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NFL Week 16 Picks: Can The Bengals Get Past The Broncos?

Mario Mergola makes picks against the spread for every week 16 NFL matchup.

Jeremy Hill

Cleveland Browns (+4)* at Carolina Panthers

Well, that ended quickly. As fast as everyone piled on the bandwagon to support the Browns in Johnny Manziel‘s first start is as quickly as they jumped off. Opening last week as underdogs by one-and-a-half points — prior to the announcement of Manziel getting the nod — the Browns and Bengals quickly became a ‘Pick ’em’ game as the ‘Manziel factor’ pushed the spread back to even. 30 points and a shutout later, the Browns are back on the receiving end of points, despite playing a five-win team opening the week without resolution on quarterback Cam Newton‘s status for the game.

As always, perception is not only what drives the spread, but how people react to it. There was a palpable sense of excitement for those who had eagerly awaited Manziel’s debut. Once it was a massive failure, it struck fear in the minds of those expecting greatness, and the immediate ‘knee-jerk reaction’ is now to lose faith in Manziel and the Browns. That’s exactly what we want.

In a week that featured a nationally televised blowout of the Bears, a meeting between the Jets and Titans, and a Thursday night game with no touchdowns, the Browns – the only team to be shutout — arguably looked the worst.

Therefore, they have the most to gain.

They also have a solid defense with the third-most takeaways in the league playing against a careless Panthers offense who has broken the 21-point mark only once since Week 6.

Cleveland wins by a field goal and beats the spread.

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