NFL: Week 16 - Entering must-win territory
Happy holidays, dear readers. Three games in focus this week involving teams entering must-win territory. Expect them to go to the well.
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Week 16 action
We’re at the stage of the NFL season where we look to computers that specialise in projected probability to tell us just who’s likely to make the post-season and who’s going to fall desperately short.
Well, that gives us a good theme for this week’s line picks. Three teams - one of which, the Bears, is on the outside looking in according to the models - are the focus of this week’s selections because they’re now all entering must-win territory.
The fun part of this? They generally go to the well - or to those unfamiliar with the terminology, they go back to what has generally worked to this point.
Let’s take a look.
DeVante Parker - WR Miami Dolphins. Over 45.5 Receiving Yards (1.81)
The Dolphins’ success against New England was forged in running the ball and controlling the clock. In truth, they had very little choice as almost all the first-string players that Tua Tagovailoa had developed connections with had gone down with injuries.
With Gesicki and Parker participating in practice on Tuesday, it’s a good indicator that they’ll play this weekend - and if Parker plays, he’ll be the focal point against the most porous defensive backfield in the league.
Justin Herbert had none of his big-name targets in Vegas and still crippled the Raiders from start to finish. Not only do the Raiders not have a #1 corner, they don’t even have a #2 corner - just Jonathan Abrams running around needlessly giving away penalties.
Parker will tear them apart.
Mark Andrews - TE Baltimore Ravens. Over 47.5 Receiving Yards (1.85)
Baltimore appear to have abandoned the concept of throwing the ball to wide receivers, which, admittedly, is novel - but it does lend itself to the idea that the Ravens are trying to get back to what they do best, and that’s one-read football.
Mark Andrews is easily Lamar Jackson’s most reliable target, and against a Giants defense that doesn’t have their premiere tight end nullifier in Landon Collins anymore, they’re in big trouble and have been all season.
Lamar has three options on almost every play - the RPO which allows him to take the ball on a designed run; the hand-off to one of the 20 active backs that Baltimore keep on their roster, or to find Andrews in a soft spot in the zone coverage.
Greg Roman does the simple things, and they generally work.
David Montgomery - RB Chicago Bears. Over 81.5 Rushing Yards (1.83)
Baltimore nearly put up 200 yards on the ground against Jacksonville last weekend and they didn’t struggle despite the one-dimensional script from early on.
Sure to be spurred on by the Jets’ win over the Rams, handing them the first overall pick now, you can almost be guaranteed that they’ll be downing tools for the remainder of the season.
Chicago will want to play both clock and simplicity - and the easiest way to do that is by handing the ball off to David Montgomery, who has been the best running back in football over the last few weeks.
Nobody saw that coming, admittedly, but we still don’t have to be foolish enough to ignore it.
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