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NFL Week 16 Tips: AFC North rivals set for Christmas Day battle

Simon Sinclair | 25 December 2016

NFL week 16 tips

The battle for a place in the NFL post-season does not stop at Christmas time, with several teams putting aside tidings of good joy to dent their respective rivals’ push for the playoffs.

Seedings in both conferences are beginning to take shape with Dallas Cowboys at the top of the NFC, while New England Patriots appear to be in command of the AFC.

For everyone else there’s still plenty of work to do to get in the best position possible for an assault on the playoffs and their attempts to reach Super Bowl LI in Houston.

Here are Coral’s five top tips for the festive round of matches in the NFL.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins feature in our NFL week 16 tips.

Miami Dolphins feature in our NFL week 16 tips.

The Dolphins secured a crucial victory in their last outing over New York Jets to keep themselves in the sixth seed in the AFC. Miami were dealt a huge blow when quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a likely season-ending injury against Arizona Cardinals, but his backup Matt Moore threw four touchdown passes in their crushing win at MetLife Stadium.

Buffalo put in a solid performance to beat Cleveland Browns last week, although every side that has face Hue Jackson’s men this term has emerged victorious. Rex Ryan is reportedly coaching for his future at the club and will need to ensure that his side keep winning to close out the term to avoid the sack, even though the Bill’s playoff hopes are over.

Adam Gase’s side have the talent and the motivation to head into New Era Stadium to claim the victory so backing them at 15/8 on the money line is the punt to take for this contest.

New York Jets @ New England Patriots

New York are crumbling towards the end of the season, putting head coach Todd Bowles under huge pressure to remain in his role for the 2017 campaign. The Jets have lost five out of their last six games, and two of those have come in humiliating fashion in heavy defeats on home soil to Indianapolis Colts and the Dolphins.

The Patriots are coming into the contest knowing that a victory could lock up the number one seed. They’ve won their last five matches on the spin, including two hugely impressive wins over Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos in back-to-back weeks. Bill Belichick’s men will be determined to clinch home field throughout the playoffs after failing to do so last year, costing them in the AFC title game.

Matches between these two sides are always close as proven by the scoreline in their earlier match this term in a 22-17 win for the Patriots. As a result, back the Jets to cover the 16.0 spread at 11/10.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

Atlanta Falcons can claim a narrow win.

Atlanta Falcons can claim a narrow win.

The Falcons are closing in on the NFC South title that would secure them a home match in the playoffs, being boasted their win over San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defeat to the Cowboys last week. Matt Ryan has been outstanding this season and has maintained his high level of form even without the presence of the injured Julio Jones.

Carolina displayed fight on Monday to beat Washington Redskins on the road. Ron Rivera’s men could have easily lain down after being eliminated from post-season contention, but they produced a fine performance to notch their sixth win of the campaign, arguably their best display of the term.

The Panthers would desperately love to put a huge dent in the playoff aspirations of their rivals, but Dan Quinn’s men are playing excellent football, especially on offense. Therefore, backing the Falcons to claim a 1-6 point win on the road at Bank of America Stadium at 11/4 would be a smart option.

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Christmas tidings do not exist between the Ravens and the Steelers. These sides hate each other and not even their meeting on the 25th December will be able to stem their passion to put in a number of bone-crunching hits at Heinz Field.

They’re locked in a fierce contest for a playoff spot at the top of the AFC North, with only one of the teams likely to make the cut as division champions. As a result the outcome of this contest is huge, with the Ravens needing a victory more than their hosts to push them ahead of their bitter rivals.

Baltimore earned a vital win over Philadelphia Eagles last week, but are still not clicking on both sides of the ball, while the Steelers are beginning to find their rhythm on offense with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell pulling the strings. Pittsburgh should be able to close out a tight victory on home soil at 13/5 for a 1-6 point win.

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions are in action.

Detroit Lions are in action.

The Cowboys could have the number one seed locked up by the time they face the Lions on Monday Night Football pending the result of New York Giants clash against Philadelphia Eagles. However, they can ensure that the road for NFC teams to the Super Bowl travels through Dallas and AT&T Stadium with a win against Jim Caldwell’s men.

Detroit are in dire need of a victory to stave off the threat of Green Bay Packers breathing on the necks in the NFC North. Matthew Stafford’s hand injury has come at the wrong time, and he will need to fight through the pain barrier to deliver a win. The Lions defense will also need to be at the peak of their powers to stop Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

Due to their desperation, the Lions could pull off the upset here and have the tools to do it. A favourable 27/10 price makes them an intriguing option to take.

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