The penultimate week in the NFL regular season gets off to a slow start with the Titans facing Jacksonville on Thursday, and two less than thrilling games on Saturday. However, that just means the league is saving the best for last, as Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football both feature marquee matchups with huge playoff implications (Seattle at Arizona on SNF and Denver at Cincy on MNF).
Sunday afternoon also includes some intriguing games as the Cowboys and Colts battle in Big D, Kansas City travels to Pittsburgh, and the Texans host Baltimore.
Let’s take an early look at the complete slate and the current odds for each game.
Tennessee (2-12) at Jacksonville (2-12) – Spread: Jaguars -3
The Titans play their final road game of the year on TNF. Tennessee is 1-6 away from home and 2-5 against the spread. They have been blown out in three straight road games. They fell at Baltimore, 21-7, in week 10, lost at Philadelphia, 43-24, in week 12, and dropped a 45-21 decision to the Texans in week 13. The Titans lone road win came opening day at Kansas City. They beat the Jags at home, 16-14, in week 6.
Jacksonville is 2-5 straight up and against the number at home. The Jaguars beat the Giants, 25-24, at home in week 13, but fell to Houston 27-13 in week 14. They played Baltimore tough on the road last weekend; but, despite two strong efforts in the last three weeks, it’s still too early to say the Jags have turned a corner.
Philadelphia (9-5) at Washington (3-11) – Spread: Eagles -9
The Eagles conclude the season with back-to-back road games against division rivals. (They visit the Giants in week 17.) Philadelphia is 3-3 on the road straight up and ATS. The Eagles only road game since mid-November came on Thanksgiving when they cruised past the Cowboys, 33-10. Philly also won at Indianapolis and Houston this year, while losing at San Francisco, Arizona, and Green Bay.
The Eagles fell out of the NFC playoff picture last weekend when they lost, 38-27, to Dallas, despite coming into the game with just one home loss and being favored by 3.5. They likely need to win out to have a chance at the post-season.
The Skins are 2-4 at home and 1-5 against the number. It wouldn’t be surprising if there are as many Eagle fans at this game as Washington supporters. While the Redskins won home games against Jacksonville and Tennessee early in the year, their last two tries at FedEx Field were setbacks against St. Louis (24-0) and Tampa Bay (27-7). Their overall losing streak reached six games last weekend after a 24-13 loss to the Giants. It was announced yesterday that RGIII will be back under center against Philly.
San Diego (8-6) at San Francisco (7-7) – Spread: 49ers -2.5
The Chargers have had winning streaks of five and three games this year, but they may need to win road games at San Francisco and Kansas City to close the year in order to earn a playoff spot in the tight AFC. The Chargers are 3-3 on the road straight up and against the spread, but they will be playing just their second road game since November 2; they won at Baltimore, 34-33, in week 13.
The Niners are at home for the first time since falling to Seattle, 19-3, on Thanksgiving. San Francisco is 3-3 at home and 2-4 against the spread. They’ve beaten Washington, Kansas City, and Philadelphia in front of friendly fans this year, but after back-to-back loses against Oakland and Seattle, and with the playoffs no longer a possibility, Niner supporters may not be all that positive.
Minnesota (6-8) at Miami (7-7) – Spread: Dolphins -6.5
The Vikings play their final road game of the season in week 16. Minnesota is 2-5 outside the Twin Cities but 4-3 against the spread. Minnesota is 1-2 against the AFC East; their lone win was an overtime victory over the Jets at home in week 14. Minnesota lost on the road to Detroit last weekend, 16-14, but covered as 7.5-point dogs.
The Dolphins are 3-3 straight up and against the spread at home, and 1-1 in their last two. Miami dropped a 28-13 home game to Baltimore in week 14, which seriously hurt its playoff chances. Before that, the Fins got by the Bills, 22-9, in week 11. The Dolphins are 1-2 against the NFC North with last second losses to the Lions and Packers and a convincing win in Chicago. Their 41-13 setback to the Patriots in week 15 has put them on the brink of elimination.
Baltimore (9-5) at Houston (7-7) – Spread: Ravens -6
The Ravens play their final road game of the regular season and hope it goes like their most recent road trips. After road losses at Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in weeks 8 and 9, the Ravens won at New Orleans in week 12 and in Miami in week 14. Baltimore is 4-3 on the road and 3-3-1 against the spread. They were less than impressive at home against the Jags in week 15, however, eking out a closer-than-it-sounds 20-12 win.
The Texans have dropped three of their last four at home. They beat Tennessee, 45-21, in week 13, but lost home games to the Bengals, Eagles, and Steelers. Overall, the Texans are 3-3 at home, both straight up and against the spread. Houston wasted a tremendous effort by its defense last week; J.J. Watt and company held Andrew Luck and the Colts to just 17 points, but, after QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was knocked out early, the offense could only muster ten of their own. With the win, Indy clinched the division.
Detroit (10-4) at Chicago (5-9) – Spread: Lions -4.5
The Lions end the year with road games against division rivals Chicago and Green Bay. Detroit beat the Bears at home on Thanksgiving, 34-17, and have been almost unbeatable at Ford Field, going 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS. Detroit followed up their win over the Bears with a decisive victory over Tampa Bay at home in week 14, but let Minnesota hang around in week 15, winning 16-14.
The Bears have lost three straight and five of seven, and they are out of playoff contention. This is the last of three straight home games for Chicago, which has struggled at Soldier Field all year, going 2-5 straight up and against the number. In week 15, they barely showed up to their Monday Night Football game against the also-struggling Saints, handing New Orleans a 31-15 win.
Cleveland (7-7) at Carolina (5-8-1) – Spread: Panthers -4
The first road start for Johnny Manziel is a crucial game for his Browns; a loss will officially eliminate the Browns from playoff contention. With Brian Hoyer at quarterback, the Browns went 3-3 outside of Cleveland and 3-2-1 against the spread. Most recently, the Browns lost at Buffalo, 26-24, in week 12 and won in Atlanta, 26-24, in week 13. We all know what happened in Manziel’s first career NFL start last week.
The Panthers have only beaten NFC South and North teams this year. This the Carolina’s second straight home game and they hope quarterback Cam Newton can return after missing week 15’s matchup with the Bucs due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident. (Backup QB Derek Anderson kept Carolina’s playoff hopes burning bright in week 15, earning a 19-17 win over Tampa.) The Panthers are 0-2-1 against the AFC North with blowout losses against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and a 37-37 tie in Cincinnati.
Atlanta (5-9) at New Orleans (6-8) – Spread: Saints -6.5
The NFC South might be a historically bad division, but somebody has to win it. The Falcons and Saints can go a long way towards a postseason berth with a victory in week 16. Atlanta got by the Saints at home, 37-34, in overtime in week 1. The teams combined for over 1,000 yards of offense in the game. Atlanta is just 2-5 straight up and against the spread on the road, but, in its last three, beat Carolina and Tampa Bay, and covered in a 43-37 loss to Green Bay.
The Saints have not won a home game since routing the Packers in week 8. They’ve dropped home games to San Francisco, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Carolina in the meantime. The Saints are 3-4 at home and 2-5 against the number. They retook top spot in the division with a week 15 win over Chicago on MNF.
Green Bay (10-4) at Tampa Bay (2-12) – Spread: Packers -10.5
The Battle of the Bays is an opportunity for the Packers to push towards a division title. The Packers had a five game winning streak snapped on Sunday when they lost at Buffalo. The loss moved Green Bay level with Detroit in the NFC North, and Detroit owns the tiebreaker thanks to a head-to-head win. However, the Packers and Lions will meet again in week 17 at Lambeau. If the Packers win out, they will claim the division title. Green Bay is 3-4 on the road and 2-5 against the spread.
The Bucs are 0-6 at home and 1-5 against the spread. Their only cover came in their most recent home game when they lost to the Bengals, 14-13, in week 13. They played the Cam Newton-less Panthers close on the road last week, but wound up losing, 19-17.
Kansas City (8-6) at Pittsburgh (9-5) – Spread: Steelers -3.5
The Chiefs have bookended a three-game road winning streak with two-game road losing streaks this year, and sit at 3-4 SU and 4-3 ATS away from Arrowhead. After dropping road games to the Titans and Broncos to open the year, the Chiefs won at Miami in week 3, at San Diego in week 7, and at Buffalo in week 10. They couldn’t keep the momentum going though, falling at Oakland in week 12 and at Arizona in week 14.
After a much-needed home win over the Raiders last weekend, the Chiefs are still firmly in the playoff hunt. A win over current Wild Card holder Pittsburgh would be huge for Kansas City’s playoff chances.
After road wins at Cincinnati and Atlanta the last two weeks, Pittsburgh wraps up the regular season with back-to-back battles at Heinz Field. The Steelers have been good at home (4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS). But, in their last home game, Pittsburgh was surprised by New Orleans, 35-32, in week 13. Prior to that, the Steelers beat Houston, Indianapolis, and Baltimore at home in weeks 7, 8, and 9.
New England (11-3) at New York Jets (3-11) – Spread: Patriots -10.5
The Patriots go on their final road trip of the regular season in week 16 to face division rival New York. New England has secured the AFC East crown, but are competing for top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The Pats are 4-3 on the road straight up and against the spread. Most recently, New England fell at Green Bay, 26-21, in week 13, but then bounced back with a 23-14 win at San Diego in week 14.
The Jets are 2-5 at home straight up and against the spread. They beat Oakland, 19-14, in week 1 and got by the Steelers, 20-13, in week 10, for their only two home wins of the year. New York has played just one home game in the last five weeks, a 16-13 loss to Miami in week 13. Likely to the chagrin of their fans, the Jets won a meaningless game against the two-win Titans in week 15 (16-11), worsening their draft position in the process.
New York Giants (5-9) at St. Louis (6-8) – Spread: Rams -5
With back-to-back wins, including Sunday’s 24-13 victory over the Redskins, the Giants appear to have saved coach Tom Coughlin’s job as the team embarks on their final trip of the season. The G-Men are 2-5 on the road straight up and against the spread. They won at Tennessee, 36-7, in week 14 and beat the Redskins in Washington, 45-14, in week 4.
The Rams have home wins over Seattle and Denver and have been among the best teams in the league over the last month. St. Louis has held opponents to 12 points or fewer in three straight games. However, the offense failed to show up against the Cardinals in week 15; the Rams lost, 12-6, to Arizona and were eliminated from playoff contention. The Rams are 3-4 at home straight up and ATS.
Buffalo (8-6) at Oakland (2-12) – Spread: Bills -5.5
In week 16, Buffalo plays its first of two straight road games to end the year. The first, a tilt with the Raiders, should be much easier than the second, a visit to New England. The Bills are 3-3 on the road and 4-2 against the spread. In its last road game, Buffalo lost at Denver, 24-17, in week 14. The Bills road wins are over Chicago, Detroit, and the Jets. They stayed alive in the AFC playoff race last weekend with an impressive home him over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
After failing to win at home for over a calendar year, Oakland has now won back-to-back home games. The Raiders beat Kansas City, 24-20, in week 12, and San Francisco, 24-13, in week 14. Oakland is 2-5 at home and 3-4 against the number. Their road woes continued in week 15, though, as Oakland lost 31-13 to K.C.
Indianapolis (10-4) at Dallas (10-4) – Spread: Seahawks -8.5
The Colts finish the regular season with two straight road games. They are 4-2 outside of Indy straight up and against the spread. The Colts won in Cleveland, 25-24, in week 14. That was their first road game since handing the Giants a 40-24 loss in week 9. Their only road losses came at Denver in week 1 and at Pittsburgh in week 8.
This is the Cowboys last home game of the year and only home date during the final month of the season. If the Cowboys were better at home, they would have already sealed the division title; but Dallas is just 3-4 at home and 2-5 against the spread and has lost three straight home games (to Philadelphia, Arizona, and Washington). Making matters worse, the Cowboys may be without the NFL’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, who needed hand surgery after Dallas’ week 15 win over Philly.
Seattle (10-4) at Arizona (11-3) – Seahawks -8.5
This will be the second meeting of the year between Seattle and Arizona; the Seahawks triumphed at home, 19-3, in week 12. While the Seahawks struggled a bit on the road early in the year, they have been phenomenal of late. Seattle followed up a 19-3 Thanksgiving win at San Francisco with a decisive 24-14 week 14 victory in Philadelphia (the Eagles’ first home loss of the year). The Seahawks are now 4-3 on the road and 3-4 against the spread.
However, the Cardinals are 7-0 at home and 6-1 for betting purposes. In their last three, the Cards held off Kansas City, 17-14, in week 14 after beating Detroit, 14-6, in week 11, and St. Louis, 31-14, in week 10. The Cardinals will be without quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton because of injuries, though. Third-year QB Ryan Lindley will get the start. Lindley did not look good in week 15 against the Rams, going four of ten for 40 yards after replacing Stanton in the third quarter.
Denver (11-3) at Cincinnati (9-4) – Spread: Broncos -3.5
The Broncos play their last road game of the regular season in week 16. From weeks 8 to 14, Denver played four out of five games on the road and emerged with a 2-2 record; the Broncos won in Oakland and Kansas City but fell at New England and St. Louis. Overall, Denver is 4-3 away from Mile High on the year (both SU and ATS).
The Bengals are 4-2-1 at home and 3-3-1 against the spread. Cincinnati began the season 4-0-1 at home, but have since lost to Cleveland, 24-3, in week 10 and Pittsburgh, 42-21, in week 14. They stayed on top of the AFC North with a 30-0 win over Johnny Manziel and the Browns in week 15. Cincy closes the year with a massive tilt in the Steel City next Sunday.
(Photo credit: Matt McGee (flickr) “Beanie Wells (#26)” [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode].)