NFL picks, predictions against the spread Week 16: Dolphins flip Cowboys; Buccaneers upset Jaguars; Rams roll Saints

Week 15 in the NFL was another unpredictable roller-coaster with a full slate of games. Much like all the playoff contending teams, the last few weeks in the final month of the season are about surviving and advancing to better picks.

There are some tougher marquee matchups between good teams. There are some tossup tilts between bad teams. There are huge spreads for favorites and then essential pick ’ems.

Week 16 doesn’t get much easier for the latest group of 16 picks and predictions against the spread, but there’s no rest for the weary before Christmas as it’s already time to unwrap another fearless forecast:

(Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys, Steelers flop after blowout losses; 49ers, Ravens battle at top for Week 16

NFL picks against the spread for Week 16

  • Game of Midweek: Saints at Rams (-4, 45 o/u)

Thursday 8:15 p.m. ET, Amazon Prime Video

The Rams are holding the last playoff position in the NFC as the No. 7 wild card. The Saints, also at 7-7, are right on their heels. New Orleans’ defense is coming off a big game but on a short week long travel, runs into red-hot Los Angeles offense clicking everywhere for Sean McVay. The Saints’ defense can keep them in it, but Matthew Stafford is still better positioned to come through at home and well outplay Derek Carr. The Saints also have no answers for Cooper Kupp.

Pick: Rams win 24-17 and cover the spread.

  • Game of the Week: Ravens at 49ers (-5.5, 45.5 o/u)

Monday 8:15 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN

The Ravens weren’t caught looking ahead to this battle of potential top playoff seeds in a possible Super Bowl “prematch”. Both teams rolled out their usual respective conference dominance in Week 15 and it’s impossible to find two hotter teams in the NFL. San Francisco’s offensive versatility and explosiveness are better than Baltimore’s. Brock Purdy stays sharp vs. a tough pass defense with plenty of help, while Lamar Jackson’s playmaking is contained enough in crunch time.

Pick: 49ers win 24-20 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Upset of the Week: Buccaneers (+2.5, 44.5 o/u) over Jaguars 

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Jaguars are dealing with Trevor Lawrence (concussion) possibly needing to miss his first game of the season after playing through multiple injuries. It’s horrible timing, given Jacksonville has lost three consecutive games to see its AFC South title repeat hopes fade a bit. Facing Tampa Bay and it’s fired-up passing game with Baker Mayfield, although just down the road in the same state, is a hard recovery spot given the Bucs are trying to repeat in the AFC South. It’s easy to believe that the Bucs have more reliable offense now.

Pick: Buccaneers win 24-20 and cover the spread.

  • Lock of the Week: Chiefs (-10, 43 o/u) over Raiders 

Monday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Chiefs have been contained offensively for a few weeks, but they busted out a little in New England despite a tricky defensive matchup because they were sparked into more offensive creativity for Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs have diversified well in the passing game away from Travis Kelce and also can run when needed, however their backfield mix looks. The Raiders poured a lot of energy ripping the Chargers at home and will be a bit defensively sapped here on the road.

Pick: Chiefs win 38-14 and cover the spread.

  • Bengals (-2.5, 38.5 o/u) at Steelers

Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The Bengals were shellshocked offensively when the teams met in Week 12. Jake Browning was just taking over as the team dealt with the news of losing Joe Burrow. Browning has gotten better with every game since as a plus backup, while Pittsburgh doesn’t have answers with Mason Rudolph. Turns out Kenny Pickett is more key to the offense than perceived. Browning operates in a better system and even with some injures, it’s become easier to side with him, even on the road.

Pick: Bengals win 23-20 and cover the spread.

  • Bills (-13.5, 42.5 o/u) at Chargers

Saturday 8 p.m. ET, Peacock

The Bills have reinvented their offense to a run-heavy attack to better complement their defense and take pressure off Josh Allen. To that end, James Cook is living up to expectations as an explosive feature back. Buffalo can feel great about a playoff return, even as AFC East champions again. The Chargers will play a little more inspired under interim coach Giff Smith, but their injuries and defensive holes are too much to overcome here.

Pick: Bills win 30-13 and cover the spread.

  • Colts (-2, 44 o/u) at Falcons

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Desmond Ridder and the entire Falcons’ offense fares much better at home. Given the plus athleticism of Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts, Arthur Smith seems out of his element on the road in the elements. The Colts are up-and-down too because of injuries shaking up both sides, but they’ve been a terrific road team this season (5-2) and get the benefit here of a comfortable home-like dome. Shane Steichen should get top runner Jonathan Taylor back to boost Gardner Minshew vs. a fading Falcons’ front seven defense.

Pick: Colts win 23-20 and cover the spread.

Jonathan Taylor

  • Seahawks (-2.5, 42.5 o/u) at Titans

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Seahawks’ pass defense has played well of later with a fair combination of pressure and coverage. The Titans are struggling to pass the ball well and now rookie QB Will Levis (ankle) is hurting. Seattle will win this battle up front on both sides, stopping the run and running the ball well. Pete Carroll’s team will rise up to needing this win badly, while Mike Vrabel and his eliminated team will just work to play for some good pride.

Pick: Seahawks win 20-17 and cover the spread.

  • Lions (-3, 47 o/u) at Vikings

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Lions got their running and passing groove back together again in ripping into the Broncos at home in Week 15. Jared Goff lit it up and although he’s not the same on the road, keep in mind this is a key division game in familiar controlled environment. Minnesota can slow down the run a little vs. Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, but it just doesn’t have the consistent coverage to hold up well vs. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sam LaPorta and others downfield. The Lions take this game and put away the division title before the Week 19 rematch in Detroit.

Pick: Lions win 24-20 and cover the spread.

  • Commanders at Jets (-3, 38 o/u) 

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Jets got a spark from Zach Wilson’s return in Week 14, only to see him get hurt again in Week 15 and everything crumble again offensively. They were completely grounded with zero points despite having Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson. It’s likely Trevor Siemian over Aaron Rodgers starting with no more playoffs on the line, but they face such an awful defense that Hall, Wilson and the key weapons should rebound big-time. The Commanders are dealing with their own QB mess and this pass defense doesn’t inspire Sam Howell getting back on track.

Pick: Jets win 20-14 and cover the spread.

  • Packers (-4.5, 36 o/u) at Panthers

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Jordan Love gives some inspiration to Carolina that despite being in a much smaller frame, Bryce Young will find his way next season to become one of the league’s better passers. For now, despite inconsistent young weapons and a fickle running game, Love has exceeded some expectations. Green Bay’s defense has been the much bigger culprit of late. A heavy Packers crowd in Charlotte boosts the visitors to ending a shocking tow-game losing streak.

Pick: Packers win 27-20 and cover the spread.

  • Browns at Texans (-2.5, 42.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Cleveland has been rocking with Joe Flacco and between Amari Cooper, the running backs and David Njoku, he has the ideal weapons for his pocket passing prowess. But the Browns are only 2-4 on the road vs. 7-1 at home, where their loaded defense also tends to play better. The Texans’ defense is stepping up well under DeMeco Ryans and there should some confidence that C.J. Stroud returns to start at home, where he’s been the better QB.

Pick: Texans win 20-17 and cover the spread.

  • Cardinals at Bears (-4.5, 44.5 o/u)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Kyler Murray running around the same Soldier Field as Justin Fields should make this an entertaining game between two non-playoff teams. The Bears’ defense has been feeling it more under Matt Eberflus, however, while the Cardinals are overachieving.a bit with limitations under Jonathan Gannon. In the end, Fields on a a tundra feels more comfortable overall than Murray out of the desert.

Pick: Bears win 23-20 but fail to cover the spread.

Dak Prescott

  • Cowboys at Dolphins (-1.5, 51 o/u)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Dak Prescott’s heater ended with a thud in chilly Buffalo. it will be much warmer in Miami temperature-wise for this next epic battle vs. an AFC East foe. The question, with the Dolphins’ defense playing well and just coming off a shut out of the Jets, can Prescott thaw in time to outduel a now limited Tua Tagovailoa? Dallas will be in big trouble with its man defense should Tyreek Hill return to flank Jaylen Waddle, while there could be more explosive leaks vs. the run against speedy Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane. The Dolphins will contain Prescott with some pressure and force Dallas to dig deep with its running game.

Pick: Dolphins win 30-27 and cover the spread.

  • Patriots at Broncos (-6, 36 o/u)

Sunday 8:15 p.m. ET, NFL Network

The Patriots got their big win over the Steelers out of the way for who seems like a lame-duck Bill Belichick. Along with Pittsburgh and last week’s opponent, Kansas City, Belichick’s team has had high-profile battles with Denver in the past (see Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning is big spots). New England is hanging in there defensively and will no doubt trying to join every other team trying to attack the Broncos with the running game and tight end. But the Broncos also can play nasty defense at home vs. a lesser passing game 

Pick: Broncos win 20-13 and cover the spread.

  • Giants at Eagles (-10.5, 43 o/u)

Monday 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox

The Eagles are operating on a short week but their offense can use this game to get well around with a positive game script. They will a less-ailing Jalen Hurts to throw well downfield, make some big plays and then hand it to over him and his’ backs running to play more to last year’s offensive identity. The Eagles’ have been shaky downfield vs. the pass all season, but their pass rush revs up here and the Giants don’t have enough reliable receivers to take advantage vs. their secondary.

Pick: Eagles win 33-13 and cover the spread.

Stats of the Week

Week 15 straight up: 10-6

Week 15 against the spread: 8-7

Season straight up: 148-76

Season against the spread: 117-102-1

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