NFL Picks: Week 16
NFL Game Picks: Week 16
The times are changing in the NFL. This isn’t your ordinary playoff picture. Sure, postseason blue bloods like Pittsburgh and New England are in, but Green Bay has been officially eliminated from contention and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Jacksonville has also clinched its first playoff spot since 2007. The Seattle Seahawks, a perennial contender, is now holding on for dear life as well. It looks like we’re going to be seeing some variety in the postseason this year, but first, we have to finish the regular season, and there’s plenty to look forward to.
Here’s what Week 16 has in store:
Indianapolis Colts (3-11) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
The late-season schedule is looking like Baltimore’s best friend right now. Other playoff contenders like Buffalo and Tennessee have rough patches to finish the season while the Ravens get two games against teams with a combined record of 8-20. The path to the postseason starts here with an expected win at home over the struggling Colts.
The pick: Ravens 27, Colts 10
Minnesota Vikings (11-3) @ Green Bay Packers (7-7)
Well, that didn’t go as expected. Aaron Rodgers’ anticipated return was quickly silenced by Carolina, resulting in Green Bay’s elimination from playoff contention. With Rodgers going back on the IR, the Minnesota Vikings have a prime opportunity to secure a first-round bye. After last week’s trouncing of Cincinnati, there’s no reason to believe they can’t do that.
The pick: Vikings 29, Packers 16
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) @ New Orleans Saints (10-4)
The Falcons have won all the right games, as victories over Seattle, Dallas and Detroit are proving useful for tiebreakers in the tight NFC race. Atlanta controls its own destiny. A win here secures a playoff spot and a win next week decides the division, but this is easier said than done. It starts with a tough game in New Orleans. After all, the Saints are looking to win the division too.
The pick: Saints 20, Falcons 17
Buffalo Bills (8-6) @ New England Patriots (11-3)
One would think that marching into Foxboro at this stage in the season would be a death sentence for the Bills, but that’s not necessarily true. They can still pick up a win in Week 17 in Miami. A 9-7 record may be enough to get Buffalo into the playoffs for the first time since 1999. In the meantime, New England, which is trying to secure the AFC’s number-one seed, should win this game.
The pick: Patriots 30, Bills 19
Cleveland Browns (0-14) @ Chicago Bears (4-10)
With a Week 17 matchup against the Steelers in Pittsburgh next week, this is looking like Cleveland’s last chance to win a game this season. It won’t be easy to do, though. For some odd reason, Chicago has the AFC North’s number with wins over Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati. Maybe a Christmas miracle will occur for the Browns. Then again, maybe not.
The pick: Bears 26, Browns 16
Detroit Lions (8-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-9)
Somehow, some way, the Lions are still alive going into Week 16. That controversial Week 3 loss to Atlanta is looming large, but with a little bit of help down the stretch, Detroit may be able to achieve the impossible. Of course, the first matter of business will be to win out. The way that Cincinnati has been playing lately is a good indication of a Lions' win this Sunday.
The pick: Lions 30, Bengals 12
Denver Broncos (5-9) @ Washington Redskins (6-8)
The second game in the Redskins’ three-game finale featuring nothing but non-playoff teams takes place on Sunday as the Broncos come to town. Denver is back on the upswing with nice wins over the Jets and Colts, so there is something for fans to be hopeful about. The Redskins should be favored at home, but not by much.
The pick: Redskins 23, Broncos 21
Los Angeles Rams (10-4) @ Tennessee Titans (8-6)
Tennessee is slamming the panic button right now. Two weeks ago, a playoff spot for the Titans looked like a sure thing. Now, after two straight losses on the road to Arizona and San Francisco, the postseason is looking unlikely for the Titans, who still have Los Angeles and Jacksonville remaining on the schedule. Yikes. This could be an ugly finish.
The pick: Rams 33, Titans 14
Miami Dolphins (6-8) @ Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)
Are the Chiefs back? They came up big in the season’s two most important games by defeating Oakland and Los Angeles. It would take some sort of catastrophe for this team to not win the AFC West. However, it’s in these moments when they think they’re safe that something doesn’t go as planned. This is the NFL after all. Don’t sleep on the Dolphins.
The pick: Dolphins 23, Chiefs 20
Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) @ New York Jets (5-9)
Kudos to this scrappy Jets squad for piecing together five wins, when most people thought it would be a struggle for them to get one. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is still in the playoff race, but last week’s loss to Kansas City is looking like the possible nail in the coffin. A win here would surely help the situation.
The pick: Chargers 29, Jets 22
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) @ Carolina Panthers (10-4)
It’s time to recognize Carolina. Despite their flaws, the Panthers have come up big when they’ve needed to with wins over Minnesota, Green Bay, Detroit, New England and, most importantly, Atlanta. Of course, it’s going to be hard to win the division with those two losses to New Orleans, but a win on Sunday would be a step in the right direction.
The pick: Panthers 22, Buccaneers 14
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
This one has “trap game” written all over it. Jimmy Garoppolo has been on fire in San Francisco with three straight wins. Jacksonville will be their toughest opponent yet, but this is no done deal. For now, the Jaguars can relish in clinching their first playoff berth in ages, but it’s back to work on Sunday in Santa Clara.
The pick: Jaguars 24, 49ers 21
Seattle Seahawks (8-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
Here is a literal example of “win or go home.” Winner stays alive in the playoff race. The loser is guaranteed to be watching the playoffs from the couch. All things said, tiebreakers are unfavorable to both parties here, so it’s unlikely that either one will get into the postseason. But hey, the implications are there. This ought to be one the week’s best games too.
The pick: Seahawks 28, Cowboys 24
New York Giants (2-12) @ Arizona Cardinals (6-8)
No one was expecting last week’s showdown in New York to be close, but sure enough, the Giants gave the Eagles a run for their money. A loss is a loss, but there’s some upside for the Giants. Arizona is now officially out of the playoffs, though they’ve pretty much been there for the past few weeks. Overall, this is a rather unimportant game, but perhaps an interesting one.
The pick: Cardinals 18, Giants 14
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) @ Houston Texans (4-10)
Last week’s debacle against New England shouldn’t be a problem here. Pittsburgh proved that they can hang with the best of them. The only possible issue in this one is the Steelers’ nasty habit of playing down to bad teams, but can they play down to a team that’s had one win since October? It’s unlikely. Pittsburgh should take care of business here.
The pick: Steelers 35, Texans 14
Oakland Raiders (6-8) @ Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)
A season filled with promise has come crashing down, partially thanks to an index card. The Raiders’ unexpected seasonal collapse juxtaposes with Philadelphia’s unexpected success as the Eagles continued to roll last week with Nick Foles under center. Can Philly keep it up all the way to the Super Bowl? Only time will tell. First, they should just be concerned with Oakland, but they should have little trouble this week.
The pick: Eagles 31, Raiders 17
DJ Bauer is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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