Week 16 brings us our second and final instalment of regular season weekend football. Two games with strong playoff implications are on the slate; as the Titans play host to the Redskins and the Ravens travel to L.A to play the Chargers. All four of these teams are still well in playoff contention and should come out with a sense of urgency here. The Chargers in particular still have a solid chance at the #1 seed and will be looking to continue their winning ways here. Let’s take a look at our best total and spread bets for both of these Sunday games.
Sunday, December 23, 8:30 am (AEDT), Nissan Stadium
The Titans enter this one at 8-6 off the back of 3 straight very impressive victories. RB Derrick Henry was again outstanding last week, rushing for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns on his 33 carries. This helped mask the struggles of Marcus Mariota, who only managed 88 yards through the air in this one. The Titans defence has consistently been one of the better units in the NFL, allowing just 9 points in their last 2 games. They completely eliminated the Giants rushing attack last week, allowing only 47 yards on 16 carries. The pass defence was just as good, conceding 213 total yards on 5.2 yards per attempt.
The 7-7 Redskins broke their 4-game losing streak last week with a narrow road win over Jacksonville. QB Josh Johnson provided somewhat of a spark, throwing for an efficient 151 yards and a touchdown. Despite fading of late, RB Adrian Peterson has been largely very good this season. The future Hall-of-Famer has over 1100 yards from scrimmage this season, including 8 touchdowns. Defensively, the Redskins have to be commended for their excellent display last week. The pass defence in particular was excellent, holding Jacksonville to just 20 yards net passing. Pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan was able to generate consistent pressure in this one, registering 2 of the team’s 6 sacks.
Despite managing a win last week, there’s a strong case to be made that the Redskins are amongst the bottom 3 teams in the NFL. They were dominated by both the Eagles and Giants over the past 3 weeks, partly due to Mark Sanchez’ incompetence. Josh Johnson really doesn’t give me too much confidence against this excellent Titans defence. On the other side, I think this Titans rushing attack can run all over the Redskins. Expect Marcus Mariota’s scrambling ability to come into play here in a strong offensive outing for Tennessee.
Tying in with my earlier point, I just don’t see the Titans struggling to score on Washington here. The current frontrunner for the #6 spot in the AFC, I expect a complete performance from this Tennessee side, it resembles a similar matchup to the one against Jacksonville a fortnight ago, where the Titans were able to easily put up 30 points. With the relatively low total of 37, we don’t need a huge offensive night from Washington for this to sail over.
Score Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27-13 Washington Redskins
Sunday, December 23, 12:20 pm (AEDT), StubHub Center
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers enter this one an impressive 11-3 after 4 straight victories. QB Phillip Rivers was excellent against Kansas City last week, throwing for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns. This was balanced nicely by a productive rushing attack that averaged 5 yards per carry and ran for 2 touchdowns. The defence also did a very solid job, holding the Chiefs rushing attack to just 60 yards on the day. Conceding only 234 passing yards also represented the Chiefs lowest total of the season. With so much on the line here, expect the Chargers to come out desperately in this one.
The Ravens enter this one at an impressive 8-6 after winning 4 of their last 5. The rushing attack continues to lead the way for this offence, totalling 242 yards and a touchdown against Tampa last week. QB Lamar Jackson has been much more efficient of late, avoiding interceptions in each of his last 3 games. The Ravens defence also deserves a tremendous amount of credit for their play of late. They did an excellent job against Tampa last week, allowing just 85 yards on the ground and only 156 through the air. Whilst this Chargers offence is one of the best in the league, the Ravens defence has the talent to match.
Whilst the Chargers have been very impressive of late, I think their strong recent performances overvalue them here. Another thing to consider is that the StubHub Center is arguably the league’s worst home-field advantage. With a capacity of only 30,000, away fans have tended to outnumber Chargers fans this season. Especially on a primetime evening game, I think this is a huge factor. Moreover, Baltimore’s unique rushing attack makes them a very difficult team to match up with. With their season essentially on the line here, I expect a desperate Ravens performance here.
Conventional wisdom is to take the under when you fancy the underdog and vice versa. I think this advice definitely holds true in this case. Baltimore’s rush-first attack allows them to regularly win the time of possession battle and is a major reason for their recent trend towards the under. I think they can run on Los Angeles here and really slow the game down. Their defence is also one of the premier units in the NFL, more than capable of containing an excellent Chargers offence. This total is set well, but I still think there’s some value on the under.
Score Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers 23-20 Baltimore Ravens