NFL Betting Predictions: Week 16 Opening Line Report and Picks
No question that the Lame-Duck Coaching Bowl in Week 16 is Jacksonville at Atlanta. I'm frankly stunned that Falcons didn't fire Dan Quinn when the team was 1-7 entering its Week 9 bye, and equally shocked that the Jaguars didn't dump Doug Marrone following a fifth straight blowout loss in Week 14. Both teams did pull off road upsets Sunday, though.
Zero doubt in my mind that both are gone probably within seconds of the final gun on Sunday in Week 17. One issue with not firing a coach early is that you are somewhat limited in being able to reach out to potential candidates because you don't want that getting out publicly while another coach is still employed. At least the Redskins dumped Jay Gruden early enough where they were able to be "first in line" so to speak. The Carolina Panthers followed suit a couple of weeks ago in firing Ron Rivera.
The Jacksonville job isn't a great one because the fan support isn't strong there and it's not clear if owner Shahid Khan will fire GM David Caldwell as well as Caldwell's boss, Tom Coughlin. Plus, there's the fact the Jaguars might eventually move to London. On the bright side, there are no state or local income taxes in Florida.
Atlanta would be a good job because Matt Ryan is still in his prime and owner Arthur Blank runs a strong organization and has incredibly deep pockets. GM Thomas Dimitroff is highly-respected around the league.
Just about every team in the NFL with a head coach opening is likely to go want to interview three offensive coordinators: Greg Roman (Ravens), Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs) and Kevin Stefanski (Vikings). Ditto the Patriots' Josh McDaniels if he finally indicates he's ready to leave Bill Belichick's side. San Francisco's Robert Saleh is the top candidate among defensive coordinators.
Roman is the clear hot guy entering this offseason considering what he has done with Lamar Jackson. Among college guys, every team in the NFL would love to have Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley, but I'm fairly sure he's either staying in Norman or going to the Dallas Cowboys. Urban Meyer is a possibility in Dallas. Baylor's Matt Rhule also could move up to the pro ranks and should get some interviews. Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy will get looks from teams.
Pretty sure the Falcons will hire an offensive-minded guy because with the exception of the 13 games that Bobby Petrino coached in 2007, the team hasn't a head coach with an offensive background since Dan Reeves retired.
Jacksonville might go defense because that unit is god awful and Marrone was an offensive guy. Rivera could land there. Rhule could be an option as his coaching mentor is Coughlin.
The Falcons are 7-point favorites , with the loser really winning because it improves draft position. Here are some other Week 16 early lines that caught my eye. Picks are ATS.
Steelers at Jets (+3, 39): Too bad this game isn't in Pittsburgh because Jets running back Le'Veon Bell would be jeered like crazy in his first game against his former team. Of course, Bell forced his way out of the Steelers organization by sitting out the entire 2018 season in a contract dispute and then hitting free agency. He ended up getting a pretty good deal from the Jets but has been a mega-bust -- not all his fault as Adam Gase isn't using him right at times; Gase never wanted Bell -- and might be one-and-done with that franchise. The Jets reportedly want to trade him and probably would find plenty of partners because they already paid Bell his big signing bonus. Just one more example why giving a running back huge money these days is a mistake (see David Johnson, Todd Gurley and, so far, Ezekiel Elliott). Pick: Steelers.
Raiders at Chargers (-5.5, 47): Really nothing to see here other than it's the Chargers' final game in that stupid little soccer stadium they were relegated to in the L.A. suburb of Carson. The Bolts close on the road in Kansas City and then move into that $5 billion (or whatever it's costing now) palace next season with the Rams. Not sure the fan support for the Chargers will be any better there, but it can't possibly be worse. This could also be the last "home" game for Philip Rivers in a Chargers uniform as the team may opt to move on from the 38-year-old free-agent-to-be. One would think the Raiders would be totally flat off playing their last-ever game in Oakland in Week 15 and somehow losing it to the Jaguars. L.A.'s season really went downhill starting with a 26-24 loss in Oakland in Week 10. Josh Jacobs scored the winning TD with 1:02 left, and then Rivers could do squat with plenty of time remaining and three timeouts to get into field-goal range. Pick: Chargers.
Cowboys at Eagles (+2.5, 47.5): Winner probably claims the NFC East (done deal if Cowboys win) and the loser will be home watching the playoffs. Both teams should win Week 17 with the Cowboys hosting the Redskins and the Eagles at the Giants. Dallas played one of its best games of the season in Week 7 in blasting the Eagles 37-10. Elliott ran for 111 yards and a score and Dak Prescott had just six incompletions with a TD pass and scoring run. The Cowboys had 189 yards rushing. The Eagles, meanwhile, turned it over three times - three by Carson Wentz (two fumbles & a pick). Pick: Eagles.
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