We have reached the penultimate week in the 2016 NFL season and there are still a number of teams hoping to punch their tickets to the playoffs. That list will likely be narrowed quite a bit after this week. Who will end up taking home “W’s” following this week of action? Here are my picks.
Last Week: 11-5
Thursday, December 22nd, 8:25 e.t.
New York Giants (10-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)
The Giants defense has been one of the most improved units across all of football and now it really has the team aspiring to make a bit of a run in January. However, Thursday night in Philly seems like a upset special to me. The Eagles could have easily won their last two games and this week they will get back their right tackle Lane Johnson. With Carson Wentz better protected, I think he will cut down on the mistakes that plagued him the first time these two teams faced off.
Philadelphia 24, New York 17
Saturday, December 24th, 1:00 e.t.
Washington Redskins (7-6-1) @ Chicago Bears (3-11)
The Bears gave the Packers all they could handle last week at home coming back from 17 down only to watch the “W” slip away with a last second field goal. Meanwhile, the Washington offense really struggled at home against a much maligned Carolina Panther “D”. On the road in Chicago could be another upset for the Redskins. Matt Barkley is actually the third graded QB in the league ever since he took over as the starter behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Who’da thunk it?
Chicago 28, Washington 25
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) @ Carolina Panthers (6-8)
The Panthers showed a lot of heart on Monday night on the road, but the Falcons are now coming to town and they are rolling. It will be hard pressed for the Carolina corners to stand up to this high octane offense that will be looking for a playoff berth with a win and a lot of help. Atlanta is getting healthy and they are quickly becoming a team that nobody wants to play in January.
Atlanta 37, Carolina 31
San Deigo Chargers (5-9) @ Cleveland Browns (0-14)
If the Browns are going to get a win this year, this will be their best shot at it. The Chargers have fallen off the face of the earth following their devastating loss to Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago and are playing some rather uninspired football. I think they will get Cleveland’s best shot in a while this time out, but the Browns just don’t have the talent to get it done. Their defense could get shredded.
San Diego 30, Cleveland 24
Tennessee Titans (8-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)
The Jaguars finally got on firing Gus Bradley and now Doug Marrone will step in to fill the head coaching vacancy. The Titans are coming off of a great road win over Kansas City and have a good shot at locking up the AFC South with a win here and at home over Houston next week. I like the Titans to get the job done on the road against an offense that is still a mess while the Tennessee defense is beginning to peak.
Tennessee 26, Jacksonville 10
Miami Dolphins (9-5) @ Buffalo Bills (7-7)
The Dolphins have actually won eight out of their last nine games and they had an impressive showing out of Matt Moore who had not passed the football in about half a decade. He threw four touchdowns against Gang Green and was very accurate with ball placement. I can see him regressing a bit on the road in a tough place to play. The Bills are desperate for a win and I think they will play like it here.
Buffalo 24, Miami 19
Minnesota Vikings (7-7) @ Green Bay Packers(8-6)
If you stopped following football a month ago you would have sworn the Packers were dead in the water, yet here they are holding down the #6 seed in the NFC. The Vikings defense is finally beginning to crack having to shoulder the weight of a pretty bad offense. On the road at the Frozen Tundra without the ability to run the ball, I really don’t like the Minnesota Vikings’ chances.
Power Pick of the Week: Green Bay 45, Minnesota 17
New York Jets (3-11) @ New England Patriots (12-2)
The Patriots have already ensured themselves a first round BYE in the playoffs, and could secure the #1 seed this week if they win and the Raiders lose. Of course, they cannot control what Oakland does, but I do think that they will easily be able to knock off the Jets with that greater goal in mind. The New England defense is beginning to pick up their play and the Pats will really be tough to handle if Tom Brady is able to pick secondaries apart like he has for a majority of the year. Also, Bill Belichick isn’t always to friendly towards younger quarterbacks. Good luck Bryce Petty.
New England 34, New York 14
Saturday, December 24th, 4:05 e.t.
Indianapolis Colts (7-7) @ Oakland Raiders (11-3)
The Raiders are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, which is exciting. Meanwhile, the Colts managed to save their season in a dominant road win over the Vikings. Can they do it again in the Black Hole? I am feeling another upset. Andrew Luck could go to town on this secondary as long as the Indy offensive line can somewhat slow down Khalil Mack and company.
Indianapolis 26, Oakland 23
Saturday, December 24th, 4:25 e.t.
San Francisco 49ers (1-13) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-10)
The Rams and Niners hardly screams must-see football, but this will serve as a good litmus test to see what Jared Goff can do. If he can’t move the ball against a Niner team that surrenders 31 points per game. And if Todd Gurley was ever to get going, this would be the time. I do think that L.A. will have a decent game on offense, and for them that will net 20+ points.
Los Angeles 22, San Francisco 15
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) @ New Orleans Saints (6-8)
Didn’t I just cover this game? Why yes, I did. In Week 14, these two teams squared off and the Bucs held the Saints to a lowly 11 points. New Orleans responded by throwing up 48 on the road against the league’s #1 defense. How is that for a statement? The Buccaneers hung in there with Dallas a week back, but were ultimately overwhelmed by the Cowboys’ offense. I see this happening again with this pick hinging on the fact that the Saints will play like the Saints at home.
New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 24
Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)
The Seahawks have not been overly explosive on offense lately, but their defense has been lights out at home for the most part. The Cardinals scored 41 points a week ago, which will win you a game 98% of the time, but their defense was shredded by the Saints. While I don’t think this unit will have a bad game here, I don’t think they will do enough to carry what I think will be a struggling Arizona offense in the Emerald City. We could see a couple of random deep balls in this one, but otherwise I don’t see them putting together enough cohesive drives to get the job done.
Seattle 26, Arizona 17
Saturday, December 24th, 8:30 e.t.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) @ Houston Texans (8-6)
Tom Savage came in and righted the ship for Houston a week ago against the Jaguars. But, let’s be honest, this was the Jaguars and their offense was equally terrible. The Texans do play a much better brand of defense at home, however, and the Bengals have not been great on the road. If they can’t get a running game going, they could find it tough sledding in Houston.
Houston 20, Cincinnati 14
Sunday, December 25th, 4:30 e.t.
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
This is a great game on Christmas that will essentially decide the AFC North. The Steelers will lock it up if they can get the win, but the Ravens can put themselves a whole game up on Pittsburgh if they can yank out a road win. Unfortunately this game will be played in the Steel City and the Steelers are hot right now. This could be a signature win for their 2016 season because I think Ben Roethlisberger can make some plays outside the numbers in this one.
Pittsburgh 33, Baltimore 20
Sunday, December 25th, 8:30 e.t.
Denver Broncos (8-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
The last time these two hooked horns, it resulted in, perhaps, the best contest of the 2016 season. The Chiefs are in good shape in the AFC playoff hunt and have a couple of different ways to lock up a playoff berth this week, the easiest being a win at home over a struggling Bronco team. Denver’s offense seems broken and that does not bode well against one of the better “D’s” on the road in a hostile environment. The Chiefs will likely be motivated to win this one after dropping one in frustrating fashion a week ago against Tennessee.
Kansas City 30, Denver 16
Monday, December 26th, 8:30 e.t.
Detroit Lions (9-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (12-2)
The Lions and Cowboys have engaged in some great battles over the years, and this game should be no different. When it comes to picking this one, I have to say I trust the Dallas offense more than Detroit’s. Yes, the Lions defense has been playing great lately, but they have not been tested on the ground that much. That will change against Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys in Big D.
Dallas 35, Detroit 27
Week 16 Bonus Predictions
Sure Bet of the Week (12-2): New England over New York Jets
Upset of the Week: Indianapolis over Oakland
Offensive Player of the Week: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, DL, Rams
Rookie of the Week: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears
Best Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Best Running Back: David Johnson, Cardinals