very likely to miss this game. What was almost certain to become a shootout may now be more of a ground-and-pound matchup as the Eagles aim to slow the game down some to assist Gardner Minshew.
This is a path that both teams can choose to go, as Dallas has now shifted its backfield to being a true platoon between Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard and has posted 151 + rushing yards in six of the past seven games because of it.
Philadelphia won’t be quite as effective on the ground without Hurts, but there is a large margin for error here, as the Eagles racked up 253+ rushing yards in two of the past four weeks and are facing a Cowboys defense that allowed 192 rushing yards to Jacksonville last week.
Those elements could lead this pick in either direction, but one thing to remember here is that Dallas was nearly upset in each of the past two weeks in part because they were thinking ahead to this game. The Cowboys will be more desperate for this win and have the advantage at quarterback and via home field, so Dallas is a very close choice here.
KC’s pick: Dallas
Confidence level: 2
Green Bay at Miami
The Packers offense has found its groove of late, as Green Bay has scored 24+ points in four of the past five games and might have scored 28+ in every contest if not for a missed hand signal between Aaron Rodgers and Christian Watson in the Monday Night Football game against the Rams.
That scoring consistency is important, as it is something Miami has lacked. The Dolphins can put up huge point totals when all goes well, as they did just rack up 29 points against the Bills in Week 15, but Miami also posted 17 points in two of their last three games.
Having noted this, Green Bay has fielded one of the worst rush defenses in the league for most of the year and is facing a Miami offense that just tallied 188 ground yards against the Bills.
These factors illustrate solid paths to victory for both squads, so the Dolphins will get this pick due to a homefield tiebreaker.
KC’s pick: Miami
Confidence level: 1
Denver at LA Rams
The Broncos and Rams come into this game with identical 4-10 records, but they are actually headed in different directions of late.
Denver posted a 24-15 win over Arizona last week and nearly upset Kansas City in Week 14. The Broncos did this by moving the ball on ground (274 rushing yards combined in these matchups) and claiming six takeaways.
The Rams really can’t make such a claim, as their offense is sputtering due to an unreal number of injuries (especially on the offensive line) and their defense hasn’t been the same without Aaron Donald, having allowed 303 rushing yards in the past two games.
The Broncos are also likely to get Russell Wilson back from injury and he was playing at his best level of the season before that ailment kept him out, so take Denver as the selection.
KC’s pick: Denver
Confidence level: 3
Tampa Bay at Arizona
It’s not exactly a stellar Christmas evening Sunday Night Football matchup, as the Buccaneers, who have stumbled around of late and lost three out of four, face a Cardinals team that was eliminated from NFC playoff contention last week.
This pick is fairly simple, because it comes down to if Trace McSorley, Arizona’s third string quarterback who will be under center due to injuries to Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy, can lead the Cardinals to a solid point total. Since Arizona has scored 15 or fewer points in three of the past four games and will be facing a Tampa Bay that has shown it can fare well against overmatched offenses, the answer to that question is probably no.
There is no guarantee the Buccaneers offense will fare much better, as Tampa Bay has scored 17 or fewer points in three of the past four games, but when it comes down to whether or not McSorley can outperform Brady, that pick is an easy one even during this down campaign for Brady.
KC’s pick: Tampa Bay
Confidence level: 4
LA Chargers at Indianapolis
There is a lot on the line in this Monday Night Football matchup. The Chargers would qualify for the AFC playoffs if the season ended after Week 15, so a win gets this club one step closer to the postseason.
The Colts can’t make it to the playoffs, but this is Jeff Saturday’s toughest test as a coach, as over the past two games Indianapolis has allowed the largest point differential in a single quarter in NFL history (31, against Dallas) and the biggest comeback in league history (33, against Minnesota).
It’s possible that the Colts will show four quarters worth of fight, but they also won’t have Jonathan Taylor and thus won’t be able to maximize their rushing production against a shaky Chargers rush defense.
Combine that with a quarterback change for Indianapolis and Los Angeles bringing a fully healthy group of skill players to this contest and the Chargers are the pick.
KC’s pick: Los Angeles
Confidence level: 4
KC’s 6+ confidence level picks, a group of selections that have gone 194-76-2 since 2020 (including 37-16 since Week 4), are available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.