We’re back with the 16th edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. Just like Jared Goff in Week 15, Perry got crushed. He posted a 6-9-1 record, but did slightly save himself by going 2-1-1 on his “Pledges.”
With many teams’ playoff hopes on the line, here’s how Perry plans on getting back on track in Week 16.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 16 Picks ATS
Thursday, December 22
New York Giants (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants have won eight of their last nine, and their defense remains stout against the run. But more importantly, Eli Manning may have found his groove. After posting back to back games with a passer rating below 79, Manning responded with a 115.3 rating against the Lions.
The Eagles’ offensive success relies upon the ground game. When Philadelphia has rushed for 100 yards this season, they are 5-3. But unlike the Giants’ pivot, Carson Wentz just keeps banging his head against the rookie wall. Since recording a passer rating north of 100 in three of his first four games, Wentz has been under 87 in all but one, which includes being under 59 in two of his last three.
The Eagles are 4-2 at home this season and both losses came when they failed to rush for at least 100 yards. The Giants fifth-ranked rush defense won’t let them hit the century mark.
Pick: Giants (-3)*
Saturday, December 24
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
Without Julio Jones in the lineup, the Falcons put up 83 points in their last two games. The one-two punch of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in the backfield has proven to be extremely dangerous, and Matt Ryan has continued to limit his turnovers.
The Panthers continue to show some fight in spite of their nearly non-existent playoff hopes. They’ve now won two-straight and Cam Newton is playing a little better. Generating turnovers has been the real key to their mini two-game win streak with Carolina manufacturing eight takeaways in its last two.
Carolina won’t produce four takeaways against Atlanta, though, and they won’t be able to get enough pressure on Matt Ryan.
Pick: Falcons (-2.5)
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
The Dolphins have won eight of their last nine, and their most recent victory came with backup quarterback Matt Moore at the helm. Moore played well (four TD passes), but he was also facing a bad Jets secondary. He’ll have a much tougher test against the Bills’ eighth-ranked pass defense.
While the Bills’ strength continues to be their rushing attack, defending the run has quickly become a weakness. Rex Ryan’s defense has allowed an average of 167.25 yards on the ground over the last four.
Miami took the earlier meeting this season (28-25). I don’t see Miami being able to hold the Bills to 67 yards rushing this time, and the Dolphins haven’t fared well in Orchard Park. Buffalo has won five straight meetings at home by an average margin of 13.2 points.
Pick: Bills (-3.5)
Washington (-3) at Chicago Bears
Since Matt Barkley took over as starter, the Bears have covered the spread in four consecutive games. And now the pivot has the luxury of throwing to Alshon Jeffery, as well. However, the Bears defense continues to struggle against the run. They have now allowed at least 100 yards on the ground in five-straight games, and an average of 146.4 per game in that span.
In order for Washington to win this season, its offense has to play a near-perfect game. When it commits more than one turnover, the team is 1-4. The defense, which ranks 29th in yards and has only generated seven turnovers in their last nine games, is not good enough to make up for the mistakes.
The good news for Washington is that Chicago struggles to generate takeaways as well (31st). Expect Rob Kelley to get going on the ground, making Kirk Cousins and the NFL’s second-ranked pass attack that much more dangerous.
Pick: Washington (-3)
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-16.5)
I’ll keep this one quick: The Jets just allowed Matt Moore to beat them by 21 points.
New England has won seven-straight regular season games against the Jets at home.
Tom Brady will double his Week 15 total of 188 passing yards and put up 40 points on New York’s 25th-ranked scoring defense.
Pick: Patriots (-16.5)*
San Diego Chargers (-6) at Cleveland Browns
There is only one team in the NFL the Browns could compete with, and it’s not the Chargers.
As hard as the Chargers will try to turn the ball over – 15 turnovers in their last five – the Browns won’t be able to capitalize. Cleveland only has 11 takeaways this season (29th). Look for Rivers to have a big game against the second-worst defense in the league.
Pick: Chargers (-6)*
Tennessee Titans (-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
After 48 losses in (less than) four years, the Jaguars finally had enough of Gus Bradley. I’m not going to say he wasn’t part of the problem, but he certainly wasn’t the only problem. Unfortunately, interim head coach Doug Marrone is choosing to stick with the team’s biggest issue: Blake Bortles.
The Titans have recorded two very impressive wins in consecutive weeks to keep themselves in the playoff hunt, but have not had much success recently playing in Jacksonville, losing four of their last five at EverBank Field.
Marrone will get a spark out of the Jags and protect Bortles enough to keep this game within a field goal.
Pick: Jaguars (+5)
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-6.5)
The Vikings’ defense is not the same without Harrison Smith. Without the talented safety, the unit gave up 411 total yards and 34 points (season-high) to a one-man Indianapolis offense. The setback was the seventh loss in the last nine for the Vikes.
Aaron Rodgers is getting a big boost from running back/wide receiver Ty Montgomery, which has been a big part of the Packers’ four-game winning streak. It doesn’t hurt that Rodgers is back in his MVP form, either.
Rodgers has won 15-straight home games in the month of December, and he’ll make it 16 on Saturday. As bad as this sounds, Sam Bradford won’t be able to put up the points that Matt Barkley did against the Packer secondary.
Pick: Packers (-6.5)*
Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders (-3.5)
Although the Raiders were able to avoid their first losing streak of the season, Derek Carr has not looked the same since injuring the pinky finger on his throwing hand. In three games since, Carr has only completed 51.9-percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 74 in that time.
With the Colts’ playoff hopes on the line, I expect to see a premier effort from Andrew Luck. But he’ll need his offensive line to continue its recent play. In three games since Luck returned from a concussion, he has only been sacked twice.
Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin have combined for 18 sacks on the season, but Oakland only has 25 as a team (27th). Luck will force the Raiders into a shootout with a banged-up quarterback and will keep it within a field goal.
Pick: Colts (+3.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3)
The Bucs’ defense got run all over on Sunday night by Dallas. A couple uncharacteristic misses from Dan Bailey were the only reason it was a one-score game (26-20). Tampa’s offensive line was also exposed without Demar Dotson at right tackle, as they allowed Jameis Winston to be sacked four times.
Drew Brees snapped out of his three-game funk with a 389-yard, four-touchdown performance against one of the better pass defenses in the league (Arizona) last Sunday.
The Saints’ pivot has won eight of his last ten games against the Bucs and has only been swept by Tampa once (2007). He won’t play as poorly as he did in Week 14 when Tampa squeaked out a 16-11 win.
Pick: Saints (-3)
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
If you have any desire to watch this game, then you must be a very loyal supporter of one of these two horrible teams … or have money on the game.
The 49ers’ lone win on the year came back in Week 1 when they shutout the Rams, 28-0. In that game, they allowed just 185 total yards; in their other 13, they have allowed an average of 443.4 per game. The 49ers possess the league’s worst run defense and also rank last in total and scoring defense.
After getting crushed last week by the Seahawks, this is a dream matchup for Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. The Rams rank last in both total and scoring offense, and their defense is getting awfully tired.
Jared Goff has not shown much promise this year, and he likely won’t have to for the Rams to get a win in this one. Expect a heavy dose of Gurley all game long.
Pick: Rams (-3.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-8.5)
It’s hard to think of a team that has underachieved more than the Cardinals this season. It’s time to stop believing in their potential. The offensive line has not been good, and Carson Palmer’s inconsistencies have cost them a handful of games. Arizona is 1-5 on the road this season, with the lone win coming in San Francisco.
Seattle is 7-0 at home this year, and their average margin of victory is 13.4 points at the Clink. Russell Wilson is back to full speed and the offense is getting a major boost from a healthy Tyler Lockett.
Even if Michael Bennett doesn’t suit up, Frank Clark has proven he can generate pressure. The Seahawks’ pass rush will rub salt in the Cardinals’ wounds.
Pick: Seahawks (-8.5)
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-2)
The Bengals offense has actually averaged more points per game without A.J. Green than it did in nine full games with him. But I doubt they’ll be scoffing at the idea of Green returning to the lineup this week.
The Texans finally elected to swallow $72 million worth of pride and put Brock Osweiler where he belongs: on the bench. Tom Savage proved that neither Bill O’Brien’s game plan nor Houston’s supporting cast is the problem, putting up 260 yards on 64-percent passing.
With Savage under center, the Texans defense won’t be put in as many awful situations, and DeAndre Hopkins will be treated like the elite receiver that he is.
Pick: Texans (-2)
Sunday, December 25
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5)
The Steelers have won five-straight to climb back atop the AFC North. The defense has toughened up against the run – allowing 64.6 rushing yards per game in that span – and Le’Veon Bell has been a one-man wrecking crew on offense with 954 yards from scrimmage.
Baltimore’s offense has broken out of its shell a little over the last three weeks. It’s eclipsed 23 points in three straight after only reaching that mark four times in the first 11 games. What’s most encouraging for the Ravens is the season-high 151 rushing yards they piled up against the Eagles.
The Ravens have won six of the last seven meetings in this bitter rivalry and their defense is too good for this game to be decided by more than three points.
Pick: Ravens (+5)
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-4)
The Broncos’ offensive line is horrible. Denver has now rushed for a combined 76 yards in its last two and is averaging 3.6 yards per carry on the season (28th). The defense has only given up 29 points over the last two weeks, yet Denver lost both.
Kansas City’s defense is a tricky unit to assess. It continues to bleed yards (29th in total defense) but is keeping points off the board (eighth in scoring) thanks to a league-leading 28 takeaways.
The last time these two played, Denver was able to pound away for 124 yards on the ground; that was with Derrick Johnson, who has now been put on IR. Even if Kubiak can’t get a ground game going, the Broncos defense is too good to lay this many points.
Pick: Broncos (+4)
Monday, December 26
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
Do not fall for Detroit’s climb up the defensive rankings – tenth in scoring and 14th in total defense. The Lions have had the luxury of playing some bad offenses lately (Chicago, Minnesota, Jacksonville, and Houston), and their defense has been getting a ton of help from the offense’s possession numbers.
That’s going to come to an end this week. Dallas’ offensive line is going to push the Lions around and force them to play from behind with a quarterback that doesn’t have a fully-functioning middle finger on his throwing hand.
Pick: Cowboys (-7)
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