Best bets for Week 16 of the NFL season
Wes Reynolds is on VSiN Tonight (9 p.m.-12 a.m. ET / 6-9 p.m. PT) and will be posting his weekly college football and NFL best bets for us. He is also one of the hosts of our Long Shots golf betting podcast. He also writes weekly golf previews.
(odds as of December 22, 11:30 p.m. PT)
This is a classic selling of a team at the top of the market (Cincinnati) and buying a team at the bottom (Pittsburgh).
Desperate times call for desperate measures in Pittsburgh, and Mike Tomlin is turning to third-string QB Mason Rudolph. The market is certainly reacting to the change as the Steelers have now gone to three-point underdogs. However, Rudolph is not that much of a drop-off from Trubisky, if at all.
The Steelers are also going to run the ball against this Cincinnati front with regularity. The Bengals rate No. 29 in DVOA against the run and are without DJ Reader to man the middle. With Reader missing all but two snaps last week, Ty Chandler registered the first 100-yard game all season for a Minnesota Vikings running back, rushing 23 times for 132 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers racked up 153 rushing yards on 33 carries in the first meeting against Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati is also without Ja’Marr Chase, who has accounted for 26% of Jake Browning’s yardage, 29% of his touchdowns and 24% of his first downs. These numbers include Browning’s first start, where Pittsburgh won on the road at Cincinnati, 16-10.
Pittsburgh is 55-31-3 (64%) ATS as an underdog under Tomlin, including 21-11 (66%) as an underdog off a loss and 17-6-3 (74%) ATS as a home underdog.
Bet: Steelers +3
The Atlanta Falcons are 1-5 ATS as a home favorite this year and have lost two games in a row to fall out to third place in the weak NFC South. The line has moved three and a half points from the re-opened number of Falcons +1 against an Indianapolis Colts team that has won five of its last six games and would currently be one of the three AFC Wild Card teams. Why is that?
For one, the Colts have some injuries and had practice squad players RB Tyler Goodson and WR DJ Montgomery carry them to victory over Pittsburgh last week. These two players may not see as much action this time around because WR Michael Pittman has cleared concussion protocol (still was limited in final practice with a shoulder injury), and RB Jonathan Taylor returned to practice for the first time since thumb surgery over three weeks ago.
Atlanta has turned back to Taylor Heinicke and benched Desmond Ridder again. Heinicke only completed 55% of his passes in his three starts for an average of only 6.7 yards per attempt and a QB rating of 47.8 before getting the hook for Ridder in Week 10.
So, again, why has this line moved in Atlanta’s favor so much? It is because the market knows that the Colts have been one of the luckier teams in the league. Since the beginning of November, the Colts beat Bryce Young and Carolina, Mac Jones and New England, Baker Mayfield and Tampa Bay, Will Levis and Tennessee, and Mitch Trubisky and Pittsburgh (the one loss to Jake Browning and Cincinnati).
Taylor Heinicke and Atlanta do not exactly add to a murderer’s row off a soft schedule, but the Falcons should be able to move the ball through the air against the Colts’ rookie corners.
The Dirty Birds have their backs against the wall here and should come up with a big effort against a square underdog.
Bet: Falcons – 140 ML
BEST OF THE REST
Chargers +12.5 vs. Bills
Vikings +3 vs. Lions
Ravens +6 at 49ers
TOTAL OF THE WEEK
Packers/Panthers OV 37.5
TEASER OF THE WEEK
Texans +9/Steelers +9