It was Siegfried and Roy weekend in the NFL as 35% of entries were mauled by Detroit. Forty-two percent of entries that entered Week 15 now rest in that great big circus in the sky. Before we unveil this week's picks, let's shine the spotlight on how we fared last week:
Week 15 picks
Best Bets: 1-1 (YTD: 21-6)
Leans: 1-0 (YTD: 15-3)
Traps to avoid: 1 elimination avoided (YTD: 12)
On to the Week 16 picks!
Philadelphia Eagles (-10) vs. New York Giants
The Eagles are just outside the frame of the playoff picture and would temporarily sneak in with a win over the Giants, coupled with a Vikings loss to the Rams. New York QB Mike Glennon has lost three consecutive starts and is now 2-15 as a starter since 2014. I'm sure Meat Loaf would agree with me that two out of 17 is very bad. Giants coach Joe Judge has yet to disclose whether he'll throw Glennon or Jake Fromm under center, but it won't make much difference. His team ranks 30th in points per game on the season and 31st over their last three games, averaging a measly dozen points. They're sorely missing playmakers like Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, and 2019 Saquon Barkley. Philadelphia ranks 11th in scoring and passing defense, and 10th in rushing defense. Quarterback Jalen Hurts looked sharp in his return from a high ankle sprain, completing 76.9% of his pass attempts against Washington, including several drops. Like Liam Neeson in "Taken," the Eagles have a special set of skills, leading the NFL in rushing yards per game (165.6) and will match up against the Giants' 26th-ranked rushing defense. Since Week 8, Philly is averaging 214.4 yards per game on the ground. Good luck.
Just over 25% of entries have locked in the Eagles, making them the second-most popular play of the week. They don't have much future value.
Los Angeles Chargers (-10) at Houston Texans
If there's any NFL roster that can't afford to lose players to the COVID-19/reserve list and hope to remain competitive, it's the Texans. Their depth chart has more O's right now than an office full of Lumberghs. Ten of their 22 starters are listed as out, and four more carry a questionable designation. If they're able to test out and come in on Sunday, that would be great, but Houston will still be long shots to beat a Chargers squad that boasts the third-best offense, per DVOA. The Texans have the league's worst run defense (145 yards per game), which Los Angeles can take advantage of, even if Austin Ekeler isn't able to come off the COVID-19/reserve list. Backup running back Justin Jackson is averaging a healthy 5.7 yards per carry this season. Houston's middle-of-the-road passing defense will be severely outclassed by future MVP Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
A shade over 36% of entries are on the Chargers, who are the most popular pick this week. They have a bit of future value next week at home versus Denver.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10) at Carolina Panthers
Tampa suffered some brutal injuries in their 9-0 loss to the Saints last week, losing Pro Bowl linebacker Lavonte David, and possibly running back Leonard Fournette, for the remainder of the regular season, and superstar receiver Chris Godwin for the year. Wideout Mike Evans is also dealing with a hamstring injury and is questionable to play. Luckily, they're the deepest team in the league at wide receiver and should be getting Antonio Brown back this week. Before injuring his ankle and, um, the other stuff he had going on, Brown was surgical on the field, averaging 83.6 receiving yards per game. Pair that with Tyler Johnson and attempted USAA scammer Gronk, and the Bucs will be fine. Carolina has many more reasons to sing the blues, with Christian McCaffrey out for the season, DJ Moore banged up, one of the NFL's worst offensive lines, a coach who has no idea what he's doing, and a rotating carousel of castoff quarterbacks. Tom Brady is 51-15 coming off a loss.
Nearly 10% of entries are on the Bucs this week. They have massive future value with a Week 17 game at the Jets and a Week 18 home finale versus the Panthers.
Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) vs. Washington Football Team
America's Team took their foot off the gas against Washington a couple weeks ago after going into halftime with a 24-0 lead. The Football Team fought back to within a score, but Dallas was able to close them out. Several Washington players are still on the COVID-19/reserve list. Whether they're able to test out or whether more players get added remains to be seen. Even at full strength, though, Washington is an inferior team to the 10-4 Cowboys whose offense leads the NFL in yards per game and whose defense ranks third in DVOA. The most attractive part about taking Dallas in survivor pools this week is that they're a double-digit favorite that's only 6% owned and has no future value.
TRAPS TO AVOID
Atlanta Falcons (-5.5) vs. Detroit Lions
I wouldn't pick the Falcons if the entire Bene Gesserit were using "the voice" on me, telling me to take them. This is two bad teams facing off, but one of them has some grit. And it isn't Atlanta. If you've made it this far and want to let it ride on the team who ranks last in overall DVOA, have at it. Nearly 10% of entries are on the Falcons.
New York Jets (+1) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
There are more entries on the Jets than there are on the Rams, Bengals and Patriots, combined. Have people not been watching the Jets? Am I going crazy here? Stop hunting bottom-barrel teams with other bottom-barrel teams. "But they're at home." Ah yes, home sweet home, where the Jets are an unbeatable 2-5. Almost 3% of entries have locked in the Jets.
Stats provided by Football Outsiders, teamrankings.com and nfl.com.