Christmas came early for some teams last week with some of the most improbable finishes of the season. From the Vikings’ record-breaking 33-point comeback over the Colts to the Raiders gift-wrapped lateral win against the Patriots, Week 15 was full of surprises.
Six teams have already clinched playoff berths, but the postseason seeding is far from set. In our NFL Week 16 predictions, we take a look at the best bets of Christmas weekend.
Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens (-7) Pick
The Baltimore Ravens have begun slumping at the wrong time of the year but have an opportunity to gain momentum ahead of the playoffs with the Falcons in town. The 9-5 Ravens saw their division lead slip away to the Bengals and Atlanta, 5-9, is attempting to stay alive in the NFC South.
NFL · Sat (12/24) @ 1:02pm ET
|M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland|
The Ravens offense has been anemic without Lamar Jackson at the helm, averaging just 9.7 points in their last three games. They fell to Cleveland last week, 13-3, and posted just 300 yards of offense in the loss.
Although the Baltimore offense failed to find a rhythm in the absence of Jackson, the defense has played well, allowing just 12 points per game.
With the former MVP returning to the lineup, an improved offense with a strong, complementary defense can make the Ravens a contender down the stretch. They can begin building momentum soon against a struggling Falcons team this week.
Atlanta currently sits in last place of the NFC South but is within one game of division-leading Tampa Bay. The Ravens offense has been rough of late, but the Falcons have struggled all season to move the ball consistently. They’re averaging the second-fewest passing yards per game, and the fifth-fewest yards overall per game.
The Falcons have fared better on the ground game, utilizing Cordarelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier. They’re averaging over 160 rushing yards per game, the third-most in the league, but will face a Ravens defense that is among the best against the run. Allowing just 85.6 rushing yards per game, it’s the third-best mark in the league.
In an attempt to improve the offense, the Falcons turned to rookie QB Desmond Ridder last week. In his first career start, he struggled against a solid Saints defense. He completed 13 of 26 passes for a measly 97 yards in the 21-18 loss.
Ridder will have an uphill battle, making his second start on the road against a tough Ravens team. The Ravens defense is tied for second in interceptions and has the third-most takeaways this season. Although Ridder managed to avoid any turnovers last week, he was the benefactor of a couple of dropped interceptions. Don’t bank on the rookie getting that kind of luck against the Ravens this Christmas.
One of our best bets of NFL Week 16, we like the Ravens laying the points.
New York Giants (+3) at Minnesota Vikings Prediction
Christmas football means one big thing – the playoffs are around the corner. The Giants are one of the league’s surprise teams, eyeing a wild card spot. As for the Vikings, just about everything they do has been a surprise. A potential playoff preview, the Giants travel to Minneapolis as a field goal underdog.
Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings found their way into the record books last week with the biggest comeback in the history of the NFL. After rallying from a 33-0 halftime deficit to the Colts, the Vikings won 39-36 in overtime. Minnesota clinched the NFC North with the dramatic comeback.
Last week wasn’t the Vikings only surprise finish – their November win over the Bills was an early pick for the game of the year. The Vikings have been inconsistent throughout the year, and have been one of the most difficult teams to gauge.
The Giants on the other hand have relied on playing sound, mistake-free football. The roster isn’t loaded with talent, but quarterback Daniel Jones has managed to lead this Giants squad to an 8-5-1 record. New York is tied with Philadelphia for the fewest giveaways this season with just 13.
New York defeated Washington 20-12 Sunday night, ending a winless streak of 0-3-1. The Giants are 10-4 ATS this season and going on the road hasn’t fazed them, as the G-Men have gone 4-1 ATS as a road underdog.
The Giants likely won’t be able to clinch a playoff spot this week but can put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat with a victory. The Eagles are running away with the first seed, but with Hurts potentially missing time, the Vikings can close the gap with a win.
New York’s hard-nosed, mistake-free style of play has launched it into playoff consideration. Against the Vikings tendency for heart-attack-inducing finishes, this game could be one of the most entertaining to watch this Christmas. In our Week 16 NFL best bets, we like the Giants to keep it close in Minnesota.
Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs Pick (Under 48.5)
Another one of the surprise teams of the year, many expected the Seattle Seahawks to be closer to the No. 1 pick than to the playoffs. They’ve stumbled of late to fall to 7-7 ahead of an inter-conference matchup in Kansas City.
NFL · Sat (12/24) @ 1:00pm ET
|Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri|
Seattle has lost four of their last five after starting the season 6-3. They fell to division rival San Francisco last week, 21-13, and are in desperate need of a win to keep their postseason dreams alive. Currently the eighth seed, the Seahawks are a half-game behind Washington.
Patrick Mahomes, now the MVP frontrunner with Jalen Hurts sidelined, has the Chiefs riding high. They are winners of four of their last five, but went to the wire against the lowly Texans last week, winning 30-24 in overtime. Although tied with Buffalo atop the AFC, they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker, and will need to register one more win than the Bills to secure the first seed and home field in the playoffs.
There’s little surprise oddsmakers have the Chiefs as a heavy favorite. Laying 9.5 at home, they have the league’s best yards per game and points per game average. They haven’t blown out opponents at home, however, and are just 1-4-1 ATS as a home team. At Arrowhead, the Under has cashed in five of those six games.
One of our best bets of NFL Week 16, we like the total to stay Under in this matchup. Although Seattle may manage to keep it close to the nearly double-digit spread, betting the total is the safer play. Our predictions have the Chiefs winning 27-16 and staying Under the posted total.