NFL capsules for Week 16

December 22, 2021 07:44 AM

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5,43) at Tennessee Titans 

Week 16 begins Thursday night with two teams looking to home in on postseason berths. The 49ers (8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS) are on the road against the reeling Titans (9-5 SU, 8-6 ATS). The Titans held the Steelers to 168 yards of offense last week but turned the ball over four times in defeat, with their only touchdown coming on a short field. The 49ers, once 3-5, have won five of six to put themselves in position to reach the NFC playoffs. They handled the Falcons, gaining more than 7 yards per play in a 31-13 victory.

Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers (-7.5, 45)

The short-handed Browns (7-7 SU, 6-8 ATS) suffered a devastating loss Monday night after losing to the Raiders on a last-second field goal. The Browns are now in a must-win situation on a short week as they visit the Packers (11-3 SU and ATS) on Christmas Day. QB Nick Mullens started against the Raiders, but the Browns are hoping for the return of Baker Mayfield and a group of other key players in COVID-19 protocol. The Packers control their destiny for the top seed in the NFC after the Bucs and Cardinals lost last week. At 11-3 against the spread, the Packers are the most profitable team in the league despite not covering last week in Baltimore.

Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals (-1.5, 49)

The Christmas Day slate concludes with a good one, as the Colts (8-6 SU, 9-5 ATS) visit the Cardinals (10-4 SU, 9-5 ATS). Both teams are likely headed for postseason play but are moving in opposite directions. The Colts were 0-3 in what looked like a lost season but have rallied to win eight of 11. The Cardinals were the last undefeated team but have battled numerous injuries and have lost two in a row and four of six. WR DeAndre Hopkins will miss the rest of the regular season for the Cardinals, who are in danger of dropping out of first place in the NFC West. The Colts will be playing their second straight game on a Saturday, while the Cardinals will be on short rest after losing 30-12 to the Lions on Sunday.

Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (-6, 42)

Winners of two of their last three, the Lions (2-11-1 SU, 9-5 ATS) hit the road to take on the Falcons (6-8 SU and ATS). The Lions not only won as 13-point underdogs against the Cardinals but did so in convincing fashion. They are hoping for the return of RB D’Andre Swift, who hasn’t played since an injury on Thanksgiving. The Falcons were beaten soundly in San Francisco last week and will need to run the table to have any hope of reaching the postseason.

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-2, 43.5)

This game means a lot in the AFC East race as the Bills (8-6 SU, 8-6 ATS) and Patriots (9-5 SU, 9-5 ATS) square off in Foxboro. The winner will be in the driver’s seat for the division crown. These teams met Dec. 6, with the Patriots winning 14-10 in Buffalo despite attempting just three passes. The Pats had a seven-game winning streak snapped on Saturday in Indianapolis, while the Bills broke a two-game skid as they beat the Panthers. Patriots RB Damien Harris missed last week’s game but is expected to return.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11, 49) at Carolina Panthers

In a scheduling oddity, the Buccaneers (10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS) and Panthers (5-9 SU and ATS) will meet twice over the final three weeks. The Bucs were shut out last week against the Saints and got beat up in the process. WR Chris Godwin suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season, while Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette left the game with injuries and are questionable this week. At least WR Antonio Brown is expected to return from a suspension. The Panthers, once 3-0, have lost nine of 11 and are struggling to get production from their quarterbacks. The Bucs can clinch the NFC South with a victory.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5, 44)

The AFC North lead is at stake as the Ravens (8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS), losers of three in a row, visit the Bengals (8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS). The Ravens are hoping to get QB Lamar Jackson back, although backup Tyler Huntley has filled in admirably in Jackson’s absence. The Bengals are also dealing with some uncertainty as RB Joe Mixon is questionable. The Bengals defeated the Ravens 41-17 in Baltimore earlier this season, so a win would put them in prime position to win the division. The Ravens are dealing with a cluster of injuries in their secondary.

Los Angeles Chargers (-9, 45) at Houston Texans

After coughing up a late lead last Thursday, the Chargers (8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS) will have extra time to recover from their gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Chiefs. The Chargers would have taken control of the AFC West with a victory but now must set their sights on a wild-card spot. They are heavily favored against the Texans (3-11 SU, 6-8 ATS), who have beaten the Jaguars twice but have just one other win. Both teams could have success on the ground, as the Chargers allow 136.8 rushing yards per game (28th) while the Texans allow 145.0 (32nd).

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-2.5, 45)

The first two picks in the 2021 NFL draft square off as Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars (2-12 SU, 4-10 ATS) visit Zach Wilson and the Jets (3-11 SU, 4-10 ATS). The Jets are last in the NFL in several defensive categories, including points and yards per play. If the Jets defense is going to have any success, perhaps it’s this week against a Jaguars offense that is last in points at 14 per game. This game could have major implications for which team picks first in next year’s draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5, 45)

The Steelers (7-6-1 SU, 6-8 ATS) kept their season alive as they defeated the Titans last week, despite gaining just 168 yards. The Chiefs (10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS), who will have extra rest after beating the Chargers in overtime last Thursday, have won seven in a row after a sluggish 3-4 start. The Chiefs have some key players in COVID-19 protocol, but K Harrison Butker and TE Travis Kelce could be cleared in time for this one. The Chiefs are currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-1.5, 42.5)

Both the Broncos (7-7 SU and ATS) and Raiders (7-7 SU, 5-9 ATS) are hanging by a thread in the AFC playoff picture. The Broncos lost to the Bengals last week and may have lost QB Teddy Bridgewater, who is unlikely to play after leaving the game with a concussion. The Raiders will have a short week after beating the Browns on Monday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. Raiders TE Darren Waller, who hasn’t played since Thanksgiving, could return. Broncos games have gone Under in 11 out of 14.

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (-3.5, 39)

Week 16 concludes Monday night with a pair of .500 teams trying to stay alive. The Dolphins (7-7 SU and ATS) have won six straight and hit the road to take on the Saints (7-7 SU and ATS). The Saints shut out the Bucs 9-0 last week as neither team reached the end zone. Saints coach Sean Payton is expected to be back after missing last week’s game in COVID-19 protocol. Dolphins rookie WR Jaylen Waddle will return from COVID-19 protocol. The total of 39 is the lowest on the board this week.

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-10, 41.5)

The New York Giants (4-10 SU, 6-8 ATS) look to play spoiler as they visit the division rival Philadelphia Eagles (7-7 SU, 7-6-1 ATS). These teams met Nov. 28, with the Giants upsetting the Eagles 13-7. Since then, however, the Giants have not won a game, while the Eagles have not lost. The Eagles are one of three NFC teams at 7-7 as they compete for the final wild-card spot. They take on a punchless Giants team that has had trouble scoring, posting just 11.8 points per game over the last five contests. With starting quarterback Daniel Jones shut down for the season with a neck injury, Mike Glennon has been under center for the Giants. But he might give way to Jake Fromm, who appears on track to make his first career start. This will be the Eagles’ second game in six days.

Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-7, 43)

Two teams simply playing out the string will meet as the Chicago Bears (4-10 SU, ATS) visit the Seattle Seahawks (5-9 SU, 7-7 ATS). Both squads will be coming off losses and will have less time than usual to prepare. The Bears lost Monday night to the Vikings despite a stellar defensive effort that yielded less than 200 yards of offense on 3.2 yards per play. The Bears’ lone offensive touchdown came on the final play with the game long decided. The Seahawks will be coming off Tuesday’s loss to the Rams. Like the Bears, the Seahawks were stifled in defeat, collecting just 10 points on 4 yards per play. The Bears look to get back a host of players who missed last week due to COVID-19 protocols, including their entire starting secondary.

Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys (-10, 47.5)

These NFC East rivals meet for the second time in three weekends, with Washington (6-8 SU, 5-8-1 ATS) visiting the Dallas Cowboys (10-4 SU, 11-3 ATS). These teams met Dec. 12, when the Cowboys staved off a late Washington rally to win 24-17 after building a 24-0 lead. Washington is coming off a loss Tuesday in Philadelphia and will be at a severe rest disadvantage on the ultra-short week. Its top two quarterbacks were out Tuesday due to COVID-19 protocols, while opening-day starter Ryan Fitzpatrick is out for the season. Washington was outgained 519-237 by the Eagles, surrendering a whopping 7.7 yards per play. The Cowboys would clinch the NFC East with a victory.

Los Angeles Rams (-3, 49) at Minnesota Vikings

With both teams in the postseason hunt, the Los Angeles Rams (10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS) eye first place in the NFC West as they visit the Minnesota Vikings (7-7 SU, 8-6 ATS). Both teams will be on short weeks of prep, with the Vikings having won Monday in Chicago and the Rams pulling away late from the Seahawks on Tuesday. The Vikings are one of three teams at 7-7 in the NFC and currently hold the final wild-card spot. But they are off their worst offensive performance this season as they failed to collect 200 yards and were held to just 3.2 yards per play. They hope to get wide receiver Adam Thielen back after he missed two games with an ankle injury. The Rams have won three in a row after losing three straight before the winning streak.

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