Eli’s NFL Week 16 Best Bets: Vikings, Falcons To Cover Against The Spread?

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Written By Eli Hershkovich | Last Updated
NFL Week 16 Best Bets

With NFL Week 16 odds nearing kickoff, this article will hopefully aid sports bettors with price discovery and handicapping point spreads, moneyline odds, and totals while shopping on NFL betting sites. In particular, Lions at Vikings and Colts at Falcons stick out — compared to my betting model. Let’s break down my NFL Week 16 best bets with that in mind.

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Bet: Vikings to lose by three or fewer points (or win outright)

Some bettors may be unfamiliar with the aforementioned term, price discovery. The process commences when wagers are made on the opening spread or total. Early action is used to adjust the number. Shops may also follow the same script of operators that are considered “market makers,” tinkering with pricing because a competitor altered its own. Liability tolerance (or lack thereof) could be enough to reshape the odds at other sportsbooks.

Midweek, the Vikings’ odds rose from three-point home underdogs to the key number of a field goal — with the hook. Although a Lions win in Minneapolis would propel them to an NFC North title, they’ll have to overcome significant matchup disadvantages.

Return Of The Pumpkin

For those unaware, Lions signal-caller Jared Goff is referred to as the large rounded orange-yellow fruit when under pressure. This year alone, Goff owns the 32nd-ranked catchable pass rate (42.6%) in those situations. Additionally, Goff’s completion percentage ranks below the league average against zone coverage. Combine the two variables, and he’s often in a whale of trouble.

Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores executes these concepts to the utmost degree. Not only does Minnesota blitz at the league’s highest clip (47.7%), but it’s almost six percentage points higher than the next team — “Wink” Martindale’s Giants. The Vikings implement Cover 0 and Cover 2 looks the most in the NFL by far, to boot.

Believe it or not, we’ve seen this story unfold already. Flores called plays for the Patriots’ defense in Super Bowl 53, in which Goff came up short. When Flores manned the Dolphins’ defense in Nov. 2020, Goff tallied four turnovers, contributing to his horrifying 8.3 QB rating.

Hence, don’t expect Detroit’s offensive explosion against the Broncos to carry over into this contest. Remember that Denver’s defense was also set up for abundant negative regression. Conversely, Minnesota’s defensive success hasn’t revolved around unpredictable takeaways, allowing the third-fewest EPA per play since Week 6. Guided by edge rusher Danielle Hunter, who’s compiled the second-most sacks in the NFL, Goff’s glaring inefficiencies are bound to reappear.

Lions’ Defensive Woes

Detroit coach Dan Campbell has more to solve than just his quarterback. The Lions are even yielding the league’s seventh-highest passing success rate. For reference, a play is considered successful if it produces at least 50% of the requisite yards on first down, 70% on second down, or 100% on third or fourth down.

Enter Vikings backup QB Nick Mullens, who generated the sixth-highest EPA+CPOE (completion percentage over expected) composite rating in Week 15. While Mullens also delivered two costly interceptions in the overtime defeat to the Bengals, his overall grade illustrates that he can take advantage of another exploitable secondary.

Minnesota possesses a laundry list of explosive weapons for Mullens, paced by All-Pro Justin Jefferson, rookie Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson.

Lions logo Lions DET
Vikings logo Vikings MIN
Offense Ranking OFF RNK N/A N/A
Defense Ranking DEF RNK N/A N/A
Offense Net Yards Per Game OFF NET YPG
Defense Net Yards Per Game DEF NET YPG
Passing Yards Per Game PASS YPG
Turnovers Committed Per Game TOC PG

Final Thoughts

As you’ll see below, I bet on Vikings +3.5 (-110) on Tuesday. Faced with a must-win scenario for their playoff hopes, I’d play them down to +3 (-110). Join TheLines.com’s free sports betting Discord to get an immediate alert whenever I post a bet. Head over to the #roles server to enroll in the push notifications.

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Bet: Falcons to win by two points or more

Like the previous matchup, this one represents a buy-low, sell-high spot. The Falcons have accrued consecutive losses, falling one game off the lead in the NFC South. On the flip side, the Colts have notched four wins in their last five games. However, the potential game script doesn’t favor Indianapolis.

Don’t Buy Minshew Mania

For the time being, veteran QB Gardner Minshew has helped lead Indy to one of three AFC wild-card spots. In Week 15, the Colts amassed the fourth-most EPA per carry during their victory over the Steelers. But even if star tailback Jonathan Taylor (ankle) returns to bolster their effort, Atlanta’s defense ranks top 10 in stopping the run by EPA per carry and rushing success rate.

Should the Falcons rise to the occasion in that regard, the burden will fall on Minshew. That only occurred once during the aforementioned stretch, resulting in a blowout loss to the Bengals. Moreover, he may be without Michael Pittman Jr. (concussion), who has strung together the ninth-highest first-read target share. If Minshew can’t rely on his primary weapon, the wheels could very well fall off once again.

Considering Minshew is tied for the third-highest turnover-worthy play rate (4.4%) among qualified QBs, Atlanta’s above-average secondary should be positioned to take advantage.

Upgrade Under Center

In general, there’s plenty of motivation for the Falcons to rebound. The switch at QB should provide more juice, as Desmond Ridder was benched for the second time this season. With Taylor Heinieke replacing him, there’s a lesser probability of gifting the ball to Indianapolis’ secondary, which is tied for the third-most interceptions. It’s also tied for the seventh-most forced fumbles.

As I’ve noted in all my articles, turnovers aren’t always predictive. After excluding takeaways, the Colts’ defense ranks below the league average in EPA per play and success rate allowed. Their positive fortune also arises within their point differential (+1) — the second-worst among any 8-6 team.

Atlanta resides on the opposite end of the luck spectrum. Arthur Smith’s bunch, sitting at 6-8 straight up, has piled up six one-possession losses. It’s tied for the fifth-worst turnover differential, too. If Heinieke supplies a relatively clean performance, it will go a long way toward ending the losing skid.

Colts logo Colts IND
Falcons logo Falcons ATL
Offense Ranking OFF RNK N/A N/A
Defense Ranking DEF RNK N/A N/A
Offense Net Yards Per Game OFF NET YPG
Defense Net Yards Per Game DEF NET YPG
Passing Yards Per Game PASS YPG
Turnovers Committed Per Game TOC PG

Final Thoughts

Considering the spread reopened at Falcons +2.5 (-110), I’d suggest betting more expensive moneyline odds if additional line movement comes about. Good luck with your NFL Week 16 best bets.

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