Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a pass under pressure from Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson (49) in the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Week 16 will kick off with a Saturday Night football game instead of the Thursday Night Football game we have all come to expect this season. I decided to continue posting the picks article on Thursdays just in case anyone is a regular reader of this article and expects to find it come Thursday. Week 16 will kick off with the Atlanta Falcons (12-2) traveling to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions (4-10). The Falcons are still playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs while the Lions are mostly playing for pride, and possibly looking to help Calvin Johnson break Jerry Rice’s record for single season receiving yardage. Last weekend I barely managed to go over .500 so I am hoping to bounce back this weekend, as 5 of the games have TD or greater point spreads, and make a strong push towards the playoffs.
Falcons @ Lions. The Falcons are fresh off an impressive shutout win over the defending champions, and are still playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Lions offense is basically limited to Stafford and Megatron at this point, while the defense seems to be falling apart. Falcons win 27 – 20.
Rams @ Bucs. This game is essentially a coin toss between two young and inconsistent teams. The Rams have been consistently better than the Bucs over the second half of the season. Sam Bradford should find more time and open receivers against a defense that 25th in the league in sacks, 31st in yards per pass attempt, 30th in passing TDs, and allows over 300 yards passing per game which would be an NFL record. Rams win 24 – 20.
Saints @ Cowboys. Yes Tony Romo has been playing some great football lately, but he is still Tony Romo and this game is way too much like a playoff game for him to be trusted. Drew Brees should have a field day against the Cowboys secondary and I just don’t expect Romo to be able to keep pace. Saints win 35 -28.
Titans @ Packers. The Packers are on a roll and still alive for the NFC’s number two seed. The Titans barely escaped at home with a win against the train wreck that was the New York Jets and Mark Sanchez’s turnover spree. Packers are getting healthier and looking like a team to make a deep playoff run. Packers win 31 – 17.
Colts @ Chiefs. The Chiefs didn’t even manage to score against the Oakland Raiders last weekend, while the Colts defense isn’t very good this season they should be good enough to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone. Andrew Luck and company continue their march towards an early playoff exit. Colts win 28 – 6.
Bills @ Dolphins. After being emberassed by the Seahawks in Toronto last weekend the Bills may just mail it in over the next two weeks. The Dolphins don’t have much to play for either but this game will be at home so advantage Dolphins. Dolphins win 17 – 13.
Chargers @ Jets. Both of these teams could be headed for a complete overhaul in the offseason. The Chargers have a more talented team with a slightly smaller media circus surrounding their dysfunction. Chargers win 24 – 10.
Redskins @ Eagles. This is probably just wishful thinking as I am eyeballing the draft pick the Rams will receive from the Redskins, as well as the Rams incredibly slim playoff hopes. It was announced earlier this week that McCoy should start in this game, which could be a big boost to an Eagles team that has played well with Nick Foles, if you take away all the fumbles by running backs. Eagles win 27-21.
Bengals @ Steelers. In late December, in a game that I would consider to be a coin toss, I will go ahead and pick the young Bengals over the “veteran” Steelers. Sure its at Pittsburgh but the Steelers just haven’t looked very good since Big Ben got hurt. Bengals win 14 – 10.
Raiders @ Panthers. The Raiders managed to win last weekend on the strength of Sebastian Janikowski’s leg, they will need to score touchdowns this weekend if they want to keep pace with Cam Newton and the Panthers. Panthers win 21 – 13.
Patriots @ Jaguars. I would feel bad for any team that had to face the Patriots following their loss to the 49ers on Sunday Night. I feel especially bad for the Jaguars as they were already overmatched talent-wise without the additional motivation for the Patriots. Patriots win 42 – 10.
Vikings @ Texans. Can Adrian Peterson continue his pace and break Eric Dickerson’s rushing record? As long as the Vikings don’t fall behind early in the next two games he has favorable matchups. The Texans defense allows 4.1 yards per carry, unfortunately for Peterson the Texans and Packers offenses will likely have big days against the Vikings limiting his touches as they try to play catchup. Texans win 31 – 17.
Browns @ Broncos. There might not be a more complete team in the NFL than the Denver Broncos. Add to it the fact that they are on the NFL’s longest winning streak and feature an offensive(Peyton Manning) and defensive player (Von Miller) who are legitimate MVP candidates and it is easy to imagine Manning hoisting his second Lombardi trophy in February. Broncos win 27 – 14.
Bears @ Cardinals. Has any team played worse over the past 6 weeks than the Chicago Bears? The Cardinals may be the answer to that question as they were blown out 58-0 by the Seahawks 2 weeks ago during a 9 game losing streak. The Cardinals defense stepped up big time last weekend as the primary reason for the Cardinals victory over the Lions. Can they take down another NFC North foe? Cardinals win 24 – 17.
Giants @ Ravens. Two teams that a mere month ago seemed like locks to win their divisions, are now fighting to break out of a slump. The Giants still need to win to make the Playoffs while the Ravens are already in. It is now or never for Eli Manning and the New York Giants, which seems to be precisely when they are at their best. Giants win 31 – 27.
49ers @ Seahawks. This could be the best game of the season on Sunday Night Football. This game will showcase two of the NFL’s best, most physical defenses. It will also showcase two rising young stars playing the quarterback position. Much has been made about the Seahawks win margin over their previous two games, but the 49ers are miles ahead of the Bills and Cardinals. Since these teams met in week 7 the Seahawks have the leagues worst defense against the run when measured by yards per carry. You can also bet that Harbaugh will have his 49ers ready to defend the “read-option” look that has been so successful for the Seahawks lately. Russell Wilson will probably make fewer mistakes than Kaepernick, but he will probably make fewer big plays too. 49ers win 20 – 13.
NFL Week 16 Matchups
Falcons @ Lions
Rams @ Bucs
Saints @ Cowboys
Titans @ Packers
Colts @ Chiefs
Bills @ Dolphins
Chargers @ Jets
Redskins @ Eagles
Bengals @ Steelers
Raiders @ Panthers
Patriots @ Jaguars
Vikings @ Texans
Browns @ Broncos
Bears @ Cardinals
Giants @ Ravens
49ers @ Seahawks