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Columns - Magazine

The Gambling Solution: Week 16

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff started with a 1,000 unit bankroll as they go head to head all season long.

 

Jeremy went a solid 3-1 last week as he had winners on the Cardinals, Seahawks and Panthers/Giants over.  His only loss was on the Jaguars.  Jeremy finished at plus 70 units for the week.  Jeff also came away with a 3-1 week as the Patriots, Cardinals and Cardinals/Eagles over all came through for him.  Jeff fell short with the Jets as a missed extra point turned out to be the difference.  Jeff finished the week at plus 40 units.  Jeff currently leads Jeremy by 180 units in their season-long contest.  Can Jeremy make a late push with only two regular season weeks left?  Let's get to the picks for Week 16.

 

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Jeff Baldwin

Record: 37-27

Units: 1,330

 

Jeremy Wardwell

Record: 34-30

Units: 1,150

 

Steelers (-10.5) at Ravens - 50 units
The Steelers come off a huge comeback win over the Broncos at home as a late touchdown pass to WR Antonio Brown was the difference.  The Ravens lost their third straight game as they fell to the Chiefs 34-14.  This team has been devastated by injuries and is simply finishing out the season.  The Steelers, on the other hand, control their own destiny from a playoff perspective.  If they win their next two games they are in the playoffs.  QB Ben Roethlisberger has this offense clicking on all cylinders as they can beat you not only in the passing game, but the running game as well.  WR Antonio Brown is proving why he is one of the best receivers in the game.  WR Martavis Bryant is just another weapon in this explosive offense that causes problems for the opponents’ secondary to defend.  RB DeAngelo Williams was held in check by the Broncos’ tough rush defense.  Look for Williams to be bounce back in this matchup as he'll find the end zone.  As for the Steelers’ defense, their strength is slowing down the running game.  They should be able to limit the Ravens’ running game which will force them to throw the football.  The Steelers’ secondary has been vulnerable this season so they'll need to play better here.  The positive part of this matchup is they are going against a depleted Ravens’ receiving corps.  Other than WR Kamar Aiken, it is tough to find a dependable receiver on the active roster.  In the end, I think this Steelers’ offense will be too much for this Ravens’ defense to handle.  Plus, the Ravens’ offense doesn't have enough offensive weapons to stay with the Steelers, scoring-wise.  The Steelers are 6-0 ATS in December games over their last six.  The Ravens are 0-6 ATS in home games in December over their last six. 
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -10.5

Patriots (-3.5) at Jets - 30 units
Two longtime rivals square off in this AFC East matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. The Jets are currently on the outside looking in for the playoffs and need a win here to keep their wild card hopes alive. New England has already clinched a first round bye and could clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a win. The Patriots continue to deal with injuries to key players after WR Danny Amendola and LB Dont'a Hightower re-aggravated injuries in last week’s win over Tennessee. Both players are questionable for this one but it looks right now like they will miss this contest. Tom Brady will continue to lean on Rob Gronkowski who remains one of the few offensive starters still available. The team did sign RB Steven Jackson this week to provide some depth at the position but he isn’t expected to be a big part of the offensive plan in his first week. New York has one of the better defenses in the league and should be able to keep the Patriots’ offense from performing at their normal high-scoring level. After losing four out of five games in the middle of the year, the Jets have hit their stride recently with a four-game winning streak. Over that stretch they have averaged 28 points per game while holding opponents to 16. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has led the resurgence, throwing 10 touchdowns and just one interception over that time. His two primary targets have been wide receivers Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall who have combined to haul in seven of those 10 touchdowns. In their last meeting, the Jets’ running game was held at bay as RB Chris Ivory was ineffective due to an injury suffered in the early part of that game. I expect Ivory to have more of an impact in this game as New England focuses on containing the Jets’ two big receivers. The last five games between these teams have been decided by a touchdown or less and four games have been decided by a field goal or less. The Jets are 4-0-1 ATS in those games. This will be another close contest with the Jets fighting for the playoffs and the Patriots battling through injuries. Look for this to be a relatively low scoring game played in the upper teens or low twenties decided by a late field goal.
Pick: New York Jets (+3.5)

Packers at Cardinals (-4.5) - 25 units
The Cardinals extended their winning streak to eight games as they dismantled the Eagles on Sunday night 40-17.  The Cardinals have their sights set on a first round bye, and hosting the second round if they defeat the Packers on Sunday.  The Packers won their third straight game as they defeated the Raiders 30-20.  The Cardinals’ offense poses a great challenge for the Packers’ defense.  This offense led by QB Carson Palmer averages 31.8 points/game along with 297 passing yards/game.  Just to make this offense that much more difficult to slow down, the emergence of RB David Johnson gives this offense breakaway talent in the running game.  Last week Johnson rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns.  Johnson is a valuable asset not just in the running game, but the passing game as well.  Palmer has his trio of receivers that the defense needs to account for on every possession.  WRs Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd are all explosive weapons that can make a big play anywhere on the field.  The Packers’ secondary has played well against mediocre quarterbacks, but have clearly struggled when going up against the top tier quarterbacks.  I think they will struggle here slowing down this potent Cardinals’ attack.  Defensively, the Cardinals lost a key piece of their defense last week as Tyrann Mathieu tore his ACL late in the game.  This unit still has a lot of talent both in the secondary and on the defensive line.  Other players will just have to step up with the loss of Mathieu.  The Packers’ offense continues to look out of synch.  The passing game continues to struggle along with Green Bay’s inconsistency at running the football.  I just don't see this offense turning things around especially against a strong Cardinals’ defense.  The Cardinals will feel a sense of urgency here in locking up a first round bye.  The last thing they want is to drop this game with the Seahawks coming to town the following week.  The Cardinals get the win by a touchdown.
Pick: Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
Browns (+12.5) at Chiefs - 35 units

The Cleveland Browns travel to Kansas City to take on the red-hot Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. This will be the second week in a row the Browns have played in one of the more hostile stadiums in the league after they were blown out in Seattle last week. Kansas City is coming off a convincing 34-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens and has now won eight in a row. After starting the season 1-5, the Chiefs will be extra motivated by the chance at an AFC West title after Denver has faltered in recent weeks. Kansas City will attack the league's 31st ranked run defense with the tandem of Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware who was available but didn't play last week with a rib injury. Ware is expected to play in this one but look for West to get the majority of the touches. QB Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ offense should be able to move the ball easily in this one. With the exception of a 24-10 win over San Francisco, the Browns have allowed 30 or more points in six of their last seven games and nine times overall this year. In his second start since taking over for Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel struggled against the tough Seattle defense. He threw for only 161 yards to go with a touchdown and a pick. In his last three starts he has only thrown three touchdowns and has been picked off three times as well. Ball security will be key for the Browns as the Chiefs rank 4th in the league with 27 takeaways including 20 interceptions. I'm expecting Cleveland to struggle in this game. Kansas City will have the motivation of a division crown while playing a lesser opponent at home. The Chiefs are 7-1 ATS during their winning streak while Cleveland is 1-7-1 in their last nine ATS. Take Kansas City at home to cover the good-sized spread comfortably, 31-13.  
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -12.5

Panthers (-7) at Falcons - 25 units
The Panthers were able to keep their undefeated season alive as they needed a late field goal to put away the Giants.  The Panthers led the game 35-7 before the Giants made a huge comeback only to lose the game in the end.  The Panthers’ defense uncharacteristically squandered a huge lead and was bailed out by QB Cam Newton.  The Falcons snapped their six-game losing streak as they defeated the Jaguars in Jacksonville 23-17.  The Panthers now travel to Atlanta looking for the season sweep.  The last time these two teams met was in Week 14 where the Panthers shut out the Falcons 38-0.  A win for the Panthers on Sunday will lock up the number one seed in the NFC with home field throughout the playoffs.  The Panthers will then have the flexibility of possibly resting their starters for either a portion or the entire game in Week 17 when they play the Buccaneers in Charlotte.  As for the matchup against the Falcons, the Panthers will need to focus on slowing down WR Julio Jones and RB Devonta FreemanJosh Norman did an excellent job on Jones the last time they faced each other as Jones was held to seven catches for 88 yards.  The Panthers’ rush defense also did a great job on Freeman as he only rushed for 40 yards on 12 carries.  If the Panthers limit these two players similar to what happened in Week 14, the Panthers should have no problem winning this game by double digits.  QB Cam Newton will look to continue his tremendous season as he'll lead this offense up and down the field against a vulnerable Falcons’ defense.  Newton spreads the ball around in the passing game making it difficult to defend.  TE Greg Olsen is his favorite target along with deep threat WR Ted Ginn Jr.  Newton also has the ability to burn defenses with his legs as he accounted for 100 yards rushing last week against the Giants.  Even if the Falcons keep this game close for a half, look for the Panthers to pull away and get the cover here as they'll lock up the one seed.  The Panthers have covered four out of the last five games against the Falcons.  Expect that trend to continue this weekend.
Pick: Carolina Panthers -7

Redskins (+3) at Eagles - 35 units
In a key NFC East match-up that could determine the eventual division champion, the Washington Redskins travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly is coming off a 40-17 loss to the Cardinals in which they turned the ball over four times and struggled in the running game. Washington rode a five touchdown performance from Kirk Cousins to an impressive 35-25 victory over the Bills. In that game, Cousins threw four touchdown passes, including two to TE Jordan Reed, and rushed for another. He will look to continue his hot play against an Eagles team that gave up nearly 500 total yards last week and is allowing almost 400 total yards per game on the season. The Eagles continue to receive inconsistent play from QB Sam Bradford who despite throwing for 361 yards, failed to lead his team to a win thanks to two more interceptions. After that performance, the Eagles have now turned the ball over 27 times on the year. The running game also remains a major issue for the Eagles. Ryan Mathews started against Arizona but only had 11 carries as Philly was playing catch up the whole game. I expect Mathews to get the bulk of the carries again in this one as well but with more success. This game features two of the weakest run defenses in the league with both ranking near the bottom of the league in yards allowed. With questions surrounding the running game and an unreliable quarterback, I like Washington to keep this game within the number. Kirk Cousins hasn't been nearly as solid on the road as he has been at home but I like the matchup in this one for him with the added incentive of clinching the division title with a win. The Redskins are 4-2 ATS in their last six and 6-2 ATS against the Eagles in the last eight meetings between these teams in Philadelphia.
Pick: Washington Redskins +3

Rams at Seahawks (Total: 41 points) - 20 units
The Seahawks remained hot as they extended their win streak to five games by defeating the Browns 30-13.  This team is clearly playing their best football of the season on both sides of the ball.  The Rams jumped out to a big lead on the Buccaneers only to hold off a late rally to get the win 31-23.  The Rams now travel to Seattle looking to make it three straight wins after dropping five straight games.  These two teams met earlier this season in Week 1 in St. Louis where the Rams surprised the Seahawks defeating them 34-31.  I'm expecting a much different outcome this go-around.  QB Case Keenum will be behind center for the Rams as he'll find things a lot tougher in this matchup than he did last week against the Buccaneers.  He'll face a Seahawks’ secondary that ranks fourth in the league giving up only 218 yards passing game.  The Seahawks also rank third in the league against the rush as they only let up 83.9 yards rushing/game.  The Seahawks will need to continue their strong play as they'll face RB Todd Gurley who has had a great rookie season.  As for the Rams’ defense, they'll have their work cut out for them slowing down QB Russell Wilson.  I do think this defense can come up with some stops and force the Seahawks to kick field goals instead of getting into the end zone.  I expect this game's total to finish in the upper thirties as it will stay under the number.  Three out of the last five games in this series have gone under the total.  Look for more of the same on Sunday.
Pick: Under 41
Rams at Seahawks (Total: 41 points) - 20 units
The St. Louis Rams travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks at Century Link Field. Seattle is coming off a 30-13 victory over the Browns and has now won five straight and clinched a wild card spot. The Rams beat Tampa Bay last Thursday to improve to 6-8 on the year. During their winning streak, QB Russell Wilson has been red-hot for the Seahawks, throwing 19 touchdowns and no interceptions. Ten of those touchdown passes have gone to Doug Baldwin who will look to take advantage of St. Louis’ mediocre secondary. The Seahawks have averaged 34 points per game during their streak and should approach that number in this one. St. Louis is allowing 21 points per game on the year but that number has jumped to 25 in their last four games. Offensively, the Rams are led by rookie RB Todd Gurley who missed the first meeting between these teams in Week 1. Gurley will have a tough task ahead of him as Seattle has been great against the run during their streak allowing just 54 rushing yards per game and not allowing any team to top 100 rushing yards. QB Case Keenum is coming off a two touchdown performance and has now led the Rams to two straight wins. The Rams scored 52 total points during those games after scoring just 54 points in the previous five. The total for this game has been posted at 41 which is certainly attainable between these two teams. I’m expecting St. Louis, who is averaging 17 points per game, to fall short of their average but not by much. Seattle will continue their hot play and break the 30 point barrier for the fifth straight game.
Pick: Over 41

Editor's note: Both Jeremy and Jeff started with 1,000 units as they go head to head all season long.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4 and Jeremy @jdwardwell5.

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.