Our NFL handicapper Tom Newbery gives us his best bets for Week 16 of the regular season.
After a highly profitable 4-0 week, we are now back where we belong, in profit for the season. None of the games were ever in doubt, with the two favourites running out comfortable winners, and both underdogs winning their games outright. That’s two pretty solid weeks in a row, which gives me great confidence heading into the final couple of weeks of the season, and into the playoffs.
These next two weeks will be tricky, as it can be difficult to tell where a team is at mentally, when they are either out of the race all together, or have maybe locked up as good a post season as they can, and will look to rest their starters. Having said that, this can also play into your hands because if you have a good grasp on the teams, and can keep as up to date as possible, you can beat the books at their own game and get out ahead of the market.
This doesn’t always mean betting games early though. This season I have had most of my success betting late, as it allows the public to move the numbers in my favour, then I will bet on game day when I feel I am getting the best of the number.
As previously mentioned, this time of year can be tough to bet, and it is a time where I find it easier to put the data and statistics to one side, and look at the situational side of games, and what they mean to each team. I am hoping this will lead to success for now, but when the playoffs roll around, the numbers will play a big role again.
New England @ NY Jets
Last week I was all over the New England Patriots, and for very good reasons. They are clicking at the right time, were at home, and had something to prove to their divisional opponent after a week 1 defeat. I was right, and after a slow first half, Brady led his team to three third quarter TD’s to get a comfortable win and cover.
This week, despite the big difference in quality, I am taking the home team NY Jets in this one. Rex Ryan’s six year tenure in New York looks set to be over after this season, and this will be his final home game with the team. He had early success, leading the Gang Green to back to back AFC championship appearances. They have failed to make the playoffs since then though, and it’s time to go a new direction for the team.
If Ryan was staying on, you argue that they could look to mail in the last couple of games of the season, to secure a decent draft position next year. This could land them either Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota or Leonard Williams, which would no doubt address the problems at the QB position. Rex will be gone though, and he doesn’t care how the team will look next year. He will want to go out on a high, at home, in front of a crowd that fell in love with his big, tough talking approach to the game.
I understand all this means nothing if the team can’t go toe to toe with the Patriots, but I think they can. The previous game in Foxboro was as close as it gets, with the Jets having the ball, and a chance for the win with the final kick of the game. They fell short in that one, but easily covered the 9.5 point spread, losing 27-25. The Jets are the more efficient team running the ball, and I don’t see that changing here. New England have shown they can beat you any way they need to, and have the luxury of Tom Brady as a fall back option, if the running game doesn’t get going.
New York ran for an impressive 205 yards that day, and limited the Patriots to just 63 yards on the ground. This allowed the visiting Jets to control the clock and win the time of possession battle 41 minutes to just 19. The Jets run the ball on average 47% of the time, which is the fourth highest in the league. I expect Rex Ryan to continue to do this, and to have some exotic defensive looks for his final battle with Bill Belichick.
Can the Jets win this game? Possibly. Can they cover this game? Definitely. If they can limit the turnovers, run the ball effectively, and put some pressure on Tom Brady, the Jets can keep this game close, and stay within the posted 10.5 point spread. I wouldn’t rush to bet this one though, as the ticket count will no doubt be one sided on the New England side. As this number is over the key of 10, it could creep up over the next couple of days, and hit 12/13 come kick off.
Indianapolis @ Dallas
Dallas got the job done for me last week, as a smaller bet, and I’m coming straight back with them again this week. Now I, like many others, was completely wrong on this Cowboys team this year. Going into the season, I had predicted a terrible defence, mixed with an average offence, with plenty of problems. I was betting their under on their season win total like I already had the results of this season, which turned out to be a loser right from the get go.
I had over-estimated Tony Romo’s back problem, assumed Dez Bryant was more trouble than good, and also expected DeMarco Murray to be a good to average running back. My biggest mistake though, was overlooking what has turned out to be one of the best offensive lines in the league. Silly really, as the Cowboys have spent some pretty high draft picks on O Linemen the last few seasons, so it makes sense they would come good soon.
Back to the game, and last week was a huge win for Dallas, it gave them the lead of the NFC East, and they have advantages over second place Philadelphia too. They are 1-1 head to head this season, but the Cowboys have a two game advantage over NFC opponents for the year. This means that Philly need to win out to have a chance at the division, and hope Dallas slip up.
On paper this is a tough game for Dallas. Indianapolis are currently the number three seed in the AFC. They have a top three offence, led by the best young quarterback in the league in Andrew Luck, who just finds ways to win. There are still a few question marks for this team though, and it starts with their adaptability.
The Colts are as one dimensional a team as you can find in the league. They struggle to run the ball, and their losses have all come vs good opponents who can score points both in the air and on the ground. Sound familiar? The Cowboys have put up over 30 points seven times this season, and have many ways to beat you.
The Dallas defence is far from great, but if they can start to cause a problem for Luck, this game could be over quickly. DeMarco Murray had a hand operation early in the week, but is back training with the team already, and is expected to be leading the line in this crucial match up.
The other question around this game is the motivational side. As I just mentioned, this is a huge game for the Cowboys. They have the lead in the division but their job is far from over. Their destiny is in their own hands, and they know if they win out, they make the playoffs. There is also a chance that if Philly slip up, they could win the division with a week spare. On the other hand, what do Indianapolis have to play for? Their only hope for a bye in the playoffs is if New England and Denver both lose their remaining fixtures, and Indy win out. This will not happen, and they know that, so they will be playing on wildcard weekend regardless. The Colts go to a hapless Tennessee on the final week of the season, where they know they could rest starters and still get the win. This will also be their chance to sweep the divison, which isn’t as impressive as it sounds when you apply your trade in the terrible AFC South.
I expect Dallas to turn up huge, like they did last week, and Indianapolis to sleep walk their way into the playoffs, where they will need to step their game up to challenge either the Broncos or the Patriots to make the Superbowl. Take the home team Cowboys, and lay the 3 points.
Elsewhere, I like the Minnesota Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater to continue his impressive rookie season, and cover the +7 they are getting in Miami. The Dolphins are all but eliminated from playoff contention after last week’s loss, so may not be fully motivated.
I think Pittsburgh could be getting hot at the right time, and if they make it, could be a danger in the playoffs. Whenever I have thought they have turned a corner this season, they have let me down! I like this match up however, and will lay the 3 points with the home team Steelers. Kansas City run their offence through one man only, and had lost three straight before last week’s win vs Oakland. It could prove to be a false win, and the better team should get the job done.
2pts NY Jets +10.5 at 10/11
2pts Dallas -3 at 10/11
1pt Minnesota +7 at 5/6
1pt Pittsburgh -3 at 10/11
Record to Date: 79 pts staked; +6.95 pts PROFIT