Scott Shapiro's Week 16 NFL 4-Pack
I am hopeful to close out the 2018 regular season in style with this being the final “NFL 4-Pack” write up of the year. I will be off during the squirrelly Week 17, but back to share my thoughts once the playoffs commence. In the meantime, be sure to follow @BetAmericaSport on Twitter
So without further ado….
Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5) vs Houston Texans
Is it happening again?
When the defending champions looked dead to rights after losing to NFC East rival Dallas in Week 14, it was veteran quarterback Nick Foles that came to the rescue in Los Angeles leading the Eagles to a 30-23 win against the Los Angeles Rams. I am leery about getting too excited over a strong performance in the first start for a backup quarterback since they often regress in start number two, but Philadelphia looked like a different team in all facets of the game on Sunday night. The “Birds” offensive and defensive lines dominated the contest much like last season, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery re-emerged after several quiet weeks, and the running game looked more like it did in 2017 than in 2018. This catapulted the Birds to a 30-13 lead and allowed them to leave Los Angeles victorious as nearly two touchdown underdogs.
Now the Eagles travel back to the “City of Brotherly Love” to play in front of what is sure to be a raucous, sold out crowd in Lincoln Financial Field. I would be surprised if they do not bring it again on Sunday with their season on the line.
Those that have read my work this year know that despite a nine-game winning streak from Week 4 through Week 13, I am not a fan of this Texans team. That being said they are 10-4 and with wins the next two weeks they will earn a bye and the 2-seed in the AFC.
I credit Houston for finding ways to win, but I still think they have serious holes in the secondary and on the offensive line. They are in a tough spot on Sunday facing a team that finally looked somewhat like the group we saw win the Super Bowl a year ago.
Look for the Eagles to use the momentum built on the West Coast to keep their season alive. My play of the week.
Week 16 NFL Pick- Philadelphia Eagles (2 units)
Miami Dolphins (-4) vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Dolphins were in a severe let down spot last week after the “Miami Miracle” in Week 14 and they got beat down by a desperate Vikings teams in Minnesota 41-17. That was predictable though since not only was Adam Gase’s squad coming off their biggest victory of the year versus AFC East rival New England, but they have been a terrible team on the road in 2018. In fact, they are a pathetic 1-6 away from Hard Rock Stadium. The good news is the Fish return to South Florida on Sunday and take on the hapless Jaguars.
Jacksonville appeared to be a serious contender in the AFC after a 3-1 start, but they have fallen flat on their faces ever since. Their dominant defense of a year ago has played a couple of good games since Week 4, but they have much more often shown signs of a team that has quit. Combine that with some of the league’s worst quarterback play and you have a squad that is likely more excited for this season to end than play a game in Miami on Sunday afternoon.
The Dolphins were not expected to be much in 2018, but they have played well at home. They earn their eighth victory of the year and do so by at least a touchdown.
Week 16 NFL Pick- Miami Dolphins (1 unit)
Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) vs Kansas City Chiefs
Early on this season this one looked like a mismatch, but head coach Pete Carroll has done an amazing job to get the Seahawks to where they are and in with a chance to clinch a playoff berth on Sunday night.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has proven once again to be one of the league’s most valuable players and a defense that lost several key contributors has created their own identity behind one of the league’s best linebackers in Bobby Wagner.
In addition, Seattle has turned to the running game as the foundation of their offensive attack in 2018 and it has worked extremely well as they head into Week 16. In fact, they are first in the NFL in rushing, averaging nearly 155 yards per game on the ground. They matchup extremely well with a Chiefs defense that gives up 5 yards a carry and has struggled to stop their opponent from scoring away from Arrowhead Stadium.
Stopping Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce will be no easy task for Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., but despite a strong performance from backup running back Damien Williams last Thursday night versus the Chargers, it is clear that the Chiefs are not quite the same team without Kareem Hunt in the backfield. The biggest loss is Hunt’s ability to make big plays in the passing game.
It is doubtful that Seattle will hold the Chiefs under 20 points, but their running game should be able to control the tempo and keep Mahomes and crew on the sidelines more than they are accustomed to.
Carroll is 11-1 straight up when coming home off a loss as a road favorite and Russell Wilson is 5-1 ATS at home as an underdog. They spring the minor upset in CenturyLink Field on primetime.
Week 16 NFL Pick- Seattle Seahawks (1 unit)
Oakland Raiders (+3) vs Denver Broncos
The Raiders did not look good at all in their 30-16 loss to the Bengals last Sunday, but that is not much of a factor for me when handicapping their Monday night tussle with one of their archrivals. Oakland is hosting the Broncos in what could be their final game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It remains to be seen if that is the case, but I expect this game to be much more important to the home team than it is to Denver.
Oakland has played hard for the most part over the second half of what has been a terribly disappointing under head coach Jon Gruden. The Raiders traded away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and struggled to win games, but they have played well at home of late including a 24-21 victory against the Steelers and a tight 40-33 loss to the Chiefs. I expect the late season trend to continue on primetime in front of what should be a revved-up crowd in the Bay Area.
On the other hand, it is hard to imagine Denver being too excited for this one. After rattling off three straight wins and being in the playoff hunt, the Broncos have lost back-to-back games as favorites and now find themselves eliminated from post-season play. With head coach Vance Joseph likely to be let go before the start of next season I would be surprised if we get a high-level performance from the Broncos.
Week 16 NFL Pick- Oakland Raiders (1 unit)
Scott Shapiro’s 2018 NFL Record 41-32-5 (+7 units)