NFL Picks Week 16: Contenders or Pretenders

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NFL Picks Week 16: Contenders or Pretenders

Week 16 Picks
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 was the second historic week in a row for the NFL, but for exactly the opposite reason. Unlike the week before, this past slate of games were notably lopsided rather than incredibly tight. Just when you thought parody in the league had reached its paramount, the football gods again prove that none of us really know anything about predicting the outcomes of games.

Games that are no contests are expected between two teams whose records aren’t even close, but last week showed that any team can blowout any other team on any given Sunday. No exceptions. If there were ever a group of games that screamed blowout it would be the majority of the contests on tap for week 16 where nine games will pit teams with winning records against clubs with losing marks.

Even though they are one-sided matchups on paper however, that doesn’t mean that it will actually translate to that outcome on the field. Often times the motivation to trip up a team perceived to be superior is just what the underdog needs to get its moment in the limelight.

Divisional games highlight both this week and the season’s final weekend of games on the regular season schedule. Several games this week will be deciding factors in which teams have a shot at ultimate glory on February 3rd and which will be watching that day for the commercials like you and I.

That alone will be enough inspiration to get teams to pour everything they have into these last two games to ensure that they aren’t stuck on the couch for the postseason. Expect the margin of victory to be much narrower this week for the majority of games on the schedule.

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Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

Falcons, Lions
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Last Sunday was a statement game for the Falcons who put the NFC on notice that they don’t plan on being a pushover this year in the postseason. For the Lions, they were blown out by the lowly Cardinals in an outcome that no one saw coming. If Matthew Stafford keeps throwing the ball to the other team (which seems highly likely), look for another landslide in favor of the birds from Georgia.

Falcons 34 – Lions 14

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New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys

Saints, Boys
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees and the Saints may be out of the hunt for the postseason, but they would love nothing more than to make that same thing true for Tony Romo and the Cowboys. This game will be highly competitive with plenty of points scored, but in the end, Dallas finds a way to make week 17 matter.

Cowboys 36 – Saints 35

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Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers

Titans, Pack
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

This Packers team looks more and more like the squad that won the Super Bowl two years ago as the weeks progress. Aaron Rodgers is getting all of his weapons healthy and the team seems poised to make a deep run in January. As for the Titans, they have no hopes for January football, but Chris Johnson has had more spring in his step lately. This one will be closer than most believe.

Packers 27 – Titans 24

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Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Colts, Chiefs
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

On the road in a hostile environment where the elements could play a factor, this will be the perfect test for Colts’ rookie field general Andrew Luck. The competition won’t provide much for that exam however as the Chiefs are basically locked in to one of the top five selections in April’s NFL Draft. Look for Luck and Indy to pour it on and use this one as a confidence booster.

Colts 31 – Chiefs 10

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Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

Bills, Fins
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Neither of these teams are worth writing home about in 2012, but Ryan Tannehill has shown flashes of brilliance in his rookie campaign. For Buffalo, they have been decimated by injuries and just had half a hundred hung on them a week ago. They will be angry, but playing in Miami, look for the Fins to get the win.

Dolphins 27 – Bills 20

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San Diego Chargers at New York Jets

Bolts, Jets
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets are now Greg McElroy’s team it appears and the Chargers, well, they really don’t have much leadership at this point. Both of these teams will be searching for new head coaches at season’s end as neither has lived up to expectations. In the disappointment bowl, location will play a huge factor as the Bolts don’t historically travel well to east coast teams in cold weather cities late in the season.

Jets 24 – Chargers 14

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Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

Skins, Eagles
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

In all likelihood, Kirk Cousins will see his second straight start in this one after his brilliant performance last week. With Robert Griffin III still on the mend, it would be foolish for Washington to risk him against the flailing Eagles. The Redskins can run the ball all day on Philly and they won’t have much in the way of offense to compete.

Redskins 31 – Eagles 13

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Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

Bengals, Steelers
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

This is the type of game that December is all about. These two hated foes tango with playoff berths on the line. The loser is most likely eliminated while the winner is in the driver’s seat for the final wild card spot in the AFC. When they met in October, the Steelers snuck one out on the road, but that featured a woeful offensive showing from Cincy. Look for Andy Dalton and company to bring some extra motivation when they visit Pittsburgh.

Bengals 24 – Steelers 20

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St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rams, Bucs
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Both of these teams were eliminated from playoff contention a week ago, but each has built a solid foundation for the future of their respective franchises. Unfortunately that won’t help in this game where points will be at a premium. Look for a low scoring affair that might actually be decided by a critical turnover or a score on defense. The Rams have done that three times already in 2012.

Rams 21 – Bucs 16

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Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers

Raiders, Panthers
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

A revitalized Carolina rushing attack welcomes an Oakland rush defense that allows 4.5 yards per attempt. Cam Newton should have a relatively light workload in this one with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert doing most of the heavy lifting. This game could get ugly.

Panthers 34 – Raiders 13

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New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars

Pats, Jags
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots were dropped down a peg after their defeat at the hands of the 49ers last Sunday night. For Jacksonville, it’s hard to get any lower than the bottom of the list. An angry New England squad plus a defenseless Jaguars club equals a potentially lopsided scoreboard for sure.

Patriots 41 – Jaguars 17

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Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans

Vikes, Texans
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson. That really is all you have to say for any Vikings game during the 2012 season. The man has been incredible still less than a calendar year removed from reconstructive knee surgery and approaching the all-time rushing yardage record in a season. The Texans will present a stiff challenge ranking fifth in the league at stopping the run, but that hasn’t fazed Peterson all season long and likely won’t this week either. Still it takes a complete team effort to win games and Matt Schaub’s Texans are better suited there.

Texans 27 – Vikings 21

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Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos

Browns, Broncos
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning has been unstoppable this season and that really shouldn’t surprise anyone. His controlled chaos at the line of scrimmage befuddles most defenses and before you know it his team has a three-touchdown lead. For the Browns, plenty of Trent Richardson will keep them close in this game, but too much Manning at the end will decide things.

Broncos 31 – Browns 21

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Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals

Bears, Cards
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Lovie Smith is coaching for his job and that means making the playoffs is a must. While Arizona isn’t exactly scary, they did destroy Detroit last week. The Bears are decimated on defense and Jay Cutler can’t get any kind of protection behind a shoddy offensive line. The Cardinals will bring the pressure on Cutler and look for a stunner in this one.

Cardinals 24 – Bears 17

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New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens

G-Men, Ravens
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Epic stretches of ineptitude clash in this one after both the Ravens and G-Men were blown out a week ago. One of the two has to win this week however and the Ravens don’t look ready to turn that corner yet. Joe Flacco has been dreadful of late and even new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell failed to get Ray Rice enough touches. Look for Eli Manning and the Giants to travel down the coast and get a win in this one.

Giants 31 – Ravens 27

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San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Niners, Hawks
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Save the best for last in week 16 and this game should be a dandy. The Seahawks have hung half a hundred or more on their last two opponents while the 49ers just pulverized the Patriots in New England for the bulk of three quarters of action. Russell Wilson has been magic as a rookie, but Colin Kaepernick has just as many tricks up his sleeve in his second year. Marshawn Lynch or Frank Gore, how can you go wrong with either one? This game will be so tight, you decide…

49ers or Seahawks? (Pick One)