TJR: NFL Picks Week 16 - Saints/Panthers, Bears/Eagles & More!
There are only two weeks left in the NFL season with many teams jockeying for position and others trying to fight their way into the playoffs. Last week was pretty wild with the Detroit Lions going from first in the NFC North to third place after a close loss to the Ravens while the Packers and Bears each won their games. The Cowboys found a way to blow a 26-3 halftime lead to the aforementioned Packers, who scored 34 points in the second half to win 37-36 thanks to two costly Tony Romo interceptions. Sorry for bringing it up, Cowboys fans. I had to.
It's also the last week in fantasy football for those of us that play it in league formats. Some leagues go all 17 weeks, but most stop at 16 because some NFL teams sit players in the last week. If you're in the title game (I'm the finals in 2 of my 5 money leagues) good luck to you this weekend. I would suggest checking your lineup right up until kickoff, keep an eye on the weather especially in games in the East because there's a rain/snow mix in the forecast and do your best to play the best matchups. As a Jamaal Charles owner, I hope he has another 5 TD game left. Nobody wants to sweat out a close win.
Last week straight up: 9-7. Season: 143-80-1 (.641)
My apologies for my write-ups being shorter than usual. It's the busiest time of year and there isn't a whole lot of time to sit down and write.
All game times are in the Eastern time zone.
Miami (8-6) at Buffalo (5-5) 1:00 pm
The Dolphins are playing like a playoff caliber team with consistent QB play from Ryan Tannehill, who looks like a long term starter there in a solid season for him. The Bills are full of questions on offense and with backup QB Thad Lewis running the show this week I have a hard time believing in them. Poor weather and home field could allow them to keep it close, though. Dolphins 23-20
New Orleans (10-4) at Carolina (10-4) 1:00 pm
This is a huge divisional game for both teams because the winner will likely end up as the #2 seed in the NFC while the loser will be a wildcard team or could even miss the playoffs. Two weeks ago the Saints crushed the Panthers in New Orleans 37-13. That was at home, though. The Saints are 3-4 on the road and you know the Panthers are going to be ready to deliver some payback. Look for Cam Newton and that Panther offense to run the ball all day long in order to keep that Saints offense on the field. When Drew Brees gets the ball will the Saints be effective like they were two weeks ago or will they get hammered like they did last week against the Rams, who have a similar defense as the Panthers. I'm going with the home team, who has won 10 of their last 11, to avenge their defeat against their division rivals. Panthers 27-13
Minnesota (4-9-1) at Cincinnati (9-5) 1:00 pm
The Vikings are putting up a fight despite having a lost season. I give them credit for beating the Eagles last week. Now that Adrian Peterson is back this week they could put a scare into the Bengals too, but I think Cincy will be ready for this. They need to finish the season strong to win the AFC North and get that home game in the playoffs. It's also worth nothing that if the Patriots lose to the Ravens and the Bengals win this game they would get the #2 seed for the first round bye (assuming they win their last game as well) because they beat the Pats heads up. I think the Bengals offense will have a big day just like many teams have had against the Vikings this year. Bengals 31-17
Denver (11-3) at Houston (2-12) 1:00 pm
Denver has to be pissed off after losing at home to the Chargers last week and since it was a Thursday game they've had extra time to prepare for the worst team in the league. Right now Peyton Manning is at 47 TD passes. The single season record is 50 by Tom Brady. I think Manning passes him in this game. Of course the Broncos defense is pretty bad, so the Texans should put up some points too. Not enough, though, as the Broncos know they have to win out to get the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Broncos 41-24
Tennessee (5-9) at Jacksonville (4-10) 1:00 pm
It's hard to pick games with two bad teams not going anywhere. I don't think Titans coach Mike Munchak will keep his job even if they win these last two. The Jags have won 4 of their last 6 after starting 0-8, so that's enough for me to go with them while I likely avoid this game when it's on Sunday Ticket because the excitement level will be very low. Jaguars 24-23
Indianapolis (9-5) at Kansas City (11-3) 1:00 pm
It's a game between two playoff teams that could meet in the wild card round in two weeks. The Colts have already clinched the AFC South, which is the worst division in football, while the Chiefs are tied with the Broncos. After losing three straight games, the Chiefs have put up 101 points in their last two games. Since the Colts are a below average defense (27th against the run) I expect the Chiefs to put up a lot of points in this game too. Jamaal Charles is going to feast on that Colts defense. Best RB in the league this year and a top 5 MVP candidate too (Peyton Manning will win it of course). Chiefs 34-17
Dallas (7-7) at Washington (3-11) 1:00 pm
This game pains me because I dislike the Cowboys more than any team in the league, but I want the Redskins to keep losing since my Rams get their first round draft pick. Right now that's the #2 pick. Since I doubt Houston win will again I'm content with the #2 spot. This game? Oh right. Maybe Dallas will realize how great Demarco Murray is playing right now (5.5 yards per carry is very impressive) and just run him 30 times because that way Tony Romo won't throw costly interceptions. It's not that hard to use your players wisely. The best thing about this game? It's not in primetime. I can avoid it. So sick of these teams. Cowboys 31-24
Cleveland (4-10) at N.Y. Jets (6-8) 1:00 pm
Two teams not going anywhere. I'm not sure if Rex Ryan has saved his job as coach of the Jets, but I think his team has overachieved this year. I had them at about three wins this year. The man can coach defense, that's for sure. I'm going with the Browns just because their passing offense has been pretty good lately because they realize just how great Josh Gordon is. What a fun WR to watch. Browns 23-20
Tampa Bay (4-10) at St. Louis (6-8) 1:00 pm
I heard a stat on the BS Report podcast with Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal where they mentioned my Rams have won 5 games by 10 points or more (including the Saints last week) and have also lost 5 games by 10 points or more (most recently the Cardinals two weeks ago). That shows they're an inconsistent team, which isn't a surprise considering they're the youngest team in the league. They can run the ball and play very good defense, though, which should be good enough to beat a struggling Bucs offense. A few weeks ago it looked like Bucs coach Greg Schiano might save his job. Not anymore. He's gone. Rams 24-14
Arizona (9-5) at Seattle (12-2) 4:05 pm
Seattle at home. Pick them. They're undefeated there this year and they were last year too. If they win this game they clinch the top seed in the NFC and they get to rest a couple of weeks before their next game. The Cards have overachieved all year. I don't think they have the kind of offense that can win in Seattle. How about that Seahawk defense? So good. Deep too. They're going to be tough to beat. Seahawks 27-13
N.Y. Giants (5-9) at Detroit (7-7) 4:05 pm
I don't think I can explain how bad the Giants offense is right now. Are we sure that Eli Manning won two Super Bowls? I realize his WRs have been hurt and they've had RB issues all year too. The OL isn't very good either. Have you seen his stats, though? He has 25 INTs to go with his 16 TDs and a passer rating of 69.7. In today's NFL it's so hard for teams to play defense because of all the ticky tack calls, yet Eli Manning (a 10 year vet) looks like he is playing QB for the first time. I just don't get it. As for the Lions, they better hope the Packers and Bears lose so they have a shot at winning the division. They have to take care of business themselves too. I think they will. Lions 33-17
New England (10-4) at Baltimore (8-6) 4:25 pm
It's a tough game to predict because both of them are notorious for playing in really close games this year. Most of their playoff games in recent years have been really close too. It will come down to the wire most likely. I don't really know if I can trust that Ravens offense. Flacco isn't having a great year. Brady's doing alright although obviously they miss Gronkowski too. I think the Pats are the better team that will find a way two in by three points. Patriots 23-20
Oakland (4-10) at San Diego (7-7) 4:25 pm
The Chargers are one of the best offenses in league that ranks 4th in passing and 15th in rushing. The problem is the defense isn't very good. They're 29th against the pass. Lucky for them, the Raiders are 25th in passing. That should mean a Chargers victory as they continue to fight for a playoff spot. A special shoutout to Chargers RB Ryan Mathews, who is finishing the year strong with a great second half. It gives their offense more balance, which means Rivers can spread it around more. I like the future of this team at least on the offensive side of the ball. Chargers 34-20
Pittsburgh (6-8) at Green Bay (7-6-1) 4:25 pm
I'm going Steelers because as I say all the time, QB play is so important and Ben Roethlisberger has had an awesome year. The Steelers are 6-4 after their 0-4 start and if they won a few of their games that were close losses they would be in the playoff. Technically they aren't eliminated yet, but their chances of getting in the playoffs are slim. I don't really trust Matt Flynn. If the Packers get a big game out of Eddie Lacy they might win, but I don't know that their defense can really stop the Steelers. It should be an intense game at Lambeau between two of the NFL's most successful franchises in league history. Steelers 27-24
Chicago (8-6) at Philadelphia (8-6) 8:30 pm
There should be a lot of points in this game as long as the weather holds up. Even if the weather is bad, I expect the Eagles to run LeSean McCoy a lot because the Bears are last in the NFL giving up 152 rush yards per game. How many rush yards per game are the Eagles averaging? 152.9. Sometimes we spend too much time overanalyzing the numbers when we try to make sense of things. Other times you look at numbers like that and say there is no reason to believe the Bears can slow down the Eagles running game. I expect the Bears to score too since they have a potent. I just think the Eagles will be in command of this one. Eagles 31-23
Atlanta (4-10) at San Francisco (10-4) 8:40 pm (MON)
Before the season this would have looked like a great game since it's a rematch of last year's NFC Title game. Right now? It's a blowout for the 49ers. Look out, NFL. The Niners are healthy with all of their weapons on offense. Nobody wants to deal with them in the playoffs. 49ers 34-13
That's all for me this week. Enjoy the games and good luck to you.