The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints will close out an exciting Week 15 on Monday Night Football, and Week 16 shapes up to be just as intriguing with so many postseason stakes on the line. Week 15 featured the final Thursday night game of the season, but Week 16 will begin with a trio of Saturday contests between six teams alive for postseason berths (Texans-Buccaneers/Bills-Patriots/Rams-49ers). Then, Sunday and Monday night will also see an array of games with playoff implications, including Saints-Titans, Cowboys-Eagles, Chiefs-Bears and Packers-Vikings.
Without further ado, here’s a live look at the lines at sportsbooks in the US as we begin heading toward Week 16.
Week 16 Betting Predictions and Analysis
Houston Texans (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Both teams remained hot in Week 15, as the Texans notched a monumental three-point road win over the Titans that could well prove key to Houston eventually clinching the AFC South. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers won their fourth consecutive, yet they continued to see receivers drop like flies in a 38-17 victory over the Lions. There’s a chance Tampa has to play this game against Houston without Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scott Miller on account of hamstring injuries.
However, even if the Buccaneers are significantly compromised personnel-wise and therefore not as aggressive/effective on offense in Week 16, the Texans may still opt to primarily attack through the air. Not only does Houston certainly have the personnel for it in DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills, but the Buccaneers are still a non-starter for rushing offenses. Tampa is allowing an absurd 73.3 rushing yards per contest, including a microscopic 53.3 over its last three games. But the secondary still has plenty of question marks and surrenders 276.8 passing yards per game, with the fact they faced rookie David Blough on Sunday helping keep that number from going even higher.
For the Buccaneers, there are still too many unknowns as of Monday afternoon to really assess what they’ll be working with on offense come Saturday. A fully stocked Tampa passing game would arguably be in just as good a position as the Houston is versus the Bucs’ secondary. The Texans are surrendering 266.1 passing yards per contest, including 288.3 per road game. As alluded to earlier, Tampa will almost certainly be forced to play this game with much less than a complete arsenal of pass catchers. Nevertheless, it’s almost a certainty coach Bruce Arians will continue deploying his aggressive downfield approach irrespective of personnel, especially since his team’s anemic running game is averaging an NFL-low 66.3 yards over the last three games.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The line has held steady in favor of the Texans throughout the week. Godwin was officially ruled out for the Buccaneers and Jameis Winston comes in once again sporting a questionable designation due to his thumb injury, but he’s expected to play. For Houston, Carlos Hyde (ankle) and Fuller (hamstring) have their questionable tags. However, Fuller did practice in limited fashion each day of the week and it appears his restrictions were simply maintenance-related.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-6.5)
The state of the Patriots is such that they actually struggled for a half in Week 15 against the one-win Bengals before pulling away for a comfortable 34-13 victory. Still, the malaise that’s famously befallen New England’s offense persisted in a game where Tom Brady threw for just 128 yards and barely completed 50.0 percent of his throws yet again. In contrast, the Bills came through in yet another tough spot, toppling a feisty Steelers squad in Pittsburgh to clinch a playoff berth.
When these two teams met back in Week 4, the Bills successfully made life very difficult on what was then a much more effective Patriots air attack, limiting Brady to 46.2 percent passing, his second-lowest figure of the season. Given the New England offense’s subsequent struggles, Buffalo could be primed to wreak a similar or even greater level of havoc in Week 16. The offensive line is having trouble protecting Brady with any degree of consistency, so New England could be best served leaning heavily on a ground attack that exploited a favorable matchup against the Bengals by racking up 175 rushing yards at 5.5 per carry.
As every team that faces the Patriots does, the Bills will have a significant challenge on their hands trying to maintain any level of sustained offensive success. Long drives against the Patriots are usually at a premium, particularly with a relatively impatient, risk-taking quarterback like Josh Allen. The Bills may need to rely on a couple of broken plays to keep this game under the spread, considering both phases of the offense are bound to struggle against a defense that allows just 77.2 rushing yards and 190.0 passing yards per home game.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Patriots retain the same 6.5-point projected advantage they started the week with. There should be no surprises on the injury front here for either squad — Julian Edelman sports his usual questionable tag due to knee and shoulder issues, but a Saturday morning report indicates he’ll play. Of note from a betting trends perspective here is Buffalo’s NFL-best 4-0-1 mark ATS as a road underdog this season and New England’s corresponding 3-3 record as a home favorite.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)
Both of these teams rather surprisingly suffered Week 15 losses, with San Francisco dropping a 29-22 decision at home to the Falcons in a way that seemed like a little payback from the football gods for their improbable road victory against the Saints just a week prior. As for the Rams, they reverted right back to the concerning brand of football they were playing before a recent two-game surge, getting manhandled by the Cowboys to the tune of a 44-21 score.
The Rams now head into this Saturday night matchup with an 8-6 record and a need to win their final two games to even have a chance at the postseason. They don’t have any reason whatsoever for optimism against the 49ers if they use their prior 2019 meeting against them as a reference. San Fran held Jared Goff to a season-low 78 passing yards and sacked him four times in that contest. A Todd Gurley-less ground attack saw Malcolm Brown lead the way with a meager 40 rushing yards. Gurley will be available this time around. He could actually be Los Angeles’ best path to success – while the 49ers allow an NFL-low 154.4 passing yards per contest (including 134.4 per home game), they’re yielding a much more generous 114.6 per game on the ground, including 127.7 over the last three.
The 49ers have a much easier task on paper, especially at home. The Rams do have a quality defense overall, but their front seven was gashed by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in Week 14. Los Angeles has now allowed 147.7 rushing yards per game over its last three, with the 263 Dallas rang up on them Sunday accounting for a big chunk. San Fran boasts a trio of running backs capable of taking advantage. As far as the air attack, while the Rams’ secondary typically enjoys blanket coverage from Jalen Ramsey on one side, it’s worth noting the Niners didn’t yet have Emmanuel Sanders the first time they faced L.A. this season.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The 49ers’ projected advantage bumped up another half-point throughout the week as the public continued to show faith in a San Fran rebound from last week’s surprising loss. Health shouldn’t be an issue for either squad. Both the Rams’ Gerald Everett (knee) and the 49ers’ Richard Sherman (hamstring) have overcome their injury designations and all other key pieces on either side are ready to go. As with the Bills-Patriots matchup, there’s a disparity here in the betting trends that favors the road team. The Niners bring a 3-3-1 mark versus the number as home favorites this season, while the Rams are actually an impressive 5-2 ATS on the road, including 1-0 as a road dog.
Baltimore Ravens (-10) at Cleveland Browns
The Ravens rolled on in Week 15, opening the slate with a 42-21 drubbing of the New York Jets that saw Lamar Jackson break Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record for a quarterback. Meanwhile, the Browns were busy being the Browns. They looked completely disheveled on the road against a Cardinals team that’s had trouble slowing down pretty much any team put in front of them this season. They facilitated the end of Arizona’s six-game losing streak and allowed Kenyan Drake to score four rushing touchdowns in the 38-24 loss.
The Ravens remain in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC. However, with the Patriots having notched a win over the Bengals on Sunday, Baltimore needs one more win to clinch that coveted No. 1 spot. Cleveland is the unfortunate obstacle in their path. Baltimore has the added motivation of trying to avenge a surprising 40-25 loss back in Week 4. The Ravens could opt to unravel the Browns with one of the heaviest doses of Jackson/Mark Ingram yet – Cleveland is now surrendering 135.2 rushing yards per contest after giving up an AFC-high 176.3 across their last three contests.
In turn, the Browns will potentially be beating their collective heads against the wall in this spot. Baltimore’s defense has only gotten more imposing as the season has unfolded. To top it off, they’re better on the road. The Ravens are yielding 28 fewer passing yards per game when traveling than the 232.1 they surrender at home. Then, they yield just 89.6 rushing yards per contest when traveling, a full 13.1 less per game than at home.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Ravens maintained their 10-point advantage throughout the course of the week. A fully healthy Baltimore squad gunning for the No. 1 seed warrants that type of confidence, particularly against a perennially underachieving Browns team. The Ravens are also an impressive 5-2 ATS on the road this season while Cleveland is just 3-3-1 versus the number, enhancing Baltimore’s prospects of a cover.
Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts (-6.5)
In Week 15, the Panthers continued to careen toward the finish of a lost season that’s already claimed the job of long-time head coach Ron Rivera. They dropped a 30-24 home decision to the Seattle Seahawks that sunk their record to 5-9. Meanwhile, the Colts head into a Monday night Week 15 matchup versus the Saints fighting for their postseason lives after dropping five of their last six games.
The Panthers will have the rest advantage in this spot. However, whether they’re able to fully exploit it is another matter. Alpha-weapon Christian McCaffrey should certainly have some opportunities against an Indy defense surrendering 106.7 rushing yards per contest and 6.1 receptions per game to running backs head into their Week 15 matchup against the next-best pass-catching running back this side of McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara. Kyle Allen has struggled to avoid mistakes in recent weeks, however. That tendency could be particularly troublesome versus the Colts, which allow just 218.0 passing yards per home tilt and have 11 picks through 13 contests going into Monday night.
For Indy, a little Malcolm Mack could certainly go a long way in this spot. The Panthers continued to be highly attackable in the ground in Week 15 at home while allowing Chris Carson to trample them for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Their body of work defending the run on the road is essentially just as bad (138.7 YPG allowed, compared to 141.7 YPG surrendered at home). Carolina does tighten up versus the pass when traveling, as they shave 17.1 yards per game off the 246.1 they surrender per home contest. If T.Y. Hilton can make it to this game in good health, he’ll give the Colts some important firepower in the passing game.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The spread has held throughout the week, with the Colts still a strong favorite and Hilton expected to play. Curtis Samuel carries a questionable tag with a knee injury for the Panthers but expects to play. Neither team has playoff hopes any longer after Indy was dropped in convincing fashion by the Saints, so this will be a test of pride. Indianapolis has been middling at home versus the spread, however, as they check in with a 3-4 mark (42.9 percent) ATS on their home field.
Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins
It might be a hard sell to their respective fan bases, but say this about the Bengals and Dolphins – they get some brownie points for effort. Both squads have been playing hard for their first-year head coaches each week, irrespective of opponent. Cincinnati gave the Patriots a good first-half fight in Week 15 before the game got away from them. Miami did the same with the Giants before they, too, endured a second-half collapse.
Given the defensive deficiencies of each team, this game could turn into a wild, late-season, anything-goes affair. On the Bengals’ side, Joe Mixon is particularly set up for success. The versatile back has already been surging in recent games and even trampled the Patriots for 136 rushing yards Sunday. Therefore, what he might be capable of against the Dolphins (140.9 YPG allowed on ground) is virtually limitless. Andy Dalton and his stable of pass catchers aren’t in a bad spot, either, not against a Miami secondary allowing 271.1 passing yards per contest.
The Dolphins are ill-equipped to hit the Bengals where they’re weakest. The only team allowing more rushing yards per game than Miami is Cincinnati. The Bengals have surrendered 158 rushing yards per game overall. Yet Miami is the league’s worst running team by far (71.2 YPG, including 50.0 per home contest), a fact underscored by Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over the team’s rushing yardage lead in Week 15. Cincinnati can be deceptively tough to attack through the air — the 245.9 passing yards they surrender on the road is partly offset by the fact they rank in the top half of the league in Average Depth of Target (aDOT) of 7.4 yards and catch rate of 62.0 percent they allow.
WEEKEND UPDATE: This game is a textbook example of sports betting’s considerable clout in keeping the NFL interesting all the way down to the final gun of the regular season. A matchup of two teams with absolutely nothing but draft position to play for has nevertheless seen plenty of action throughout the week, enough to move the Bengals from one-point underdogs to 1.5-point favorites. Injuries shouldn’t be too much of a factor for either team in this spot, and given each team’s offense could throwing caution to the wind against a suspect defense, a bet on the Over of 45.5 points may be interesting to ponder.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons (-7.5)
In rather Zombie Apocalypse-like fashion, both the left-for-dead Jaguars and Falcons tripped up the unsuspecting Raiders and 49ers, respectively, in Week 15. Of course, given how unpredictable each of these 5-9 squads has been this season, it’s anyone’s guess how this game might unfold.
Gardner Minshew did utilize a bit of his trademark magic against Oakland to lead a game-winning drive. Whether he keeps that up against an Atlanta team that’s randomly proven to be exceedingly stingy against the pass in the latter portion of the season remains to seen. Of note is that Minshew could be without D.J. Chark (ankle) once again, although the second-year receiver did return to practice Monday and did some running and cutting according to reports.
On the Atlanta end of things, Devonta Freeman could certainly be looking forward to this matchup with a healthy dose of anticipation. Jacksonville has been an absolute doormat against the run most of the season. The Jags surrender an NFL-high 167.4 rushing yards per road contest. Freeman has yet to have a true breakout game this season, but this certainly set up as a heavy-usage spot. The Jacksonville secondary is allowing a modest 208.1 passing yards per game, in a clear case of one particularly weak area of a defense funneling teams toward attacking them in lopsided fashion when it comes pass/run splits.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Falcons have seen their projected advantage grown by another half-point over the week. The public is apparently of the mindset that Atlanta is the considerably “superior” 5-9 team at this juncture. Chark is slated to return for Jacksonville and Atlanta is now without Calvin Ridley (abdomen), but Atlanta’s much better play over the second half of the season has apparently made believers out of many. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting Jacksonville is 4-3 (57.1 percent) as an away team for the season.
New Orleans Saints (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans
What’s likely to be one of the marquee matchups of the week sees the Saints playing on short rest with a Monday night battle against the Colts on tap to close out Week 15. Meanwhile, the Titans finally had their wings clipped in Week 15 after winning four straight and six of seven. Their narrow 24-21 loss to the Texans on Sunday endangers their chances of both the AFC South title and a playoff berth overall.
The Saints will likely be looking to attack through the air in this spot. Tennessee continued to struggle defending the pass at home in Week 15. Deshaun Watson threw for 243 yards and a pair of passing scores. Tennessee now allows the fifth-most passing yards per game of any home team (264.7) and could be hard-pressed to defend a passing attack spearheaded by Michael Thomas and Jared Cook.
The Titans try to lean heavily on Derrick Henry to do the bulk of heavy lifting on offense whenever possible. Yet, New Orleans is especially difficult to run against on the road, where they’ve given up just 73.3 rushing yards per contest. Therefore, this could be another spot where Tannehill and the emerging A.J. Brown become centerpieces. The Saints have allowed 269 yards per road game and could struggle with the speed of Brown and Corey Davis.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Saints have held steady as 2.5-point favorites. Their convincing win over the Colts last Monday night certainly didn’t hurt their image. However, New Orleans is on a short week. The Titans are still in must-win mode despite the Texans having clinched the AFC South with a win against the Bucs on Saturday. New Orleans does bring an impressive 6-1 mark ATS on the road, as well as a 2-1 tally in interconference games. Both squads should be at full strength for this point in the season, setting up a potential 60-minute slugfest.
New York Giants (-1) at Washington Redskins
The Giants helped give Eli Manning a successful potential home send-off to his long tenure with the franchise with a big second half versus the Dolphins on their way to a 36-20 win in Week 15. The Redskins gave the Eagles a very spirited battle themselves. Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins took a major step forward with a 261-yard, two-touchdown effort against Philadelphia, which made the final score deceptively lopsided with a return touchdown of a Haskins fumble on the last play of the game.
The Giants faced the Redskins without Saquon Barkley their first time around this season back in Week 4. They still notched an impressive 24-3 victory and racked up 24 first downs to Washington’s eight. Barkley is now healthy and coming off a 112-yard performance against the Dolphins in Week 15. Meanwhile, Daniel Jones, who threw for 225 yards in the first meeting between the teams this season, could be back under center for New York. Barkley could be the primary focus again, however. The Redskins are allowing 145.3 rushing yards per home game.
Haskins has a solid chance of keeping his momentum in this game. The Giants’ secondary, now minus the recently released Janoris Jenkins, has given up the most passing yards per road game (311.0). Terry McLaurin and Steven Sims, Jr. both especially possess the type of speed that has typically given the back end of New York’s defense fits all season. The Giants also become a stalwart run defense on the road (95.0 YPG allowed). However, that’s also at least partly byproduct of teams declining to attack on the ground with Big Blue’s secondary being so weak.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Much like the Bengals-Dolphins game, this game has seen the spread flip. New York is now the one-point favorite after having opened as a 1-5-point underdog. Jones will return to the starting quarterback job over the largely ineffective Manning, which could certainly have been a factor in the movement that occurred. Moreover, multiple notable secondary injuries for Washington could be playing a part as well — starting cornerbacks Fabian Moreau (hamstring-doubtful) and Quinton Dunbar (hamstring- out), as well as Landon Collins (Achilles- questionable). Accordingly, the possibility of the Over on the current total of 41.5 points may be worth considering.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at New York Jets
The Steelers lost a heartbreaker at home to the Bills on Sunday night in Week 15. The Jets were handed a primetime defeat themselves, although theirs was by three touchdowns to the Baltimore Ravens to open the week. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh, which got James Conner back from a multi-game absence due to a shoulder injury against Buffalo, is still a solid three-point road favorite to open the week.
This shapes up as a potential get-right spot for the Steelers, although they’re not optimally equipped to take advantage of the Jets’ biggest defensive weakness. New York is surrendering 243.4 passing yards per contest and has allowed 24 passing touchdowns on the campaign while only picking off eight passes. Pittsburgh’s rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges is still a bit error-prone, but there’s likely a few deep shots to James Washington and Diontae Johnson in the game plan this week. Meanwhile, Conner looked spry and well-rested versus Buffalo. But, New York is allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game (88.8).
The Jets will have to pay particular attention to ball security on their end. A relentless Steelers defense has 49 sacks, 19 interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries. In turn, New York has allowed the third-most sacks (48), thrown 15 interceptions and lost eight fumbles. Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell each face a relatively daunting statistical matchup. The Steelers have surrendered just 204.1 passing yards per game and give up a miserly 91.5 per contest on the ground. The one ray of hope for New York is that the Black and Gold have been a much more vulnerable secondary when traveling, surrendering 243.7 passing yards per away game.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Steelers retain their status as three-point road favorites. The confirmed return of JuJu Smith-Schuster from a four-game absence from a knee injury has helped cement Pittsburgh’s status, as it will give Hodges yet another weapon to attack what is by far the weakest part of the Jets’ defense. The Steelers check in with an impressive 4-2 record versus the number on the road this season, a sharp contrast to the Jets’ 3-4 mark ATS at MetLife Stadium.
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (-7)
The Lions gave it an earnest effort in Week 15, but they still came up very short by three touchdowns to a short-handed Buccaneers team. Detroit’s problems in the secondary persisted — they yielded a career-high 458 passing yards to Jameis Winston. Meanwhile, the Broncos had a debacle of their own, not that it was entirely unexpected. They fell in snowy conditions on the road to the Chiefs by a 23-3 score.
This could turn out to be one of the week’s lowest-scoring games if Lions rookie quarterback David Blough meets with the full force of the Broncos defense in what will probably be rough weather. The Lions could have a semblance of a rushing attack if they get Bo Scarbrough back from a rib injury, but they’ll face a Denver team that’s been solid against the run after a dreadful start to the campaign. Then, Blough has a formidable challenge in front of him with a short-handed receiving corps against a Broncos secondary that’s yielded just 194.5 passing yards per contest at home.
Meanwhile, Drew Lock will have a chance to bounce back from a tough time in KC with one of the softest matchups in the NFL, as alluded to earlier. The Lions have actually been a much better secondary statistically on the road for the season, but how much desire they’ll be playing with in frigid Week 16 temperatures away from home remains to be seen. Lock flashed some impressive upside in Week 14 against the Texans and could do so again on his home turf in a matchup that the oddsmakers are affording Denver plenty of respect in.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Broncos saw another half-point added to their projected advantage, with the public down on an injury-ravaged Lions squad. This, despite the fact Detroit does get back Kerryon Johnson from injured reserve for this contest. Johnson provides some nice insurance in case Scarbrough, who is questionable, can’t go. However, the thinking here seems to be that Denver’s defense at home in December weather could go a long way to securing at least a touchdown, not to mention the success Lock may enjoy against Detroit’s secondary.
Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5)
The Raiders saw their final home game at the Oakland Coliseum ruined by the Jacksonville Jaguars on a last-minute touchdown drive, a loss that also essentially sunk their thin playoff hopes. The Chargers suffered an even more embarrassing home loss. They were toppled by the Minnesota Vikings, 39-10, another chapter in an utterly forgettable season that they’re limping to the finish line of.
Oakland was able to nip Los Angeles by a 26-24 score in their first meeting last month with a balanced attack that they’ll try to duplicate in Week 16. The Chargers have been a lockdown defense against the pass at home (191.4 YPG allowed) but have yielded a more generous 123.2 rushing yards per contest there. Josh Jacobs made it through the full game against the Jaguars despite nursing what’s been described as a broken shoulder plate. He’ll look to push through in this contest as well and could be leaned on heavily considering the statistical matchup.
The Chargers will always look to get Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler involved, and the matchup for the star duo isn’t bad by any stretch. Oakland’s once-stout run defense has come down a few notches due to injuries and is allowing 105.8 rushing yards per game overall. However, Los Angeles could also be tempted to lean heavily on the pass. The Raiders secondary has repeatedly failed to put four solid quarters together this season. Following the aforementioned late-game debacle against the Jaguars, Oakland is allowing 263.8 passing yards per game and has surrendered the third-most passing touchdowns (32) in the league.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Raiders announced Jacobs as out for this game Wednesday, which helped push the Chargers’ projected advantage from 6.5 to 7.5 points. Oakland does get Hunter Renfrow back from a three-game absence due to a rib injury. Home field shouldn’t be much of an advantage here for Los Angeles, given both the proximity of the visiting team’s city and how shaky support has been for the Bolts at home. The Chargers also sport a 1-4-1 mark ATS as a home team, although Oakland is just 2-4 against the number when traveling.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-8.5)
It’s been an up-and-down first season in the pros for coach Kliff Kingsbury and first overall pick Kyler Murray, but Week 15 will go down as one of the highlights. Arizona became the latest team to take advantage of an underachieving Browns team, walloping them by a 38-24 score. The Seahawks took care of their business on the road with a 30-24 win in Carolina, as Seattle continues its push for the top seed in the NFC.
The Cardinals will try to take Sunday’s offensive success on the road against a Seahawks team that dispatched them by a 27-10 score back in Week 4. Kenyan Drake was the star of the Week 15 victory with four touchdowns. He’ll be hard-pressed to come close to similar production against a Seahawks team that’s yielded just 96.7 rushing yards per contest at home. Murray took four sacks but did throw for 241 yards in the previous meeting with Seattle. He’ll look to capitalize on a Seattle secondary that’s surrendered 283.8 passing yards per home contest.
The Seahawks will be in prime position to attack the Cardinals in whichever manner they choose. Despite their win Sunday, Arizona still allowed 393 total yards to a Cleveland offense that’s far from efficient. The Cards check into this contest surrendering 122.7 rushing yards and 290.4 passing yards per contest, along with the NFL’s highest catch rate (72.0 percent). Despite the suspension of Josh Gordon on Monday, the Seahawks will still have plenty of weapons to attack with through the air as a complement to their Chris Carson-helmed ground attack.
WEEKEND UPDATE: There’s been some interesting movement here in the Cardinals’ direction over the course of the week. Seattle’s one-time 10-point edge has shrunk to 8.5. The Seahawks do have plenty to play for, and outside the now-suspended Josh Gordon, they won’t have any notable new absences on offense. However, it’s the defense that has some key walking wounded, which seems to have been key to the move down. Starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) is questionable, while free safety Quandre Diggs (ankle) is doubtful. An absence of both of those players would be ill-timed versus Arizona’s pass-heavy attack and potentially help keep this game closer than the original 10-point spread.
Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
We’re treated to what’s essentially an early playoff game in Week 16 with this Cowboys-Eagles tilt. Dallas kept Philadelphia at bay in Week 15 by notching a big 44-21 win against the Rams. That offset the Eagles’ second straight close victory over a downtrodden NFC East rival, as they got by the Redskins 37-27. A fumble return touchdown on the last play of the game artificially inflated the margin of victory.
The Cowboys are still road favorites to open the week due to the Eagles’ extremely short-handed receiving corps and Dallas’ 37-10 win in the one prior meeting between the teams this season. Dallas was able to get Ezekiel Elliott loose for 111 yards and a touchdown in that Week 7 contest, despite Philadelphia’s legitimately tough run defense (80.6 YPG allowed at home, 77.3 YPG allowed overall in last three). They’ll undoubtedly try to keep their star back heavily involved again despite the matchup. Then, the Eagles’ Jekyll-and-Hyde secondary has generated one of the most disparate home/road splits in the league in terms of passing yards per game allowed. While Philly has surrendered 289.9 yards through the air per road game, they’ve given up the fourth fewest per home contest (187.7).
Philly could find itself in a struggle to generate a consistent passing game due to the combination of their overall lack of options and the Cowboys’ strong secondary play. Philadelphia did manage to ultimately make do Sunday primarily due to the efforts of Zach Ertz and Greg Ward, Jr., with help from Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders. It would certainly help if Nelson Agholor made it back from his knee injury for this contest, as the Dallas defense has been at its best versus the pass on the road (208.1 YPG allowed). On the ground, Sanders broke out nicely against the Redskins and will try to keep that momentum against Dallas. Yet the Cowboys allow only 91.0 rushing yards per game on the road and held the rookie to 21 yards on six carries the first time they met.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Cowboys have seen their projected edge drop a full point to 1.5 over the course of the week. Dallas certainly boasts a healthier offense than Philadelphia, although Agholor and Jordan Howard (shoulder) both stand a chance of suiting up for the Eagles. This game will decide the NFC East and essentially knock the loser out of the postseason, and the public seems to have increasing faith in the will of the home team to seize the moment.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6) at Chicago Bears
The Chiefs are beginning to pick up steam, certainly not a favorable development for the rest of the AFC. In Week 15, Kansas City dominated the Broncos to the tune of a 23-3 score that would have likely been even more lopsided had it not been for the extremely snowy conditions. The Bears saw their thin playoff hopes come crashing down in the familiar environment of Lambeau Field against old foe Aaron Rodgers and a Packers defense that held Chicago to 13 points.
While the Bears are playing at most for a winning record, the Chiefs should still be in the running for a possible No. 2 seed and first-round playoff bye by the time this game kicks off. The Chiefs have proven their offense is matchup-proof when it’s hitting on all cylinders. If the weather is reasonable for this matchup, Patrick Mahomes will look to make waves through the air with the help of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce. The big tight end could particularly be in as good a spot as he was against Denver (11-142), as the Bears have allowed an 84-777-4 line to the position this season.
Mistake-prone Mitchell Trubisky draws one of the worst matchups in the league against a ball-hawking Chiefs secondary. Trubisky has thrown at least one interception in five straight games. In turn, Kansas City is allowing just 197.7 passing yards per game over the last three and has 14 interceptions overall this season. The Chiefs have also racked up 39 sacks, more than enough pressure to bump up the chances of Trubisky miscues. KC is much easier to run against (131.6 YPG, 4.9 yards per carry allowed) yet the Bears are mostly powerless to do anything to capitalize. Talented rookie David Montgomery has averaged just 3.5 yards per rush behind an offensive line that’s generated the fourth-lowest adjusted line yards per carry (3.7) and third-lowest running back yards per carry (3.4).
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Chiefs have held up as six-point favorites throughout the week. The fact KC has plenty to play for and will be at full health in the backfield (sans the IR’d Darrel Williams) has kept public confidence high. Chicago has had enough trouble getting its act together in games in games when it had motivation to do so. A Kansas City win of a touchdown or more certainly isn’t out of the question, especially considering their 4-2 mark versus the number on the road and average margin of victory of 10.7 points.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5) – Monday Night
The two division rivals will meet with plenty at stake to cap off Week 16. Green Bay and Minnesota will still be jockeying for playoff positioning in this contest irrespective of what happens Sunday. Both squads kept themselves in the thick of the NFC postseason race with strong Week 15 wins. Green Bay toppled another division rival in the Bears by a 21-13 score at Lambeau; Minnesota had little trouble with the Chargers in an interconference road matchup the Vikes won, 39-10.
The Packers squeezed out a 21-16 win when these two teams last met Week 2. A balanced attack that featured Aaron Rodgers’ two touchdowns passes, Aaron Jones’ 116 rushing yards and a touchdown and Davante Adams’ 106 receiving yards was key to Green Bay’s home victory. The Pack’s best chance of replicating some of that success this time around might come through the air. Minnesota has surrendered 239.9 passing yards per game overall after allowing just 196.2 in 2018. Even Xavier Rhodes, who’s currently dealing with a lingering calf injury, has seen his play drop significantly this season. The chances of getting Jones and Jamaal Williams going on the ground for sustained stretches appear much slimmer – Minnesota is yielding just 91.3 rushing yards per home game.
Minnesota’s biggest concern heading into this contest will be the health of Dalvin Cook. He suffered another injury to his problematic shoulder in Week 15. Cook had to leave the contest against Los Angeles and will likely be deemed as questionable heading into this coming weekend. Impressive rookie backup Alex Mattison is also dealing with an ankle injury that already cost him the game against the Chargers. A short-handed backfield would give Minnesota less of a chance to maximize what has been a constant weakness for the Green Bay defense. However, Kirk Cousins and his top receiver duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen could be primed for success against a secondary that’s surrendered 274.7 passing yards per road game. Cousins would be looking to greatly improve on a Week 2 performance against the Packers that saw him complete just 14 of 32 passes and throw two interceptions.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Vikings were bet up from four-point favorites and have remained at 5.5. This, despite Cook now being ruled out and Mattison very iffy to play. The Packers are an impressive 9-5 against the number this season — including 4-2 as an away team and 3-1 in division matchups. Cook’s absence helps reduce the overall talent gap between these two offenses, making the recent trend in the number a very interesting one.