NFL Picks Week #16 (2019 regular season)

NFL PICKS (WEEK #16)

BY PROFESSOR MJ

University Professor. PhD in stats. Proud dad of 2 boys.

 

 

Written Wednesday December 20th, 2019 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)

Official Picks

PICK #1: N/A (rated 4 stars)

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PICK #2: Buffalo Bills +6.5 at New England Patriots (rated 4 stars)

In the first meeting between these two squads back in Week #4, the Pats won a close 16-to-10 game despite four turnovers by the Bills. Buffalo racked up 375 total yards versus 224 for New England.

If not for Josh Allen’s ill-advised passes, the Bills could have won this game. He has learned the importance of protecting the ball since then, as shown by his 15 TD passes versus just three interceptions.

New England is 1-5 ATS against teams with a winning record. Meanwhile, notice that the Bills are 3-1-1 ATS over their past five matchups at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots have been a shaky team recently; their 34-to-13 win over the lowly Bengals doesn’t mean much. As for Buffalo, after a small mid-season slump, they are definitely trending up and playing smart football.

In my opinion, the point spread is inflated due to New England’s 20-year domination. They haven’t been that good recently. Their defense has been regressing a bit, although still good. Julian Edelman will likely suit up, but he’s battling a couple of injuries and he didn’t look comfortable last week (he only caught two passes).

Buffalo’s defense has allowed 16 points per game on average. Their pass defense is outstanding, and their run defense has improved a lot over the past few games.

It seems clear to me that the Patriots have much less than a 50% chance of beating the Bills by 7 points or more. I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffalo won the game outright. I’m taking the Bills to cover.

PICK #3: Houston Texans -3 at Tampa Bay Bucs (rated 3 stars)

When the regular season is nearing the end, the motivation factor is big. I find it difficult to pick a team that has nothing to play for, when facing a team that is fighting for the playoffs or for its seeding. It might even be possible that referees tend to favor the team that needs the game the most.

In this case, the Bucs have won five of their past six games, but these wins didn’t occur against power houses. They beat Detroit, Indy, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Arizona. Also, their two receivers by far, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both out. That leaves Jameis Winston with much fewer reliable targets. Speaking of Winston, he leads the league with 24 interceptions; the player in second position has 18.

At first sight, this game might be viewed as a sandwich game for the Texans since it is right between two meetings with the Titans. However, the game against Tampa is so important that there’s not way they will take it lightly. If Houston wins and the Titans lose against the Saints (a likely scenario, the Texans would be crowned AFC South champions and wouldn’t need to fight hard next week.

Only the Dolphins have allowed more points than the Bucs this season. Watson, Hopkins, Fuller and company won’t have trouble scoring this Saturday.

I am predicting a 14-point win for Houston.

PICK #4: New Orleans Saints -2.5 at Tennessee Titans (rated 3 stars)

Boy, the Saints offense has looked unstoppable the past two weeks. After scoring 46 points against the stout 49ers defense, they added 34 more Monday night against the Colts (all 34 points were scored through the first three quarters, and they didn’t try hard in the final quarter because of the large lead).

I know the Titans will be fighting for their playoff lives at home, but I wouldn’t feel good betting against the Saints offense. Meanwhile, Ryan Tannehill looked more shaky last week against a mediocre pass defense from Houston.

I noticed that Tennessee has faced just three winning teams this season: Buffalo, Kansas City and Houston.

If you think the Saints might struggle on grass, think again. New Orleans is 4-0 ATS in their four most recent games on grass.

PICK #5: N/A (rated 2 stars)

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PICK #6: Dallas Cowboys -1.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (rated 1 star)

Man, these two teams have been fairly unpredictable this season, but I’ll give it a shot.

Even though some of my betting angles are favoring Philly, I’m still going to go with the most talented team, the Cowboys.

I wouldn’t feel good betting this Eagles team that is missing so many wide receivers. After losing speedy DeSean Jackson earlier this season, they now lost Alshon Jeffery to a foot injury and Nelson Agholor seems unlikely to be on the field this Sunday.

That leaves the Eagles with unproven guys at wide receiver. Hopefully, the Cowboys’ coaching staff will be smart enough to double-cover Zach Ertz, who is basically the lone catching threat left in their roster.

On top of that, running back Jordan Howard does not look ready to be back in action either.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has been holding on to the ball too long, and he often ends up getting sacked or fumbling the ball. The situation won’t improve with so few weapons at his disposal. He has to hope left tackle Lane Johnson will be able to suit up, otherwise he’ll have Demarcus Lawrence in his face all game long.

The possibly cold weather could help Philly, though, especially when facing a dome team like Dallas. However, did you know the Cowboys are 6-1 ATS over their past seven games in Philadelphia? They have also beaten the spread in each of the past four meetings with the Eagles overall.

Let’s be honest: Philly won its past two games, but they struggled mightily to get victories against the lowly Giants and Redskins. Those wins were unimpressive.

I am not grading this pick higher because of the cold weather, but also coaching. I trust Doug Pederson a lot more than Jason Garrett to make smart moves during the game. Morever, both teams have been pretty inconsistent so it seems harder to get a good grasp of what’s likely to happen this Sunday.

PICK #7: N/A (rated 1 star)

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Merry Christmas, my sports investing friends! Enjoy your time with family!

Professor MJ

(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)