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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

Tennessee Titans (+3)* at Jacksonville Jaguars

What has to happen to make the 2-12 Jaguars the favorite in any game? Probably, the opponent must shuffle through a minimum of three quarterbacks throughout the season, also have a record of 2-12, and, most importantly, lose to the Jets. Talk about rock bottom.

The Jaguars find themselves in the extremely rare and uncomfortable position of giving points to an opponent. In fact, this is the first time Jacksonville has been listed as the favorite all season. The logic is justified, however, as the Titans are as bad as described above, and enter this game on an eight-game losing streak. In fact, the Jaguars have won two games since the last time the Titans won one.

The problem, however, is that the Jaguars are the same team they’ve been for years: awful.

In what is the most unwatchable way to conclude Thursday Night Football — technically, this week’s Saturday games are listed as ‘Thursday Night Football specials,’ but this pillow fight is the last actual game on a Thursday, this season — both teams bring their own noteworthy storylines.

How does Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt play out the team’s last two games? Most coaches don’t survive 2-14 seasons, but Tennessee has committed to Whisenhunt, and he will have the opportunity to rebuild the team with an extremely high draft pick next season. Normally, as in the case with the Jets, the current head coach has every incentive to keep adding wins. This is not the case for the Titans, and, while the team will certainly give a full effort, it adds a wrinkle into how important a third win is.

Instead, Jacksonville, already believing it has its quarterback for the foreseeable future, enters the game with actual expectations. Some might even call it ‘pressure.’ As noted throughout the season, favorites on Thursday Night Football had enjoyed an incredible 7-2 run against the spread to start the year. Since that point, including the Thanksgiving games, underdogs have recovered to the tune of 5-3. Excluding Thanksgiving, it’s a more modest 3-2 edge for the underdogs.

As we believed in the first half of the year, the underdogs should pave the way back to a more balanced .500 winning percentage by the end. They have come close, but the record for favorites on true Thursday Night Football games — that is, standalone night games to open the week — remains an impressive 9-5.

What’s more likely, the Jacksonville Jaguars pushing this to a 10-5 record and .667 winning percentage or the underdogs stabilizing the trend at 6-9?

In a rare case of Jacksonville expecting to win, they actually do. But, the slapfest that will ensue should be relatively devoid of touchdowns, keeping the score low and close. Tennessee loses by two, but beats the spread.

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