It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’ve entered week 16 and it’s time to help stuff your stockings with some winners on this week’s NFL slate. Still haven’t purchased a gift for family or friends? There’s still time! And also, get your priorities straight.
This week I’m pulling out all of the stops to help you pretend to be a betting expert at your Holiday parties.
I’m excited to preview a battle of South Florida squads fighting for division titles, an NFC North showdown in frigid Minnesota, and the game of the week in scorching-hot Miami.
Buckle up for this sleigh ride and allow me to help you try and win some cold hard cash courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. Here’s a look at our games of the week.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2)
Here lies a matchup of teams trending in opposite directions. Tampa Bay has won three consecutive games, including a statement win over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field last Sunday, to jump into first place in the NFC South.
The Jaguars meanwhile have lost three straight games and are slowly losing their grip on the AFC South lead.
Currently, the Bucs are two-point favorites at home. This spread is a reflection of Jaguars star QB Trevor Lawrence’s status; Lawrence is currently in the concussion protocol and hasn’t been cleared as of Thursday. Lawrence self-reported symptoms to the team following the Jaguars loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday. If he can’t go, it’ll be backup QB C.J. Beathard, who last started in week 17 of the 2020 season.
Jacksonville is also without one of their top options at receiver, Christian Kirk, who remains on injured reserve.
This line will move based on availability, but I wouldn’t touch the Jaguars with a ten-foot pole right now. Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield is coming off the best performance of his career, completing 22 of 28 passes for 381 yards and four TDs in the team’s win over the Packers. I anticipate him to continue that momentum at home.
Who doesn’t love holiday cookies? I’m riding with the Baker.
Pick: Buccaneers -2
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings (+3)
This could be an extra special Holiday season for Detroit Lions fans as they have a chance to unwrap a gift that has eluded them for the last 30 years — a division title. And what better way to do it than against your division rival?
The Lions got back on track last week with a 42-17 trouncing of the Denver Broncos at Ford Field. Quarterback Jared Goff is approaching 4,000 passing yards, and their excellent RB tandem of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs each has a chance to eclipse over 1,000 yards on the ground.
The Vikings are onto their fourth quarterback of the season with Nick Mullens leading the brigade and are close to falling out of the NFC playoff race entirely. They will be in desperation mode, so this shouldn’t come easily for Detroit. The Lions are 8-1 in games with one turnover or less, so that will be the key to securing a win in Minnesota.
Anyone picking Detroit should be a bit cautious as 79% of bettors are currently backing the Lions. We like to call that a “trap game.” However, I’ll fall into the trap.
I’m taking the Lions to win their first division title since 1993 and do it impressively.
Pick: Lions -3
Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins (-1)
What the heck happened to the Cowboys last week? This team’s home and road splits are simply unimaginable. When playing in their friendly home confines, the Cowboys are 7-0 on the season. But Dallas is just 3-4 on the road and lost 31-10 last weekend to the Buffalo Bills. Ouch.
Here is an interesting tidbit; the Dolphins have 10 wins on the season, but none of them have come against a team over .500, which is a jarring stat.
The X-factors in this game will be Dolphins running backs Raheem Mostert and Devon Achane. As a team, the Dolphins lead the league averaging 5.1 yards per carry in big. Mostert has rushed for 18 touchdowns this season — yes, 18 — which is a new Miami Dolphins record. Just last week Dallas allowed 266 yards on the ground to the Bills, which isn’t exactly inspiring much Christmas hope for Cowboys fans.
Currently, 56% of bettors are backing the Dolphins, and I agree with them.
Pick: Dolphins -1
What are your thoughts on the team’s picks for Week 16?