NFL Pick'em Week 16: Man vs. Machine

Written by John Ferguson
December 20, 2019
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NFL Pick'em Week 16

NFL Pick'em Week 16The playoff picture is really starting to take shape as we head into Week 16. The Patriots, Packers, Bills, Seahawks, and 49ers all clinched playoff berths. The Titans and Rams greatly hurt their chances of making the final cut with losses last week despite how well they have played as of late prior to that. With so many teams becoming eliminated from contention, the final two weeks of the NFL season can start to get really dicey when it comes to betting. We need to keep a close eye on news throughout the week to see which teams will start throwing in the towel and benching regular starters and which teams are still playing with purpose. Teams like the Falcons, who just pulled off another huge upset against the 49ers last week, are fighting for their coaches' lives as their jobs could be on the line following disappointing seasons.

The machine prospered in our weekly head-to-head battle last week bringing my overall record for the season to 10-5. I had odd results last week as I went 10-5 straight-up, but I guess I didn't have a great feel for the points last week as I was below 50% in ATS/OU. The Machine got the win thanks to their 8-4 ATS record. Luckily, man had secured the season-long victory a couple of weeks back, but we still have a close battle to monitor for overall accuracy on the season. My down week brought my overall season record to 194-195 (49.9%) in ATS/OU picks while the machine is coming in at 179-187 (48.9%).

In case this is your first time reading this column, here is a quick recap of what we are doing with our weekly pick'em coverage. We have partnered up with the folks over at Betting Antelope who will be providing "the machine" aspect of our weekly pick'em. If you're unfamiliar with their product, Betting Antelope is an impressive machine learning model powered by SportsData.io and designed to predict moneyline, against the spread, over/under, and total team wins for NFL games. The model ingests data and trains itself each week as the season goes on, optimizing profitability by using a combination of regression and decision tree models to make picks. So this season, it's my research, opinions, and instincts vs. the machine.

Now that we have recapped everything and gotten everyone up to speed, let's get to our Week 16 picks! Remember, the first three games here are featured as an all-day slate on Saturday, so get those bets in early!

For more info see FantasyData's Latest NFL Odds page here.


Houston Texans (-3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (O/U 49.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Deshaun Watson has thrown deep balls on 21.2% of pass attempts since Week 12 -- highest of 34 qualified NFL QBs
  • DeAndre Hopkins has broken nine tackles this season -- tied for most among NFL WRs.
  • Vernon Hargreaves (HOU) has allowed 19 completions since Week 12 -- tied for second-most among NFL DBs.
  • The Texans defense has stuffed 10.4% of rushing attempts since Week 8 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 18.1%
  • The Texans defense has allowed 8.2 yards from scrimmage per touch (5,527 yards / 678 touches) this season -- tied for second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 7.6
  • The Texans secondary have missed 63 tackles on 318 opportunities (19.8%) this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 15.2%
  • Jameis Winston has averaged 350.2 passing yards per game since Week 8 -- best of 31 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 211.5
  • Breshad Perriman has averaged 17.4 yards per target (314 yards/18 targets) since Week 12 -- best of 67 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 8.2
  • Offenses facing the Buccaneers have thrown the ball 66.0% of the time since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 54.1%
  • The Buccaneers defense has allowed just 2.9 yards per carry (218 yards/75 carries) since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 4.5
  • The Buccaneers defense has tackled opponents for a loss on 31 of 159 rushing attempts (19.5% TFL%) since Week 8 -- second-best in NFL; League Avg: 11.7%
  • The Texans are averaging 24.4 PPG this season.
  • The Bucs have allowed 28.4 PPG overall this season and 31.8 PPG at home.
  • The Bucs are averaging 29.7 PPG this season (third-most) and 34.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Texans have allowed 23.6 PPG overall this season and 27 PPG over their last three games.

The Texans are coming off a huge win last week against their division rivals the Titans in a game that was big in deciding who gets to comfortably sit on top of the AFC South. They shook off that embarrassing loss to the Broncos well and were back to looking like the playoff contender we saw beat down the Pats recently as well. They'll now take on a Bucs team that has been eliminated from the playoffs already but continues to play strong having won their last four games. They have also put up 35 points or more in three of their last four games. They're now down both WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on offense, but that didn't stop Breshad Perriman from suddenly shouldering the load and helping keep the Bucs scoring north of 30 points. I think the Texans learned their lesson overlooking the Broncos and will make sure not to do the same this week. They will also clinch the AFC South with a win here, but with such high-scoring potential, there's no telling what the final outcome could be. The Texans are the more well-rounded team and I think they get the win.

My Final Prediction: Texans win 30-26

My Pick: Texans -3.5, Over 49.5

Machine Pick: Texans -3.5, Under 49.5


Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-6.5) (O/U 37.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Devin Singletary has broken 12 tackles since Week 12 -- third-most among NFL RBs.
  • Buffalo Bills RBs have not rushed for any TDs on 111 carries since Week 12 -- tied for highest carries per TD rate in NFL; League Avg: 33.6
  • The Bills defense has allowed an average of 2.8 yards after contact per carry (318 carries) this season -- highest in NFL
  • The Bills defense has not allowed any rushing touchdowns on 82 carries since Week 12 -- best carries per TD rate in NFL
  • Tom Brady has averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt since Week 8 -- lowest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 7.2
  • Tom Brady has completed just 54.3% of passes since Week 8 -- lowest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 63.2%
  • Julian Edelman has dropped 11 balls this season -- most among NFL WRs.
  • James White has averaged 7.1 yards from scrimmage per touch (298 yards / 42 touches) since Week 12 -- tied for third-best of 45 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 4.9
  • The Patriots defense has allowed a passer rating of just 57.4 (466 Pass Attempts) this season-best in NFL; League Avg: 91.0
  • The Patriots defense has 25 interceptions this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Patriots defense has averaged a turnover percentage of 4.1% this season-best in NFL; League Avg: 2.2%
  • The Bills are averaging 20.8 PPG this season.
  • The Patriots have allowed 12.9 PPG overall this season (fewest in NFL) and 21.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Patriots are averaging 26.6 PPG this season. 
  • The Bills have allowed 15.9 PPG this season -- second-fewest in NFL.

We get a game here with tons of playoff implications as the Pats could lock up the AFC East with a win. This is also a rematch of their Week 4 game that was a predictably low-scoring affair where the Pats won 16-10. This time the Pats get the comfy confines of Gillette Stadium where they have played better. The Bills have only managed to put up 17 points in each of their last two games against tough defenses and will likely be happy to put up that much again this time around. The Pats are coming off a trouncing of the helpless Bengals, thus ending the Pats mini two-game losing streak. I like them for the win at home for sure but their offense still has been shaky and I could see this game being another low-scoring game and potentially just a three-point difference.

My Final Prediction: Patriots win 20-17

My Pick: Bills +6.5, Under 37.5

Machine Pick: Bills +6.5, Under 37.5


Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) (O/U 45)

Matchup Notes:

  • Rams WRs have averaged 6.9 yards after the catch since Week 8 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 4.5
  • Tyler Higbee has 31 receptions since Week 12 -- most among NFL TEs.
  • The Rams defense has stuffed 5.3% (7/131) of rushing attempts since Week 12 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 17.1%
  • The Rams defense has allowed 183.0 rushing yards per game since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 117.7
  • The Rams defense allowed 228 yards after contact last week -- most in NFL.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown deep balls on just 2.7% of pass attempts since Week 12 -- lowest of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 12.2%
  • Raheem Mostert has averaged 4.4 yards before contact per carry since Week 12 -- best of 33 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.0
  • 49ers RBs have averaged 5.9 yards per carry since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 4.3
  • The 49ers defense has allowed an average of 1.5 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: 2.1
  • The Rams are averaging 23.7 PPG overall this season and 27.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The 49ers have allowed 18.4 PPG overall this season (fifth-fewest) and 31.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The 49ers are averaging 29.9 PPG this season.
  • The Rams have allowed 21.9 PPG this season.

The Saturday slate wraps up with a divisional tilt against the Rams and 49ers. Both of these teams are coming off disappointing losses last week, and more so for the Rams as it likely meant the end of their playoff dreams. The 49ers made the most of their loss by still clinching a playoff berth. The Rams were playing strong the last few weeks having allowed just a combined 19 points to the Cardinals and Seahawks. Then they met the Cowboys last week and the wheels fell off when they allowed 44 points in the game. I really don't know what to say about the 49ers loss to the Falcons last week, but their defense now gave up 46 points to the Saints in Week 14 then 29 to the Falcons in Week 15. The loss dropped the Niners all the way down to the fifth seed so you have to believe they're going to push hard to try and climb back to the top. I think we see their return to dominance this week.

My Final Prediction: 49ers win 28-20

My Pick: 49ers -6.5, Over 45

Machine Pick: 49ers -6.5, Push


New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-2) (O/U 42.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Golden Tate has just 5 receptions on 16 targets (31.2% Reception Pct) since Week 12 -- lowest of 67 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 60.6%
  • Giants linebackers have missed 21 tackles on 72 opportunities (29.2%) since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 15.9%
  • The Giants have committed 31 turnovers this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Giants have run 38.0% of their plays in their opponent's territory this season -- third-lowest in NFL; League Avg: 43.4%
  • The Giants have allowed a QB hit on 11.6% of dropbacks this season -- third-highest in NFL; League Avg: 8.7%
  • The Redskins defense has pressured opposing QBs on 19.1% of dropbacks since Week 8 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 14.3%
  • The Redskins defense has averaged 4.8 sacks per game since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 2.3
  • Dwayne Haskins has been sacked on 12.3% of pass attempts since Week 8 -- highest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 7.0%
  • The Redskins have run 759 plays this season -- fewest in NFL
  • The Redskins have gone three and out on 30.7% of their drives this season -- second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 20.8%
  • The Giants are averaging 20.2 PPG this season.
  • The Redskins have allowed 24.8 PPG this season.
  • The Redskins are averaging 15.4 PPG overall this season (second-fewest) and 23.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Giants have allowed 27.3 PPG this season.

This game doesn't matter for anything but a draft spot. There may be some sentimental storylines going though if Eli Manning gets the start again. He helped pull the team out of a nine-game losing streak last week when they stuck it to the Dolphins 36-20. The Redskins have shown a little more fight as of late but it hasn't been enough as they have dropped their last two games. It feels like they have more to prove and figure out right now as a franchise with Dwayne Haskins still getting comfortable at the NFL level, and the Giants defense has been atrocious pretty much all season. There is no comfortable bet here, but I'll side with the home team as well and the 'Skins boast a better all-around defense.

My Final Prediction: Redskins win 23-20

My Pick: Redskins -2, Over 42.5

Machine Pick: Giants +2, Over 42.5


Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins (-1) (O/U 47)

Matchup Notes:

  • Joe Mixon has broken 13 tackles since Week 12 -- second-most among NFL RBs.
  • Bengals WRs have averaged 7.4 yards after the catch since Week 12 -- second-best in NFL; League Avg: 4.6
  • The Bengals defense has allowed a completion pct of just 52.3% (67 completions/128 attempts) since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 62.7%
  • The Bengals defense has allowed 159.8 rushing yards per game this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 113.0
  • The Dolphins have allowed a QB Hit on 14.8% of dropbacks this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 8.7%
  • Offenses facing the Dolphins have thrown deep balls on 16.3% of pass attempts (75/460) this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 12.1%
  • The Dolphins defense has pressured opposing QBs on 9.1% of dropbacks this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 14.2%
  • Dolphins RBs have averaged just 3.0 yards per carry this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 4.2
  • The Bengals are averaging 15.1 PPG this season (fewest in NFL) and 18 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Dolphins have allowed 31.1 PPG this season (most in NFL).
  • The Dolphins are averaging 17.2 PPG overall this season (fourth-fewest) and 26 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Bengals have allowed 25.6 PPG this season.

This is another game with no real meaning as both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention basically since Week 1. The Bengals have a lot to gain from losing this one as they will secure the first overall pick in the draft next season while the Dolphins are mixed in with a handful of teams looking to secure the second pick. The Bengals have only crossed the 20-point mark once in their last nine games and only three times this season overall. The Dolphins have shown more firepower in the passing game this season but their defense has made them susceptible to blowouts often. They have allowed over 30 points in four of their last five games. This is the first time this season they're featured as the favorite, but with so much to gain from losing on both sides, there is no safe bet here either.

My Final Prediction: Dolphins win 24-20

My Pick: Dolphins -1, Under 47

Machine Pick: Dolphins -1, Over 47


New Orleans Saints (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans (O/U 50.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Drew Brees has a passer rating of 128.3 since Week 12 -- best of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 89.2
  • Jared Cook has averaged 17.8 yards per reception since Week 8 -- best of 33 qualified NFL TEs
  • Michael Thomas has 9.8 receptions per game since Week 12 -- best of 68 qualified NFL WRs
  • The Saints defense has allowed an average of 1.5 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for best in NFL
  • Cameron Jordan has 6.5 sacks since Week 8 -- tied for most among NFL defensive linemen.
  • Ryan Tannehill has averaged 9.4 yards per attempt since Week 8 -- best of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 7.2
  • Titans WRs have averaged 7.7 yards after the catch since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 4.6
  • Derrick Henry has averaged 4.0 yards after contact per carry since Week 12 -- tied for best of 33 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.3
  • A.J. Brown has averaged 22.4 yards per reception since Week 12 -- tied for second-best of 67 qualified NFL WRs
  • The Saints are averaging 27 PPG overall this season and 35.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Titans have allowed 19.9 PPG this season.
  • The Titans are averaging 24.2 PPG overall this season and 31.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Saints have allowed 21.6 PPG this season.

The Saints are coming off a historical game on Monday Night Football where Drew Brees surpassed Peyton Manning for most TD passes of all time and also completed 29-of-30 passes, setting a single-game completion percentage record. They also obliterated the Colts in the process and looked like a team that has what it takes to make a Super Bowl run. They're still fighting for home-field advantage through the playoffs in the wild NFC playoff picture so there is still plenty to play for here. They're dealing with nagging injuries on defense but are making do. The Titans are coming off that devastating home loss against the Texans last week and with the Texans playing on Saturday, a win from them would knock the Titans out of the divisional race. They are still a darkhorse for the wild card if they can get help from the Steelers flaming out over the last two weeks.

My Final Prediction: Saints win 26-23

My Pick: Saints -2.5, Under 50.5

Machine Pick: Titans +2.5, Under 50.5


Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) at New York Jets (O/U 37.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Steelers defense has sacked opposing QBs on 11.5% of pass attempts (15/130) since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 6.3%
  • The Steelers defense has allowed a passer rating of just 72.9 since Week 8 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 90.6
  • The Steelers defense has allowed 156.8 passing yards per game since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 230.4
  • Steelers RBs have caught 86 of 100 passes (86.0% Reception Pct) this season-best in NFL
  • Diontae Johnson has broken 9 tackles this season -- tied for most among NFL WRs.
  • The Jets defense has tackled opponents for a loss on 39 of 191 rushing attempts (20.4% TFL%) since Week -- best in NFL; League Avg: 11.7%
  • The Jets defense has allowed 18 of 20 (90.0%) TDs through the air since Week 8 -- highest in NFL
  • The Jets have converted first downs on just 194 of 832 plays (23.3%) this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 28.7%
  • Le'Veon Bell has not rushed for 20+ yards on any of his 205 carries this season -- tied for lowest among NFL RBs.
  • Le'Veon Bell has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry this season -- second-lowest of 35 qualified NFL RBs
  • The Steelers are averaging 19.2 PPG this season.
  • The Jets have allowed 24.5 PPG overall this season and 28.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Jets are averaging 17.6 PPG this season.
  • The Steelers have allowed 18.5 PPG this season.

The Steelers can't afford many losses at this point in the season and dropped one against the Bills last week in a Sunday night snoozefest. Seriously, that was one of the most boring games I have ever endured. They need a big win here against the Jets with the Ravens on deck in Week 17 and also need the Titans to lose to help their chances. They have barely been able to eclipse the 20-point mark in the last month despite having matchups against soft defenses like the Cardinals and Bengals over that span. The Jets have equally been all over the board all season. They expectedly got blown out by the Ravens last week, squeezed out a one-point win against the Dolphins the week before, and gave the Bengals their first and only win of the season before that. If you're a Titans fan, you're definitely rooting for the Jets this week. The Jets get extended rest coming off a Thursday night game, a Le'Veon Bell revenge-game narrative, and home-field advantage all on their side this week and are capable of an upset. I'm feeling a little frisky and rooting for the Titans over the Steelers in the playoffs, so I'm reluctantly siding with the Jets in this one.

My Final Prediction: Jets win 20-17

My Pick: Jets +3.5, Under 37.5

Machine Pick: Jets +3.5, Under 37.5


Baltimore Ravens (-10) at Cleveland Browns (O/U 48)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Ravens defense has blitzed on 40.0% of plays since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 17.9%
  • Ravens WRs have been targeted 9.6 times per game since Week 8 -- lowest in NFL.
  • The Ravens have run the ball on 57.9% of plays since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 41.1%
  • The Ravens have run 17.2% of their plays in the red zone this season -- best in NFL
  • Nick Chubb has broken 22 tackles since Week 8 -- most among NFL RBs.
  • Nick Chubb has 11 rushes of 15+ yards since Week 8 -- most among NFL RBs.
  • The Browns defense has allowed 7 of 11 (63.6%) TDs on the ground since Week 12 -- highest in NFL.
  • Baker Mayfield has a passer rating of just 78.7 this season -- second-lowest of 31 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 91.0
  • The Ravens are averaging 33.7 PPG overall this season and 37.3 PPG on the road.
  • The Browns have allowed 23.5 PPG this season.
  • The Browns are averaging 21.2 PPG this season.
  • The Ravens have allowed 18.4 PPG this season.

The unstoppable Ravens will face the team who gave them their last loss this week as we get a rematch of a Week 4 game that bizarrely saw the Browns win 40-25. The Ravens haven't faltered since and look like a completely different team at this point in the season and have their eyes set on clinching home-field advantage through the playoffs with a win here. Revenge shouldn't be too hard to come by against a Browns team that just inexplicably got blown out by the Cardinals 38-24. The Browns are somehow not officially eliminated from the playoffs but should be after a loss here.

My Final Prediction: Ravens win 36-24

My Pick: Ravens -10, Over 48

Machine Pick: Browns +10, Under 48


Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts (-6.5) (O/U 46)

Matchup Notes:

  • Christian McCaffrey has averaged 149.8 yards from scrimmage per game since Week 8 -- best of 56 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 42.6
  • The Panthers defense has allowed 157.2 rushing yards per game since Week 8 -- second-highest in NFL.
  • The Panthers defense has allowed 8.8 yards from scrimmage per touch since Week 12 -- tied for highest in NFL.
  • The Colts defense has allowed opponents to catch 100 of 124 passes (80.6% Reception Pct) since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 65.4%
  • The Colts defense has allowed 12 TD passes since Week 12 -- most in NFL.
  • The Colts defense has allowed 302.2 passing yards per game since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 230.4
  • Colts RBs have carried the ball 351 times without a fumble this season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: 130.0
  • The Panthers are averaging 23.1 PPG this season.
  • The Colts have allowed 23.5 PPG overall this season and 34.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Colts are averaging 21.6 PPG this season.
  • The Panthers have allowed 27.9 PPG overall this season (fourth-most) and 33 PPG over their last three games.

cmcc fantasy.jpgThese teams have somewhat similar storylines from this season as they both lost their original starting QBs to enter the season. They both were somehow making do with backup QBs and looking like they could weather the storm before ultimately collapsing towards the end of the year and now have nothing to play for. The Panthers look like the biggest mess right now with having fired head coach Ron Rivera and now looking at turning to rookie third-round draft pick Will Grier to start at QB. Kyle Allen has thrown six INTs and fumbled five times in his last three games. On the other side, Jacoby Brissett is still in his extended audition period to secure a future job as the QB of the Colts. You have to like the Colts as the favorite here with so much unknown about the gameplan for the Panthers at the moment, though nothing is a safe bet here either. The safest pick is probably the under in my opinion though the machine disagrees on that one.

My Final Prediction: Colts win 24-17

My Pick: Colts -6.5, Under 46

Machine Pick: Panthers +6.5, Over 46


Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons (-7) (O/U 46)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 14.9 yards per completion since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 11.4
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed a passer rating of 119.6 since Week 12 -- second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 89.5
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 9.2 yards after the catch since Week 12 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.3
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 5.7 yards per carry since Week 8 -- second-highest in NFL;
  • Leonard Fournette has averaged 3.1 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for second-best of 35 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.2
  • Falcons RBs have averaged 3.9 yards after the catch since Week 12 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 7.5
  • Falcons WRs have been targeted 28.4 times per game since Week 8 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 19.3
  • The Falcons have allowed a QB Hit on 13.0% of dropbacks since week 12 -- second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 8.6%
  • The Falcons have run the ball on 31.7% of plays this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 40.0%
  • The Jaguars are averaging 17.9 PPG overall this season and 13.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Falcons have allowed 26.1 PPG overall this season but just 22.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Falcons are averaging 23.5 PPG overall this season and 29 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Jaguars have allowed 25.2 PPG overall this season and 29.7 PPG over their last three games.

Both of these teams are coming off upset victories in the Bay Area last week with the Jags ruining the Raiders' farewell tour at the Coliseum in their last home game before moving to Vegas and the Falcons upset the 49ers. Both teams are well out of playoff contention but have a lot to prove as they also play to keep their coaches employed. The Falcons have had the better form as of late as the Jags couldn't stop from getting blown out before that win over the Raiders. You have to like the Falcons as favorites.

My Final Prediction: Falcons win 30-20

My Pick: Falcons -7, Over 46

Machine Pick: Falcons -7, Under 46


Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) (O/U 46)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Raiders defense has allowed 14.8 yards per completion since Week 12 -- second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 11.4
  • The Raiders defensive line has missed 31 tackles since Week 8 -- most in NFL.
  • The Raiders defense has allowed 8.1 yards after the catch since Week 12 -- second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.3
  • The Raiders WRs have averaged just 67.5 receiving yards per game since Week 12 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 155.3
  • Josh Jacobs has 9 rushes of 15+ yards since Week 8 -- tied for second-most among NFL RBs.
  • Austin Ekeler has averaged 13.2 yards per target since Week 12 -- best of 33 qualified NFL RBs
  • The Chargers defense has allowed 6.2 yards from scrimmage per touch since Week 8 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 7.5
  • Mike Williams has been targeted at an average depth of 20.4 yards since Week 12 -- highest of 67 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 10.9
  • Keenan Allen has 20 receptions on 22 targets (90.9% Reception Pct) since Week 12 -- best of 67 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 60.6%
  • Philip Rivers has committed 13 turnovers on 251 plays (5.2% turnover percentage) since Week 8 -- highest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 2.6%
  • The Raiders are averaging 19.6 PPG overall this season and 15.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Chargers have allowed 20.7 PPG overall this season and 24.2 PPG at home.
  • The Chargers are averaging 21.4 PPG overall this season and 25 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Raiders have allowed 27.6 PPG overall this season and 34 PPG over their last three games.

A pointless divisional tilt here features two teams who are likely pretty sour about how their season has progressed. The Raiders dropped that big loss against the Jags in their final home game in Oakland last week and also got knocked out of playoff contention in the process. The Chargers just got ransacked at home by the Vikings losing 10-39 in a game that saw them turn the ball over seven times. Both teams are a mess and I have no confidence in the motivational level or coaching ability on either side of the ball. The Raiders could shut down their top offensive player, rookie RB Josh Jacobs who is playing through a fractured shoulder. The Chargers have the better offensive weapons but have been shooting blanks all season. I'd stay away from this game at all costs but if forced would take the Chargers winning at home, but I'm not confident in the spread.

My Final Prediction: Chargers win 27-20

My Pick: Chargers -6.5, Over 46

Machine Pick: Chargers -6.5, Under 46 


Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (-6.5) (O/U 38.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • David Blough has gained 68.7% of his total passing yards through the air since Week 12 -- highest of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 53.3%
  • The Lions defense has allowed a passer rating of 112.7 since Week 8 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 90.6
  • Kenny Golladay has averaged 18.8 yards per reception this season -- third-best of 67 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 13.2
  • Kenny Golladay has caught 10 touchdown passes this season -- most among NFL WRs.
  • Broncos WRs have caught just 27 of 63 passes (42.9% Reception Pct) since Week 12 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 60.5%
  • Noah Fant has averaged 8.4 yards after the catch this season -- best of 40 qualified NFL TEs; League Avg: 4.8
  • The Broncos defense has not forced any fumbles (377 carries) this season -- highest in NFL.
  • Courtland Sutton has broken 9 tackles this season -- tied for most among NFL WRs.
  • The Lions are averaging 21.7 PPG overall this season and just 14.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Broncos have allowed 20.3 PPG this season.
  • The Broncos are averaging 17.1 PPG overall this season and 21.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Lions have allowed 26.6 PPG this season.

There isn't much to watch for in this game with both teams well out of contention. The Lions could be looking at getting RB Kerryon Johnson back from IR to give him some reps before the season comes to an end, but this team just got obliterated by the Bucs last week and have shown little life after Matthew Stafford went down. The Broncos couldn't carry the momentum of their monumental upset over the Texans in Week 14 with them into Week 15 as they were scalped by the Chiefs 23-3. Their running game has been quiet the last month and has not topped 100 yards over that span. Still, this team was able to churn out 38 points against a playoff contender just two weeks ago so you have to like their chances at home and I also think they could help push the over on this one.

My Final Prediction: Broncos win 23-13

My Pick: Broncos -6.5, Under 38.5

Machine Pick: Broncos -6.5, Under 38.5


Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5) (O/U 50.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Patrick Peterson has allowed 41 completions since Week 8 -- most among NFL defensive backs.
  • Patrick Peterson has 525 receiving yards against him since Week 8 -- most among NFL defensive backs.
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed a passer rating of 111.9 this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 91.0
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed 34 TD passes this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Cardinals have 5 TDs that were 20+ yards this season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • The Seahawks defense has forced 19 turnovers since Week 8 -- tied for most in NFL.
  • Russell Wilson has targeted receivers at an average depth of 11.1 yards since Week 12 -- highest of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 8.0
  • Seahawks RBs have averaged 148.2 rushing yards per game since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 95.3
  • Chris Carson has broken 33 tackles this season -- fourth-most among NFL RBs.
  • The Cardinals are averaging 22.1 PPG this season.
  • The Seahawks have allowed 24.6 PPG overall this season and 27.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Seahawks are averaging 26.5 PPG this season.
  • The Cardinals have allowed 28.4 PPG this season -- second-most in NFL.

This game has the classic looks of a trap scenario for the Seahawks as they now hold the top seed in the NFC and could possibly have their eyes more focused on a Week 17 matchup against the 49ers that could decide the fate of the NFC West. We have seen the Cardinals play competitive ball in tough circumstances this season and they just crushed the Browns last week, so you better believe they would love to throw a wrench into the Seahawks playoff aspirations as well. While I still like the Seahawks as the favorite, the spread may be a little rich.

My Final Prediction: Seahawks win 27-24

My Pick: Cardinals +9.5, Over 50.5

Machine Pick: Seahawks -9.5, Under 50.5


Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (O/U 46.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Ezekiel Elliott has broken 18 tackles since Week 12 -- most among NFL RBs.
  • Cowboys RBs have averaged 10.3 yards after the catch since Week 8 -- second-best in NFL.
  • Cowboys WRs have averaged 214.5 receiving yards per game this season -- second-best in NFL; League Avg: 159.1
  • The Cowboys have a third-down conversion rate of 48.6% this season-best in NFL; League Avg: 39.0%
  • Eagles TEs have been targeted 75 times since Week 12 -- most in NFL.
  • The Eagles defense has allowed 8.8 yards from scrimmage per touch since Week 12 -- tied for highest in NFL.
  • Eagles WRs have averaged 2.0 yards after the catch since Week 8 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 4.5
  • Miles Sanders has averaged 5.4 yards per carry since Week 8 -- third-best of 33 qualified NFL RBs
  • The Cowboys are averaging 27 PPG this season.
  • The Eagles have allowed 23.4 PPG overall this season and 27 PPG over their last three games, but just 17.9 PPG at home.
  • The Eagles are averaging 23.9 PPG overall this season and 30.3 PPG over their last three games, but just 21.6 PPG at home.
  • The Cowboys have allowed 20.6 PPG overall this season and 26 PPG over their last three games.

dak prescott.jpgThis has been a matchup we have all been waiting for as the Cowboys can clinch the sad NFC East with a win here. They are coming off a bludgeoning of the Rams last week and have all the momentum on their side. The Eagles are limping into this game like a stray dog who was just hit by a truck with virtually no WRs to speak of. They barely got a win at the end of the game against the lowly Redskins last week and needed overtime to beat the Giants before that as well. After these teams looked like equals for a better part of the back-half of the season, they now look like two teams on different paths. You would feel more confident if the Cowboys were at home as they have played slightly better there, but either way, I think they clinch this week.

My Final Prediction: Cowboys win 26-20

My Pick: Cowboys -3, Under 46.5

Machine Pick: Cowboys -3, Under 46.5


Kansas City Chiefs (-6) at Chicago Bears (O/U 44.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Travis Kelce has 86 receptions this season -- most among NFL TEs.
  • Patrick Mahomes has completed passes for 40+ yards on 14 of his 426 total passing attempts (3.3%) this season -- best of 31 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 1.7%
  • The Chiefs defense has allowed a passer rating of just 62.6 since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 89.5
  • Chiefs WRs have averaged 6.1 yards after the catch this season-best in NFL.
  • Bears RBs have fumbled 4 times since Week 12 -- tied for most in NFL.
  • Bears WRs have been targeted 26.8 times per game (107/4) since week 12 -- 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 19.0
  • Kyle Fuller (CHI) has 853 receiving yards against him this season -- most among NFL defensive backs.
  • The Bears defense has allowed an average of 1.5 yards after contact per carry (350 carries) this season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: 2.1
  • The Bears have gone three and out on 31.0% of their drives this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 20.8%
  • The Chiefs are averaging 28.1 PPG this season.
  • The Bears have allowed 18.1 PPG this season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Bears are averaging 18.3 PPG overall this season and 22.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Chiefs have allowed 20.3 PPG overall this season but just 9.3 PPG over their last three games.

The Chiefs have been playing sound football as of late with their defense finding its stride just at the right time. There is still a chance that they secure the second seed and get a first-round bye if things go their way. The Bears, on the other hand, were officially eliminated from the playoffs after their loss last week and though Mitch Trubisky looked like he was starting to make some progress towards the end of the season, it was too little too late. With both defenses remaining rather strong as of late, we may not see many fireworks here, especially in Chicago, but you never know with Mahomes under center.

My Final Prediction: Chiefs win 26-13

My Pick: Chiefs -6, Under 44.5

Machine Pick: Chiefs -6, Over 44.5


Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5) (O/U 45.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Aaron Rodgers has thrown 13 balls which were dropped since Week 12 -- most among NFL QBs.
  • Aaron Rodgers has 2 interceptions on 474 attempts (1 INT per 237.0 attempts) this season -- best of 31 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 43.2
  • Aaron Jones has averaged 12.7 yards per reception since Week 8 -- second-best of 33 qualified NFL RBs.
  • The Packers defense has tackled opponents for a loss on just 20 of 364 rushing attempts (5.5% TFL%) this season. -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 11.9%
  • Blake Martinez (GB) has missed 19 tackles this season -- tied for most among NFL linebackers.
  • The Vikings defense has averaged a turnover percentage of 5.9% since Week 12 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 2.2%
  • The Vikings have faced a blitz just 11.3% of the time this season -- tied for lowest in NFL; League Avg: 17.5%
  • The Vikings defense has allowed 4.0 yards after the catch this season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 5.3
  • Danielle Hunter (MIN) has 13.5 sacks this season -- tied for second-most among NFL defensive linemen.
  • The Packers are averaging 23.6 PPG this season.
  • The Vikings have allowed 18.5 PPG overall this season and just 14.2 PPG at home.
  • The Vikings are averaging 27 PPG this season.
  • The Packers have allowed 20.2 PPG overall this season and just 13.7 PPG over their last three games.

We wrap up an exciting Week 16 with a classic divisional rivalry here. The Packers have all but won the division here, they just need one more win either this week or next week against the Lions to lock it up. So, even if they drop this one, a win next week seems extremely likely. The Vikings would love to carry some clout into the playoffs though if they can knock off their divisional foe and a win for them would secure of playoff berth. The Vikes lost to the Packers all the way back in Week 2 16-21 at Green Bay. They have made strides since that loss, but also took a big hit with stud RB Dalvin Cook getting knocked out of the game last week. Their undefeated streak at home is really on the line here. I'm not extremely confident in them as a favorite at less than 100%. This is probably the toughest game to predict of the week making it a tough game to bet on.

My Final Prediction: Vikings win 24-20

My Pick: Packers +5.5, Under 45.5

Machine Pick: Packers +5.5, Over 45.5


John Ferguson

John Ferguson is an avid Fantasy Football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in friends and family leagues, paying public leagues, and DFS Tournaments. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High) and DFS value picks amongst other parts of fantasy football analysis. When Ferguson isn’t spending time skimming over stats while at the beach, he follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.