We’re all set to get going with the Week 16 odds for NFL this week at Bang the Book, as there are a plethora of games that we are going to be focusing in on that are going to have some huge impacts on the entire season.
Week 16 is usually the make or break week for a number of teams in the NFL for a number of various reasons. Games are largely unpredictable, bad teams normally step up to the plate and make big runs at good teams, while those in the hunt for the playoffs either sink or swim. There’s a reason that five games are separated this week by 8.5 points or greater, and none are bigger than 13 points. The other 11 games are all expected to be quite close encounters, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this is another fantastic week of play with close calls abound.
We’ll start at the top, where the Seattle Seahawks have a chance to earn the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs if they can beat the Arizona Cardinals this week. It’s not an easy task to take down the Cards, who are still a game back of the Panthers/Saints loser and the 49ers for the last Wild Card slot in the conference. Either Carolina or New Orleans has to lose this weekend, so the opportunity is presenting itself as we speak. However, winning in Seattle is no fun, as QB Russell Wilson has still never lost a game at home. As long as that holds true for the rest of the year, the Seahawks will go to the Super Bowl. They’re favored by 10.5, but this is a massive point spread in a big game in the NFC West.
On the other side, the Denver Broncos are hoping to lock up the #1 seed in the AFC as well. It’s going to take two wins in these last two games to get the job done for sure in all likelihood, knowing that it takes a combination of two wins and KC losses to win the AFC West, and a win and two losses to safely stay in front of New England for the rest of the year as well. QB Peyton Manning needs three TDs to tie the all-time record for touchdown passes in a single season, and we have to think that he is going to get there when he takes on the Houston Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Houston has lost 12 straight games, and it looks hapless. The club could be 0-14 right now, and a loss in this game ensures that the team will have the #1 pick in May’s NFL Draft. It’s not shocking that the Texans are getting 10.5.
The biggest favorites of the weekend though, are the San Francisco 49ers, who are playing in the last Monday Night Football game of the season. Barring a collapse by the Seahawks or some tremendously unpredictable results in the NFC playoffs, this is the last game which will ever be played at Candlestick Park as well, as the 49ers move into their new home in Santa Clara next year. They draw the Atlanta Falcons in this one, and though the Falcons have played better football of late, they are still a bad team which has tremendously underachieved this season. The Niners are giving 13.
Unfortunately, with all of these games which mean a lot, there are some terrible games which mean little that we can just fly right through. The Tennessee Titans are -5.5 against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a rematch of the game which really changed the fortunes of both of these teams this year. The Jags are 4-2 since winning at LP Field. Tennessee is 1-5 since then. The New York Jets are -2.5 at home against the Cleveland Browns, while the St. Louis Rams are giving five to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Miami Dolphins control their own destiny to get into the playoffs at this point, and that starts on Sunday in Orchard Park against the Buffalo Bills. They’re -2.5 in the game, but ironically, it might be Buffalo which we are more concerned about with the potentially cold weather. This is the first time which QB EJ Manuel has played in a game with temperatures below freezing in his life.
The Baltimore Ravens also control their own destiny to not just get into the playoffs, but to win the AFC North as well. This team is on a bizarre run right now, and it is starting to look like a touched team. Just in the last two weeks, the Ravens beat the Vikings in a game in which the lead changed four times in the final three minutes, and they got a 61-yard field goal with less than a minute left to win a game which they didn’t score a touchdown in against Detroit on the road. Odd happenings for sure. This week, they welcome the New England Patriots to M&T Bank Stadium for a rematch of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday Night Football. There’s a good chance these two teams could meet again in two weeks in the first round of the playoffs if things don’t go well for the Ravens. Baltimore is -2.5, and that was a spread which looked unfathomable just a few weeks ago.
A Baltimore loss parlayed with a win for the Cincinnati Bengals over the Minnesota Vikings would lock up the AFC North title for the Bengals. Cincy really blew it last week when it was beaten by the Steelers in a game that probably should have been won. Instead, it now knows that, barring a win and a Baltimore loss in Week 16, it will have to play against the Ravens for the AFC North crown, and very possibly the only playoff spot the division will have to offer this year, in Week 17. The Bengals are -7 in this one, but remember that the Vikes had the Ravens dead to rights two weeks ago and beat up the Eagles last week at home. However, Cincy has yet to lose a home game this year, while Minnesota has yet to win a road game.
Speaking of those Eagles, they’re still flying high going into Week 16 as the leaders in the NFC East. They have a home date with the Chicago Bears in a battle of divisional leaders in Week 16. This game means the world to the Bears, who are now in a situation where they control their own destiny to win the NFC North. A win parlayed with losses by Green Bay and Detroit would win the division, but the bottom line is that two wins, and Chicago is in. Anything less, and it is almost certainly not going to get into the show. You’ll have to pardon the Eagles if they are scoreboard watching in this one as well. If the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins, a game in which the Cowboys are -2.5 on the road, this game means absolutely nothing since Dallas and Philly play each other in Week 17. That game would be for the NFC East title. Philadelphia is -3 at home against the Bears.
In the NFC North meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions are still hoping to have a say in what gets into the second season. Detroit is shooting itself in the foot, posting three or more turnovers in five straight games, and it punted away a game it should have won on Monday against Baltimore. Now, the Lions need some help in some form on Sunday. They need a win and either a loss by Green Bay or Chicago to stay alive. The good news for Detroit is that it has a home game against the bad New York Giants on Sunday, and it is -8.5 in the game. The bad news? We already know that the Bears are going to have a shot to win for sure, while the Packers, who still don’t know what’s going on with QB Aaron Rodgers, are likely to be big favorites against the Pittsburgh Steelers when a betting line comes out for the game.
And then there’s the rest of the AFC West, where the Kansas City Chiefs are still trying to run down the Broncos, and the San Diego Chargers are trying to get into the playoffs. The Bolts know that they need a win in the worst way, and they need some help to keep their playoff prospects alive. They have what should be an easy one against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at home, as they are favored by 10 after knocking off mighty Denver on the road last Thursday. The Chiefs have a date with the Indianapolis Colts, who have already won the AFC South and have very little else to play for at this point. KC is -7 at Arrowhead Stadium, and the hope is that perhaps the Texans can stun the Broncos to take over that #1 spot in the AFC playoff chase.
What’s left is the NFC South, where the New Orleans Saints can win the division and the #2 seed in the NFC by beating the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Just a couple problems with that. First off, the Saints can’t play on the road, and they proved that again last week when they got bombed by the lowly Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Now, they are going to have to play outdoors on a grass surface, a surface which the Panthers haven’t lost on since Week 1. Carolina needs two wins to win the NFC South. New Orleans just needs this one. The bigger issue for both teams is the hard charging Cardinals who, if they happen to beat the Seahawks on Sunday, can make things very uncomfortable and force a three-team tie at 10-5 going into Week 17 where only two teams can get playoff spots. Carolina is favored by a field goal, and many think it is the sharpest play on the board in Week 16.
In regards to ‘totals’ this week, the Cowboys and Redskins have a 53.5 on the board, but the highest number is actually elsewhere in the NFC East. The Eagles have the best rushing game in the land, and they’re going against a Chicago team which absolutely cannot stop the run whatsoever. The number to beat is 56, which is as high of a number as we have seen in any game in quite some time. The lowest number to beat this week is 40.5 between the Jets and the Browns, which makes a ton of sense when you consider how bad these two offenses have been for the mass majority of the season.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.