NFL Week 16 Predictions: Settling the Score
Predicting Week 16 NFL Action
Realistically, there are three playoff spots still up for grabs in the NFC and AFC. The Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts have all but locked up a wild card game. The NFC East title is still up for grabs, as well as the final wild card spot. In the AFC, the Colts would have to stumble very hard to not make the playoffs and the final spot will either go to the Pittsburgh Steelers or Cincinnati Bengals. They play each other this weekend.
Another important game in the NFL is between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens and Giants have yet to clinch a home playoff game, so that is what is on the line on Sunday. This is the most important game of the year for Eli Manning. He stumbled last week in a terrible showing against the Atlanta Falcons. If he does it again he might be watching from the couch in January.
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins have important games as well. It is pretty much win or go home for the top three teams in the east. Robert Griffin III participated in a full practice on Wednesday, so the organization is optimistic he will play. Either way, the Redskins are playing the Philadelphia Eagles, a much more beatable team than the Giants and Cowboys play. The Redskins control their own fate. Two wins and they are in.
Week 16 in the NFL is set up to be one of the best weeks in the NFL. There are five teams on the outside looking in with big games this weekend and a huge showdown at Century Link Field in the NFC West. What will be the game of the week? Biggest Blowout? And who will pull off the upset? All of these questions I am to answer in my week 16 NFL predictions.
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Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
The Falcons shut the Giants out last week and are hoping to lock up home field advantage this week. The Falcons play a Detroit Lions team finishing up a very disappointing season. Atlanta will not have to put up much effort in this game and it would be smart to start resting RB Michael Turner. He needs to have fresh legs for the playoffs. The Lions have nothing to gain or lose in this game and that can be dangerous, but considering this team lost to the Arizona Cardinals in week 15, I would say they are about as dangerous as a box of kittens.
Prediction: The Falcons rest QB Matt Ryan in the second half. Falcons 31, Lions 20
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are in a must win situation. If the Giants lose one of their next two games and the Cowboys win out they will win the division. Surprising considering how much criticism they have received this year. QB Tony Romo is winning games in December which is surprising to say the least. He is not exactly known as Mr. Clutch in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints are looking to play a little game of playoff spoiler. QB Drew Brees is very hard to beat in a shoot out, but for some reason, and I don't know why, I think Romo is going to pull one out in Dallas.
Prediction: Romo gives his best Peyton Manning impression. Saints 34, Cowboys 37
Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers
The Tennessee Titans were barely able to beat the New York Jets on Monday night, so I am not expecting much from them. It is clear to me that QB Matthew Hasselbeck still gives the Titans the best chance to win. The Green Bay Packers have the division locked up and if they win out and the 49ers lose a game they will secure a first round bye. The Titans will look for RB Chris Johnson to have more than one breakout run in this one or they will lose. QB Aaron Rodgers is still a viable MVP candidate, but with the way Adrian Peterson is running the ball he probably won't be apart of the conversation.
Prediction: The Packers get ahead fast and roll to an 11-4 record. Titans 10, Packers 27
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
The Colts should have no problem rolling right over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were shut out last week and are hoping the first pick in the draft this year has the coveted "it" factor. They will still try and compete in this game. How do they do that? Run Jamaal Charles until he pukes. The Colts will come at the Chiefs with a conservative approach and just get the "W" without getting anybody hurt.
Prediction: The Chiefs score points this week. Colts 27, Chiefs 6
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Two teams with nothing to play for, who will come out on top? First off, the Buffalo Bills took a beating last week in Canada. I've been told that is the worst place in the world to lose because not only have you lost, but you still had to go to Canada. When the Cardinals lost hard to the Seahawks, they came out the next week and put a beating on the Lions. This is what I expect this week from the Bills. The Miami Dolphins are 2-5 in their last seven games. They are going to need to come at the Bills with a balanced attack and take some pressure off rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.
Prediction: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick uses his Harvard education to beat the Dolphins. Bills 17, Dolphins 14
San Diego Chargers at New York Jets
The Jets will start Greg McElroy at quarterback over Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow on Sunday. This will leave the door wide open for the San Diego Chargers and Philip Rivers to get a feel good win at the end of the season. It is hard to imagine McElroy will be better than Sanchez, but it is hard to do any worse. The Chargers need to get TE Antonio Gates back into the game. He is getting old, but he still faster than a lot of linebackers. The key for the Jets will be not to turn the ball over.
Prediction: Gates scores two touchdowns in a game that means nothing. Chargers 27, Jets 13
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Like most teams in the NFC West, the Redskins are in a must win situation. The Eagles are one of the worst teams in football, but we have seen flashes of great play from QB Nick Foles. He will have to play like he did against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win this game. The Redskins are more than optimistic that RGIII will play this weekend. Like it matters, QB Kirk Cousins would have no problem steam rolling the Eagles.
Prediction: RGIII stumbles, but still pulls out a win. Redskins 20, Eagles 10
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Bengals are a hot football team right now winning five out of their past six games. The Steelers are kind of on the other end. They have lost four out of their past five games and are a long shot to make the playoffs. The Steelers need to get back to smash mouth football and they will win this game. They play the Cleveland Browns next week, so if they win this week it will put a lot of pressure on the Bengals.
Prediction: The Steelers turn up the heat in Cincinnati. Bengals 20, Steelers 24
St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The St. Louis Rams are a surprise to everybody this season. Head Coach Jeff Fisher cut the rebuilding process in half by surrounding his players with great coaching. The Buccaneers have a great offense, but teams realize they can throw the ball all over the place. They are last in the league in passing defense. The Rams have six wins this season and it would be a great accomplishment if they finished above 500. The best coaching will win this game.
Prediction: Fisher coaches circles around Greg Schiano. Rams 24, Buccaneers 17
Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers
The Oakland Raiders finally got a win last week after rallying off six straight losses. The Carolina Panthers are playing some great football right now. QB Cam Newton realizes that he is really the only player on the Panthers that can make the team win or lose. If he plays well they have a chance at winning, but if not, they lose almost every single time. Carson Palmer did not get his team into the end zone once last week, but still won. The Panthers will score this week, so if he does not the Raiders will lose.
Prediction: Palmer does not become Cam Newton's mom's favorite player. Raiders 16, Panthers 28
New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars
This should be everybody's obvious choice for blowout of the week. The New England Patriots lost to the 49ers on Sunday night, so they will be looking to put a beat down on somebody. The bad news for the Jacksonville Jaguars, they're about to get beat down. The Jaguars will not be able to compete with the Patriots at any level of the game and it will get ugly fast.
Prediction: The Jaguars are gonna have a bad time. Patriots 38, Jaguars 10
Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans
There is nothing more intriguing than RB Adrian Peterson's pursuit of the NFL record for rushing yards in a season. The Minnesota Vikings running back has put the entire team on his back and rushed for over 1,800 yards in just 14 games. The Houston Texans have a Pro Bowl running back of their own. Arian Foster needs to match Peterson step for step, Matt Schaub needs to take care of the football and the Texans should have no problems. QB Christian Ponder has been somewhat of a disappointment this season and if he is a non-factor, even "All Day" will have problems rushing his team to victory.
Prediction: The Texans put a dent in the Vikings' playoff hopes, but not Peterson's quest for glory. Vikings 20, Texans 31
Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are one of the hottest teams in football and have been for weeks. Even though that have wins against mostly under 500 teams it is still quite impressive. The Browns lost momentum last week by losing to the Redskins' backup quarterback. Manning wants to win out and get a wild card bye in the playoffs. The Browns will hope rookie QB Brandon Weeden can help the team, but the Broncos defense will be too much.
Prediction: The Browns lose. Browns 13, Broncos 30
Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals
If the Cardinals win out they could save Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt's job. That is a tall order. The Bears are hungry for a win and they're going to get it this week. The Cardinal's defense is good, but they are not good enough to get back to back defensive performances like the one fans saw last week against Detroit. The Bears' offense has their work cut out for them, but QB Jay Cutler will step up and get the job done no matter what it takes.
Prediction: The Cardinals gain less than 100 total yards. Bears 21, Cardinals 6
New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens
The Giants seem to step up their game every year heading into the playoffs. Last week was an exception. The Ravens are still trying to lock up the division, but this games means a whole lot less to them than the Giants. The younger Manning needs to play consistently well the entire game or they are going to struggle on the road. The Giants need to key on RB Ray Rice and make QB Joe Flacco win the game. Chances are he won't and the Giants will be able to pull out a close one.
Prediction: The Giants' defense wins this game. Giants 27, Ravens 16
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
This is my game of the week and upset of the week rolled into one. It very well might be the game of the year. It's not an upset in terms of a less quality team beating a great team, but an upset in terms of the point differential. The Seahawks are one of the hottest teams in football and the 49ers are coming off a big victory in New England. Both of these teams have crazy athletic quarterbacks and something tells me the difference in the game will be made at the position. Running Back Frank Gore has torched the Seahawks in the past, so I am sure that has been a focal point in practice this week. The wild card here is Colin Kaepernick has not played at Century Link Field. He is going to struggle for sure.
Prediction: There will be blood, fights and the Seahawks will win. 49ers 17, Seahawks 34