New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

New York Giants (8-5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (11-3)

Both of these teams have impressive records, but both teams have needed to have a lot of success in close games to get to these records, which tends not to be sustainable long-term, as victories by larger margins are more predictive of future success than close victories. The Vikings have gone a ridiculous 10-0 in one-score games, with just a 1-3 record in games decided by more than one score, while the Giants are 8-2-1 in one-score games and don’t have any wins by more than one score, going 0-3 in games decided by more than 8 points. 

As a result, the Vikings have just a +2 point differential and rank just 20th in schedule adjusted efficiency (-1.13), while the Giants have a -25 point differential and rank 27th in schedule adjusted efficiency (-4.81). This line seems to take into account that the Vikings are not as good as their record, but I think it overrates the Giants, only favoring the Vikings at home by four points, even though the Vikings have a 3.5-point edge in schedule adjusted efficiency. The difference is even bigger in my roster rankings, with the Vikings being relatively healthy and the Giants having significant injury concerns, including the absence of their two best cornerbacks and their top safety, leading to the Vikings having a 7-point edge in my roster rankings. 

Overall, my calculated line favors the Vikings by seven, which might seem high, given how many close games the Vikings play, but, while they don’t have many wins by more than one-score, seven of the Vikings’ eleven wins have actually come by four points or more, while all five of the Giants’ losses have come by more than four, so I feel confident in the Vikings at this number. This isn’t a big play, but Minnesota should be bettable this week.

Minnesota Vikings 27 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -4

Confidence: Medium

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (10-4) at New England Patriots (7-7)

This is one of the tougher calls of the week from an against the spread perspective. My calculated line is Cincinnati -3, which is right where this line is, and, given that games are decided by three significantly more often than any other number, the most likely outcome of this game is a Cincinnati win by a field goal, which would result in a push. I am taking New England for pick ‘em purposes, but only because the public is heavily on the Bengals and, as a result, the sportsbooks would stand to make a lot of money if the Patriots are able to keep this within three. 

For all the problems the Patriots have on offense (29th in schedule adjusted efficiency), their defense is still one of the best in the league (3rd in schedule adjusted efficiency) and, overall, they’re not worse than an average team, so they should be able to keep this game somewhat competitive at home, even if the Bengals are likely to emerge victorious. A push is still probably more likely than anything though and there’s not nearly enough here for this game to be worth betting either way.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 New England Patriots 20

Pick against the spread: New England +3

Confidence: None

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

The Eagles have lost quarterback and likely MVP favorite Jalen Hurts for this game with injury, but all hope is not lost in this critical divisional battle in Dallas, for several reasons. For one, the Eagles are far more than just Jalen Hurts. As well as Hurts has played, this team is 13-1, ranks 1st in point differential (+143), and 3rd in schedule adjusted efficiency (+6.29), and they could not have done that without a strong supporting cast. In fact, in terms of my roster rankings, the Eagles actually have the most non-quarterback talent of any team in the league.

The Eagles’ talented supporting cast is in large part due to the fact that, even with Hurts out, the Eagles are still one of the healthier teams in the league, with 20 of their expected 22 starters on offense and defense playing this week, including talented tight end Dallas Goedert, who is notably making his return from a 5-game absence this week. Given how late in the season it is, that’s remarkably healthy. The Eagles also have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league in Gardner Minshew, who is a better option than several other regular starters around the league. 

Between having a starting caliber backup and a dominant supporting cast, the Eagles should still have more than enough talent to at least compete with the Cowboys in this game, ranking 3rd in the NFL in my roster rankings even with Hurts out, actually ahead of the Cowboys, who rank 7th in my roster rankings, as well as ranking 9th in schedule adjusted efficiency (+3.17). The Eagles are also more likely to play harder in this game than the Cowboys, as good teams tend to do when forced to play with a backup quarterback. 

The Cowboys, meanwhile, will have another game four days after this one on Thursday Night Football, a spot in which favorites cover at just a 43.2% rate, and they may relax a little bit against a backup quarterback, which they can’t afford to do, given how talented the rest of the Eagles’ roster is. Despite that, the Cowboys are 4.5-point favorites in this game, a pretty high number, given that about 3 out of 10 games are decided by four points or fewer. My calculated line actually has this as a toss up, so I love the value we’re getting with the Eagles, who still have a great chance to win and pull the upset even with Minshew. The Eagles are my Pick of the Week.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Dallas Cowboys 23 Upset Pick +180

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +4.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-8) at New York Jets (7-7)

The Jaguars pulled off a huge comeback upset win over the Cowboys in overtime last week, but that loss might have come with a price, as now the Jaguars have to play on a short week after that overtime game, which has proven to be a close to impossible spot for teams to play well in, with teams going just 2-22 ATS against the spread on short rest after an overtime game. Making matters worse, the Jaguars have to go on the road outside of the division, which is also a tough spot for teams on short rest, unless they’re facing a significantly worse team, which is not the case this week against the Jets. Historically, non-divisional road underdogs cover at a 37.5% rate on Thursday Night Football, as long as both teams are on short rest.

We’re not getting good line value with the Jets as 1.5-point favorites, as that’s right around where I have this line calculated, as the Jets are at home and have been the slightly better team this season, but the Jaguars have been playing significantly better in recent weeks, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence emerging in a big way midway through his second season in the league. However, that calculated line doesn’t take into account the significant disadvantage the Jaguars are at in this game and, even without getting any line value with them, the Jets are still worth a bet purely based on how bad of a spot the Jaguars are in. This isn’t worth a big bet, but I like the Jets this week.

New York Jets 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: NY Jets -1.5

Confidence: Medium

Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (5-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)

A week ago on the early line, the Panthers were 3-point home underdogs, but now they are 3-point favorites. Normally I like to go against significant week-to-week line movements like that and this is not an exception. This line moved because the Panthers pulled the upset in Seattle last week and are playing significantly better with new quarterback Sam Darnold, while the Steelers lost their quarterback Kenny Pickett to injury, but neither replacement option, Mason Rudolph or Mitch Trubisky, are significant downgrades from Pickett, while the Panthers’ play in recent weeks with Darnold is not enough to justify this much of a line movement.

The Steelers have the same record as the Panthers and a worse point differential (-66 vs. -30), but they have a significant edge in schedule adjusted efficiency (16th vs. 25th), as the Steelers have faced a significantly tougher schedule, probably the toughest in the NFL. The Steelers also were without top defensive player TJ Watt for most of the season so far and he has since returned, so they’re better than their record suggests. The Panthers probably have the better quarterback in this game and there’s not quite enough here for the Steelers to be worth betting, but the Steelers should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes at +3.

Carolina Panthers 17 Pittsburgh Steelers 16

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +3

Confidence: Low

Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (4-9) at Denver Broncos (3-10)

The Cardinals lost starting quarterback Kyler Murray for the season with a torn ACL last week, but they were one of the worst teams in the league even before losing him, now sitting at 4-9 with a -71 point differential and a schedule adjusted efficiency that ranks 28th in the NFL. They were 11-6 a year ago, but I thought they were one of the most overrated teams in the league coming into the season, as they needed a +12 turnover margin to get to that record, which is not predictive, and they ranked just 14th in overall efficiency, barely above average. 

They also got a lot worse this off-season, losing starting wide receiver Christian Kirk, top edge defender Chandler Jones, top off ball linebacker Jordan Hicks, top cornerback Robert Alford, and their most efficient running back Chase Edmonds, with their only major addition being former Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who cost the Cardinals their first round pick in a trade and who isn’t a significant upgrade on Christian Kirk. Injuries didn’t help matters, as the Cardinals were already without four starting offensive linemen and top cornerback Byron Jones before losing Murray, which obviously hurts this team even more.

The Broncos are missing their starting quarterback as well, with Russell Wilson missing this week due to a concussion, and they are also in the middle of a disappointing season, sitting at 3-10 with a -44 point differential, despite entering the year as a consensus playoff contender. Their defense is still above average, which makes it the only above average unit in this game and, largely as a result of that, the Broncos have the edge in my roster rankings by a couple points, assuming talented edge defender Randy Gregory returns from injury this week as expected. There isn’t quite enough here for the Broncos to be worth betting, but we’re getting some line value with them as only 1.5-point home favorites.

Denver Broncos 20 Arizona Cardinals 17

Pick against the spread: Denver -1.5

Confidence: Low

Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (7-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)

Both of these teams are 7-6, but neither has played as well as their record suggests, with the Titans seven wins coming by an average of 6.6 points per game and the Chargers’ coming by 4.3 points per game, as opposed to defeats of victory of 13.5 points per game and 10.1 points per game in their six losses respectively. Despite their similarities, the Chargers are still the significantly better team though, for a few reasons. For one, they have played a tougher schedule, while the Titans’ only win against a winning team came against the 7-5-1 Commanders, who were 1-4 at the time. 

The Titans have also gotten kind of lucky in their only two multiscore wins, getting a defensive touchdown to push the margin to 9 against the Colts, while their 10-point win over the Packers came against a team in a terrible spot, playing on a short week after an overtime game, a spot in which teams are just 2-22 ATS all-time. Despite that, the Chargers still have a slight edge in point differential (-31 vs. -35) and, in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is even more predictive than point differential, the Chargers have an even bigger edge.

Overall, the Titans rank 29th in schedule adjusted efficiency, while the Chargers rank 25th, not nearly as good as their record suggests, but still 1.5 points better than the Titans. The Chargers are also healthier, though largely by default. Their defense is still missing top cornerback JC Jackson, stud safety Derwin James, and dominant edge defender Joey Bosa, but their offense has gotten back their two talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as well as talented center Corey Linsley, a big boost, even if they are not as good as they were a year ago when stud left tackle Rashawn Slater was healthy.

The Titans, meanwhile, are missing top wide receiver Treylon Burks, starting left tackle Taylor Lewan, their two best edge defenders Denico Autry and Harold Landry, talented starting linebackers Zach Cunningham and David Long, and starting cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Elijah Molden. This line favors the Chargers by three at home, where they have next to homefield advantage since moving to Los Angeles in 2017, going 18-27 ATS at home, as opposed to 27-17 ATS on the road, so it’s still hard to be confident in the Chargers this week, but they should be the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers 24 Tennessee Titans 20

Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -3

Confidence: None

Detroit Lions at New York Jets: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Detroit Lions (6-7) at New York Jets (7-6)

A week ago on the early line, the Jets were favored by a field goal at home against the Lions, but this line has since shifted to favoring the Lions by 1.5 points. Normally I like to go against significant week-to-week line movements like that, but in this case it might be justified, as the Lions played well in a big victory over the Vikings, while the Jets lost their best quarterback Mike White to injury and will turn back to Zach Wilson this week. 

The Jets could also be without stud interior defender Quinnen Williams, arguably the best player on their defense, after he didn’t practice all week. I’m still taking the Jets for pick ‘em purposes because they still have the edge on the season in point differential (+21 vs. +2) and schedule adjusted efficiency (12th vs. 18th), even with a carousel of different quarterbacks under center, and they now are home underdogs in this game. This is only a low confidence pick though and, if Williams is out, I would drop all confidence.

Update: Williams out, but, for some reason, the Jets are now favored by 1.5 points. I am switching my pick to Detroit, but dropping this to a no confidence pick.

New York Jets 24 Detroit Lions 23

Pick against the spread: Detroit +1.5

Confidence: None

Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (10-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)

The Jaguars are in a good spot in this game, with the Cowboys likely to get caught looking forward to a much bigger game against the Eagles next week, but this line only favors the Cowboys by four points, so we’re not getting great line value with the Jaguars, who have lost by more than four points in seven of their eight losses. The Cowboys, meanwhile, rank 7th in schedule adjusted efficiency, five points ahead of the 19th ranked Jaguars, even though the Cowboys were without starting quarterback Dak Prescott for five games. I’m still taking the Jaguars, but this is a low confidence pick.

Dallas Cowboys 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +4

Confidence: Low

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (5-8) at New Orleans Saints (4-9)

The Falcons have overachieved through the first 13 games of the season, especially on offense, where they rank 9th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but they are switching quarterbacks from capable veteran Marcus Mariota to unproven rookie Desmond Ritter, to evaluate the young quarterback in what is largely a lost season even with a solid offense. Mariota wasn’t playing at that high of a level, but it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the Falcons’ offense decline significantly with Ritter in the lineup, which would expose the problems on the rest of this team in a big way.

The Saints, meanwhile, are just 4-9, but their biggest problem has been the turnover margin (-12, 2nd worst in the league), which is not predictive week-to-week, and they rank 13th in schedule adjusted efficiency, which is much more predictive week-to-week. They’ve also been getting significantly healthier in recent weeks and are now as healthy as they’ve been almost all season coming out of their bye week, after being one of the most injury plagued teams in the league thus far this season.

In total, feature back Alvin Kamara (2 games missed), starting wide receivers Jarvis Landry (5 games missed) and Chris Olave (1 game missed), starting offensive linemen Andrus Peat (4 games missed) and James Hurst (1 game missed), stud edge defenders Cameron Jordan (1 game missed) and Marcus Davenport (2 games missed), and talented safety Marcus Maye (4 games missed) have all missed time this season and have since returned, while talented linebacker Pete Werner (4 games missed), talented center Erik McCoy (4 games missed), and top cornerback Marshon Lattimore (8 games missed) could also return this week.

This line favors the Saints by 4 points at home, but that’s not high enough, with the Saints healthy and the Falcons breaking in a raw rookie quarterback. My calculated line has the Saints favored by 6 and that could increase depending on which injured Saints are able to play. I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick for now, but I could easily end up making an update to this pick before gametime, depending on who actually ends up being active and where this line ultimately settles.

Update: Lattimore remains out, but Werner and McCoy will play, so there is enough here for the Saints to be worth betting at -4.

New Orleans Saints 24 Atlanta Falcons 17

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -4

Confidence: Medium