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I was feeling good after last Saturday’s primetime game when the Dolphins covered as 7-point underdogs in Buffalo as my first NFL Week 15 pick in the Circa Million IV contest. But, the gambling gods brought me back down to earth.
Week 15 Recap (1-3-1):
- Lions at JETS (pick ’em) ❌
- DOLPHINS (+7) at Bills ✅
- COWBOYS (-3.5) at Jaguars ❌
- RAMS (+7) at Packers ❌
- TITANS (+3) at Chargers 👔
After back-to-back losing weeks, my record fell to 39-32-4, which is tied for 1,111st out of 4,683 Circa Million entries. Here are the Circa Million IV lines for NFL Week 16 followed by my picks …
Circa Million IV NFL Week 16 Picks
Listed by order of confidence. First is most confident, and fifth is least.
- Bears (+8.5)
- Bengals (-3)
- Dolphins (-3.5)
- Steelers (-2.5)
- Titans (-3.5)
Circa Pick #1: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears (+8.5)
Bills-Bears was the second game I bet this week after hammering the Jacksonville Jaguars when they visited the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football earlier this week.
I should’ve subbed my Circa picks early this week with the TNF included. I ended up wussing out because of all the late supposed sharp money that came on NYJ Thursday.
Ah well, NFL Week 16 is a rare instance when I actually like more than the five games needed to complete our weekly contest submission.
Officially, Chicago is my favorite side this weekend because of its ground-and-pound offense. The Bears average the most rushing attempts per game and yards per rush and have the most broken tackles.
Buffalo is the worst tackling team in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), and was tied with the Jaguars for the most missed tackles in the league entering this week.
This is a quintessential “sandwich spot” for the Bills. They faced the Dolphins last week in a revenge game since Miami beat the Bills earlier this season. Buffalo visits the Bengals for Monday Night Football next week.
Finally, according to R.J. Bell’s Pregame.com Dream Preview NFL podcast, after their last 31 home games vs. the Dolphins, the Bills are 4-27 against the spread (ATS).
Circa Pick #2: Cincinnati Bengals (-3) at New England Patriots
Cincy has been covering machines since the middle of last season, Over their last 22 games, the Bengals are 19-3 ATS. Also, New England beats who it’s supposed to and loses to good teams.
This season, the Patriots are 0-7 straight up (SU) and 1-6 ATS when opponents score more than 20 points. But, New England is 7-0 SU and ATS when holding opponents to less than 20 points.
Essentially, when the Patriots face good teams, they are screwed. Here are the QBs New England has beaten this season:
- Lions QB Jared Goff
- Jets QB, and soon-to-be backup, Zach Wilson (twice)
- Browns backup QB Jacoby Brissett
- Steelers backup QB Mitch Trubisky
- Colts now-third-string QB Sam Ehlinger
- Cardinals backup QB Colt McCoy
Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow is worthy of the praise he gets week after week. But, this Bengals’ defense has some bite to it as well. Cincy should be getting back pass rusher Trey Hendrickson and slot CB Mike Hilton for this game.
More importantly, Patriots QB Mac Jones has been terrible this season. Jones has the second-worst QBR in the NFL. He completed just 13-of-31 passes last weekend vs. a Vegas pass defense that ranks last in opponent’s QB Rating.
Circa Pick #3: Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
Packers-Dolphins is the first of the NFL’s Christmas tripleheader and I’ll break this game down in further detail on Christmas Eve.
My factors for liking Miami here include Green Bay being overrated, the Dolphins returning home after three straight road games, and Miami having an edge in the trenches.
Also, Green Bay and QB Aaron Rodgers will be popular underdogs and public dogs get slaughtered in sports betting.
Circa Pick #4: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)
First of all, this is a Pros vs. Joe’s game in the betting market. Per VSIN, a slight majority of the bets placed at DraftKings Sportsbook are on the Raiders but more than 70% of the cash is on the Steelers.
Typically, it’s wise to follow the money when it’s counter to the public in these situations because professional bettors put up a lot more dough than you or I.
Furthermore, there’s a decent chance the public is overreacting to Vegas’s nonsense win last week over New England and the Steelers are flying under the radar.
In fact, three of the Raiders’ last four wins were flukey and Vegas has been a favorite in 10 of 14 games this season despite having a 6-8 SU record.
Since T.J. Watt returned to action in Week 10, Pittsburgh is sixth in defensive success rate. Watt is a force multiplier for the Steelers and the rest of their defensive line gets much better matchups when he’s on the field.
Also, there’s at least a half-point worth of value in Pittsburgh at -2.5. Raiders QB Derek Carr struggles in winter conditions and the Steelers’ crowd is going to be raucous given the circumstances.
The Steelers are retiring Hall of Fame RB Franco Harris’s jersey at half-time. December 23rd is the 50th anniversary of Harris’s Immaculate Reception, which is one of the most famous plays in NFL history.
Harris tragically died earlier this week. If there was ever a coach that could amp a roster full of kids who’ve never seen Harris play, it’s Mike Tomlin. If you don’t buy into that motivational stuff, we are still getting the Steelers at a cheap price.
Pittsburgh is 17th in opponent-adjusted team efficiency (DVOA), per Football Outsiders, and Vegas is 26th. The Steelers are +12 in first-down differential and the Raiders are -13.
Circa Pick #5: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
The Titans are my last selection for Circa in Week 16 because of their scrolling injury report. Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill is out with an injury and rookie QB Malik Willis fills in.
But, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is one of the best in the NFL and this line is off. The Texans are clearly the worst team in the NFL and this spread is saying the Titans aren’t far ahead of them.
That just cannot be true. There are four NFL teams on their third-string QB. And even without a ton of starters, Tennessee still has a massive strength-on-weakness edge over Houston on the ground.
The Texans have a bottom-five rush defense and Titans RB Derrick Henry owns them. In his last four games vs. Houston, Henry is averaging 223.0 rushing yards and has scored nine rushing TDs.
On top of that, one of Willis’ two starts this season was against the Texans. The Titans won that game 17-13 in Houston and covered as 3.5-point favorites.
Lastly, this is a buy-low spot for the Titans and a sell-high spot for the Texans. Tennessee has lost four straight and Houston just lost two nail-biters with the Cowboys and Chiefs.
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