Bettors will need to handicap Week 16 of the NFL season very carefully considering all of the different clinching opportunities for teams looking to either earn playoff spots or improve their seeding. A shocking 27-17 loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) to the Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1) as 14.5-point home favorites in the Week 15 Monday night matchup has opened the door for the Kansas City Chiefs (13-1) to clinch the top seed in the AFC in Week 16.
This Sunday, the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are listed as 10.5-point home chalk on the NFL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com hosting the Atlanta Falcons (4-10). Kansas City has surprisingly failed to cover in six straight games (0-5-1 against the spread) despite winning nine in a row straight up. The Chiefs remain strong favorites to defend their championship and have already clinched their fifth consecutive AFC West title. All they need to do is beat the Falcons to clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference for the second time in three years.
The Steelers also have a huge game on Sunday when they host the Indianapolis Colts (10-4) as home underdogs at sports betting sites for the first time this year. Pittsburgh closed as a home dog three times last season and won the last two games SU, going 2-0-1 ATS overall, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. It is worth noting that the UNDER has gone 7-1 the last eight times the Steelers have been home dogs. They need to win this game as well or else they could face the prospect of playing the Cleveland Browns (10-4) for the AFC North title in Week 17.
The Browns will visit the New York Jets (1-13) as 9.5-point road favorites on Sunday and can clinch their first postseason berth since 2002 with a victory and loss by the Colts, Baltimore Ravens (9-5) or Miami Dolphins (9-5). The Ravens host the New York Giants (5-9) as double-digit home favorites on Sunday, with both teams fighting for playoff spots. The Giants are still alive for the NFC East title, trailing the Washington Football Team (6-8) by one game with two left.
Washington will host the Carolina Panthers (4-10) on Sunday as 2.5-point home chalk, with Ron Rivera trying to beat his former team and remain one of the favorites to win NFL Coach of the Year. The Dallas Cowboys (5-9) are tied with New York and host the Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1) as two-point home underdogs Sunday in another important NFC East matchup.
On Saturday, the Dolphins visit the Las Vegas Raiders (7-7) as three-point road favorites in the third of three games that day. Earlier Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5) visit the Detroit Lions (5-9) as nine-point road favorites before the Arizona Cardinals (8-6) host the San Francisco 49ers (5-9) as 4.5-point home chalk in key games for their playoff hopes in the NFC.
Week 16 will kick off on Christmas Day with the New Orleans Saints (10-4) trying to stay in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC as seven-point home favorites against the Minnesota Vikings (6-8). The Green Bay Packers (11-3) can clinch the top seed though with a win over the Tennessee Titans (10-4) as 3.5-point favorites in the Sunday Night Football game if the Seattle Seahawks (10-4) lose earlier in the day as 1.5-point home chalk versus the Los Angeles Rams (9-5). The Seahawks can also stay alive for the top seed with a win that would clinch the NFC West while the Titans lead the AFC South over the Colts due to a better divisional record.