With just two weeks of the National Football League regular season remaining, it is now vital for every competitive franchise to push on and win this weekend.
Heading my NFL four-fold this weekend are the Carolina Panthers, led by 2015 Most Valuable Player Cam Newton. Ron Rivera’s side are in contention for the NFC South title and Super Bowl glory could be on the cards.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams also make the list. Both teams have failed to inspire confidence in years gone by but those days are behind them. It would be foolish to look past either franchise this weekend, especially as division titles are still very much up for grabs.
Read below for my top tips ahead of Week 16 in the NFL…
CAROLINA PANTHERS vs TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
A simple choice. At the start of the season, I’d have been tempted by the Buccaneers but it just hasn’t gone to plan for Dirk Koetter’s men this year. Carolina are solid defensively and explosive on offence – and that is a recipe for success.
To their credit, Tampa Bay pushed the Atlanta Falcons close on Monday Night Football but couldn’t get over the line; and that has been their biggest issue this year. Cam Newton and co are relentless and Carolina will be confident of a dominant win on home turf.
TIP: Panthers -9.5 on the handicap @ 17/20
CINCINNATI BENGALS vs DETROIT LIONS
Three defeats on the spin have eliminated Cincinnati from playoff contention but the Lions are still right in the mix. Detroit are 8-6 on the year and plenty of punters will fancy the NFC North franchise to snag one of the wildcard spots in the coming weeks.
For me, 7/10 is a generous price for over 40.5 points. That particular line has landed in four of Cincinnati’s last six games whilst also landing in six of Detroit’s last seven – making this a very appealing bet. In Matthew Stafford and Andy Dalton, we reluctantly trust…
TIP: Over 40.5 match points @ 7/10
TENNESSEE TITANS vs LOS ANGELES RAMS
What has gone wrong with the Titans this year? The AFC South side were well fancied to win the division but it looks the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to pip them to top spot. Current head coach Mike Mularkey will do well to keep his job at the end of the season.
Sean McVay’s offence has been on fire this year and the Rams will go about their business in a similarly aggressive fashion here. The Titans defence is there for the taking and the visitors will be confident of notching another huge victory. Take the 3/5 on offer for the handicap.
TIP: Rams -3.5 on the handicap @ 3/5
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS vs JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
There’s no doubting that Jimmy Garoppolo has improved the 49ers and San Francisco have now won three on the spin – and four of their last five. This may be a step too far though, he has yet to face an elite defensive front and Jacksonville will be raring to go.
Blake Bortles has been Tom Brady-esque in recent weeks and his improved quarterback play could give the Jaguars a decent chance in the playoffs. Defensively, Jacksonville are stacked and this could end up being a low scoring contest. The 12/25 for a Jaguars win is a solid price.
TIP: Jaguars to win @ 12/25
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*