No preamble, no fuss. Here are my Best Bets for week 16. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! All lines from William Hill, Home team in capitals….
Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) over DENVER BRONCOS
A battle of second string QB’s. Brock Osweiler and AJ McCarron aren’t the marquee names you’d expect of a #2 vs #3 battle. The winner will take home a first round bye and the loser will be in danger of slipping into the wildcard spots. So why Cincinnati? Well their defense is playing much better than Denver’s at the moment, and so is their offensive line. I don’t like the chances of Ryan Harris or Max Garcia holding up against Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins for long. Chris Harris had his worst day in coverage in a long time last week against Antonio Brown and a matchup against AJ Green is hardly the tonic one needs after that. Yes, AJ McCarron is an unknown quantity at QB but I think all the other elements of Cincinnati’s team are at least even with Denver’s and there’s no doubt that the Broncos offense is struggling at the moment.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (-4.5) over Green Bay Packers
Call me crazy for continuing to back the Cardinals but after they crushed the Eagles and have continued to have the deadliest passing attack in the NFL I think they can win by a touchdown at home against the inconsistent Packers. They can take the top off with John Brown (if he holds on to the ball this week) and JJ Nelson while working underneath with Fitzgerald and the impressive rookie David Johnson. The other issue is that Arizona’s defense is far better than Green Bay’s and should be able to contain and harass Aaron Rodgers as well as crush the ground game. Yes, betting against Aaron Rodgers can be risky, especially when giving this many but Arizona are simply superior.
Washington Redskins (+3) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Not only do I think Washington cover, I think they win outright and wrap-up the NFC East. Kirk Cousins is on a roll as the Redskins have won 3 out of their last 4. An afterthought in the pre-season Cousins is now completing 69.7% of his passes and is comfortably confirmed as the teams future QB. If only it could be so easy for the Eagles who are struggling with Sam Bradford’s injuries and inconsistencies. Chip Kelly’s grand re-imagining of his roster hasn’t worked and the Eagles have suffered for it. Their defense is continuing to feel the effects of the offenses speed & poor play as they lead the league in minutes per game. Washington will welcome such time of possession and so many chances to put points on the board. It wouldn’t be a Washington team without holes, and they struggle against #2 receivers but I don’t think Philadelphia will be able to consistently take advantage of that fact.
Rest of the bets
TNF: Oakland Raiders (-6) Washington Redskins (+3) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES Indianapolis Colts (+2.5) over MIAMI DOLPHINS Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) over BALTIMORE RAVENS Cleveland Browns (+12) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS San Francisco 49ers (+10) over DETROIT LIONS TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-3) over Chicago Bears Carolina Panthers (-7) over ATLANTA FALCONS NEW YORK JETS (+3) New England Patriots BUFFALO BILLS (-6) over Dallas Cowboys St, Louis Rams (+13.5) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-5.5) over New York Giants