The (Under) Dogs Are Barking: Week 16

Photo Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Looking to bounce back from a frustrating week, where the Bears ended up pushing, thanks to that late line move from 3 ½ to three and a botched Hail Mary that should have been successful. Serves me right for believing in the Bears.

For Week 16, I’ve got a stocking stuffed with playful dogs that I believe will have me singing “Joy to the World” by the time the football ends on Christmas night.

Titans +3½ vs. Seahawks

You never have to twist my arm to back Mike Vrabel as a home dog, and I like the way things are lined up for this matchup. The Titans are out of the playoff hunt but would love nothing more than to spoil the Seahawks’ playoff hopes. They will always play hard for Vrabel.

They’ll likely have Ryan Tannehill under center, which may not be much of a drop-off from Will Levis. Tannehill’s future beyond this season is somewhere other than Nashville, and this may be his one opportunity to audition for his next employer.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks are playing on a short week after an emotional, come-from-behind victory and are ripe for a letdown, even with Geno Smith likely back under center.

The line is about a point too high, and I wouldn’t rule out a Tennessee win.

Cardinals +4 at Bears

I’ve been riding with the improved Bears for much of the last month, and they should have covered and won last week had Darnell Mooney not botched the Hail Mary catch. This line is inflated, though, against a Cardinals team that is always a live dog with Kyler Murray under center.

Their offense was impressive last week, putting up 29 points against the 49ers, including 234 on the ground. Chicago’s improved run defense will be tested mightily by the legs of James Conner and Murray. Both teams have been eliminated from the playoffs, so you wonder about the players’ motivation. I just don’t think the Bears should be favored by this many points against anybody.

Ravens +5½ at 49ers

It’s the final game of Week 16, and it’s a potential Super Bowl preview and the Ravens players are whining about being underdogs. Obviously, they should be dogs, but it feels like the line is about two points too high.

There’s no question the 49ers are the class of the league right now, but they also gave up all those yards on the ground to the Cardinals last week and will now face the nightmare that is Lamar Jackson, who’s running the offense very efficiently, even without tight end Mark Andrews. Jackson is 19-1 lifetime against NFC teams, and the Ravens thrive as underdogs, going 19-4 since 2018. The Ravens have a big special teams edge too.

San Francisco is also dealing with a bunch of injuries to their defense: Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave have missed practice this week, and a few others have been limited. I think the Ravens’ defense can force Brock Purdy into a couple of mistakes, and they tackle well enough to prevent Deebo Samuel and George Kittle from killing them in the middle of the field. Feels like a field goal game to me. Give me the points.

Last Week: 0-2-1

Season: 22-21-2

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