Tag Archives: week 16

Week 16 Recap: San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns

Final: Cleveland 20, San Diego 17

Jamar Taylor
Jamar Taylor celebrates after his interception of Philip Rivers on 12/24/16.

Call it a Christmas miracle, perhaps, but the Cleveland Browns erase their names from one of the most embarrassing feats in pro sports by getting off the schnide and grabbing their first win of the season.  They did it at home against an injury riddled Charger team, but it was a good win for them nonetheless and there were flashes as to why Browns fans can try to find hope moving forward.

The defense was the main reason why Cleveland won this game.  The secondary was not too terrific, but Jamar Taylor was able to make some plays in coverage.  Joe Haden, hobbled, was not great and eventually exited the game in the second quarter after getting fried up top by Travis Benjamin on the first play of the game.  The real star in the secondary was Truman Williams.  He plastered to his receivers and made some nice PBUs.  Christian Kirksey, who is the best player on defense next to Jamie Collins, made some plays as well, getting his nose in on nine tackles, six unassisted.  Emmanuel Ogbah, who is blossoming into a fine young player, was doing the dirty work and drawing a lot of doubles.  The Browns defensively, under Ray Horton, threw the kitchen sink at San Diego.  They rolled zones, blitzed, packed the box and did a great job stopping the run.  This was the biggest reason why they finally picked up a win is because the “D” held its own and was not just bullied by the opposing running game.  Yes, the Chargers were essentially down to their third and fourth string running backs in Kenneth Farrow and Ronnie Hillman, but they had little room to run at all as the Brownies did a nice job clogging the running lanes and tackling.  This was their best tackling effort all year.

Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers threw two touchdowns and was picked off once in the loss to Cleveland.

Offensively, the Browns were not all that good up front.  They allowed their starter Robert Griffin III to get battered all game long and he ended up getting knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to a concussion.  The Chargers racked up eight sacks on the Browns’ quarterbacks in this game and the Cleveland O-line was flat out bullied for a majority of the game.  Luckily they were able to run the ball with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  The line did a nice enough job blocking on those efforts, especially the right side behind Johnathan Cooper and Austin Pasztor.  The Browns have been getting blown out a lot lately, but early in the season they were competitive in most of their games.  The reason behind this was because they were able to run the ball.  They got back to that blueprint and it paid off for them.  RGIII used his legs on read options and was able to hit slants off of play actions looking, at times, like he did his rookie season under Kyle Shanahan.  Working with Hue Jackson in the future could net some exciting results.  Terrelle Pryor was really neutralized by Casey Heyward, but Andrew Hawkins uncovered a bit and was the best receiver for Cleveland.  While this offensive output was nothing too impressive, the Browns did have a decent balance to their game and they did not turn the ball over.

The San Diego defense came into this game being the only team in the league who had created a takeaway in every game this year, but that streak came to an end.  Cleveland did a good job taking care of the ball and the Chargers really did not come close to forcing an error.  The defense, in fact, contributed to the march of the Browns’ offense at times with pass interference penalties.  Casey Hayward got off to a rough start against Terrelle Pryor, but he turned his fortunes around and kept him bottled up.  Joey Bosa was unblockable on the interior as he bulled his way into a pair of sacks and five tackles, further campaigning for his Defensive Rookie of the Year crown.  The best player that San Diego had to offer was Denzel Perryman, although he was dinged up multiple times on the afternoon and had to leave the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.  While he was in there, he flew around the field.  He made a couple of hard hits and would really slow the ball carriers often, allowing other teammates to make their tackles.  Jatavius Brown was the leading tackler for the Bolts with nine.

San "D"iego
Two of the stars on San Diego’s defense in this contest were Casey Hayward and Joey Bosa.

The Chargers offense was not great.  Obviously they had two missed field goals late in the game, which is not something that can be pinned on the “O”, but they did allow the game to get into those situations.  On the first play of the game, Philip Rivers heaved the ball down the field to Travis Benjamin for a 50-yard gainer and the drive ended with seven points on an Antonio Gates one yard touchdown.  After that drive, San Diego managed only 10 points.  Rivers was under heavy pressure all day.  He was not officially sacked, but he did get flagged for intentional grounding once and had to throw the ball away on a couple of other occasions.  He poorly underthrew a ball in the second quarter to Antonio Gates and it was intercepted by Jamar Taylor.  His play was not great but that was a product of the poor protection up front.  It was a flat out bad effort by the offensive line.  They were not able to make any lanes for Kenneth Farrow and Ronnie Hillman to run through after the first quarter and were very bad in handling the many blitzes that the Browns brought at them.  The absence of King Dunlap at left tackle was missed as the Chargers were not able to anchor down Rivers’ blind side.

The hero of the game had to be Jamie Meter who blocked the first of two Josh Lambo field goals in the fourth quarter.  He plowed his way past the line and into the lane of the kick and swatted it away.  Then, Lambo missed a 45-yarder on a bingo-attempt when the team had to march out the kicking unit in under 15 seconds without a timeout.  If those kicks were made, we would possibly be singing a different tune after this one.

So the Browns finally won one.  It came at a good time because their probability of picking up that initial “W” in Week 17 on the road in Pittsburgh were not going to be very high.  The defense played much better and Cleveland ran the ball and these two things were a huge factor in determining the outcome.  For the Chargers, they have fallen a long way ever since dropping that game to the Buccaneers and can blame a lot of it on injuries.  However, the offensive line has been a problem for years and it does not look like it is getting any better.  This will certainly be an area for them to target in free agency and in the draft.  The Bolts will finish up their season at home against the Chiefs in what will likely be the teams last game in San Diego.

Isaiah Crowell
Isaiah Crowell in action from 12/24/26.

The Skinny:

  • Cleveland was able to run the ball and stop the run, out-gaining the Chargers on the ground 124-34.
  • The Browns blitzed a lot in this game, and their coverage on the back end held up pretty well.  Their defense did their best work of the season in the tackling department.
  • Robert Griffin III was sacked six times in this game and was knocked out with a concussion.  Cody Kessler was fine in relief of him, but did not have to do a whole lot with a lead at his disposal.
  • Josh Lambo misses two fourth quarter field goals and the Chargers commit 9 penalties for 92 yards and turn it over once, heavily factoring into this ugly loss.
  • Antonio Gates ties Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdowns by a tight end all time.  He now has 111 in his great career.
  • For the first time this season, the Chargers failed to create a turnover in a game as the Browns did a good job protecting the ball and controlling the time of possession.

2016 Season: Week 16 Preview

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.

Matt Barkley

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 126-93

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

2015 Season: Week 16 Preview

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 132-92

Thursday, December 24th, 8:25 e.t.

San Diego Chargers (4-10) @ Oakland Raiders (6-8)

San Diego 26, Oakland 17

Saturday, December 26th, 8:25 e.t.

Washington Redskins (7-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)

Philadelphia 25, Washington 21

Sunday, December 27th, 1:00 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (3-11) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)

Kansas City 40, Cleveland 20

Chicago Bears (5-9) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)

Chicago 19, Tampa Bay 18

San Francisco 49ers (4-10) @ Detroit Lions (5-9)

Detroit 46, San Francisco 15

Indianapolis Colts (6-8) @ Miami Dolphins (5-9)

Indianapolis 20, Miami 16

Houston Texans (7-7) @ Tennessee Titans (3-11)

Houston 29, Tennessee 16

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (4-10)

Pittsburgh 42, Baltimore 20

New England Patriots (12-2) @ New York Jets (9-5)

New York 21, New England 18

Carolina Panthers (14-0) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-7)

Carolina 27, Atlanta 21

Dallas Cowboys (4-10) @ Buffalo Bills (6-8)

Buffalo 18, Dallas 10

Sunday, December 27th, 4:05 e.t.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9) @ New Orleans Saints (5-9)

New Orleans 36, Jacksonville 28

Sunday, December 27th, 4:25 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (10-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (12-2)

Arizona 34, Green Bay 24

St. Louis Rams (6-8) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-5)

Seattle 27, St. Louis 3

Sunday, December 27th, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (6-8) @ Minnesota Vikings (9-5)

Minnesota 20, New York 13

Monday, December 28th, 8:30 e.t.

Cincinnati Bengals (11-3) @ Denver Broncos (11-3)

Denver 27, Cincinnati 17

Week 16 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: San Diego over Oakland

Sure Bet of the Week (10-2): Kansas City over Cleveland

Rookie of the Week: Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings

Offensive Player of the Week: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Fletcher Cox, DT, Eagles

Best Overall Offense: Detroit Lions

Best Overall Defense: Seattle Seahawks

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 16 Predictions

With two weeks to go in the regular season, things are getting pretty nip and tuck.  This is especially true for the wild card spots in each conference, all NFC divisions, and the AFC North.  This weekend there are the usual 16 games being play.  Astoundingly, 14 of these contests have playoff implications.  This is exactly what the league wanted when it released the schedule back in April.  Highlighting these fourteen match-ups are colossal battles between the Chiefs and Steelers in the steel city, the Colts and Cowboys in Jerrah World, the Seahawks and Cardinals in the desert, and (despite both having losing records) the Falcons and Saints in the Big Easy.  The Broncos-Bengals Monday night tilt is a good one too.  That said, this week should provide plenty of action to satisfy even the casual fan’s hunger for competition.  Here are my picks.

Last Week: 12-4

Thursday, December 18th, 12:30 e.t.

Tennessee Titans (2-12) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)

In a week loaded with this games, this one is going to be overlooked.  However (I’ll say it for the third straight Titans game), it is important because the loser will almost be assured of the #1 pick in next year’s draft.  Tennessee fans might be tired of hearing this, but if so their team should do something to change this.  Unfortunately, it looks like Charlie Whitehurst is going to be given the car keys for this game.  The Jacksonville front four will give him problems in this one and force him into some bad throws.  The Jags have also been better against the run as of late.  I’m gonna roll with the home team here strictly because of their defense.

Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 10

Saturday, December 20th, 4:30 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) @ Washington Redskins (3-11)

After losing their second straight game to the likes of December’s Cowboys, this game becomes a must-win for the Eagles.  Chip Kelly returns to the venue where his whole offensive experiment started.  Over a year later we know that the Redskins are in search of a franchise quarterback while Philly has the explosive offense.  This is odd because Washington will be starting the same quarterback they sent out there in the 33-27 loss in Week 1 last year while the birds will feature their third different starter in Mark Sanchez (since that time).  Philadelphia has been in a funk on offense lately, but the Redskins are a good team to wake up against.  They have not been good against the pass at all over the last month.  Sanchez takes advantage of this as Philly notches the much need win, in style.

Philadelphia 45, Washington 23

Saturday, December 20th, 8:25 e.t.

 San Diego Chargers (8-6) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-7)

With the Niners dropping out of the playoff hunt after losing to their arch nemesis last week, one would think that they have nothing to play for in this game.  However, I see San Fran playing hard this time out.  The Bolts have been solid on defense over the past two weeks, but their offense has left much to be desired.  The 49ers have the defense at their disposal to frustrate Philip Rivers and the Chargers and should be able to run the ball at John Pagano’s unit.  I see San Diego having a tough go of it in this one.  Furthermore, this is the NFL.  Most probably see the Chargers coming in and kicking a team when they are down, but nothing ever makes sense in this league.  Niners win… big.

San Francisco 31, San Diego 13

Sunday, December 21st, 1:00 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (7-7) @ Carolina Panthers (5-8-1)

Well the Johnny Manziel experiment certainly did not go as planned last week against Cincinnati.  He posted a combined 93 yards of offense and turned the ball over twice.  The Browns as a team mustered only five first downs in that contest; two of ’em via penalty.  Yuck!  He will have to be better this week against a Carolina team whose defense has shown flashes of last year’s great unit over the past two weeks.  The Panthers have been running the ball and winning the battle at the line of scrimmage lately and when they take on a team that is in a tail-spin, I like their chances.  Cam Newton likely won’t play, but it won’t matter.  Derek Anderson has proven to be a more than competent backup plan.

Carolina 24, Cleveland 9

Detroit Lions (10-4) @ Chicago Bears (5-9)

The Bears have been a train-wreck on offense this season and their defense has helped their cause.  Hence the 5-9 record.  Reports have been swirling about how the team plans to cut ties with Marc Trestman after this season (which I think would be a bit premature).  Anyways, this is a Chicago team that is in shambles right now.  Meanwhile, we have all been waiting for this Detroit team to fall apart this season and they just haven’t.  Their offense has been decent and their defense has been dominant.  Although, I am calling for a bunch of unexpected outcomes in a wacky Week 16 and this is going to be one of them.  Chicago will catch the Lions napping in this game and come out with a surprising win.  No joke.  Jay Cutler doesn’t suck in this one and the Bears score one defensive touchdown en route to an upset victory.

Chicago 24, Detroit 23

New England Patriots (11-3) @ New York Jets (3-11)

Hmm an 11-3 team takes on a 3-11 team in Week 16.  The Patriots win 45-10 right?  Not quite.  I am calling for a New England victory, but it is going to be tough for them.  The Jets normally play the Pats tight, and that is what makes these games exciting to watch despite the records of the individual teams entering the battle.  This could be the last time that Rex Ryan the head coach goes up against Bill Belichick and his Patriots, so I expect his team to fight hard for him.  In the end, they don’t have enough offensive firepower to keep up with Tommy Brady and the rugged Pats.

New England 21, New York 17

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) @ New Orleans Saints (6-8)

This is probably the most important match-up of a 5-9 and 6-8 team of all-time.  It is taking place in New Orleans, which, in years past, would be an automatic for the Saints.  However, they have lost four straight in their place (three of them by double digits) and they have to play on a short week since they just played on Monday night.  Also, Atlanta has gone 4-0 within the division.  So things do set up well for the Falcons.  Unfortunately I cannot trust them to get’r done on the road.  Julio Jones is banged up and their defense if not to be trusted.  The four teams that the Saints have lost to in their last handful of home games sport top-20 defenses (with three of them in the top half of the league).  The Falcons?  Well, they’re ranked last.  Saints pick up the “W”.

New Orleans 30, Atlanta 20

Minnesota Vikings (6-8) @ Miami Dolphins (7-7)

The Dolphins have lost two straight games and look like they are headed for another 8-8 season.  The best they can hope for is a 9-7 finish and it will take a miracle for them to make it into the big dance.  That said, I think they come out flat this Sunday after getting flattened by the Patriots in Foxboro last week.  The Vikings have been playing good football lately and Teddy Bridgewater’s success this year has gone under the radar.  I say the rook outperforms Ryan Tannehill this week and Minnesota picks up the road win.  Yup, Week 16 is chock-full of upsets!

Minnesota 31, Miami 20

Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)

This is definitely the toughest game to call this week.  The Steelers are always unpredictable and the Chiefs have been pretty streaky this season.  This one comes down to how well the Kansas City defense can stop Big Ben’s passing attack.  Do I trust them to do it?  Well, I’m feeling frisky this week so here is a very bold prediction: Bob Sutton’s unit holds Antonio Brown to only four catches this week, snapping his steak of games with 5+ catches.  This won’t matter though because the Steelers still have a certain #26 who can pick up the slack.  Since I am predicting a Charger choke job in Santa Clara on Saturday, I’ll pick Pittsburgh here as well.  In fact, I’ll say it: the Ravens and Steelers replace the Chargers and Chiefs in the AFC playoff picture from last year.  Yup, the post-season prediction comes one week early!

Pittsburgh 28, Kansas City 21

Baltimore Ravens (9-5) @ Houston Texans (7-7)

The Ravens won ugly at home over the Jaguars last week, and now they take their show on the road and face the Texans who will be throwing either rookie Tom Savage, Case Keenum, or Thad Lewis under the fire.  Savage wasn’t awful in his impromptu cameo last week in Indianapolis, but he also wasn’t great.  Unless Arian Foster runs for 160 yards and scores a couple of times to help whoever starts at QB, I don’t see the Houston offense doing much against the Ravens.  The Texan defense is very opportunistic though.  J.J. Watt is obviously an animal and the secondary has a knack for forcing turnovers and converting those into scores.  So before I predict a Raven blowout, I want to keep these points in mind.  Baltimore still wins, but the Texans keep it interesting.

Baltimore 23, Houston 21

Green Bay Packers (10-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12)

After losing by eight points in Buffalo, the Packers look to rebound on the road against the Buccaneers.  Easy pickings, one would think.  The Bucs have not won a home game all year and the Packers don’t look like a team that is about to lose two games in a row.  Aaron Rodgers would have to lay an egg for the second straight week for Tampa to even have a chance.  Let’s face it: Josh McCown isn’t winning no shootout on Sunday.  The Bucs need their defense to step up like the Bills’ did last week, and I just don’t see it happening.  Green Bay keeps pace in the competitive NFC North with a much-needed win on the road before hosting Detroit for all the marbles at Lambeau next week.

Green Bay 36, Tampa Bay 22

Sunday, December 21st, 4:05 e.t.

New York Giants (5-9) @ St. Louis Rams (6-8)

The Odell Beckhams, err, I mean the Giants have been on a bit of a roll lately.  They have won two straight games and have actually looked like a decent offense lately.  With that being said, the Rams have only given up 12 points over the last three games and haven’t allowed a touchdown since Week 12.  St. Louis is for real on that side of the ball and I think that Eli Manning struggles to stand in the pocket and find his receivers down the field.  The Rams sack him five times and force him to throw two picks in a dominating win.  Well, dominating stat-line wise, but the scoreboard will read different.  The Giants either get a garbage-time touchdown or a return touchdown to make the score respectable.

St. Louis 20, New York 13

Sunday, December 21st, 4:25 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (8-6) @ Oakland Raiders (2-12)

I am so tempted to pick the Raiders to win this game, but I won’t simply because that Bills defense has been excellent lately.  They have gone up against Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in consecutive weeks and did not allow them to throw a touchdown pass against four picks.  The Broncos and Packers scored a combined 38 points in those games against Buffalo, so predicting Derek Carr and the Raiders to fare better against them just seems wrong.  Although stranger things have happened.  Something feels weird about this game, but since I have picked enough upsets this week I’ll play it safe with this contest.

Buffalo 16, Oakland 9

Indianapolis Colts (10-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

The Cowboys are coming off of a satisfying win in Philly and are now 7-0 on the road this season.  Now they return home where they have posted a 3-4 record on the season.  Also, with DeMarco Murray’s hand surgery on Monday, the star running back’s status for this game remains unknown.  Jerry Jones seems to think that him playing on Sunday is not out of the question.  Anyways, whether he plays or not, it will not affect my pick.  The Colts have not played their best football as of late, but they have been winning their games.  Andrew Luck is a beast and he should not have much trouble exploiting holes in the Dallas secondary.  T.Y. Hilton is going to be a nuisance for them to defend.  Furthermore, Coby Fleener is going to have a big impact in the middle of the field.  I think Indy scoops up the big “W” because their offense will be too much for this average Dallas “D” to handle.

Indianapolis 35, Dallas 27

Sunday, December 21st, 8:30 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (10-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (11-3)

The last time these two hooked horns in Week 12, it was the Seahawks who won 19-3.  That was the unofficial start to this Seattle resurgence.  Now, four weeks later with the division crown up for grabs, the two squads meet again in Glendale.  The Cardinals have posted a 7-0 record at home this year and would really benefit with a win here.  A win would give them the division and guarantee them at least one home game in the playoffs.  So it is important for them to knock off the ‘Hawks.  However, the Seattle defense has been incredible over the last month.  Also, Ryan Lindley has hardly been a world-beater in his career.  I don’t trust the inexperience QB to outsmart the Legion of Boom in this game.  I think the Seahawks win big on the road.

Seattle 26, Arizona 9

Monday, December 22nd, 8:30 e.t.

Denver Broncos (11-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1)

The Broncos have been pretty great on defense and on the ground over the past month, but Peyton Manning has not been lighting up the scoreboard like we had become used to.  If Manning could return to his MVP form and combine that play with the defense and C.J. Anderson’s legs, this Denver team could be unstoppable.  I get the feeling that John Fox and Adam Gase are setting this up for the post-season.  It is clear that the Broncos are trying to become a more physical team, and they will test their strength on Monday night against the Bengals.  Next week they have the Raiders at home, so this is really their final test before the playoffs to see the final product.  I don’t expect much mercy from #18.  He tosses four touchdowns and C.J. Anderson adds two more on the ground.  Andy Dalton plays an average game and doesn’t get much help out of his running game and the road team runs away with this game.  Denver is the better team here and they will prove it in a dominant win.

Denver 42, Cincinnati 24

Week 16 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Chicago over Detroit

Sure Bet of the Week: Seattle over Arizona

Rookie of the Week: Aaron Donald

Offensive Player of the Week: Peyton Manning

Defensive Player of the Week: Mario Williams

Best Overall Offense: Philadelphia Eagles

Best Overall Defense: Seattle Seahawks

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

Week 16: San Francisco 49ers 34, Atlanta Falcons 24- Post Game Thoughts

The 49ers survive at home, the final game at the “Stick”, 34-24 over the Atlanta Falcons.  I have to give credit to the Falcons for staying competitive.  Matt Ryan had a nice night until the final two minutes of the game and he made a nice connection with the surging Roddy White all night long.  The Niners had a slow start to the game, only scoring 3 points in the first half.  Then, they were able to run off 17 unanswered points en route to a 20-10 lead.  Atlanta did fight back and eventually were down 27-24 with just over two minutes left in regulation.  They were able to recover an onside kick (which skipped right past Novorro Bowman) and had a chance to take the lead or tie the game.  Unfortunately for Matty Ice, he was intercepted on that final go-ahead drive by the aforementioned Bowman.  He then took it back to the house (89 yards) and promptly put the home team up by ten.  Obviously the Dirty Birds were unable to erase that deficit and fell in bone-crushing fashion.  I do give the Falcons some credit for staying competitive in a game where not many expected them to play well.  They came close to downing the 49ers in their final home game at Candlestick Park and caused a lot of people to sweat.  However, the Niners showed off why they are a playoff team (an honor which they qualified for with this “W”) by making a big play in crunch-time.  This is a hot team that not too many people will want to face come playoff time.  Although they did not play their best game at home against an inferior team, they did get the job done and that is what all of the best teams do.  The Falcons can feel proud about the effort they put forth on Monday night, but apparently San Francisco was meant to win this game.

Week 16: Pittsburgh Steelers 38, Green Bay Packers 31- Post Game Thoughts

The Pittsburgh Steelers keep their 2013 season alive with a thrilling win in snowing Lambeau Field over the Green Bay Packers.  For the Pack, this was almost a disastrous loss, but the Eagles helped them out later that night when they beat the Bears.  That sets up a Week 17, winner-take-all situation between Green Bay and Chicago, so this loss does not kill them at all.  It is a win that the team could have had though.  Matt Flynn’s fumble with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter allowed the Steelers to take the 38-31 lead, a lead they were able to keep.  Pittsburgh was very opportunistic in this game; they also scored on a pick-six.  Ben Roethlisberger, who has been on fire lately, had a productive afternoon.  He threw for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  However, the most remembered passing play in this game came from Mat McBriar (the punter) in the third quarter of this one.  He completed a 30-yard bomb to David Paulson on a fake-punt try.  When you are desperate and have nothing to lose, these are the kinds of things that you are willing to do.  The running game for both teams was a factor.  Le’Veon Bell carried the ball 26 times for 124 yards and a touchdown, while Eddie Lacy carried it 15 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns.  Lacy did get hurt in this game though, and his status is uncertain for Sunday.  Anyways, each team is amazingly still alive going into the final weekend in the regular season.  The Steelers will need to win and get some help to make it in, while the Packers just need to win and they will be in.  Oh yeah, and I would be surprised if Aaron Rodgers does not make his return next week against the team that injured him.  Just sayin’.

Week 16: New England Patriots 41, Baltimore Ravens 7- Post Game Thoughts

The Patriots are able to go into Baltimore and blow out the Ravens (something that few teams have been able to do), 41-7.  The Pats sprinted out to an early 17-0 lead in the first half and their defense was able to hold the Ravens back for a majority of the game.  New England was able to make some yards on the ground in this game.  LeGarrette Blount rumbled into the end zone twice in this game and the team carried the ball 34 times in this game, and passed it only 28 times.  Tom Brady was sacked only twice, which was huge in this one because the Ravens have historically been able to bring him down.  This is partially due to the fact that the team was able to run the ball all evening on Baltimore, that which slowed down the pass rush.  I thought that Bill Belichick came into this game with a good plan and his team executed it well.  They out-toughed the Ravens; beat them at their own game if you will.  The fact that they were able to win in this fashion sets the (now AFC East champs) up for a successful postseason run.  The Ravens were red hot going into this game, and the Pats crushed them.  There is no reason to believe that they can’t do the same thing to any of the other five teams in the AFC that will be joining them in the playoffs.  For Baltimore, they now need to win and prey for help next week.  Unfortunately for them they will be taking on the Bengals in Cincinnati, a place where they have not lost all year long.  Their backs are against the wall, but if they do get into the playoffs, I would not want to play them, even with this embarrassing home loss.