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NFL Week 16 Picks Straight Up – Predicted Upsets and Underdogs Showing Value

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Updated Dec 25, 2021 · 9:30 AM PST

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talking with Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid after a game.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, left, talks with Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid after a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 17-7. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
  • Can the Indianapolis Colts top the struggling Arizona Cardinals on Christmas? 
  • The Chiefs and Bucs are poised for an upset without their best offensive weapons available
  • Last week’s picks went 1-1, winning us 0.84 units and bringing our season total to +9.76 (17-22)

The season of giving is upon us and last week’s column got in on the fun, handing out winning picks for the ninth time this year. We’ll look to close out 2021 on a high note as we scour the NFL Week 16 odds for some holiday miracles.

COVID cases are still rampant in the league, so definitely check the latest status of key players in these games before backing them. After all, lines can shift in the blink of an eye, even if the player declared out is only Taysom Hill or Jared Goff. Anyways, onto this week’s picks! And because of some last minute shuffling, we actually didn’t spend the full three units for last week, so I’ll be including an extra unit here. What a gift to all!

NFL Week 16 Upset Picks

Matchup Spread Moneyline Pick Units
Indianapolis Colts vs Arizona Cardinals ARZ -1.5 +105 Colts 1
Detroit Lions vs Atlanta Falcons ATL -5.5 +205 Lions 1
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs KC -7.5 +330 Steelers 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers TB -10 +360 Panthers 1

Odds as of December 24th at DraftKings and FanDuel

Colts Crush Cards

Christmas night closes out with the Indianapolis Colts visiting the Arizona Cardinals, who are just 1.5-point favorites.

The Cardinals once again find themselves in a second half slide, losing three of their last five and looking utterly lost at the Lions.


THE CARDS GOT EXPOSED WORD TO ANTONIO BROWN #Nfl #football #cardinals #lions #jaredgolf #fyp #MakeABunchHappen #HangUpOnIt

♬ original sound – Depressed Cowboys Fan

The Colts chances of winning the AFC South are all but gone, but they look to the wild card team the rest of the conference will want to avoid. The defense continues to lead the league in takeaways and Jonathan Taylor has been unstoppable on offense.

With no DeAndre Hopkins and Rodney Hudson, the Cardinals offense had no easy answers. Kyler Murray couldn’t bail them out against the Lions, will he find any more success against this disciplined Colts unit? Probably not.

Falcons Fall Further

Coming off one of the great upsets of the year, the Detroit Lions are 5.5-point underdogs against the Atlanta Falcons.

Jared Goff had his best game of the year last weekend and then followed it up by heading to the COVID list. That means we could be in line for another Tim Boyle start, which makes the Lions a less enticing play.

Still, there’s nothing to like about Atlanta, even though their record suggests they’re okay. They’re dead-last in DVOA and all of their wins have come by one score against bad teams. They don’t convincingly beat anybody, certainly not a Lions team with a lot of heart and passion despite a lost season.

Detroit has rushed for over 100 yards in each of their last three games and that’s without D’Andre Swift, who returned to practice this week. Goff or no Goff, I like the Lions to do enough to get another W here.

Steelers Stun KC

The Pittsburgh Steelers quest for the playoffs makes a stop in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are 7.5-point favorites.

Full disclosure: I had the Steelers in upset picks last week, but clearly a lot of people had the same idea and bet Pittsburgh into favorite territory. That shouldn’t happen here, although the line will keep moving their way if Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill can’t return from COVID protocols in time for Sunday’s kickoff.

That’s mainly the reason Pittsburgh is on the list here. If neither player can make it back, then the Chiefs offense won’t be able to muster much on the backs of Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle.

The Steelers offense will still be in tough to outscore them: the Chiefs defense has been one of the NFL’s best in the second half of the season. But Pittsburgh managed to score just enough to eke one out over the Titans last week, and they might be able to pull out another tight one here with their playoff lives on the line. (Insert overused stat about Mike Tomlin’s teams as underdogs here.)

Panthers Pounce on Bucs

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers meet for the first of two meetings in the final three weeks and the banged up Bucs are 10-point favorites on the road.

Having just witnessed the Bucs offense faceplant without their top options, I’m not sure that expecting them to win by 11 this week is the best call.

No Chris Godwin, no Leonard Fournette, no Mike Evans. Yes, Tampa will get Antonio Brown back from suspension, but the troubled receiver alone won’t be able to replace the production of that trio, which accounted for almost 60% of Tampa’s offense. Brown may not find much space to work with at all, with one of Brady’s former teammates balling out in Carolina.

The Panthers defense might not be quite on the Saints level, but they’ve been really good this year and will give this shorthanded Bucs offense trouble. The question is will whoever is under center for Carolina be able to protect the football and score some points?

I don’t love relying on either Cam Newton or Sam Darnold, but this line is way too high for a battered Bucs team that is just 2-5 ATS on the road. Take advantage of that inflated moneyline and put a little on the Panthers to pull it off.

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