NFL Betting Predictions: Week 16 Opening Line Report and Picks
A wild Week 15 is in the books, and it is now time to look ahead at Week 16. We went 1-2 with our bets, moving our record to 15-12-1 this season. The Vikings made a historic comeback but didn’t cover the 4-point spread, while the Rams failed to cover the 7-point spread. The lone victory came from the Raiders, who got the ML victory in another wild ending. Before we get into Week 16, I’ll do my best to recap one of the craziest weeks in NFL history.
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- Purdy stays perfect: Brock Purdy moved to 3-0 to start his NFL career and has secured the NFC West crown. A dominant defense carried Jimmy Garoppolo to the Super Bowl in 2019-2020. And if Purdy plays smart, it could happen again.
- Vikings make history: The Minnesota Vikings went into the locker room down 33-0 to the Colts, with little hope for a victory. However, they set an NFL record for the largest comeback, winning 39-36 in overtime, and improving their one-score record to 10-0.
- Saturday night special: After watching the Vikings make history, the Bills and Dolphins put on a show that ended with a last gasp field goal by Tyler Bass, giving the Bills a crucial win over their AFC East rivals.
- Who wants the NFC South: The Saints edged out the Falcons to move within 1 game of the division leading Buccaneers. Considering the Bucs are 6-8, while the other 3 teams are 5-9, an 8-win campaign should be enough to send someone to the playoffs.
- Jaguars won’t die: The Jaguars have already passed their preseason win total of 5.5 games, after beating the Cowboys via Dak Prescott Pick-6 in OT. The AFC South remains one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, and the Jaguars still have a legitimate chance at a playoff spot.
- Don’t sleep on Detroit: After starting 1-6, the Lions have rattled off 6 wins in their last 7 games, launching them back into the playoff picture. Considering the Panthers, Bears, and Packers are on the horizon, there is plenty of optimism surrounding Detroit.
- C’mon Jakobi Meyers: The strangest ending to a football game imaginable just happened. Patriots receiver Meyers went for a crazy lateral in the dying seconds of a 24-24 game, which Chandler Jones of the Raiders was able to pick off, stiff arm Mac Jones, and run it into the house. A team desperate for a playoff spot can’t be throwing games away in that fashion.
- Brady blows it: Tampa Bay looked poised to snap the Bengals 5-game win streak, leading 17-0 late in the second quarter. However, thanks to 2 picks and 2 fumbles from Brady, Cincinnati was able to storm back and win comfortably. Just when things look like they can’t get worse in Tampa Bay; they do.
- NFC Wild Card race is on: The Giants took down the Commanders by the finest of margins on Sunday Night Football and blew the playoff race wide open. The Seahawks and Lions are both 7-7, hot on the heels of the 7-6-1 Commanders for the final playoff spot. The Giants moved to 8-5-1 and likely need just 1 more win to secure a wild card spot.
What a week. Week 15 was a fantastic display of talent, heart, and desire as the NFL regular season winds down. Locking in bets for Week 16 early in the week is critical, as the value can dramatically swing before kickoff. Beating the bookies is not an easy task, and every half point matters. Let’s get into it.
Game 1: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
Opening Line: Buffalo Bills (-9)
The Bears are dead last in the NFC, sitting at 3-11 and on a 7-game losing streak. Most recently, the Bears fell to the Eagles 25-20 despite 95 rushing yards and another solid performance from Justin Fields. While the losing streak will be disheartening to Bears fans, they have not been by wide margins, with 3 of the losses being by 3 points or less, and 5 by 9 points or less. The Bears have shown they can hang around with the best in the league. And while they seldom win, they do get covers. Justin Fields has taken a big step forward in his 2nd year in the league and has earned the keys to this franchise. Across the field, the Bills fit in nicely with the top of the NFL and are currently on a 5-game win streak, 4 of which have been by 1 score. Josh Allen is still recovering from an elbow injury, and I honestly think the Bills are getting a little too much respect on the road. The Bears defense is susceptible to the big passing play, but Allen has been looking downfield less frequently over the past few weeks. I’m not saying the Bills will lose, but the Bears are good enough to stay within 9 points. Additionally, a +9 spread allows for the back door cover to remain in play. I expect a single digit lead for the Bills heading into the 4th quarter. While it won’t always be pretty, the Bears will get the cover.
Pick: Chicago Bears (+9)
Game 2: Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers
Opening Line: Detroit Lions (-2.5)
The Lions are looking to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and have a clear path there. After starting the season 1-6, the Lions have won 6 of the last 7 games and are back to .500 at 7-7. Their remaining games are against the Panthers, Bears, and Packers, leaving 10-7 well within their reach. The first test is a visit to Carolina, where they come in as slight favorites. The Lions have found success thanks to their 2nd-ranked offense, which has been able to compensate for their 31st-ranked defense. Long term success requires being competent on both sides of the ball, but the Lions don’t need long term success, they just need to win their next 3 games. The Panthers may have a better, yet still bottom half defense, but they lack the offensive firepower to take advantage of the Lions. The Panthers are in the middle of their own, less impressive playoff race. At 5-9 they sit just 1 game back of the Buccaneers, the leaders of the NFC South. Both teams will be going all out, as they know a loss effectively ends their season. The Lions have shown they can get gritty when necessary and can outscore their defensive lapses. Jared Goff will feel confident he can outduel Sam Darnold and keep the Lions playoff hopes alive in Carolina with a win, decimating the Panthers hopes in the process. The spread is just 2.5 points, which is a number I feel comfortable laying. I expect this spread to climb to 3, or even 3.5 before kickoff, so make sure you lock it in at a key -2.5 before it’s too late.
Pick: Detroit Lions (-2.5)
Game 3: Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs
Opening Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5)
The Seattle Seahawks head to Arrowhead Stadium desperate for a win. The Seahawks started the season 6-3 but have picked up only 1 win in their last 5 games. They are just half a game out of the final wild card spot but have a tough test against the Chiefs in Week 16. Geno Smith started off the season in fantastic form but has fallen back down to earth over the last few weeks. He works hard and elevates the rest of the team with his solid play. There is no doubt that Smith has earned his place as the Seattle signal caller and will be hoping he can lead them to a miraculous playoff appearance in his first season as the starter. For the Chiefs, the race for the number 1 seed in the AFC and the valuable bye that goes with it is on. The Chiefs and Bills both sit at 11-3, but the Bills have the tiebreaker, so there is no room for error in Kansas City. They remain a Super Bowl favorite but are susceptible to these large spreads. Against the Broncos in Week 14, the Chiefs roared out to a 27-0 lead, before winning 34-28. In Week 15, they needed overtime to beat the 1-12-1 Texans, 30-24. Here in Week 16, they are facing a desperate Seattle team who will do what it takes to get the victory. Once again, I’ll happily take the 9.5-point cushion and will be betting on Seattle to keep it close.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks (+9.5)
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