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Bets Dressed - Week 16 - Uniform Matchups and Picks

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals. It’s time for a Christmas Eve/Day NFL extravaganza. Both Santa Claus and the Uniform Gods are coming to town.

A quick note on methodology.

As always, I’m analyzing every NFL uniform matchup and picking a winner against the spread based on who dresses best. And just because a team is ranked higher in the Uniform Wardrobe Power Rankings doesn’t mean it will automatically win the uniform matchup. It’s what you wear in the instant matchup that counts.

Week 16 Uniform Matchups and Picks.

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Packers at Panthers in a sneaky good uniform matchup to kick off the early slate. The white and yellow of Green Bay pairs beautifully with the black and silver of Carolina. Add in the green and blue accents and we’re cooking with gas. I’m giving the Packers the slightest edge, but round of applause all around.

Good for the Panthers getting off the schneid last week.* But this feels like one of the more lopsided matchups of the week. Carolina is outmatched on paper against just about every team in the league, and their only paths to victory this season have been field goal driven rock fights. The Packers are Top 10 in offensive EPA per play and top half in net EPA per play. Meanwhile, the Panthers are Bottom 5 in both. Green Bay desperately needs to end their two-game losing streak to stay in the NFC playoff picture. And I think they’ve found an ideal get-right spot.

*And improving to 2-0 in the black helmet.

The Pick: Packers -4

NOTE - Both teams have yet to reveal their choice of pants.

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

The Vikings are bringing back the Winter Whiteout. And the Lions are countering with the Honolulu blueberries. This one would be markedly better with the Lions in silver pants, and the Vikings get the nod as a result.

When the Lions are on, they are a Top 3 team in the NFL. But as they’ve shown this season, they tend to be off when taking on their compatriots in the NFC North. Minnesota let a win get away from them in Cincinnati, and I expect them to be locked in against the Lions. No one blitzes more than Brian Flores and this Vikings defense, and few quarterbacks are more affected by the blitz than Jared Goff. Look for the Vikings to keep it close and potentially take this one outright.

The Pick: Vikings +3.5

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Colts at Falcons in the yin and yang matchup of the week - in more ways than one. The Colts are dressed to spread Christmas cheer. And the Falcons are dressed like a lump of coal. At least we know who’s landing on the nice list: Colts all the way.

This Colts are playing like the scrappiest team in the league. And it’s starting to look like there is a very real chance that Gardner Minshew will be starting a playoff game this year. But Indy shouldn’t overlook a Falcons team coming off one of the grossest losses of the season. As underwhelming and disappointing as the Falcons have been this season, they still have a dangerous defense (and a bevy of offensive playmakers if someone can find a way to consistently get them the ball). Like all Falcons games, I expect this one to be close throughout. Allow me to take the points and hold on for dear life.

The Pick: Colts +3

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Browns-Texans looks as good as you could expect thanks to Cleveland breaking out the orange pants. Houston still suffers from generic blandness, but their navy scheme allows the orange on the other side to really pop. Browns are the clear choice.

The line certainly suggests CJ Stroud will not be suiting up for this one, so it’s another week of the Case Keenum experience. And no one knows better than the Browns that a backup can still deliver you to the promised land. But it’s one thing to beat a division rival with karma on your side, and it’s another thing to beat a playoff team with a generational* defense.

*Going back to 2000, this Cleveland defense has the highest success rate through 15 weeks.

The Pick: Browns -2.5

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Commanders at Jets would typically find itself on the worst of the week shortlist. And based on aesthetics alone, it’s no different this week. But in a Christmas Week where we’re struggling to find any true red vs. green showdowns, we’ll settle for some Commanders burgundy against the Jets in all green. The Jets are the pick with the most seasonally accurate color.

As subpar as this uniform matchup is, the football game may be worse. The Commanders have fully come apart at the seams. And in a year where numerous teams have found a way with backup quarterbacks, the Jets were never able to get past the Aaron Rodgers injury.* In a game with no shortage of ineptitude, it’s always prudent to throw your lot in with the best unit. Here, that’s the Jets defense. In a rough year with little to no help from the offensive side of the ball, New York is still Top 4 in defensive expected points. And I’m content to be riding with them.

*My guess is that the Jets will run it back with the coaching staff and front office with Rodgers back next season. But it wouldn’t shock me if ownership decided to shake things up - in whole or in part.

The Pick: Jets -3

NOTE - The Commanders have yet to reveal their choice of pants.

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Jaguars at Buccaneers was this close to being the most Christmas-y matchup of the week. But the Jaguars dropped the ball and left the teal pants in the closet. At least the Bucs are treating us to red jerseys for the first time since Week 3. Tampa Bay in a no brainer.

This one was shaping up to be a sneaky great football game. But it sounds like Trevor Lawrence may be sidelined with a concussion.* If that’s the case, enter CJ Beathard. This Bucs defense has struggled against the pass this season (giving up the most yards per game to opposing quarterbacks), but stopping Beathard is a much easier ask than stopping Lawrence. On the other side of the ball, Baker is balling. With the Jags also being Bottom 10 against opposing quarterbacks, I like Mayfield and the Bucs to take care of business at home.

*Lawrence cleared concussion protocol and is traveling with the team to Tampa Bay. But no word yet on his game status.

The Pick: Buccaneers +1.5

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Cardinals-Bears had sneaky great uniform matchup potential. But the Bears threw us for a loop breaking out their - admittedly excellent - throwbacks. As much as I enjoy this Bears outfit, wearing it against the Cardinals is a net negative for the overall uniform matchup where we get stuck with Arizona’s red unitard. With all of that being said, the blame here lies with one party: the Cardinals.* And that means the easy choice is the Bears.

This one might as well be branded as the 2024 NFL Draft Bowl. Two teams with decisions to make,** players to draft, and (hopefully for each) better years ahead. While neither team has much to play for here (besides draft position), both play hard each week. And the Bears defense - especially against the run - has come to life since adding Montez Sweat to the mix. The Cardinals offense starts and stops with workhorse back James Conner. If Chicago can corral Conner, it will be their ballgame to lose.

*All Arizona needs to do to make this look work is pair the white pants with the red jersey.

**If I had to guess today, my money is on the Cardinals sticking with Kyler and the Bears moving on from Fields.

The Pick: Bears -4

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Patriots-Broncos is set for one of the more forgettable uniform matchups and Sunday Night Football games of the season. While I’m a big fan of the Broncos Snowcapped helmet, I’m not a fan of the orange unitard it’s paired with. This would be a fun spot for the Patriots to debut silver pants with the white jersey, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Regardless, New England is the selection.

After getting smoked by the Lions last week, this is a prime get-right spot for Sean Payton and the Broncos. But this Patriots team has shown signs of life since moving to Bailey Zappe under center. By no means are they playing at even a league-average level, but signs of life can cover a number of this size. There’s also a Belichick pride element on the line. During his Patriots tenure, Belichick has a winning record against every team in the league (with the exception of .500 records against the Packers, Giants, and Broncos). If Denver wins this one, they will be the only franchise to have a winning record against Belichick in New England. One last ride for the Patriot Way. Win one for the gipper emperor.

The Pick: Patriots +7.5

NOTE - The Patriots have yet to reveal their choice of pants.

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Raiders at Chiefs in a stone cold classic to kick off a Christmas Day trilogy. A storied aesthetic rivalry and a picturesque example of complementary contrast. I’m holding out hope for silver numbers from the team from the Silver State. But the Raiders would be the pick either way.

The Raiders are coming off one of their most dominant wins in franchise history - a 63-21 beatdown of the Chargers that was the straw that broke the back of Brandon Staley’s coaching tenure. Antonio Pierce has the Raiders playing with an edge unseen during the short-lived Josh McDaniels era. With that being said, we’re only four weeks removed from the Chiefs making light work of the Raiders 31-17 in Las Vegas. Since then though, the Chiefs have gone 1-2 (with their only win coming last week against a tapped-out Patriots team). My gut tells me the Chiefs should roll, but it’s never a gimme to sweep your division rival.

The Pick: Raiders +10.5

NOTE - The Raiders have yet to reveal their choice of jersey. But I have a (hopeful) hunch we’ll be seeing silver numbers on Christmas Day.

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

The black uniform is back for the Eagles (as is the green helmet it’s paired with).* As far as blackout uniforms go, I was a big fan of the Eagles iteration with the black helmet. But I’ve never been crazy about the interplay of the green helmet with the rest of this outfit. If anything, I’d prefer to see the Eagles turn the green collar black and request an exception to the two shell rule to bring back the black helmet (or even wear white pants with the black jersey like they did originally in 2003). But until then, it’s what it is. The icy white Giants are a solid complement, and they are the pick here.

Believe it or not, the Giants and Eagles have yet to play each other this season. The NFC East rivals will meet during Christmas Week** and then again in Week 18 for the regular season finale. Things have been rough for the Eagles of late. To put it mildly, the vibes are bad. So a get-right game against the Giants couldn’t come at a better time. But the Tommy Cutlets bandwagon is not exited easily. I’m not saying I expect him to lead a miraculous victory. But a spread this large? Forget about it.

*The NFL finally ended the one helmet rule last season - allowing teams to use up to two helmet shells. Last year, the Eagles used their alternate helmet slot for a black helmet to pair with the black uniform. Now that the Kelly Green throwbacks are back, the black helmet is no more. This is undoubtedly the correct decision, but I did prefer the Eagles blackout look to their current black unitard with a green helmet.

**I saw a lot of people clamoring for Giants Red vs Eagles Kelly Green to celebrate the holidays. Two problems: (1) the Giants don’t currently have a red uniform in the wardrobe and (2) how quickly we forget the color blindness apocalypse that was Bills-Jets in the inaugural Color Rush game.

The Pick: Giants +13.5

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Ravens at 49ers had uniform matchup of the year* potential with Baltimore in purple pants.** While the icy white uniform is still a sharp look, it knocks the uniform matchup down a peg. The 49ers can do no wrong in their glorious red throwbacks - one of my favorite Triple Mismatch Club outfits in the league. And San Francisco is the crystal clear selection.

This is it. The game of the year. Party like it’s Super Bowl XLVII (and we may just get this one again as Super Bowl LVIII in Vegas). Two elite offenses going against two elite defenses. And the MVP award itself may be on the line. There are ten different ways to dive into and breakdown this matchup. But I can’t escape what I’ve mentioned a few times over the past weeks: the Ravens defense can be had on the ground. And no one in the NFL is better at scheming up the ground game than Kyle Shanahan. The spread makes me sweat, but I like the Niners to cement their status as the 2023 NFL juggernaut.

*I don’t think it would have claimed the top honor. But it certainly would’ve made the shortlist of honorable mentions.

**In the words of the villainous Orson Krennic from Rogue One, “we were on the verge of greatness. We were this close.”

The Pick: 49ers -5.5

Worst NFL Uniform Matchup of Week 16.

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Seahawks-Titans is here to interrupt your holiday season with more navy* than the Battle of Midway. After seeing these teams bring back truly elite (and boldly colorful) throwbacks this season, it’s hard to stomach such a dark and dreary affair. If nothing else, this is the spot for Seattle to break out gray or white pants. And Tennessee should lighten the mood themselves with light blue pants. As always, this doesn’t have to be hard. But in the interim, it doesn’t get much worse - a genuine contender for worst of the year.

In Tennessee, the Oilers throwbacks weren’t enough to keep the Titans longshot playoff hopes alive.** Meanwhile in Seattle, Drew Lock was more than enough to upset the Eagles and keep the Seahawks in the NFC playoff race. But it’s all about the lack of points for our purposes. With these two teams combining to average 40 points per game, we should be right on top of the number here. Let’s hope the Uniform Gods are as offended by navy overload as we are.

*A navypocalypse, if you will.

**And some would say their loss to the Texans was a healthy dose of karma.

The Pick: Under 41.5

Best NFL Uniform Matchup of Week 16.

Uniform Graphics by The Gridiron Uniform Database

Cowboys at Dolphins. Party like it’s Super Bowl VI. The Dolphins boast one of the sharpest throwbacks in football. And the Cowboys primary whites are an excellent complement. To make matters better, the Dolphins are decking the Hard Rock Stadium halls with throwback orange script endzones. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we have a uniform matchup that meets the moment.

I said it in the Club SDR breakdown for Tua, and I’ll say it again here: I feel a shootout coming. And for those of us that open one gift on Christmas Eve, said shootout would suffice. The Cowboys and Dolphins are the two highest scoring teams in the NFL. Dallas averages 31 points per game, and Miami averages 32 points per game. While each team has a potent defense to boot, I think Dak and Tua are going to put on a laser show. Deep shots and explosives galore. For both entertainment and over purposes, sign me up.

The Pick: Over 49

The Gridiron Uniform Database.

The uniform graphics you see here are courtesy of The Gridiron Uniform Database. If you’ve never paid their site a visit, stop what you’re doing right now and check it out. Best site on the Internet and an invaluable resource to uniform nerds and casuals alike.

Coming Attractions.

Another uniform week in the books. You know the drill. Back for more on Thursday.

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