What a lineup.
The Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Football Team and Pittsburgh Steelers — four popular NFL teams among West Virginia online sportsbook bettors — are prime shakers and movers in the playoff picture.
Week 16 features all of them in important games. Here are the odds for NFL Week 16 games at WV sportsbooks:
Let’s take a closer look.
Who can believe this team was 0-16 three years ago? Now the Browns have 10 triumphs, with the possibility of 12 before the year ends.
They visit the one-win New York Jets in Week 16.
Cleveland goes for the MetLife Parlay, back-to-back wins in MetLife Stadium, the shared home of the Jets and New York Giants. The Browns defeated the Giants there last week, 20-6.
The Browns have shown formidable versatility in the past two weeks. Against the Ravens, in the NFL’s game of the year, they put up 42 points and rallied from a significant second-half deficit before losing with two seconds remaining.
Against the Giants, they mounted two 95-yard scoring drives in one game, the first NFL team to accomplish the feat this season. Cleveland can win through the air, with quarterback Baker Mayfield finding the likes of Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins. And it can pound the rock with the league’s best running-back tandem, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The Browns face a Jets team that shocked the NFL world with a 23-20 triumph over the Los Angeles Rams to avoid a winless season. The Jets should have three or four more victories, and always play better at home.
The Ravens have exceeded 40 points in two straight weeks before hosting the New York Giants in a game they can’t afford to lose. The 9-5 Ravens face the possibility of going 11-5 and still missing the playoffs. They need to win and get help. But they should at least get to 11-5 after meeting the Giants and finishing next week at the Cincinnati Bengals.
Baltimore has an explosive running game and faces a Giants team that is not built to come from behind. The Ravens are heavily favored, given the acrobatics of quarterback Lamar Jackson and a strong offensive line. Baltimore needs to pass either the Miami Dolphins or Indianapolis Colts to enter the post-season.
And who will Baltimore root for this weekend? The team that beat them twice, the Steelers.
The reeling Steelers, 11-3, are actually home underdogs to the 10-4 Indianapolis Colts. Pittsburgh would like to right the ship after its offense has fallen into disarray for the last four weeks. Baltimore would love Pittsburgh to defeat the Colts, have Indianapolis fail to win the division, and then have a similar record to Baltimore. The Ravens defeated the Colts earlier this season, giving them a tiebreak advantage if it comes into play.
But Pittsburgh is struggling. An 11-3 team getting points at home? Pittsburgh has lost three straight and panic is in the air.
Washington closes in
And how ABOUT that Washington Football Team?
Washington, 6-8, is the only team in the NFC East that controls its destiny.
The first-place Football Team can clinch the crown this weekend by defeating the Carolina Panthers as a slight favorite and getting a likely Ravens victory against the Giants.
Washington nearly stole last week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, trailing the entire game before almost pulling out a victory.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed some life in the second half of a game that Washington appeared to be out of most of the way. Can he carry it over?
A bettor’s decision on Washington concerns whether one believes it can capture a big game.
Leadership in this division has shifted like a hot potato, with no team able to convert good positioning into a stranglehold on the title. The Philadelphia Eagles held a commanding lead at mid-season. They faltered and the Giants won four straight to assume the pole position. But then they scored only 13 points in two home losses.
Washington rose up by defeating the Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers on the road in the same week, taking command.
Like the Giants, Washington struggles mightily on offense. In the game against San Francisco, it took two defensive scores to win.
It will be important for Washington to play from in front against Carolina, allowing its strong defensive unit to control the tempo.
Washington-Carolina is an early game. The results of it will determine whether the late-afternoon contest between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys is a real game. Washington eliminates both teams with a win, but allows the entire league back into the playoff picture if it loses.
Should Washington fail to win, the Eagles-Cowboys loser is eliminated. Washington plays at Philadelphia the final week of the season.
Around the NFL: Christmas football
That’s right, for the first time ever, the NFL will play a game in every day of the week this season. That means a Friday tilt between the considerably-favored New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota had a disappointing campaign and is playing out the string, but it has eliminated the Saints from the playoffs twice in the last four years, including last season. Do the Saints have a revenge motive? Are they jinxed against Minnesota?
A Saturday tripleheader involves three teams who need their games. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take their 9-5 record and visit the Detroit Lions. The 9-5 Miami Dolphins visit the Las Vegas Raiders and the 8-6 Arizona Cardinals seek an important victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
The staggered times — 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. ET, create the best of worlds for the books and the bettors.
“It’s great that these games have been spread out this way,” Johnny Avello, the director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayWV. “This is so valued by a bookmaker. A lot of times, when you have the 1 o’clock games and if the next game starts at 4:05, the early game isn’t over yet and the bettor is still watching that game. So, bets can’t be made on the second game before the start of it. But this time it is ideal. The timing is spaced out appropriately for betting purposes.
“I can’t say enough what a fantastic job the NFL has done in getting all these games in,” he added. “They made sure we had a season. We are grateful for that. We have had a remarkable year.”
The marquee Sunday matchup is the NFC West first-place battle between the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.