As the NFL enters Week 16, 18 of the 32 teams are mathematically in contention to make the playoffs. Half of the postseason spots have already been secured, and a few playoff hopefuls are likely to lock down postseason berths this weekend.
The NFC East has been up for grabs all year, but the Washington Redskins can clinch the division title with a victory on Saturday night. If the Pittsburgh Steelers win and the New York Jets lose, Pittsburgh will secure a wild-card berth. The 14-0 Carolina Panthers have clinched a bye in the first round of the playoffs, but they’re guaranteed home-field advantage throughout the postseason if they win or the Arizona Cardinals lose on Sunday.
There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to betting, but here are the three best bets for Week 16 of the 2015 NFL season.
Washington Redskins (+3)
The Redskins continue to be disrespected by Las Vegas oddsmakers. A week after Washington dominated the Buffalo Bills as an underdog, they could do the same when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles.
Washington has separated themselves as the best team in the NFC East. With wins against the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Bills in three of the last four weeks, the Redskins have done a good job of taking care of business against mediocre competition. Washington ranks right in the middle of the pack in points allowed, and Kirk Cousins’ recent play has made the Redskins the top team in the division. The quarterback has posted a passer rating of at least 101.4 in each of his last four games, and he had a perfect passer rating in Week 10.
Philadelphia continues to be overvalued, and they simply aren’t a good team. There’s a chance they won’t even be competitive on Saturday night, considering they’ve lost three of their last five games by at least 23 points, allowing 40 or more points in each of those defeats.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-10)
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Pittsburgh is among the NFL’s elite and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Baltimore Ravens are a bottom-three NFL team, and they’ll be lucky to lose at home to the Steelers by single digits.
Pittsburgh had their struggles earlier this season when Ben Roethlisberger was hurt, but they might have the best offense in football now that the quarterback is healthy. The Steelers have scored at least 30 points in each of their last six games, including three games against the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals, who all rank in the top four in points allowed. Baltimore ranks 25th in scoring defense, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Steelers put up a 40-spot in Week 16.
There’s no chance the Ravens can keep up with the Steelers offensively. Baltimore has scored 14 points or less in each of their last three games. Whether it’s Jimmy Clausen, Matt Schaub or Ryan Mallett at quarterback, Baltimore will arguably have the worst starting signal caller of any team playing on Sunday.
Carolina Panthers (-7)
Not only have the Panthers gone unbeaten this season, but they have the league’s third-best record against the spread at 10-4. Carolina shut out the Atlanta Falcons 38-0 just two weeks ago, and they shouldn’t have much trouble beating their division rivals by a touchdown on Sunday.
Carolina only beat the Giants by three points last week, but they led by 28 points at one point in the second half and have been dominating opponents. The Panthers have beaten five of their last seven opponents by eight points or more, and Cam Newton’s recent play has made him the surefire 2015 MVP. He’s combined to rush and pass for 25 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions since Nov. 8.
Atlanta is coming off their first win since Week 7, and they still haven’t beaten a winning team this season. They haven’t scored more than 23 points in regulation since Week 4, and they won’t be able to keep up with the NFL’s highest-scoring team.
Season Record: 24-17-1