The NFL has now seen six double-digit underdogs win outright during the 2021 NFL season. The Lions and the Saints each earned surprising wins over two of the best teams in the NFC, the Cardinals and the Saints. It’s tough to say exactly which one was more shocking. Detroit blew out Arizona, winning 30-12 in a game that the Cardinals were supposed to dominate. The Saints, however, shut out Tom Brady for just the third time in his NFL career and won in a 9-0 defensive slog.
Both underdogs deserve praise for their performances, which further established that there is no unbeatable team in the NFL this season. There is a lot of parity and that has driven some bettors mad during this crazy season.
Still, NFL gamblers have found a way to successfully handicap games throughout the season by studying the latest odds, trends, results and injuries that are impacting lines and spreads across the NFL. That is especially important as the end of the 2021 NFL season draws near, as there have been many COVID-related absences in the last couple of weeks that have significantly impacted spreads.
This week, the Chiefs have Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the COVID list. If they can’t play, Patrick Mahomes will have to rely on the likes of Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson to serve as his top weapons. Elsewhere, Austin Ekeler and several members of the Chargers may not be around for the team’s matchup against the Texans, as they are dealing with a minor outbreak as well.
These absences will impact lines, and savvy bettors will want to keep an eye on them as they look to find as much line value as possible this week. If you like a game that involves a team dealing with an outbreak, it may be best to wait and see who will be available before betting. If you can’t, playing a teaser to improve the lines in case of any last-minute COVID-related news is a solid strategy to preserve at least some value.
For more expert NFL predictions, check out Sporting News’ picks straight up and against the spread for Week 16.
NFL PICKS WEEK 16: Against the spread | Straight up
NFL odds for Week 16
Below are the latest Week 16 NFL odds, including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for every game, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Last updated: Thursday, Dec. 23.
NFL point spreads Week 16
|San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans||SF -3|
|Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers||GB -7.5|
|Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals||ARI -1.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers||TB -10|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans||LAC -10|
|New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles||PHI -9.5|
|Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -3|
|Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons||ATL -6|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets||JAX -1|
|Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings||LAR -3|
|Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots||NE -2|
|Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks||SEA -6.5|
|Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders||DEN -1|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs||KC -7.5|
|Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys||DAL -10|
|Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints||NO -3|
NFL money lines Week 16
|San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans||TEN +142|
|Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers||CLE +285|
|Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals||IND +100|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers||CAR +370|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans||HOU +350|
|New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles||NYG +340|
|Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals||BAL +128|
|Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons||DET +220|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets||NYJ -104|
|Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings||MIN +134|
|Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots||BUF +112|
|Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks||CHI +240|
|Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders||LV -104|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs||PIT +300|
|Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys||WAS +360|
|Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints||MIA +140|
NFL over-unders Week 16
|San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans||44.5|
|Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers||45.5|
|Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals||48.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers||44|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans||45.5|
|New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles||40.5|
|Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals||45.5|
|Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons||42.5|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets||41.5|
|Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings||49.5|
|Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots||43.5|
|Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks||43.5|
|Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders||41.5|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs||44.5|
|Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys||47|
|Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints||38.5|
NFL POWER RANKINGS: Buccaneers fall after shutout loss vs. Saints
NFL best bets for Week 16
Cardinals (-1.5) vs. Colts
The Colts’ hype train has officially left the station, and a lot of people have hopped on board. And how can you not like them? After all, they have won five of their last six games and could position themselves for a late-season run at the AFC South title.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are cold, having dropped back-to-back games including an embarrassing 30-12 defeat against the Lions last week. So, why would you back them in this spot? It’s all about the Cardinals’ offense.
Arizona had a down game against the Lions last week, but they still totaled nearly 400 yards and rank top-10 in yards per game (376.4) and points per game (26.4) this season. Kyler Murray has struggled in his last two starts, but if he bounces back, he should lead the Cardinals to some points even against a strong Colts defense. If they can turn this game into a shootout, the Colts will have trouble matching that.
That may seem like a strange thing to say. On paper, Indianapolis’ offense looks great and is averaging 28.4 points per game, good for the third-most in the NFL this season. However, the Colts’ offense relies significantly on running the ball. They have a below-average passing offense, so if they get behind and can’t run as much as they’d like to, it can be tough for them to get back into the game.
That’s part of the reason that the Colts have been outscored by nearly a touchdown per game in their losses. It’s because they haven’t been able to run the ball as much, and have had to attempt nearly 16 more pass attempts per game in losses.
|Situation||Points allowed||Points scored||Rushing yards||Passing attempts|
Maybe the Colts can keep the Cardinals in check enough to make a game of this, but Arizona has scored at least 30 points eight times this season. If they cross that threshold, the Colts won’t be able to keep pace.
This is a good spot in which to bet a Cardinals bounce-back win, and BetQL agrees with us. They believe the Cardinals should be favored by two points, so we’re getting half a point of line value with this pick. That may not seem like much, but with such a small spread, every point advantage matters.
Bengals (-3) vs. Ravens
Ravens fans, look away. This game will go a long way toward deciding the AFC North and if the Bengals win, they will have a commanding one-game lead (plus a tiebreaker) over the Ravens and will be in very good shape to win the division.
It seems likely they will be able to do that. Why? Because Cincinnati matches up so well with Baltimore. We’ve already seen it this season. The Bengals blew out the Ravens at home despite being 6.5-point underdogs, racking up 520 yards of offense while Joe Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns.
The scary thing for Ravens fans is that the team was pretty healthy when that happened. Now, they’re not, and their secondary is in particularly bad shape. They have dealt with a COVID outbreak that knocked Jimmy Smith and Chris Westry out of action last week. Tavon Young suffered a concussion against the Packers too, so his status is uncertain.
But most importantly of all, Marlon Humphrey — the team’s No. 1 corner — suffered a shoulder injury in Week 12 against the Steelers that has knocked him out for the season. He will be sorely missed in this contest.
Just think about it like this. If the Bengals were able to crush the Ravens when they had Humphrey and a mostly healthy secondary, just what are they going to do now that Baltimore is banged up? Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase could have a huge day targeting the team’s outside corners, so that looks like an advantage for Cincinnati.
It’s also notable that while Lamar Jackson may return from an ankle injury in this contest, it may not help the Ravens as much as people expect. Starting quarterbacks are just 5-6 against the spread this year after returning from an injury, so if Jackson follows suit and isn’t quite 100 percent, he may struggle to cover this spread, even as an underdog.
This line was a bit more appealing when it was a 2.5-point spread, but it’s still a good bet at three. The sharps are betting the Bengals, as BetQL reports that Cincinnati has an 11 percent edge in terms of pro money, so it’s best to follow the pros on this one.
SN 50: Remembering Joe Burrow’s 2019 masterpiece
Dolphins (+3) at Saints
I get it, you want to bet the Saints this week. After all, they just shut out the Buccaneers and Tom Brady, who was held scoreless for just the third time in his career and the first time since 2006.
While the Saints’ effort in that upset was undoubtedly impressive, this week may prove a tough test for them. New Orleans has the defense needed to limit Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense, but the question is about whether they have enough offensive firepower to win another grind-it-out game.
Remember, the Saints’ win over the Bucs was just a 9-0 victory. Taysom Hill and the Saints’ offense generated just 151 yards in that contest. During Hill’s three-game run as a starter, the Saints have averaged just 18.7 points and 181.3 passing yards per game. That’s not exactly setting the world on fire, though their running game has been good.
But now, Hill is on the COVID list and so is backup QB Trevor Siemian. That means rookie Ian Book will be in line to start. Book was a solid college quarterback at Notre Dame, but he is light on experience and is going up against a tough Miami defense.
The Dolphins are allowing just 13.2 points per game during their six-game winning streak. If they can get up early on the Saints and get some pressure on Book, that could limit what the Saints are able to do offensively. The Dolphins are also an opportunistic defense that can force turnovers, and they’ll be more apt to do that against a rookie.
The Saints’ defense will keep them in this one, but this seems like a low-scoring game. The Dolphins’ offense seems more likely to break through with Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker both available. They simply have more weapons than the Saints, so we’ll roll with Miami as three-point underdogs. Betting the Dolphins moneyline (+140) and the UNDER (38.5) looks appealing in this matchup as well.