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Shapiro's Week 16 NFL picks: Rams bounce back in huge game in NFC West

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

December 23rd, 2020

The last week or two of an NFL season can often be anticlimactic with few playoff spots up for grabs and seedings largely decided. However, that isn't the case in 2020, especially in the AFC, where so much is left to be determined.

The AFC West has been clinched by Kansas City and Buffalo locked up the AFC East last Saturday, but Pittsburgh’s loss to the Bengals to end Week 15 has left Cleveland alive in the AFC North, while the AFC South will likely come down to the final game with the Colts and Titans both entering their contests on Sunday with 10 victories.  With wild card spots also available, it should be an incredibly entertaining end to the regular season.

It has been a disappointing year for yours truly, as I head into my final preview of the regular season a couple of games below five-hundred. Selecting ATS winners in the NFL is always a tough test, but the COVID-19 issues have made things even more challenging in 2020. No excuses though. Hopefully, I can close things out strong in Week 16 and build some momentum for the playoffs.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks

Sun, December 27 2020, 9:25 PM

Seattle Seahawks

Moneyline

-125

Spread

+2.5

Total

O 48

Los Angeles Rams

Moneyline

+104

Spread

-2.5

Total

U 48

The Rams headed into their Week 15 contest a three-score favorite over the winless Jets, but they sleepwalked in the first half and had too much to overcome in the second stanza leading to the massive upset in SoFi Stadium. Obviously, the loss highlighted a few issues head coach Sean McVay has to deal with, but I am willing to "draw a line" through the pitiful performance last Sunday. Los Angeles should play much better in Seattle in a game that could decide the NFC West.

The Seahawks jumped out to a 13-3 halftime lead in their Week 15 game against the Washington Football Team and did enough late to hold on for a 20-15 victory. Seattle has won two in a row and four of five, but I am still not in love with the way Pete Carroll’s club is playing down the stretch. Sure, their defense has gotten healthier and has defended the pass with greater success over the last several weeks, but Russell Wilson has not been himself. The veteran signal caller has turned the ball over more frequently than in years past, and has failed to get Tyler Lockett involved of late. Wilson will need to get back to playing at an elite level for Seattle to have success in the postseason.

The Rams have had Seattle’s number of late. They have won five of the last six battles with the lone defeat being a one-point loss last October, and head north off of one of the more embarrassing performances of Sean McVay’s tenure.

The Los Angeles defense matches up extremely well against the Seattle attack with Jalen Ramsey capable of hounding D.K. Metcalf and Aaron Donald and crew good enough to put pressure on Wilson from start-to-finish. This was on display when the Rams held the Seahawks to just three second half points in their 23-16 victory in Week 10. Expect another big performance from the Rams defense in a bounce back spot for McVay’s group.

Pick: Rams


Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sun, December 27 2020, 9:25 PM

Dallas Cowboys

Moneyline

+108

Spread

-2.5

Total

O 47.5

Philadelphia Eagles

Moneyline

-132

Spread

+2.5

Total

U 47.5

The Eagles and Cowboys had high hopes when the 2020 season kicked off a few months ago, but key injuries and poor execution have led to extremely disappointing campaigns for the two NFC East rivals. Despite far more losses than wins and lots of headaches, both clubs are still capable of winning the division with two wins to end the season and some help from Washington and New York.

The Eagles have only outscored their opponent in one of their last six contests, but the move to rookie QB Jalen Hurts has definitely resurrected Philadelphia. Doug Pederson’s team upset NFC South leader New Orleans in Hurts’ first start in Week 14, and played pretty well despite being down several men in the secondary in their 33-26 loss to Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in Week 15. Hurts has been composed, has made quick decisions, and has used his legs to make big plays in both of his first two starts. He should find continued success against one of the NFL’s worst defenses on Sunday afternoon.

The Cowboys were embarrassed in back-to-back double-digit losses on national television in Week 12 and Week 13, but come into Week 16 on a two-game winning streak. The problem is those victories came against the Bengals and a San Francisco team with injuries at several key positions. If Dallas is able to protect Andy Dalton, they have some good matchups on the outside, but that is a big "if" against the Eagles' stout front four. Look for the former Bengals QB to make some plays down the field, but also to take a number of hits and potentially turn the ball over multiple times.

The Eagles beat the Cowboys at home in their first encounter in one of the uglier games of the season. This one should be more entertaining, but provide a similar result.

Pick: Eagles


Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sun, December 27 2020, 6:00 PM

Pittsburgh Steelers

Moneyline

+107

Spread

-2.5

Total

O 46.5

Indianapolis Colts

Moneyline

-130

Spread

+2.5

Total

U 46.5

Just a few weeks ago there was conversation about whether the Steelers could possibly go undefeated, but after a third consecutive loss on Monday night the question now is whether Pittsburgh can hold off the Browns in the AFC North. Their defense has played pretty well despite a number of key injuries, but their offense has been subpar. Not only have they been unable to run the ball, but future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger has struggled mightily. He may have more success with the short passing game versus the Indianapolis zone defense, but expecting regular trips to the end zone is probably wishful thinking.

The Colts' offense has played well of late. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has found his groove, and Philip Rivers has been better than I expected. However, most of the recent success has come against poor defenses. With Pittsburgh likely to contain Taylor and the Colts running game, and Rivers all but certain to be pressured far more than he has been in recent weeks, it is likely to be a down week for Frank Reich’s offense.

Both teams will struggle to get to 20 in this huge AFC tussle.

Pick: Under


Scott Shapiro’s NFL ATS record on BetAmerica heading into Week 16: 20-22-3

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