NFL Picks Week #16 (2020 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #16)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday December 23rd, 2020 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
After a series of five straight weeks without a negative record against the spread (ATS), we underwent a bad Week 15. Indeed, we went 0-2-1, including the 5-star pick that lost badly.
I certainly did not expect the Steelers to play that poorly against a weak division rival on national television after losing two consecutive games. That was an awful performance by Pittsburgh.
It was a reminder that we cannot win every week! Losing runs are inevitable in the sports betting industry, unfortunately!
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get back on the winning track right away!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): CHICAGO BEARS -7.5 AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Chicago is 5-1 ATS after scoring 30 points or more. They are clearly surging and the light has turned on for Mitchell Trubisky. After crushing the Texans, Da Bears pulled off the upset in Minnesota last week.
Trubisky has completed more than 70% of his passes in each of his last three outings, which is impressive! During this time period, he has tossed 5 TD passes versus a single interception. He is also a decent runner, when necessary. There is no reason to believe he cannot do it again when facing a vulnerable Jags defense.
Another guy that has been on fire lately is running back David Montgomery. He has averaged 109 rushing yards over his past four games, while scoring a total of six touchdowns. His yards-per-carry average during these four meetings has been even more impressive: a whopping 6.1!
The Bears defense remains a steady force and they should create problems to whatever quarterback will be under center for Jacksonville. I believe Chicago wins this one by a good margin.
PICK #2 (2 STARS): PITTSBURGH STEELERS +2 VS INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Enough is enough. The bad streak must end for Mike Tomlin’s squad.
In what should be a fairly cold day in Pittsburgh, I could see Philip Rivers struggling, especially considering he is not mobile and about to face a feisty pass rush. Indianapolis will be forced to make quick throws, which will make them more predictable.
The Steelers are showing a great 15-4-2 ATS record in their last 21 games as home underdogs. That’s pretty convincing!
Meanwhile, Indy has beaten the spread just once in their last five trips to Pittsburgh.
Big Ben looked awful last week and he is now facing a pretty tough Colts defense. However, Indianapolis is better defending the run, but the Steelers happen to throw the ball very often.
I think the Steelers outlast the Colts in a tough, physical and low-scoring game.
PICK #3 (2 STARS): PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -2 AT DALLAS COWBOYS
The Cowboys run defense ranks dead last in rushing yards allowed per carry. As for Philly, they hold the second-best yards-per-rush average in the entire league. That’s a good recipe for success, especially after switching from Carson Wentz to Jalen Hurts, the latter being a much more dangerous QB as a runner.
Hurts has really been impressive in his first two starts with 4 TD passes and zero interception, while rushing for an average of 84.5 yards per game in those matches. And that included a game against the stout Saints defense!
The Cowboys have a good trio of receivers, but Dalton has been fairly inconsistent. He has a low yards per attempt average and he missed many easy throws last weekend. Also, Philadelphia’s defense is a notch better than Dallas’, and their front four should give problems to the Cowboys offensive line.
The Cowboys are 6-0 ATS as home underdogs, but 1-4 ATS following a straight up win.
One interesting statistic: during the last 10 meetings between these two clubs, the favorite has beaten the spread eight times.
Ultimately, I trust Jalen Hurts to be able to extend drives both with his arm and his legs more than Andy Dalton. Philly takes this game.
PICK #4 (1 STAR): NEW YORK JETS +9.5 VS CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Jets are coming off a stunning upset win over the Rams last week, so many people will anticipate a letdown here. I don’t expect New York to come up with another victory, but this spread seems pretty high to me.
The Browns have more incentive for sure, but they will be on the road for the fourth time in five weeks. Cleveland has beaten the spread just once over the last seven contests where they were road favorites.
Meanwhile, the Jets present a nice 9-3-1 ATS record at home against teams with a winning record. You might also be surprised to hear New York has beaten the spread in four of their last five games in December.
Cleveland relies a lot on its running game on offense. That’s good news for the Jets, whose run defense ranks 8th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed per carry. It will come down to whether they can slow down Baker Mayfield, who has been on a roll. He is susceptible to making mistakes, though.
Crowder, Perriman and Mims are good enough to allow the Jets offense to move the ball against an average Cleveland defense. Running back Ty Johnson has also provided a good spark on some plays for New York.
I like New York to keep it within 9 points.
For entertainment purposes, here are some leans for you:
- LEAN #1: Texans -8.5 vs Bengals (Cincy won’t play with the same intensity after a hard-fought game in Pittsburgh last Monday, they also lose one day of rest from playing Monday, Texans mad after losing two close calls against the Colts recently, Houston holds an 8-2 ATS record in the last 10 meetings with the Bengals);
- LEAN #2: Titans +3.5 at Packers (I don’t feel good at all fading Aaron Rodgers in a primetime game, especially with one extra day of rest and after being at home in four of the past five weeks, but I’m still going to do it. Packers are 1-6 ATS after an outright win, while Tennessee is 7-1 ATS on the road against teams with a winning record);
Merry Christmas to all of you!!! I am super grateful to have such great followers like you!!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)