Frankly, nearly all of the games in the NFL in Week 16 are somewhat risky to bet because every team in the league is on a short week other than a few because the a majority of matchups are Saturday. Here are three games I would steer clear from.
The NFL's schedule-makers did the Redskins absolutely no favors as they played Monday night and looked terrible in a 26-15 home loss to Carolina and now have to turn around and head to Chicago on an extra-short week. I try to be a glass half-full guy, but there was nothing positive to take from that Panthers game if you are a Redskins backer. Carolina became the fourth straight opponent to take a first-quarter lead on Washington and accumulated 438 total yards. Sure, Kirk Cousins threw for 315 yards but no touchdowns and he turned it over twice. Oh, and star tight end Jordan Reed got tossed in the third quarter for punching a Panthers player. I'm assuming Reed will avoid suspension, but he's clearly not healthy in dealing with a separated shoulder and had just once catch. The Redskins controlled their wild-card destiny entering Monday but now don't. They absolutely have to win out but even that might not be enough as the Skins need at least one loss as well from both Green Bay and Tampa Bay. I thought it was risky to bet on last week's Packers-Bears game with Chicago getting 6 points. It looked like an easy Packers cover up 27-10 entering the fourth. But Matt Barkley, who has played quite well of late, lead the Bears to 17 straight points. However, an Aaron Rodgers bomb to Jordy Nelson got the Packers in position for the winning field goal as time expired. Chicago isn't beating many teams but is playing them all tough.
I'll just flat-out say that I believe Carolina will win this game outright even though it has the same short rest as Washington having played Monday night. But at least the Panthers are home on Saturday. They also still have a mathematical chance at the playoffs, although it would take a miracle. Carolina has to win out, have the Packers and Bucs lose out, have the Saints win Week 16 and lose Week 17. OK, those things aren't impossible. But the defending NFC champions also need Washington to win one of its two remaining games but TIE the other one. The Redskins did tie earlier this year against Cincinnati in London but no team has had two ties in a single season since overtime was added. One could argue no team has played any better than the Panthers the past two weeks in double-digit wins over the Chargers and Redskins. I don't trust the dome Falcons much when they play outdoors this time of year. Will they have superstar receiver Julio Jones? He has missed the past two with a toe injury. In Week 4 when the Falcons bombed the Panthers 48-33, Jones had 300 yards receiving and Matt Ryan 503 passing, the first teammates ever to reach those milestone numbers in the same game.
This and 49ers-Rams are the two most meaningless games of Week 16. But this one actually has plenty of intrigue. No. 1 being that it's probably the Browns' only chance to avoid 0-16 infamy with the 2008 Lions. Hard to see Cleveland winning Week 17 in Pittsburgh if the Steelers have anything at all to play for. Working in Cleveland's favor will be some not-so-nice weather and one of those early kickoffs for a West Coast warm-weather team in the Chargers. They have nothing to play for and probably have no interesting spending Christmas Eve in northeast Ohio. And don't you think the Chargers players might be looking ahead to Week 17 and the team's final-ever game in the city of San Diego? Also, the Bolts might be without top running back Melvin Gordon again. I've almost talked myself into taking a Browns straight-up win here, but I've also watched them play every week and know how little talent they have. The team has put up 10, 10 and 13 points in Robert Griffin III's three starts this season. Oh, and Cleveland is 0-8 ATS on NFL picks in its past eight games.