NFL: Week 16 Picks

Chargers (+1.5) over 49ers: The 49ers have nothing to play for and Jim Harbaugh has one foot out the door in San Francisco. The 49ers also played the Seahawks last week and teams struggle the week after playing Seattle. The Chargers need this game to stay in the playoff race.

Vikings (+7) over Dolphins: The Dolphins aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but they are pretty much done. Their coach also might be fired and the Vikings have been a covering machine.

Raiders (+7) over Bills: The Bills had a huge home win against Green Bay, and have held Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers without a touchdown pass the last two games. However, the offense has been terrible and their touchdown last week was a special teams score. The Raiders have shown up the last two times at home and won. I think they will cover this number and possibly spoil the Bills’ postseason chances.

Bengals (+3.5) over Broncos: The Broncos are winning games but something is wrong with Peyton Manning. It looks like Denver is locked into the No. 2 seed so I don’t think they will give a maximum effort on the road. The Bengals are in a must-win situation and I think they will be able to run with rookie running back Jeremy Hill. A successful running game will keep the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands, which would be ideal for Cincinnati in primetime.

Contest Picks

Redskins (+8) over Eagles

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Camellia Bowl Pick

South Alabama is staying in their state on Saturday night when they play Bowling Green. South Alabama is making their first bowl appearance in program history so they will be very motivated and have a home field advantage. Bowling Green ended the season poorly, and it was capped off by being routed in the MAC Championship by Northern Illinois.

The MAC didn’t win or cover a bowl game last year and I will look for opportunities this year to fade teams from that conference.

Pick: South Alabama (-2.5) over Bowling Green

Las Vegas Bowl Pick

Utah and Colorado State meet in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon in a battle between two former Mountain West rivals. Now Utah is in the Pac-12 and back in a bowl game after a two-year absence. The Utes finished 8-4 overall and 5-4 in a challenging conference slate. Colorado finished 10-2 but only played five teams that reached a bowl game.

The Utah offense is led by quarterback Travis Wilson and running back Devontae Booker. I think Booker will able to run on the Colorado State defense. Rams head coach Jim McElwain won’t be on the sideline because he took the Florida job. I don’t think McElwain’s absence will make much of a difference but I’m going to pick Utah in this game.

Utah played a tougher schedule and I like to pick teams from a power conferences when they are playing a “mid-major”. The talent level might not be much of a difference here but I think the Utes are a more motivated team in this spot after being left out of postseason play for two seasons.

Pick: Utah (-2.5) over Colorado State

Basketball Picks: December 17

North Carolina State (-5.5) over Tennessee: A young Tennessee team goes on the road to play North Carolina State. The Volunteers just beat a ranked opponent in Butler and I think they have a let down here. North Carolina State was just upset by Wofford so the Wolfpack will be focused.

Mavericks (-6.5) over Pistons: This line might be a little lower than it should because the Mavericks played in New York last night. The Mavericks routed the Knicks, which allowed their starters to rest late and be ready for this game. Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler all played 25 minutes or less. Detroit is playing their first home game after a west coast trip. I love the Mavericks here but my only hesitation is that Dallas plays San Antonio in their next game on Saturday. They might overlook the Detroit but still think they will win by double-digits.

Bowl Game Handicapping

The college football bowl season starts on Saturday and there are important things to look at when trying to pick games. Motivation is one of the biggest factors to look at. You have to consider if a team is happy to be in the bowl game. Were they hoping to end up in a better bowl game before the season?

I made a list of things I learned about picking bowls games last year. I’m going to apply the first four rules to my handicapping this year. One thing that changes is to pick against teams that controlled their BCS National Championship destiny. The new playoff system changes things. Also teams were left out of the playoff by a committee and not because of losing. TCU and Baylor had cases to make the four-team playoff. Instead of not being motivated for their bowl game, they might be motivated to prove that the committee was wrong.

I won’t be picking every bowl game on the website, and will only post my most confident picks with an explanation. With 39 games, I will still be making a lot of picks but haven’t decided how many.