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Market Insights: NFL Week 16 games drawing sharp action

December 22, 2019 12:12 AM

Welcome to the 16th Sunday of the NFL regular season. Yesterday, we saw Houston beat Tampa Bay 23-20 to clinch the AFC South. The Texans opened at -1.5, reached -3.5 and closed at -3, meaning early bettors covered, -3 bettors pushed and savvy Bucs plus 3.5 contrarian bettors cashed. The windy under (15 MPH) also hit as the total opened at 52.5, closed at 50 and landed on 43.

The Patriots rallied to beat the Bills 24-17 to clinch their 11th straight AFC East title. Nearly two-thirds of bets took Buffalo plus 6.5, but the Patriots found a way to cover late, handing sportsbooks a big victory.

The Rams came up huge for contrarian bettors in the nightcap. Although San Francisco won 34-31, Los Angeles covered as a road divisional dog. Only one-third of bets took the Rams plus the points (opened plus 6.5 and closed plus 7).

Today, we only have 12 Sunday games. As a result, each one of these games will be more heavily bet than usual as the public has fewer games to choose from, providing heightened betting against the public value.

For gameday analysis and betting updates, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9 a.m.-noon ET on The Lombardi Line. We'll be breaking down all the late sharp action leading up to kickoff.

Now let's discuss where the sharp money is flowing for today's NFL slate.

1 p.m. ET: Cincinnati Bengals (1-13) at Miami Dolphins (3-11)


This is one of the ugliest matchups of the day with both teams a combined 4-24. The Bengals own the word record in the league and are in line for the number one pick in the NFL Draft. Cincinnati's only win came three weeks ago when they upset the Jets 22-6 as 2.5-point home dogs. The Bengals (5-8-1 ATS) are coming off a 34-13 loss to the Patriots as 10.5-point dogs. Cincinnati is -148 in point differential, averaging 15.07 PPG on offense and allowing 25.64 PPG on defense. The Dolphins are tied with the Giants and Redskins for the 2nd-worst record in the league. Miami is a respectable 7-7 ATS but a horrific -194 point differential, worst in the league. The Fins are coming off a 36-20 loss to the giants as 3.5-point road dogs. Miami is averaging 17.21 PPG on offense and giving up a whopping 31.07 PPG on defense.

This line opened with Miami listed as a short 1.5-point home favorite. Despite two-thirds of bets backing the Fins at home, this line has completely flipped to Bengals -1.5 or even -2 at some shops, signaling sharp reverse line movement on the road team. Cincinnati has value as road dog off a loss (43-24 ATS, 64% this season) and a short road dog plus 6 or less (51-37 ATS, 58%). The total opened at 46.5 and has dipped slightly to 46. The forecast calls for mid 70s with 15 MPH winds. When the wind blows 10 MPH or more in a conference game the under is 23-12 (66%) this season and 57% since 2003. The under is 8-5-1 in Bengals games and 7-7 in Dolphins games. Brad Allen, the lead ref, is 54.6% to the under. 

1 p.m. ET: New York Giants (3-11) at Washington Redskins (3-11)

This once proud NFC East rivalry has been reduced to rubble this season as both teams are tied for the 2nd-worst record in the NFL and a combined 6-22. The Giants snapped a 9-game losing skid last week, beating the Dolphins 36-20 as 3.5-point home favorites. New York is -99 in point differential, averaging 20.21 PPG on offense and giving up 27.29 PPG on defense. After a mini 2-game winning streak the Redskins had dropped two in a row, most recently falling in agonizing fashion to the Eagles 37-27 as 6.5-point home dogs. Washington is -132 in point differential, averaging only 15.36 PPG on offense and giving up 24.79 PPG on defense. Both teams are 6-8 ATS. 

This line opened with Redskins listed as a short 2.5-point home favorites. Bets are split down the middle, yet the line has fallen to a pick'em. This indicates heavy smart money coming down on the G-Men. These two teams met in late September and Giants wont 24-3 as 3-point favorites. Daniel Jones will get the start for New York, not Eli Manning. The total opened at 42.5 and has fallen to 42. December divisional unders are 57% since 2003. The under is 8-6 in Giants games but 6-8 in Redskins games. Ron Torbert, the lead ref, has favored road teams historically (62.5% ATS).

1 p.m. ET: New Orleans Saints (11-3) at Tennessee Titans (8-6)


This non-conference matchup pits a Super Bowl contender against a team desperately fighting for the last playoff spot. The Saints have already clinched the NFC South and would be the 3-seed if the postseason started today. New Orleans is 75 in point differential, averaging 27 PPG on offense and allowing 21.64 PPG on defense. The Saints are coming off an impressive 34-7 win over the Colts as 8.5-point favorites. Tennessee is coming off a 24-21 loss to the Texans as 3-point favorites but can still make the playoffs if they win out and catch a few breaks. Tennessee is 60 in point differential, averaging 24.21 PPG on offense and allowing 19.93 PPG on defense. New Orleans is 9-5 ATS and Tennessee is 8-6 ATS.

This line opened with New Orleans listed as a short 1.5-point road favorite. Three-out-of-four bets are laying the points, pushing the line up to 3. That's when value-minded sharps got down hard on Tennessee at the key number of plus 3, dropping the line back down to 2.5. The total opened at 51.5 and has fallen to 50.5, indicating sharp under money hitting the market. The forecast calls for low 50s and 5 MPH winds. Jerome Boger, the lead ref, has been profitable for home teams historically (55.3%).

4:25 p.m. ET: Dallas Cowboys (7-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)


Of all the Week 16 games, this one has the most on the line. These NFC East rivals are both 7-7 and engaged in a heated battle for the division crown and final playoff spot. Dallas snapped a 3-game losing skid last week with a clutch 44-21 blowout win over the Rams as 1-point dogs. The Cowboys are 8-6 ATS and plus 90 in point differential, averaging 27 PPG on offense and giving up 20.57 PPG on defense. The Eagles, once left for dead, have won two in a row, most recently beating the Redskins 37-27 and covering the -6.5 in epic fashion on a last-second fumble recovery scoop and score. Philadelphia is 5-9 ATS and 6 in point differential, averaging 23.86 PPG on offense and giving up 23.43 PPG on defense. These two teams met in late October, and Dallas blew out Philadelphia 37-10 as 3-point favorites. 

This line opened with Dallas listed as a short 2.5-point road favorite. The recency biased public is loading up on the Cowboys, who looked great in last week's resounding win over the Rams. However, despite three-out-of-four bets backing Dallas, the line has either remained frozen at 2.5 or fallen down to 2, signaling sharp action on the Eagles at home plus the points. Philadelphia has value as a contrarian home divisional dog. Sharps have also leaned on the under, dropping the total down from 47.5 to 46. December divisional unders are 57% since 2003. The forecast calls for low 40s and 5 MPH winds. Tony Corrente is the lead ref. The under is 56.3% with Corrente as the head official.

4:25 p.m. ET: Arizona Cardinals (4-9-1) at Seattle Seahawks (11-3)


This NFC West clash features a Super Bowl contender and a team completely out of it. The Cardinals snapped a 6-game losing skid last week, upsetting the Browns 38-24 as 3-point home dogs. Arizona is -88 in point differential, averaging 22.14 PPG on offense and allowing 28.43 PPG on defense. The Seahawks have already clinched a playoff spot and would be the number one seed if the postseason started today. Seattle is coming off a 30-24 win over Carolina, pushing as 6-point road favorites. The Seahawks are plus 26 in point differential, averaging 26.5 PPG on offense and allowing 24.64 PPG on defense. The Cardinals are 8-5-1 ATS while the Seahawks are 7-6-1 ATS. 

This line opened with Seattle listed as a 9.5-point home favorite. Pro and Joes are both backing Arizona, as the Cardinals are receiving two-thirds of bets and have fallen from plus 9.5 to plus 9. Some shops are even down to 8.5. The Cardinals have value as a road dog and a divisional dog. The total opened at 51 and has either stayed the same or fallen slightly to 50.5. The forecast calls for mid 40s and 5 MPH winds. If the total is 45 or higher, December divisional unders are 60.4% since 2003. The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 27-10 in Week 4 as 5.5-point favorites.

More sharp action

Jaguars-Falcons Over 45.5 to 47.5

Steelers-Jets Under 39 to 37

Chargers -5.5 to -7.5 vs Raiders

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