Today's Free Picks for
Posted Saturday, December 26
NFL Week 16
What you see below is our early leans. Many of the selections below will stay the same and some will be moved into official plays with wagers on Sunday. However, there is also the possibility that we see, read or get a sense that something is not right with one of our selections and change our pick. There are several different criteria we use to grade a game and make it an official play and a lot of things can happen or change between Friday and Sunday.
We’re intent on providing our readers with the best possible selections and doing so on Sunday instead of Friday just makes more sense. We made that change two years ago and ended up going 81-57 (+64 units) in 2018 and 65-59 in 2019 (+16 units). Again, we’ll have all write-ups (except Monday Night Football) posted on the weekend but our actual wagers won’t be posted until Sunday morning between 10 AM and 12:00 PM EST
NFL Week 16
Tampa Bay -11 -107 over Detroit
1:00 PM EST. The Buccaneers can clinch a playoff berth here with a win or tie against the Lions, or with a Bears loss or tie. But the Saints' win on Friday eliminated the Bucs from the NFC South race.
It is literally impossible to know what type of performance we’re going to get from Detroit. The Lions got hit hard by the virus. When the week started, Bucco Bruce Arians was fully expecting offensive coordinator/interim head coach Darrell Bevell to be running the Lions and defensive coordinator Cory Undlin to be running their defense. Bevell, Undlin and the Lions’ three primary defensive coaches, Bo Davis (defensive line), Ty McKenzie (linebackers) and Steve Gregory (defensive backs) will also miss the game, thus, the Lions will be coached on defense by quality control guys and front office stat geeks.
When asked how he can prepare against Lions coaches with no NFL history, Arians laughed and said, “Well, you can throw out all the tendencies for sure,” Arians said. “They have new play-callers on both sides of the ball.”
The situation makes Detroit unplayable. We certainly don’t want to be holding a ticket on the Lions if they are completely out of sorts, unmotivated and sloppy. Furthermore, we have no idea why Matt Stafford is even suiting up. Dude is a free agent next year and is about to get paid so why would he jeopardize his future when he can easily opt out? Stafford has been sacked 30 times this season and comes in bruised and battered.
The Bucs were -8 for most of this week so we cannot recommend playing them -10 today but hold a gun to our head and we’d have to spot the points simply by process of elimination. In other words, Detroit is unplayable. Brady and his elite set of receivers will face the league’s worst pass defense. Although the Bucs are tempting, we know for sure that if we play them, we would be spotting inflated points, therefore we are going to have to look elsewhere. The recommendation is Tampa but not without some trepidation.
San Francisco +6 -103 over ARIZONA
4:30 PM EST. Frankly, we don’t understand why the price on the Cardinals is so low. As a 4-point favorite in Dallas last week, the 49ers fell behind by 14 and lost outright. Furthermore, Raheem Mostert, Nick Mullens, Deebo Samuel, and CB Richard Sherman are out for the Niners. That leaves third string QB, C.J. Beathard running the show. Thrown in as a third-round rookie for the 49ers with an overmatched roster, Beathard struggled mightily in 2017. He wasn’t much better the following year when he stepped in after Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt before losing the job to Nick Mullens. There are a host of other reasons — their five-game, season-ending relocation among them — to believe the 49ers’ nightmare season isn’t about to get any better.
Just to recap, San Francisco is down to its third string QB. They are without their #1 running back. They lost to Washington by eight two weeks and to Dallas by eight last week. They have no home, they were officially eliminated from the playoffs last week and they have nothing to play for this week after a miserable season. +5? Really? Should it not be +10?
The Cardinals have now won two consecutive games after losing four of their previous five, and they are in position to clinch a playoff spot with a win over the 49ers along with a Bears loss or tie. If they tie the 49ers, the Cardinals can clinch with a Bears loss.
Motivation for the 49ers is a question mark. Motivation for the Cardinals is not. We once again have to question why this line is so low. It’s an isolated game on a Saturday afternoon and it’s going to be wagered on by the millions. Why would anyone choose San Francisco today? The man on the street will not be choosing the underdog even if the game was final.
This game looks way too easy. Of all the games that looked easy this year, this one stands out to us more than any other we have seen. It’s also an isolated game and we can assure you the books did not overlook it. This is the either biggest oversight of the season and the biggest sucker play of the season. We’ll go with the latter but in no way are we betting it. Recommendation: San Francisco +5
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Early leans & analysis 0 (Risking 0 units - To Win: 0.00)