NFL picks, predictions for Week 16: 49ers outrun Ravens on Christmas; Bills blast Chargers; Bengals slip Steelers

Credit the NFL schedule-makers getting Week 16 right. 

The best offenses in the league will be in head-to-head matchups on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

That starts with the Sunday matchup between the top two offenses in the league. Miami (31.5 ppg.) and Dallas (30.8 ppg.) meet at Hard Rock Stadium in what should be a high-scoring matchup. Will Dak Prescott get the Cowboys back on track in the NFC race? Will Miami get Tyreek Hill back? This is a prove-it game of sorts for two teams that have had trouble against the true Super Bowl contenders this season. 

San Francisco and Baltimore meet in a prime-time Christmas Day matchup. The 49ers (30.4) and Ravens (27.4) rank third and fourth, respectively, in scoring offense. Brock Purdy and Lamar Jackson are the top two betting favorites for the NFL MVP award. This easily could be a Super Bowl LVII preview given these teams have the lead for home-field advantage in their respective conferences. 

Week 16 features four other games between teams that are .500 or better, so there will be movement in the playoff picture. 

Each week, Sporting News picks every NFL matchup by the spread. A look at our track record this season heading into Week 16: 

  • Straight up: 139-84 (9-6 in Week 15) 
  • ATS: 111-105-7 (7-7-1 in Week 15)

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Here are our straight-up picks for Week 16 (odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys, Steelers flop after blowout losses; 49ers, Ravens battle at top for Week 16

NFL picks, predictions for Week 16

  • New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) 

Thursday, 8:15 p.m., Prime Video 

This one is a tough pick given both teams are .500 and fighting for a spot in the NFC playoffs. The Saints took advantage of home cooking against bad teams the last two weeks, and their defense is on point. The Rams have averaged 33 points the last four weeks, and Matthew Stafford has 12 TDs and one interception in that stretch. 

Pick: Rams 30, Saints 22

  • Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers 

Saturday, 4:30 p.m., NBC 

The Bengals have won three in a row with backup quarterback Jake Browning, who is averaging 317.7 passing yards per game in that stretch. Pittsburgh beat the Bengals 16-10 on Nov. 26 in Browning’s first start, but the Steelers are on the brink of playoff elimination. Will Kenny Pickett (ankle) return for this game? 

Pick: Bengals 26, Steelers 20 

  • Buffalo Bills (-13.5) at Los Angeles Chargers 

Saturday, 8 p.m., Peacock 

The Chargers bottomed out in a 63-21 loss to Las Vegas that led to Brandon Staley’s firing. Easton Stick struggled in his first start, and Buffalo is coming off huge wins against Kansas City and Dallas. Buffalo is 0-2 ATS as a double-digit favorite this season, and the emotional bump could be there with interim coach Griff Smith. 

Pick: Bills 29, Chargers 17 

(Getty Images)

  • Indianapolis Colts (-2) at Atlanta Falcons 

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox 

Back-to-back losses, and a continued inability to produce a running game – have relegated the Falcons to third place in the NFC South. Now, they are in a must-win spot against a Colts’ team that is 5-1 in its last six games. Indianapolis has produced 13 turnovers in that stretch. Indianapolis is 5-0 ATS when favored by three points or less. There is a trap-game feel here, but we’ll stick with the hot hand. 

Pick: Colts 21, Falcons 18 

  • Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS 

Will Levis’ left leg injury isn’t as serious as it first appeared, but his status remains in doubt against the Seahawks. Seattle is coming off a short week and still lingering in the NFC playoff hunt. The Seahawks have lost four consecutive road games and Geno Smith (groin) is still dealing with an injury. That makes this game a toss up. 

Pick: Titans 21, Seahawks 17 

  • Detroit Lions (-3) at Minnesota Vikings 

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

The Lions can clinch their first NFC North championship with a victory against the Vikings. It’s not about the home-and-road splits with Jared Goff. It’s about turnovers. Detroit is 8-1 in games with one turnover or less, and the Vikings have a -6 turnover margin and a third-string quarterback in Nick Mullens facing that Detroit pass rush. 

Pick: Lions 27, Vikings 20 

Robert Saleh

(Getty Images)

  • Washington Commanders (+3) at New York Jets 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

Why would the Jets entertain starting Aaron Rodgers – who is expected to be medically cleared – after being eliminated from the AFC playoff picture? It’s the home finale and New York is favored, though they are 0-2 S/U in that situation this year. Washington is in a five-game skid in which Sam Howell has taken 30 sacks. 

Pick: Jets 18, Commanders 16 

  • Green Bay Packers (-4) at Carolina Panthers 

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

The Packers’ defense is a mess – one that has allowed a combined completion percentage of 79.6% to Tommy DeVito and Baker Mayfield the last two weeks. Bryce Young can have success against that too. Green Bay is 2-5 S/U on the road this year, so this is not a slam dunk, but Jordan Love will take advantage against a Carolina defense that ranks last in the NFL in sacks. 

Pick: Packers 31, Panthers 20 

  • Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans (-2.5) 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Browns and Texans are enjoying charmed seasons – and this is a huge game for playoff positioning. Both teams are dealing with several injuries, and if C.J. Stroud can’t go, then this will be the ultimate backup battle between Case Keenum – yes, he played for the Browns in 2020-21 – and Joe Flacco. We’ll stick with Cleveland and that defense on the road. 

Pick: Browns 22, Texans 19 

Doug Pederson

Getty Images

  • Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

Jacksonville did not enjoy the AFC North tour with three consecutive losses, and now they are catching a Buccaneers’ team riding a three-game winning streak. Baker Mayfield has seven TDs and one interception the last three weeks, but he also had a completion percentage below 50% in two of those games. For now, we will assume Trevor Lawrence clears concussion protocol in a get-right game. 

Pick: Jaguars 28, Buccaneers 24 

  • Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears (-4.5) 

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox 

The Cardinals are 3-2 ATS since Kyler Murray returned and scored 29 points on San Francisco in Week 15. The problem is Arizona still allows 26.9 points per game. Chicago has won their last three home games – and Justin Fields will keep fantasy owners happy in Week 16. The Bears are 0-2 ATS as a favorite this season. 

Pick: Bears 28, Cardinals 26

  • Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins (-1.5)  

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox 

The Cowboys are coming off an embarrassing loss at Buffalo, and now a trip to Miami poses a different test. The Dolphins might get Hill back for this game, and the Cowboys need this one to stay in the NFC East hunt. The Dolphins are 6-1 S/U and 5-2 ATS at home. It’s hard to bet against that. 

Pick: Dolphins 30, Cowboys 23 

Russell Wilson

(Getty Images)

  • New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (-5.5) 

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox 

Will this be the last Bill Belichick vs. Sean Payton matchup? Denver has won its last four home games – and despite a blowout loss last week – remains in the AFC playoff hunt. The Patriots are reduced to a spoiler role here. New England is 2-4 S/U and averages 16 points per game on the road. 

Pick: Broncos 20, Patriots 17 

  • Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) 

Monday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Chiefs have won the last six meetings with the Raiders by an average of 17.2 points per game. If Antonio Pierce wants to be the full-time coach for Las Vegas, then breaking that streak could be a tipping point. Kansas City breaks a two-game losing streak, but the Raiders keep it interesting if Aidan O’Connell can avoid turnovers. 

Pick: Chiefs 28, Raiders 19

  • New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-10.5) 

Monday, 4:25 p.m., Fox 

The Tommy DeVito phenomenon will either hit its expiration date or take off exponentially in the next three weeks with two matchups against the Eagles. Philadelphia beat NFC East rivals Dallas and Washington by a combined total of eight points. If the Giants cannot generate a running game behind DeVito, then this will be much worse. 

Pick: Eagles 31, Giants 17 

  • Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers (-5) 

Monday, 8:15 p.m., ABC

How does Jackson fare – and improvise – against the 49ers’ pass rush? In turn, can the Ravens produce a pass rush that gets to Purdy? San Francisco is 4-1 ATS when favored by six points or less, with the only loss coming to Cincinnati. San Francisco allowed 234 rushing yards to a Kyler Murray-led offense in Week 15. Can Jackson make that kind of impression? 

Pick: 49ers 24, Ravens 21

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