Scott Shapiro's Week 16 NFL Six Pack
It has been a magical season for the Seahawks, and they enter Week 16 with an 11-3 record. Seattle currently holds the No. 1 seed in the NFC with two weeks to play, but the Seahawks have not made things easy on themselves. Ten of their 11 victories in 2019 have been by one score.
Seattle heads home off of a six-point victory at Carolina to take on an Arizona squad that ended a six-game losing streak Sunday at home against the Browns. The results haven't shown up much in the win column, but the Cardinals for the most part have been competitive, and I expect that to continue Sunday.
During most of the Pete Carroll era, the Seattle defense has been an elite unit, but that has not been the case in 2019, even when it has been at full strength. The Seahawks have been mid-pack against the run but have been extremely beatable through the air. They are giving up 271 yards per game to opposing passing attacks, which ranks 29th in the NFL.
The Seahawks defense has improved a bit against the pass since they acquired Quandre Diggs from Detroit in late October, but the veteran safety will likely miss Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. Add to that questionable tags on Bobby Wagner, Jadeveon Clowney and Shaquill Griffin, and you have an already beatable group that is extremely banged up.
Look for Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray to move the ball and keep his team in the game from start to finish.
Pick: Arizona +10
After a couple of less-than-stellar matchups on Monday night, we get a good one to close out the year.
Green Bay holds the No. 2 seed in the NFC, but I still question the quality of this team. The Packers have found a way to win games and have one of the best quarterbacks in my lifetime, but they lack playmakers on the outside other than Davante Adams. They also rely heavily on turnovers and sacks to stop opposing offenses.
The problem in this spot is that the Vikings have done a great job of protecting the football at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2019. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown just one interception in six home starts.
The last time the Packers hit the road to take on a playoff-caliber team, they were blown out of Levi’s Stadium by the 49ers, 37-8. Minnesota may be a cut below San Francisco, but this is a critical game for the Vikings, who are 14-8 against the spread at home over the last three years and have defeated Green Bay at home by seven or more points in each of the last two seasons.
Mike Zimmer’s club may be without Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook, but Adam Thielen should be back to himself after he shook off the rust in Los Angeles last Sunday. Look for the Vikings to make it three in a row at home versus their rival to the east.
Pick: Minnesota -6
Although they both have disappointing records, both the Eagles and Cowboys have a clear path to the playoffs if they can perform on the field.
Dallas ended a three-game losing skid in spectacular fashion last week, when the Cowboys dominated the Rams at AT&T Stadium. Their offense had a big game, behind their top-tier offensive line, but it was their defense that impressed me most. A talented unit that really came together a season ago has struggled in 2019, mostly because of mental mistakes and missed tackles, but it consistently put pressure on quarterback Jared Goff and avoided the errors that have plagued it regularly this season. I expect the Cowboys defense to play well again this week on the road.
The Eagles struggled to beat the Giants and Redskins recently but can still win the NFC East with a victory the next two weekends. Quarterback Carson Wentz has been a magician late in games, but he will once again be without several of his weapons on the outside. To win this game Philly will need to control the clock through the running game and short to intermediate passing attack. This may not be effective against the Cowboys, but it should eat away at the clock.
In their initial encounter Dallas posted 37 points, but that total was aided by four Eagles turnovers, including two in their own territory to start the game. That is unlikely to happen again. I expect a lower-scoring contest, because the Dallas offense has been far less dynamic on the road, while the Philadelphia defense has been a bit stingier at Lincoln Financial Field.
Pick: Under 45.5
Earlier in the season I would have laughed at the idea of laying a touchdown in any spot with the Broncos, but things have changed.
Denver lost three tough games over the first eight weeks and was an ugly 3-8, but has continued to play hard for first-year head coach Vic Fangio. Prior to the Broncos' game in the snow at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 15 against the Chiefs, rookie quarterback Drew Lock had played well to start his career. The first-year signal caller heads home after suffering his first loss as a starter to take on a Lions team that has lost seven straight and is without several key players.
Detroit struggles to rush the passer, does not cover well, has a subpar rushing attack and is starting its third-string quarterback. Other than that they are in great shape.
The Broncos defense will stifle the Detroit offense and Courtland Sutton will light up the Lions secondary.
Pick: Denver -7
Drew Brees and the Saints offense looked unstoppable Monday night against the Colts, but the future Hall of Famer has been a different quarterback away from home and outdoors in his career. Brees also faces a tough matchup against a Titans team that desperately needs a victory off a 24-21 loss to Houston a week ago. I do not expect the Saints to visit the end zone regularly, like they have the last couple of weeks in the Big Easy.
I also do not anticipate an offensive outburst from the Titans, as they'll take on a Saints defense that has held the opposition to fewer than 91 yards per game on the ground and should be able to take away Ryan Tannehill’s top receiver, A.J. Brown. Look for Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore to shadow the rookie wideout and for New Orleans to control Derrick Henry in a game that should stay in the low to mid-twenties.
Pick: Under 50.5
It is never comfortable to bet against Patrick Mahomes and on Mitchell Trubisky, but this line appears a bit inflated. The Chiefs hav covered in four straight games and five of their last eight, but Chicago has been strong in this type of spot. The Bears are 2-0 this season as a home underdog and 7-1 ATS over the last three seasons.
The Bears are out of the playoff hunt, but I expect them to play hard in a prime-time game at Soldier Field.