We enter the final two weeks of the NFL regular season – and there is plenty on the line in the race for the playoffs.
Can the New England Patriots secure a 10th consecutive AFC East title and cover a big handicap at home when they face the Buffalo Bills? Will the Baltimore Ravens take control of the AFC North by beating the Chargers in Los Angeles?
We offer comprehensive analysis, trends and odds on all the NFL Week 16 games. The odds are kindly supplied by our friends at GentingBet.
There is plenty riding on this Saturday evening clash. With the Houston Texans seeking to lock up the No.2 playoff seeding in the AFC, Tennessee just needs to win its final two games and get one loss from either the Baltimore Ravens or Pittsburgh to reach the playoffs.
Washington (7-7) is also still lingering on the fringe of the playoff discussion in the NFC after their win over Jacksonville, and can make the post-season if they win both their last two games and Minnesota loses one of their two. The odds that the Redskins make the playoffs are around 11 per cent.
The Redskins have won the last two meetings in Tennessee and three of the last four overall, but the Titans have won their last three after a 17-0 win at the New York Giants last weekend.
In the last two games, running back Derrick Henry has rushed for 408 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 8.1 yards a carry. As a team, the Titans have racked up 609 yards on the ground in the last three outings.
It has to be said that the Titans’ offensive line, anchored by Taylor Lewan – the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history – has not got the respect it deserves. They are opening holes for the running game and protecting QB Marcus Mariota well.
The Redskins have used four different quarterbacks in the last five games: Alex Smith (broken leg), Colt McCoy (broken leg), Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson.
Washington is 4-3 on the road and just 1-2 against teams outside the NFC, while the Titans are 5-1 at Nissan Stadium and they are undefeated against NFC teams at 3-0.
The Redskins’ 28th-ranked offense is now being led by a QB in Johnson, who made just his sixth career start last week in his seventh season – and on his fifth team. That does not suggest great offensive output and the Titans are considered 10.5-point favourites at odds of 19/20 on the GentingBet American Football handicap.
Tennessee’s passing attack is ranked 30th in the league and is the main reason their offense is ranked 27th overall, averaging only 19.1 points and just 187.0 yards per game.
Washington’s defense is ranked a middling 18th, allowing opponents to score 22.1 points and move the ball 357.4 yards per game. So some would suggest a double-digit spread is asking a lot for the Titans to cover.
Washington has never won three consecutive games against the Titans, and the odds for that to happen are 15/4.
With the Baltimore Ravens likely having to win out in order to make their first playoff appearance since 2014, there’s a lot riding on their West Coast date with the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Ravens are 7-14 on the road in their last 21 games and the Chargers, who have had more time to recover after their win over the Kansas City Chiefs, have won five of their last six at home.
Ravens have won and lost alternate meetings since 2006, winning last time in Baltimore. They have also alternated wins and losses in their last six trips to face the Chargers, winning 16-13 on their last visit in 2012. Those trends would suggest a win for the hosts this time.
With four wins in their last five, beating the Bengals, Raiders, Falcons and Buccaneers while falling in overtime to the Chiefs, the Ravens will fancy their chances. They are 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 road games, but 1-4 against a team with a winning record.
Since Joe Flacco went down, Ravens’ rookie QB Lamar Jackson has thrown for 818 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions, while completing 58.9 per cent of his passes at an average of 6.6 yards per attempt. Yet he is the most mobile QB in the NFL, having 114 carries for 566 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Yet they rely on their top-ranked defense, which allows an average of just 18.1 points per game and just 202.6 yards per game through the air. Their run defense is equally stout, raking No.3 in the NFL in conceding a mere 87.6ypg.
This is a schematic clash of styles, with the Chargers, who are in a fight to secure the No.1 seed and homefield advantage in the playoffs, perhaps not suited to the run-heavy Ravens’ offense.
The Chargers lack size up front and love to use three-safety looks on base downs, which plays into the hands of the Ravens’ running game.
Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers, who has thrown for 3,951 yards, 31 TDs and eight INTs, while completing 69.4 per cent of his passes at an average 8.8 yards per attempt, has not faced a team with such good coverage and he will face a fair amount of pressure behind an average offensive line.
This could be a close game and the Chargers are 17/20 to successfully concede 4.5 points to the Ravens according to the GentingBet NFL odds.
Running back Melvin Gordon, who has missed the last two games, is expected to return this week. If so, that would bolster the hosts’ chances, since he has and has rushed for 802 yards and nine TDs on 153 carries, as well as catching 44 balls for 453 yards and four TDs.
The Cleveland Browns are on the rise. They have won four of their last five to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and their home form has been decent, winning four of six at home with another game tied.
The 6-7-1 Browns have been in nothing but close games and four of their six wins have been decided by six points or less, but they have already beaten the Bengals 35-20 on the road in Cincinnati on November 25, so it is no shock to see Cleveland at 6.5-point favourites on the handicap at odds of 4/6.
The Bengals are coming off a nice home win over the Oakland Raiders, but five of their eight losses have been decided by 10 or more points and they’ve lost their last three road games by an average of 14.3 points. They have only once lost back-to-back meetings with the Browns since 2004, and have not suffered a season sweep by the Browns since 2002. Conversely, they will bid to beat the Browns on their own patch for a fifth straight season, which is unprecedented.
Cleveland has nice balance on offense, with QB Baker Mayfield throwing frozen ropes to receivers Antonio Callaway and Jarvis Landry, while Nick Chubb has been excellent on the ground in his first season, the Georgia product piling up 860 yards and eight TDs.
The Bengals, who bid to win a second game with back-up passer Jeff Driskel at the helm, will be without leading receiver A.J. Green for the last two games (Injured Reserve), and the Browns will want to go out on a high at home.
The Dallas Cowboys laid an egg, losing 23-0 at Indianapolis, but are still in the driving seat to win the NFC East with an 8-6 record, and hold the tie-breaker with the Philadelphia Eagles (7-7), so victory will see them clinch the division and an automatic playoff spot.
History says they should be fine, since the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers have only ever managed to win once in 12 previous trips to Dallas and have only topped 17 points twice at the Cowboys’ home (they lost both times, too).
The Bucs (5-9) started the season with two impressive wins against the Saints and Eagles, and while they lost four in a row to the Bengals, Panthers, Redskins and Giants, four of their nine losses have been by five or fewer points.
They come into this on the back of two losses to the Saints (28-14) and Ravens (20-12) that were closer than the scores suggest. They don’t have much to play for outside of Draft position, however, having been eliminated from playoff contention last week
The Cowboys are 5-0 ATS in their last five versus the NFC and 5-1 ATS in their last six overall, but are a lowly 3-9 ATS in their last 12 Week 16 games.
Dallas will attempt to dictate the game on the ground with Ezekiel Elliott, and while the Bucs do not boast a potent run defense, they will attempt to get the Cowboys into passing situations. QB Dak Prescott has generally not been good under pressure this season and Dallas is not a team that looks capable of blowing anyone out. The Bucs are capable of putting up points with a quick-strike attack.
This is a difficult game for punters to work out, since the Cowboys are asked to give up just 6.5 points on the handicap at odds of 3/4, although there may be value in alternative handicaps, which can be found here.
Matt Patricia’s first season at the helm in Detroit has not been without its speed bumps. They have nothing left to play for in their final home game, except to be a spoiler to the Minnesota Vikings, who are still in contention for a playoff spot following their comfortable win over the Miami Dolphins last week.
The Lions have been held to 20 or less points in seven of their last games and they have failed to cover the handicap in seven of their last 10 games when an underdog of at least four points.
The Vikings, who can be backed to successfully concede 3.5 points at odds of 7/10, are 2-4-1 in road games, having lost their last three, and the Lions are 3-4 in home games this season.
Minnesota, 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games when a favourite of at least four points, have been boosted by their defense, which has allowed 314.3 yards per game, the fourth-lowest average in the NFL.
QB Kirk Cousins is completing 70.5 per cent of his passes for 3,913 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and he has two or more touchdown passes in 13 of his last 20 games, so the Lions’ defense will be tested, especially so if the offense continues to stagnate.
Lions have won five of the last eight home meetings but have not lost three consecutive clashes with their NFC North rivals since 2010.
With Minnesota clinging to the sixth seed in the NFC and the Chicago Bears in town for the regular-season finale next week, they can’t afford any slip-ups.
The Patriots (9-5) have lost two consecutive games, but can wrap up their 10th consecutive AFC East title with a win in either of their last two games, or a loss by the Dolphins.
They do not have the luxury of resting players, are still jostling for the for playoff positioning and, despite being 6-0 at home, are feeling some heat. They host the Jets next week, so their task looks relatively straightforward and, either way, they will put pressure on the Houston Texans for the first-round bye.
Despite Tom Brady not throwing a touchdown pass, the Patriots had no trouble winning 25-6 in Buffalo in Week 8, but they did not have to face Buffalo QB Josh Allen that night, after he was sidelined with an elbow injury. Allen is completing 52.2 per cent of his passes for 1,633 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions, but offers a threat with his legs as well as his arm. Allen leads the way for the Bills on the ground with 506 yards and six touchdowns.
As for Buffalo’s No. 2-ranked defense, it is 19th in points allowed per game at 23.8, which is not stellar by any means. It must also be considered that New England has generally bounced back when suffering a loss and QB Tom Brady, who has 24 touchdown passes for the defending AFC champs compared to 32 a year ago, will be in an ornery mood.
Patriots uncharacteristically had 14 penalties in last week’s loss to the Steelers and that will no doubt be cleaned up.
New England are 12.5-point favourites at odds of 17/20 and they have covered the handicap in 12 of their last 14 games when a double-digit favourite. They are also 37-15-2 ATS in their last 54 home games.
The Bills, who can be backed at 5/1 to win, caused one of the biggest shocks of the season when going into Minnesota as a 16-point underdog earlier this season and came away with a 26-7 win. So, if they get their ground game rolling, there will be some who think lightning can strike twice.
This game has little bearing on anything other than Draft position in April. The Packers (5-8-1) and the Jets (4-10) have both been through tumultuous seasons, with Green Bay jettisoning head coach Mike McCarthy and the Jets will very likely allow Todd Bowles to walk by the end of the year.
The Packers have one thing to play for, though – they want to avoid going 0-8 on the road.
Jets’ rookie QB Sam Darnold has shown glimpses in the past two weeks of what everyone thought he was capable of, and the game appears to be slowing down for him.
All eyes will be on counterpart Aaron Rodgers, who has had limited offensive talent to work with this season. Quite how he has been voted to the Pro Bowl – on this year’s form at least – is beyond comprehension to most seasoned NFL observers.
There is a chance that the Packers will sit Rodgers for the final two games, but that has been denied by the coaching staff. That did not reverse a betting swing, however. Jets have already gone from 3.5-point underdogs in the opening exchanges in Vegas to 1.5-point betting favourites this week and they are available at Evens to cover that spread.
The Packers have rarely enjoyed their trips to New York, having lost four of their previous five trips. They will bid to win a third successive meeting on Sunday, a feat that they have never achieved, and they are 4-8 all-time against the Jets.
The stakes are high for both these teams. The Texans can clinch their fifth AFC South title in eight seasons and secure at least one home playoff game with a victory, which will also leave them only a win shy of locking up their first post-season bye.
The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles need the victory to keep their title defense hopes alive – the Panthers losing to the Saints on Monday night was exactly what Doug Pederson’s team needed – and they are only one of two teams whom the Texans have never beaten (Vikings are the other).
The Texans are undefeated in their past five road games, the longest streak since they won six in a row in 2012. Only the Saints and the Chargers have more wins away from home.
The Eagles are 4-3 in Philly and QB Nick Foles will continue to deputise for injured Carson Wentz.
The Eagles’ severely depleted secondary overcame the Los Angeles Rams, causing a major upset in winning 30-23 as a nine-point underdog last week, but they have still given up more than 400 yards in five of their past six games, including 576 to the Cowboys and 546 to the Saints.
They may catch a break since Texans’ leading rusher Lamar Miller was hobbled by an ankle injury against the Jets, as was leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The Eagles are 17/20 to successfully concede 2.5-points on the GentingBet NFL handicap and the Texans are 11/10 to come away with the win.
There will undoubtedly be coaching changes in Atlanta in the off-season, with both offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive counterpart Marquand Manuel both rumoured to be on the chopping block.
The Falcons have been wafer-thin defensively, with injuries decimating the unit. Middle linebacker Deion Jones, their tackles leader and play caller on defense, strong safety Keanu Neal, arguably their hardest hitter in the secondary, free safety Ricardo Allen, in addition to both offensive guards Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, and running back Devonta Freeman, among others, have been put on Injured Reserve.
The absence of both starting free safeties has also compromised the play of cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.
They easily dealt with the Arizona Cardinals at home last week and the fan base will hope they finally kill off any lingering hope the Carolina Panthers have of making the playoffs this week.
The Panthers are going to have their own tough conversations once the season is over, for their 9-6 home loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday was their sixth consecutive defeat.
It transpires that QB Cam Newton has been playing through a shoulder injury. Newton has had complications from his 2016 shoulder surgery and that has played a role in the Panthers’ slide. He has completed only four of 16 attempts that have travelled 20-plus yards from the line of scrimmage during the six-game losing streak. It is possible he will sit out this clash.
Newton’s backup is Taylor Heinicke, who has played in just six NFL games in his time with the Vikings, Patriots, Texans and Panthers.
The Panthers still have a nasty defense and that is partly why their odds are 7/10 to win at home, where they are invariably a tough opponent. They are also available at 17/20 to successfully concede 2.5-points on the handicap.
Falcons won 34-24 at home on Sept. 16, and have won five of the last six meetings, the sole loss in that span coming in a 2017 reverse in Charlotte last season. For more odds on this NFC South game, click here.
Indianapolis began the season at 1-5 under new head coach Frank Reich, but they have won seven of their last eight games, including two shutout victories (over Jacksonville and Dallas) in the past three weeks.
The Colts have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season and that is in large part to rookie linebacker Darius Leonard, who has been a monster in his rookie season, leading the league with 146 tackles.
It is a travesty that QB Andrew Luck has been omitted from Pro Bowl recognition this season, as he has been outstanding in his return from numerous shoulder injuries.
In the Colts’ three November games, Luck completed 74-of-95 passes (77.9 per cent) for 925 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions.
He has the Colts on the cusp of the playoffs, and they can claim the final wild card spot in the AFC if they win their two remaining games.
The Giants are 3-4 on the road this season and their three losses have come by seven points or less. They are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games, but are considered 10/3 to win and are 17/20 in receipt of 9.5 points on the handicap.
Given the Giants have little to play for except Draft position, there will be some taking the home side to cover a 6.5-point handicap at odds of 6/10.
Miami’s hopes of making the post-season are hanging by a thread after their defeat in Minnesota, which leaves them with a 7-7 record. They can theoretically still win the AFC East title with two wins and two losses by New England, whose final games against the Bills and Jets are both at home.
That scenario is as likely as a successful Brexit, so the best they can hope for is two wins (they travel to Buffalo next week) and losses by the Ravens and Colts.
The Jaguars have lost nine of their last 10 games, and their last six on the road.
Back-up QB Cody Kessler scares no-one. He has 114 pass attempts and has completed 64 per cent of them for 603 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Jaguars have scored 18 or less points in eight of their last 10 games and are averaging just 9.3 points in their last three games.
The Dolphins have won six of their last seven at home but they invariably will not blow any team away, especially with Ryan Tannehill at QB. He has not proven he can lead the team out of mediocrity, and he may be a little gun-shy – especially against a marauding defense such as this, having been sacked nine times by Minnesota last week.
The Jaguars can’t get out of their own way offensively, and they come here off a home loss to a Redskins team that is led by a quarterback who didn’t have a pass attempt since 2011.
The odds for the Dolphins to successfully concede 4.5 points on the handicap are 17/20, and for all their offensive issues, it is worth noting that the Jaguars are 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 games when an underdog of at least three points.
This game should be a tonic for the Los Angeles Rams, who have slipped from Super Bowl favouritism after losing two successive games.
They face an Arizona Cardinals team that has struggled to a 3-11 record, with a rookie QB Josh Rosen who has yet to prove he is their franchise passer.
The Rams have not been the same offensively since Cooper Kupp went down with a knee injury in mid-November. They will likely rest running back Todd Gurley, who has a knee injury, and they signed former Denver, Carolina and Oakland veteran running back C.J. Anderson as insurance this week.
The Rams need a win and a Chicago loss or tie to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs, in what could be Cardinals’ receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s last home game.
The Rams, who have won five of their last seven road games, have been terrible at covering handicaps this season. They are 2-9 ATS in their last nine and are considered 13.5-point favourites at odds of 10/11. The Cardinals have scored 21 or less points in each of their last nine games and are being outscored by an average of 25 points in their last three losses.
This looks a mismatch on paper, but while the Rams have won the last three meetings, they have not won four consecutive over the Cardinals since 2002-2004, when they won five back-to-back meetings.
After clinching their first NFC North division title since 2010 with a 24-17 win over Green Bay, the Chicago Bears come into this game looking to potentially steal a first-round bye.
They face a 49ers team that has won four times at home, including against Seattle last week.
The Bears have covered the handicap seven times in their last eight games and they are 5-1 ATS against a team with a losing record.
There is no doubt they have ridden a soft schedule, but their defense is legitimate, conceding an average of 310.9 yards per game and 18.9 points per game.
The Niners have little to lose, but the Bears can win out and hope the Rams lose once. If this happens, Chicago can grab a first-round bye.
The Bears’ 3.5-point handicap at odds of 4/5 looks a little low, given what is on the line and in spite of the excellent job San Francisco back-up passer Nick Mullens has done in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo.
The odds for a home win are 13/8 – and the 49ers have won seven of the last eight home meetings with the Bears – but there are alternative handicaps and other markets available. Simply click here.
It has been almost four calendar weeks since the Saints played at home, but should they beat the Steelers (8-5-1) on Sunday, they won’t have to travel until they head to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, should they get there.
For homefield advantage through the playoffs is the prize in front of them and they can also clinch a first-round bye with either a Rams or Bears loss, regardless of what happens against the Steelers.
The Saints (12-2) have won six consecutive home playoff games (dating back to 2000) and have been a better team inside the Superdome this season, scoring an average of 38 points at home and conceding 24.
Pittsburgh will provide a stiff test, particularly with two elite receivers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown. Saints have had problems defending elite receiving tandems, as while Marshom Lattimore is a great cover man, Eli Apple is not as effective.
Yet it won’t be easy for Pittsburgh. In the last six weeks, the Saints allowed 12.3 points per game and 280 yards per game. In that same span, they have forced 14 turnovers and recorded 28 sacks.
The Saints’ offensive line could be under pressure against a Steelers team that needs to win to keep ahead of Baltimore in the NFC North. Already down one starter in Terron Armstead and having lost a key reserve in Michael Ola the week before, starting centre Max Unger suffered concussion and Armstead’s replacement, Jermon Bushrod injured his hamstring at Carolina.
It has been 28 years since the Steelers last won in the Superdome, although they have only been back twice, suffering losses in 2002 and 2010.
The Steelers can clinch the division with a win over the Saints coupled with a Ravens loss. But a loss at New Orleans would create a wild scenario for the season finale, where the Steelers would need to beat the Bengals at Heinz Field and count on a Ravens loss to the Browns in Baltimore.
The odds for a Steelers win are 15/8. They can be supported at 10/11 with a start of 5.5-points on the handicap. The Saints to win by 7-12 points inclusive are 9/2.
The Kansas City Chiefs seek to lock up top seed in the AFC after winning six of their last eight games. They have won five of their last seven road games and have covered the handicap on seven of the last eight meetings with Seattle.
The Seahawks look to stay in the NFC playoff hunt after winning six of their last nine games. They won their last three home games, but while they lost last week in San Francisco, they are 23-10-1 ATS in their last 34 December contests.
Chiefs have had a little extra time to recover. However, they are not looking so nearly as dominant as they once did. Their last four games included a loss to the LA Rams, a narrow win over the Raiders, an overtime defeat of the Ravens and a last-play loss to the LA Chargers.
They have failed to cover the handicap in the last six occasions when they have been made a favourite, and are considered 2.5-point favourites at odds of 17/20. They are also 8/11 shots to win on the Moneyline.
Seattle have outscored opponents by an average of 14.6 points in their last three home games and they are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog.
The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West title and a first-round bye with a win at Seattle and a Chargers loss to the Ravens on Saturday. That would ensure they are no worse than the No. 2 seed. Seattle can clinch a playoff spot with a win, but even if they lose, the Seahawks can clinch post-season play by beating the woeful Cardinals at home in the finale.
This AFC West Christmas Eve showdown is notable for two reasons: This will likely be the last home game for the Raiders (3-11) in Oakland before the franchise moves to Las Vegas in 2020 (although where they play next season is still very much up in the air).
It could also see the Broncos (6-8) suffer back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72.
Both fan bases are unhappy, and neither team has been kind to bettors, with the Broncos going 8-17-1 ATS in their last 26 games overall and the Raiders 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games.
The Broncos will look to rebound after back-to-back losses following a 17-16 loss to Cleveland, which finally saw their playoff hopes go up in smoke. The Raiders will look to rebound from a 30-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Despite two ugly losses to two teams with losing records, the Broncos are considered 1.5-point favourites at odds of 7/10, while the Raiders have actually out-gained three of their last five opponents.
Broncos have won 11 of the last 14 meetings and have not lost three consecutive meetings on the Raiders’ home patch since they lost eight back-to-back trips between 1988 and 1994.
Not everyone will have last-minute presents to wrap, so there will be some bettors taking a look at all the odds here before Father Christmas does his thing.
Those seeking educated picks against the handicap spread may wish to take a look at Lindyssports.com, America’s leading football authority.
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