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Litwin’s Locks: NFL Week 16

Heather Newberry

An Arizona player holds a football prior to the UA-ASU rivalry game on Nov. 25, at Sun Devil Stadium.

Winter Break may stop school, but it doesn’t stop the NFL. The season has reached its most critical moments with some teams fighting for playoff spots and others fighting to get to the top of the draft board. Well, except the Jets. There is no sure thing in the NFL, but I couldn’t have imagined the Jets beating a Super Bowl contender like the Los Angeles Rams or my Cincinnati Bengals bullying the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. That win for the Bengals will be the start of next year’s Super Bowl video. Following are the seven games I’ll be betting this week.

NFL (Lines according to ESPN Daily Lines pulled on 12/24/2020 @ 11:07 a.m. EST)

San Francisco 49ers (+200) at Arizona Cardinals (-240) (Saturday)

Line: Arizona Cardinals -5, Total: 49

Arizona has to win this game and the next to keep its spot in the NFC playoff race. Arizona controls its own destiny. San Francisco is dealing with too many injuries to stay in this game against an Arizona team that needs the win. If Arizona does make the playoffs, they will have a hard time getting past the first round with a defense that has struggled since Chandler Jones’ injury. Pick: Arizona Cardinals -5

Miami Dolphins (-160) at Las Vegas Raiders (+140) (Saturday)

Line: Miami Dolphins -3, Total: 47.5

Las Vegas is still alive in the AFC playoff race, but they need a ton of help. They’re struggling, having had multiple starters on the COVID-19 list throughout the year and a defense that can’t stop anyone. Miami just needs to win its two remaining games to make the playoffs. Miami has a bruising defense that will shut down Las Vegas’ offense. Pick: Miami Dolphins -3

Cleveland Browns (-500) at New York Jets (+400) (Sunday)

Line: Cleveland Browns -9.5, Total: 47.5

Never has there been a worse win in NFL history than the Jets’ win over the Rams last Sunday. I understand players don’t care about that stuff and they never want to go winless, but losing Trevor Lawrence has to sting. The Browns, on the other hand, are playing great football and quarterback Baker Mayfield is playing the best ball of his career. The Browns are a significantly better team and will run the ball down the Jets’ throat. Pick: Browns -9.5

RELATED: New Arizona football coach Jedd Fisch is committed to bringing back the Desert Swarm

Carolina Panthers (+115) at Washington Football Team (-135) (Sunday)

Line: Washington Football Team -2.5, Total: 44.5

Washington still has a chance to win the NFC East, but needs to win this game. I am assuming Washington quarterback Alex Smith will be starting behind center after missing last week due to injury. To say it nicely, backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been a little more occupied with off-the-field endeavors. The Panthers have played a lot of close games, but playing pretty much the entire year without their best player — Christian McCaffrey — was their downfall. Pick: Washington Football Team -2.5

Philadelphia Eagles (-140) at Dallas Cowboys (+120) (Sunday)

Line: Philadelphia Eagles -2.5, Total: 49.5

Philadelphia has a mess at the quarterback spot. Rookie Jalen Hurts has looked great in his limited starts. Unfortunately, they owe original starter Carson Wentz something like $50 million over the next two years. Dallas has been playing better as of late and quarterback Andy Dalton is doing a nice job filling in for Dak Prescott. I predict Dalton has another good game and Dallas wins as home dogs. Pick: Dallas Cowboys +2.5

Tennessee Titans (+155) at Green Bay Packers (-175) (Sunday Night)

Line: Green Bay Packers -3, Total: 56

This is a great Sunday Night Football matchup between two teams, both of whom have Super Bowl aspirations. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a great argument for being the MVP. This game will be high-scoring since both teams have high-powered offenses and defenses that can’t stop a runny nose. I will always take Aaron Rodgers in a shootout since he can throw the ball anywhere. Pick: Green Bay Packers -3

Buffalo Bills (-320) at New England Patriots (+260) (Monday Night)

Line: Buffalo Bills -7, Total: 46

This has to be the first time in at least 15 years that the Bills are favorites in New England. I love the Bills and I love their quarterback Josh Allen. The guy can really spin a football. This game doesn’t matter to New England since they are out of the playoffs, but a win for Buffalo could still improve Buffalo’s playoff seeding. Buffalo will go in there and blow out its divisional rival. Pick: Buffalo Bills -7 

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