NFL Picks Week #16 (2022 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #16)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday December 21st, 2022 at 1 pm Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
The free NFL picks have been on fire over the past month! Indeed, we have posted a 7-4 record against the spread (ATS) during the past four weeks. That includes obtaining 2 wins and 1 loss last week. Let’s keep crushing the bookies together, my friend!
For Week 16 in the NFL, I’ve got 3 official picks for you, including a couple that are rated 4 stars out of 5. As a bonus, I will also give you 3 unofficial picks, just for fun. As usual, lines might have changed since the picks have been released.
Buckle up, let’s go!!!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): DENVER BRONCOS STRAIGHT UP AT LOS ANGELES RAMS
There is no debate about which of these two teams has the better defense: the edge definitely goes to Denver. They currently rank third in the league in points allowed per game, compared to the #18 spot for the Rams.
As far as the offense goes, both clubs occupy the last two spots in terms of points scored per game. However, Denver’s offense has shown some improvement of late. In fact, they put up 24 points on the board with Brett Rypien under center against the Cardinals, after scoring 28 against the Chiefs.
In the Kansas City game, the Broncos trailed 27-0 but showed no quit before losing 34-28. They might have pulled off the big upset if Russell Wilson hadn’t got hurt early in the fourth quarter. Wilson should be back as the starting QB this week, and he will be looking to build off this nice performance against the Chiefs.
Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention. But to me, the Broncos are still fighting after three straight decent performances if you include the 10-9 loss in Baltimore.
Meanwhile, if not for the miraculous victory over the Raiders on Thursday Night Football in Week 14, Los Angeles would be going through an eight-game losing skid. They haven’t scored more than 23 points in any of those eight matchups.
Let’s end this discussion by mentioning the fact that the Rams also lose one day of preparation after playing last Monday at Lambeau Field. Give me the Broncos to win.
PICK #2 (4 STARS): OVER 48 POINTS NEW YORK GIANTS-MINNESOTA VIKINGS
First, the betting action suggests sharp action on the over. Based on numbers obtained from ActionNetwork.com, 54% of bets on totals have gone on the over, while the total amount of money wagered has shown an 87% to 13% advantage on the over. That indicates that big bets were placed on the over.
If you take a look at Minnesota’s schedule, you will find out that more than 48 points have been scored in 9 of their past 12 games. In their last 29 games played on fieldturf, the over has posted a jaw-dropping 21-8 record.
Things don’t look as good if you focus on how games played out for New York. Most games ended with much less than 48 points scored, but we have seen an increase lately. If the total had been 48 in their last five games, the over would have gone 2-2-1, with both losses occurring in games against Washington, a team whose offense doesn’t have much firepower while having a stout defense. That’s a totally different profile from Minnesota, whose offense can score a boatload of points, and whose defense is average at best.
My NFL mathematical model projects a 60.3% chance of winning the bet on over 48 points. Over the past 23 years, this model has done a great job at predicting NFL totals and my own personal analysis agrees, so I’m going to ride this one!
PICK #3 (3 STARS): TAMPA BAY BUCS -3 FIRST HALF AT ARIZONA CARDINALS
I shared this pick with my members on Patreon on Tuesday at 10 am Eastern Time. At that moment, the line was Bucs -3 points at +100 odds for the first half. Now that Colt McCoy has been ruled out, the line moved to a number that varies between 3.5 and 5. Therefore, I am feeling great about the bet we took early this week!
Following a double-digit home loss, Tampa owns a 10-2-1 record ATS. That’s pretty convincing!
Moreover, the motivation level will be 100 times higher for the Bucs. They must win this game in order to remain in first place of the NFC South division, while the Cards cannot wait for the season to end.
As mentioned earlier, Colt McCoy is out, which means Trace McSorley is in. In his career, he has thrown 1 TD pass versus 3 interceptions, while completing just 46% of his passes. A former sixth-round pick out of Penn State, he has looked awful. Facing a Tampa defense that could pressure him, I don’t like his chances of doing well, especially in the first half where Tampa will be fired up after such a bad second half collapse against the Bengals last week.
Last week, the Cardinals QBs threw three interceptions. Over the past several years, teams coming off a game in which they were the victim of at least three picks and that are now underdogs by 5.5 points or more have presented a 27-36 record ATS, a 43% winning rate.
Arizona shows a 3-10 record ATS in their last 13 home games. They have also failed to cover the spread in each of their past five games in December. And they have scored an average of 15.5 points over their past four games.
I expect Tampa to come out firing in the first half, which is why I am backing them to win this half by at least three points.
For entertainment purposes, here are some leans (i.e. bets I don’t like enough to put money at risk, but that I still like):
- Jets -1 vs Jaguars (The main reason behind this pick is the weather. We are expecting A TON of rain during this game, which gives a big edge to teams who prefer to run the ball, and who have a solid defense. That fits New York’s profile perfectly. Jacksonville is throwing the ball very well, especially with Trevor Lawrence tossing 14 TDs versus just one pick over his past six games. But throwing the ball will be very hard to do in these conditions. The Jags also lost their starting left tackle Cam Robinson, which will hurt against such a solid Jets defense. When the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the Jags are 0-10 straight up and 1-9 ATS.);
- Bears +9 vs Bills (The weather might have a big impact on this game as well. This time, it looks like there will be strong winds. That makes passing so much more difficult, which will create problems for Josh Allen and company, while the Bears will be happy to keep running the ball. Chicago will be at home for the fourth straight week, so they will be well-rested. Since Week 7, the Bears offense ranks 11th in terms of the famous EPA statistic. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s defense ranks 24th since Week 9; they have clearly showed signs of decline. The Bears are 2-5 at home, but their worst defeat was a 9-point loss. They keep games tight in front of their home fans. This could be a sandwich game for Buffalo coming off three games against divisional opponents, and awaiting key matchups against the Bengals and the Pats.);
- 49ers -7 vs Commanders (Washington kept surprising us during an eight-game stretch in which they obtained a 6-1-1 record. However, last week’s home loss against the Giants feels like it gave them a big blow to their confidence, and I could see them collapse from now on. They are facing a San Francisco defense that has not given up more than 275 yards in any of their past seven games, which is mind-blowing! The Niners also benefit from three additional days of rest since they played last Thursday. Washington holds a 1-4-1 record ATS against teams with a winning record. The 49ers are 9-2 ATS at home. I am smelling a blowout here).
Merry Christmas to you, faithful reader of this weekly NFL article!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)