Here are my NFL Week 16 Picks
(13-3 last week, 145-79 for the season)
Bye teams: none
SD @ Oak – Well, Phillip Rivers got all teary-eyed about possibly his or the entire team’s last game in San Diego, as who can predict what the offseason will bring. Call me insensitive, but I couldn’t care less about Rivers’ weepy nostalgia. He’s been an ass for the majority of his career, chirping during game only to cite his faith during the rest of the week. The guy bothers me more than a little, and I’d be happy never to see his face on my television screen again. I hope something does change in San Diego, mix it up a little, and hey, start with your quarterback and head coach. Though only a slightly better team and only slightly less hateable in my book, the Raiders are at least on their way toward improvement, as long as they stick with Carr and keep helping him out through the Draft and Free Agency anyway. There was a time when Oakland had a shot at a Wild Card spot, and although that’s no longer likely, I still will be rooting for them to put up a good showing and send the Chargers packing to Denver, where hopefully they’ll lose to the Broncos in Week 17.
Was @ Phi – Inexplicably, the Redskins find themselves on top of the NFC East with a 7-7 record. Much of that is in part to an amazing home record for a mediocre team, 6-2. But, do the math, that leaves them at 1-5 on the road. Washington can’t travel this season, or Kirk Cousins can’t play well on the road, maybe both. Whatever the reason, winning the division and getting a home playoff game will be the only way the Redskins will advance past the first round of the playoffs. Ironically, they have to play their final two games of the season on the road, in Philly and in Dallas. Vs the Cowboys is a winnable game, but this one won’t be so easy. The Eagles are only one game away from taking the division themselves, with this home game next followed by a visit to the New York Giants. I don’t know what all the tiebreakers are, but I do know that this division will stay messy all the way to the end. Because it’s a road game, I think I have to pick against Washington, at least until they prove that they can win the tough games away from home when it matters most.
Car @ Atl – Part of getting 2/3 of the games correct on a consistent basis is not going wild with upset picks. Upsets happen, of course, but they’re unpredictable, that’s why they’re upsets. Trying to guess when they’ll happen is a sure fire way to get most of your calls wrong. Sure, you’ll get a couple right a season and you can brag about that if you want to, say you saw it coming a mile away. But I’ll stick to being right 66% of the time, and stay away from booms & busts. That said, I think the Panthers lose this week. I don’t see it as an upset pick exactly, although the Falcons winning vs the league’s unbeaten team will surely be seen as an upset, but consider the hurtles for Carolina. Injuries to some key players, distractions from last week’s game vs the Giants, and the pure probability that this team will lose at some point this season. Well, the season’s almost over, and that brings us to another point; the Panthers don’t have much left to play for. They’re tired, Cam’s getting banged up, the coach will begin to worry about the health of his team come playoff time, and they’re on the road vs a division opponent who just now realized that they’re magically still in the Wild Card hunt.
Pit @ Bal – This game won’t mean as much as it was set up to at the beginning of the season. In other years, it might decide the division, this year it’s a speed bump on Pittsburgh’s road to the playoffs. With the Broncos, Chiefs, and Jets all vying for the same slots, the Steelers need to keep winning, though that hasn’t really been a problem as long ad Big Ben is playing quarterback. Pitt is currently on a 3-game winning streak, score at will, just beat Denver, and won’t pause to take a look at who they stomp in the final two weeks. The only facts that cloud that confidence are the Steelers’ road record of 3-3 and their division record of 2-2. Not great, but this team is hot right now, and the Ravens shouldn’t really put up much of a fight. Baltimore checked out weeks ago and there really isn’t a reason for them to show up for this game. It’s been a lost season, and one they’ll hope to soon forget, a miserable year when nothing went right. They’ll be back in 2016 as strong as ever, or so I assume, but you can count them out of this one. The Steelers will be rooting for the Broncos to beat the Bengals, and so will I.
Dal @ Buf – It just keeps getting worse for the Cowboys. Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and now Kellen Moore; what an extremely odd season. I liked Moore coming out of college, thought he could be much better than people expected, a Drew Brees type little guy. After all, he was amazing at Boise State, or at least his team was solid, and I thought he deserved a chance. Well, he threw a ton of interceptions vs the Jets last week but his team almost won the game, so we’ll see how he does with a opportunity to start. I’d bet mediocre, but then again the Bills are mediocre too, so maybe Dallas has a tiny chance. They play better on the road than at home, and Buffalo hasn’t won against the NFC yet this season, so were I placing bets I wouldn’t put any money on the Bills winning this game. But I have to pick the better team here, and I guess that’s Buffalo at home. If I were the Cowboys I would be completely checked out by now, but I doubt the Bills are, behind a coach that’s bad in my opinion, but fiery in a way that gets guys to play for him. Not a watchable game really, but someone’s gotta win.
SF @ Det – The Niners couldn’t score if they were given the ball in the endzone and allowed to kneel down for the touchdown. 202 points scored on the season, that’s about 14 points per game. Not enough, especially when you’re defense isn’t any good either. San Fran has more problems than answers, this season looking more & more like a failed experiment. Where’s Colin Kaepernick, haven’t heard his name in a while. Is he done in SF, done in the league, off home to kiss his muscles & his money? Good riddance, I say, but it doesn’t seem like the Niners are much better off without him. The Lions have their fair share of issues, but at least they seem to have some idea how to solve them. They fired some people, might fire more in the offseason, but I think will wisely stick with Matt Stafford, who could have a nice year in 2016 if Megatron is healthy and they give him some more talent to work with. For this one game, at least Detroit plays fine at home, while San Fran is 1-6 on the road. Nothing to play for here, but at least the uniforms will look good; red & gold vs blue & silver. Look on the bright side, I always say.
Cle @ KC – At least the Browns didn’t score much against my Seattle fantasy defense last week, aiding in my run to the Championship; too bad the Seahawks can’t play them two weeks in a row. But some Kansas City fantasy defense owner is going to be very happy when the Chiefs blank the Browns and Cleveland continues their pathetic season. I’m out of both criticism and fresh ideas for the Browns, so let’s just move on. The Chiefs are refusing to lose and that is making me very angry. As a Broncos fan, I am watching my team figure things out, take some hits, get back up, learn; it’s kinda fun. But it would be much more enjoyable if the goddam Chiefs would just lose a game! Since starting 1-5, Kansas City has won 8 straight, now even threatening the Broncos for the AFC West. Who’s gonna beat them, the Browns or the Raiders, both games in Missouri? I doubt it, so that means that Denver will need to go 2-0 in their final games as well, both also at home, vs the Bengals and the Chargers. It’d be nice if someone would play spoiler, but the Chiefs are just on too much of a big run to let that happen.
Ind @ Mia – The other shoe was always going to drop for the Colts, there was no way Hasselback could keep up the streak he had going. Well, they’ve now lost three in a row, Luck isn’t coming back, and Old Matt keeps starting despite a laundry list of injuries. The loss last week to the Texans might have been the nail in the coffin, though they’re still only one game out of the division lead and both of their final games are winnable. Question is, are they a talented/healthy/well-coached enough team to take advantage, and the answer is probably “no”. I predict that Indy will lose this week, miss the playoffs, and that Pagano will be fired in the offseason. It’s becoming apparent that it was Luck’s success, not his coaching, that led to the Colts wins in the past. For the Dolphins, this game has no meaning, so that could swing things in Indy’s favor, but I doubt they completely give up. After all, some of them are auditioning for next season, especially Campbell, so maybe they’ll have a little fire left. It’s too bad that so many of these games are pretty pointless; whatever happened to that parity thing?
NE @ NYJ – I say no upset picks and then I pick against the Panthers, and now I’m about to pick against the Patriots. New England has been one of the best teams in the league all season, even battling through a bit of a rough patch and returning to their winning ways. But the season is almost over, the #1 spot is almost wrapped up, and even the best of teams let down their guard sometimes. Against a tough division opponent when they are playing for more than you are and you’re in their house, New England could easily lose this game. The Jets are a force to be reckoned with, as their offense now matches their defense in intensity and they’re not rolling over for anyone. Fitz, Decker, Marshall, Ivory; these guys have been scoring all year and won’t stop just because the Patriots are good. And this defense will be going after Brady on every snap, knowing that knocking him down with be the key to winning this game. The Pats just have less to play for, have to travel to an unfriendly environment, and might fly away with a loss that doesn’t hurt them much. Again, not exactly a huge upset, given the context.
Chi @ TB – The Bears just got booted to the bottom of the division where the Lions had been living all year. Not great, and knowing deep down that this might be the best your this team is going to be doesn’t help. Think about it; Fox coming in to fix the program, Cutler healthy, a nice combo of running backs in Forte & Langford, Jeffrey one of the best receivers in the game. If this team goes 6-10, is there really hope that next season will be different? So many teams had terrible luck/injuries; the Bears just plain sucked. Much of the blame falls on their defense, but that might take years to rebuild, since apparently the old regime wasn’t planning ahead when all its stud defenders starting getting old. I’m much more hopeful for an improved Tampa team, and that’s taking into consideration my dislike for Famous Jameis. The Bucs were this close to being a legitimate Wild Card threat, but two straight losses derailed those plans. Now, the season is pretty much over, but it hasn’t been a disaster and there’s room for improvement. Winston showed flashes, and this Bucs team could be on their way up.
Hou @ Ten – Now that the AFC South is theirs, it’s hard to imagine the Texans giving that up. They’ve fought hard all year to be in the thick of things, even with a relatively mediocre team. This defense has stepped up when needed, Hoyer has played well enough, and they got a little break with the Colts playing so badly. But give them credit, they took advantage of that opportunity, and could finish the season 9-7 with a division title. That means the playoffs, and I would laugh if that also meant a game against the Bengals, though that matchup would be in Cincinnati if it came to that. But I get ahead of myself; Houston needs to win in Tennessee first. And they ought to, since the Titans are the worst team in the league and have now shut down Marcus Mariota for the rest of the season. The kid showed potential, but in the end couldn’t help his team score points consistently. Add in a defense that’s just as bad and a 1-6 record at home needs no more explanation. The Texans are 3-1 within the division, the Titans are 1-3, so this game could be a bit of a foregone conclusion.
Jax @ NO – The Jaguars, like the Buccaneers, had a moment there where the playoffs were an attainable goal, at least if the team kept winning. Well, they didn’t, and now postseason hopes are no more. Mark this up as just another wasted game on the schedule, as neither team has anything to play for here. The Jags at least found their man in Blake Bortles and will look to shore up a defense that was leaky to say the least. Dante Fowler Jr. will be back next season, that should help immediately, and this Jacksonville team could be an instant contender if the Texans & the Colts don’t fix their mistakes next year. The Saints will soon be on the lookout for quarterbacks, as Brees & McCown won’t be the answers much longer. I don’t even know why Drew Brees is going to try to play through his foot injury; pride I guess. But his team is done, his career in New Orleans might be done as well, and I think the best thing for him right now would be to just sit down & rest. Payton might be gone as well, but maybe his team has one last hurrah in them, especially against a Jags team that’s 1-5 on the road.
GB @ Ari – The Packers will be happy limping into the playoffs as long as their offense shows signs of improving each week. Since Mike McCarthy took back over the play-calling duties, Green Bay has looked better, but still not the gun-slinging, point-racking team we’ve come to expect. That’s fine though, win with the run game & good defense, with Rodgers there to bail you out if you need a 4th quarter comeback. The only problem is, against teams like Arizona, you’re gonna need a little more than just improvement, you’re gonna need perfection. The Cardinals are solid everywhere you look, and seem to be poised to play in the NFC Championship at least, if not the Super Bowl. They’re excellent in every phase, are on a hotter-than-usual streak, and like the Patriots have dealt with loss before & know what their weaknesses are. I don’t see the Cards taking their foot off the gas or resting their guys; I think they play hard all the way to the last second in hopes that the Panthers fall off and the #1 seed goes up for grabs. Either way, Arizona is the better team and wins this week, barring a miracle.
STL @ Sea – With Gurley pounding the ball and this defense playing nice, solid football, the Rams have saved their season from being a complete disaster. They went 5-3 at home, are currently 6-8, and have played respectably for the most part. Their QB is still a question mark, but let’s see if they address that in the Draft, grabbing a mid-1st rounder with talent who can surprise everyone. I’d like them to be competitive in this game if it weren’t for their terrible 1-5 road record and the fact that the Seahawks are quietly playing some of the best football in the league. Russell Wilson has gone & lost his mind and this defense is playing lights out; a combination that I remember working out in their favor the last couple years. That Super Bowl loss must still taste bitter, and what a perfect time to be playing your best football. I wouldn’t want to be traveling to Seattle right now, and the rest of the league is lucky that the Seahawks got off to such a poor start, putting them solidly behind Arizona for the the division. Still, this is a scary team; don’t put too much money on them to lose any time soon.
NYG @ Min – It’s insane that the Giants are even still in playoff contention. They squandered such a perfect opportunity, with the Cowboys losing Romo, the Redskins losing almost every away game, the Eagles sputtering on offense. But they never did close the door, and so now find themselves on the outside looking in. They desperately need a win here and another next week vs Philadelphia, but I highly doubt either of those things is going to happen. The G-Men needed to beat the Panthers last week, but instead OBJ decided to have a fistfight and is now suspended for this game. Not good, especially against a defense that was probably going to shut you down anyway. The Vikings allow among the least points in the league, but their problem all season hasn’t been defense, it’s been their offense. Bridgewater just isn’t leading his team to enough points, allowing other teams to win when this defense is good enough to beat almost anyone. Minnesota still finds itself in the driver’s seat for a Wild Card spot and maybe even a division win, but a win here would make everyone feel a lot better.
Cin @ Den – Last season the Bengals hosted the Broncos on Monday Night in December and got the big win. That was Dalton vs Manning, but a few things have changed since then. McCarron will be under center for the Bengals, and he’s looked fine as the starter, winning big in San Fran last week in part to a ton of Niner turnovers. But he’s not being asked to put everything on his shoulders, since this defense has played just as well as this offense all season long, turning a mediocre team into a big contender. And things are different in Denver too, with Brock Osweiler taking the reins. He’s been up & down, playing well but not well enough to make up for his team’s turnovers & dropped balls. Also, the Broncos have been simply awful in the 2nd halves of recent game, failing to score and allowing their opponents to come back after early Denver leads. In Mile High, in December, with the postseason in their heads, I look for the Broncos to play some great football. They know what they have to fix to close out games, and ‘Son of a Bum’ Phillips knows how to rattle an opposing quarterback.