The Rams (11-3) and Bears (10-4) are still battling for the NFC No. 2 seed and first round bye in the upcoming playoffs. Here’s an analysis of their value in NFL Week 16 late game free picks against the NFC West’s worst teams Sunday afternoon.
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Both the side and total (44.0) have dropped one point from the opener, and the Bears travel to Northern California off their NFC North division clinching win against rival Green Bay. Chicago is locked into either the No. 3 seed or can catch the Rams and win the tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed if Los Angels stumbles in the final two weeks. The Bears still have to take care of business and win at San Francisco and then Minnesota next week, so this Week 16 situation could be an unexpected stumbling block. The look ahead line a week ago was Bears -6, so the linemaker has adjusted to the situation regarding the Bears playoff position and last week’s results.
Chicago’s defense remains dominant allowing 310.9 yards per game to lead the NFC and 19 yards less per game over their last three contests. Don’t expect the Bears offense to be much more than vanilla, and the 49ers defense has played well recently allowing 330.0 yards per game over their last three contests and 5.2 yards per play. The 49ers (4-11) have won back-to-back home games against Denver and Seattle, while San Francisco is 3-3 since Nick Mullens became the starting quarterback. Coach Kyle Shanahan will devise a plan to attack the seams and Bears defense with quick hitting pass plays, and San Francisco will continue to play hard but it will still be tough to move the ball consistently. The 49ers are 7-1 SU in December the last two years, and the Bears have lost outright on the road as favorites against the Dolphins and Giants. This situation presents a letdown and flat spot for Chicago. In a likely low scoring game, support San Francisco with a small wager.
NFL Week 16 Late Game Free Picks – San Francisco 49ers +3.5 (UNDER 44.0)
Arizona Cardinal at Los Angeles Rams (-14.5)
The Rams’ defense continues to underperform despite much strength up front. Los Angeles only rank 21st in rush defense (allowing 123.3 yards per game), 17th in pass defense (239.8) and 20th overall in total defense (363.1). Last week at home they allowed the Eagles 367 yards at 6.7 yards per play on limited possessions. Oh, and the Rams lost 30-23 as a 13.5-point favorite. The Rams are still in position to secure a first round bye in the NFC, and they play the weakest NFC teams to close out the season in Arizona (3-11) and then San Francisco (4-10) in Week 17. The Rams have the firepower to blowout the Cardinals on the road, and LA shutout Arizona 34-0 in Week 2.
Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen directs the leagues worst offense averaging 243.1 yards per game – 50 YPG less than the next closest team. A mix of David Johnson runs and short screes and wheel routes could help Arizona stay close for awhile, but the Cardinals have likely tuned out their clueless first year head coach. After allowing a season-high 215 rushing yards to the Falcons last week in Atlanta, the Cardinals’ defense got lit up by the coaching staff and each other during film review on Monday. Even with double-digit home underdogs being a proven, long-term profitable play, the Cardinals can’t be counted on, other than a solid effort from WR Larry Fitzgerald in likely his final home game for Arizona over a 15-year Cardinals career. This looks like a bounce back spot for an angry Rams bunch with a strong, balanced offense that can again exploit an average Cardinals defense. No side play but the total is still playable even with a drop to 44.5.
NFL Week 16 Sunday Late Game Free Picks – UNDER 43.0
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.