NFL Week 16 Tidbits and Predictions
NFL Week 16
Week 16 of the 2012 NFL schedule is upon us. Some of the teams in action this weekend need to get into playoff mode this weekend, while others will have rosters playing for 2013 jobs.
There are only four inner-division games this weekend, but their are eight inner-conference games. For the wildcard spots Conference records are an important tiebreaker.
St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (page six) - Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers (seven) - Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (page 11) - San Diego Chargers at New York Jets (page 12)...These are the only four games on the 16 game schedule that have neither team having a chance to be in the 2012 playoffs (the Dolphins mathematically have a chance, but it is a mega-longshot).
The surging Washington Redskins will put their five game winning streak on the line as they head on the road to play the Philadelphia Eagles in what is sure to be Andy Reid's last home game (page five).
The Denver Broncos look to continue their amazing charge are they put their nine game winning streak on the line at home vs the Cleveland Browns (page 16).
The Detroit Lions will be playing in front of their disgruntled fans as they host the Atlanta Falcons. The Lions have lost six games in a row (that game preview is on the next page).
The defending champs New York Giants are looking to rebound from last weeks 34-0 beat-down. The G-Men play the Baltimore Ravens in a Super Bowl XXXV rematch (page 17).
The Chicago Bears are in desperate need of a win this week. They have dropped three games in a row. The Bears are heading to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals (page eight).
Falcons at Lions
(12-2) Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (4-10)
The Falcons are 5-2 on the road, while the Lions are 2-4 at home.
The Lions have lost six games in a row which is the longest current losing streak in the NFL. They have lost three straight at home, and all of those were to playoff teams. Those games were lost by 2,3, and 4 points.
Atlanta won in Detroit last season.
The Lions are 0-5 in the division, but are 4-5 outside the division. Now 4-5 is hardily good, but I did want to note that all of their victories have come outside the division.
Detroit has the #1 ranked passing game in the NFL. Calvin Johnson Jr. has three straight double-digit catches games, and seven straight games with 118+ receiving yards.
Matthew Stafford has struggled mightily in first half's, and been great in second half's. The Lions are always too far behind in the second half to actually be able to complete comebacks, but check out the splits: six touchdowns 11 interceptions in first half...11 touchdowns and just four interceptions in second half.
Matt Ryan has been great on the road. 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions, with a QB rating of 107.5 on the road.
The Falcons running game usually is poor on the road. Jacquizz Rodgers does average 4.8 yards per carry on the road, but the main ball carries is Michael Turner and he gets just 2.8 yards per carry on the road.
Roddy White has a mere one road touchdown, but Julio Jones has seven of his nine touchdowns away from Atlanta. Tony Gonzalez has 54 catches on the road to lead the team, and five of his eight touchdowns have come on the road.
The Falcons do not beat themselves with penalties or turnovers. The Lions are the exact opposite. ATL is +9, Det is -9 for turnover ratio.
Atlanta will turn the Lions three game home losing streak into a four game streak. Falcons win.
Saints at Cowboys
(6-8) New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
The Saints are 2-5 on the road, while the Cowboys are 4-3 at home.
The Saints running game averages 4.5 yards per carry (10th in NFL) but they get just 99.9 yards per game (24th in NFL). The Cowboys get a measly 3.5 yards per carry (last in NFL) and they get 80.4 rushing yards per game (0.4 yards more than the Arizona Cardinals for last in the NFL).
These teams butter their bread with their passing games. Drew Brees has the 10th best QB rating in the NFL, and Tony Romo is right behind him at #11. Brees has 36 touchdown passes (numero uno in NFL) while Romo has 22 (tied for 8th).
Both quarterbacks do complete too many passes...to the other team. Brees has 18 interceptions (tied with Andrew Luck for worst in NFL) while Romo has tossed 16 picks (4th worst in NFL). This game should see its share of interceptions as Brees has tossed 11 picks on the road, and Romo has tossed a dozen picks at home.
Both quarterbacks will have a chance for big games in this one. The Saints have a measly seven sacks on the road so Romo should not be pressures very often, and Brees has been sacked just six times on the road. DeMarcus Ware is 5th in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, but he has just 1.0 in his past four home games.
Dez Bryant has busted fingers which have slowed his production. That is a shame as he was on fire. Romo-to-Bryant at home in particular has been awesome. These two hook up to the tune of 103 yards and one touchdown per game in Dallas.
DeMarco Murray gets just 3.4 yards per carry at home, but he is crucial to the Cowboys success. Dallas is 5-3 when Murray plays, and 3-1 at home. When Murray takes one to the house the Cowboys are 4-0 in 2012, 6-0 all-time. Murray faces a Saints defense that allows a whopping 5.0 yards per carry (2nd worst in NFL).
Both teams are mathematically alive in the playoff hunt. Neither team will make the playoffs. The Cowboys chances will become zero after they lose this game. In a battle of the passing game I will take Brees to beat Romo in this game. Saints win.
Titans at Packers
(5-9) Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers (10-4)
The Titans are 2-5 on the road, while the Packers are 6-1 at home.
The Packers lost their home opener, but have reeled off six straight wins at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers has six wins at home this season, Jake Locker has three wins in his career (3-6).
The Titans pass rush has been good on the road, and they will need to be great on Sunday. Rodgers has been sacked 45 times this season, but lust 19 of those were at Lambeau. If he is allowed to make this a Rodgers vs Locker then we know the result will be a Packers victory.
Locker has nine touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Rodgers has 14 touchdowns and five interceptions at home.
Big plays from the defense, and a big game from Chris Johnson will be required to keep the Titans in this game. In week 10 Chris Johnson went off for 126 vs a Dolphins defense that had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 22 games. Things have dropped off significantly since then. On Monday night CJ2K broke a 94 yard touchdown run. Take that run out of the equation and we see Johnson is averaging just 51 yards per game with a 2.1 yards per carry average, and zero touchdowns since that Dolphins game.
The Packers running game is in-name only. They have five players with one rushing touchdown and they lead the team (yikes). 68 NFL players have more than one touchdown. Rodgers has a QB rating of 104.7 which is number 1 in the NFL so we know they rely on the passing game, not the running game.
The Packers are on a 8-1 run and they have a shot at the #2 seed in the NFC. This is their last home game of the season, but they will host at least one playoff game. The Packers will win this game (easy pick of course).
Redskins at Eagles
(8-6) Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (4-10)
The Redskins are 4-3 on the road, while the Eagles are 2-5 at home.
Week 9 the Redskins lost to the Carolina Panthers as they were heading into their BYE week. Head coach Mike Shanahan declared the season over, and said the remainder of 2012 would be auditions for the 2013 team. Well a whopping five straight weeks later the Redskins are (big-time) in the playoff hunt.
The Redskins have scored 30+ points in four of those five wins. The last seven times the Eagles have lost they have given up 28+ points every time.
This is surely the final home game for Andy Reid. His team is in a 1-9 free-fall and they have been an absolute embarrassment.
These two played in week 11. That Washington 31-6 victory started their five game winning streak. That win snapped an odd eight game losing streak to rookie quarterbacks (they have since defeated rookie Brandon Weeden too).
That week 11 game was also the beginning of the Bryce Brown experience. Brown has now started four games in a row. The first two he averaged 174 rushing yards and two touchdowns per game. Not toatl - averaged those gaudy numbers. The last two starts have been quite the opposite. Brown got just 40 TOTAL rushing yrads the past two weeks with zero touchdowns.
Nick Foles was just 21 for 46 with zero touchdowns and a pair of interceptions vs the Redskins. Robert Griffin III was 14 for 15 with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wow. He also had a dozen carries for 84 yards in that week 11 game vs Philly.
Kirk Cousins has played the last 1+ game for Washington and has gone a combined 28 for 39 with three touchdowns and just one interception. His 329 passing yards last week was a season-high for any 'Skins QB.
Washington is a whopping 7-1 when Pierre Garcon plays. When the Redskins/Garcon add a passing game to their amazing running game then they win football games.
How amazing has Alfred Morris been? 1,322 rushing yards (3rd best in NFL) - 4.7 yards per carry (10th in NFL) - nine rushing touchdowns (tied for 7th best in NFL) - 66 rushing first downs (4th best in NFL).
The Redskins are rolling, big-time. The Eagles are struggling, big-time. The Redskins will win this game, big-time.
Rams at Buccaneers
(6-7-1) St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)
The Rams are 2-3-1 on the road, while the Buccaneers are 3-4 at home.
6-4 has plummeted to 6-8 for the Buccs. Things hit rock bottom last week as they were annihilated 41-0 by the Saints. Their other seven losses were all by just one possession.
The Rams are 5-4-1 vs NFC opponents, while the Buccs are just 3-7 vs the NFC.
Harvey Dahl is OUT. That breaks his streak of 30 straight starts for the Rams offensive guard.
Sam Bradford has six touchdowns and four interceptions on the road, but his BFF Danny Amendola has zero road touchdowns.
Josh Freeman was putrid last week with zero touchdowns and a whopping four interceptions (yikes). At home he has a dozen touchdowns and just two interceptions. His QB rating at home is impressive at 101.3.
Rookie running back Doug Martin has been really good. He has 1,250 rushing yards (5th best in NFL) with 10 rushing touchdowns (tied for 4th most in NFL). He is getting 4.6 yards per carry (13th in NFL) and he has 51 rushing touchdowns (ninth best in NFL).
Vincent Jackson has been good for the Buccs too. 1,226 receiving yards (5th best in NFL) with eight receiving touchdowns (tied for ninth best). At home Jackson averages 102 yards per game.
Steven Jackson needs 91 yards to get his eighth straight 1,000+ rushing yards season. The Buccs rush defense is tops in the NFL.
Both teams have just 17 giveaways.
The Rams have recovered a putrid three fumbles (worst in NFL).
Greg Schiano will have his team ready to be significantly better than they have been recently. Buccaneers will win this game (convincingly too).
Raiders at Panthers
(4-10) Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers (5-9)
The Raiders are 1-5 on the road, while the Panthers are 2-5 at home.
Last week the Raiders snapped their six game losing streak but shutting out the Kansas City Chiefs. They did not score a touchdown tough.
When the Raiders lose they are not even close in those games. The average score of Oakland losses is 33-16. The Panthers have won three of their last four games, and have 30+ points in all three wins.
This will likely be the last home game for Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
Cam Newton is on fire. In his last four games he has a dozen touchdowns (nine passing and three rushing) and zero interceptions (wow).
Carson Palmer has played in 121 NFL games, but just two of those have been vs the Panthers. He is 2-0 vs Carolina. Palmer has seven touchdowns and five interceptions on the road.
Darren McFadden is having his second straight injury-plagued/forgettable season. He is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry on the road.
The Raiders have a putrid 21 sacks (2nd worst in NFL) and just seven of those have come on the road.
The Raiders have allowed 17 rushing touchdowns (only two teams have allowed more).
Carolina should be able to run the football in this game, plus vs this Raiders secondary I think Steve Smith will get his first home touchdown since October 2011.
The Panthers will win this game.
Bears at Cardinals
(8-6) Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals (5-9)
The Bears are 3-3 on the road, while the Cardinals are 4-3 at home.
The Bears are on a 1-5 free-fall. In that span Matt Forte has zero rushing touchdowns, and Jay Cutler has struggled too.
Cutler is on a 3 game losing streak, and he leads a passing attack that bis ranked #29 in the NFL. Scary to think the depths this passing game would sink to if they did not have Brandon Marshall.
Marshall has 1,398 receiving yards (2nd best in NFL) - 10 touchdowns (tied for 3rd best in NFL) - and 70 first downs (2nd best in NFL). After Marshall the offensive talent cupboard is bare for the Bears.
In 2012 Cutler has been very good when he is playing with the lead, but when the game is tied or the Bears trail Cutler has been really bad.
The Cardinals won last week to snap their u-g-l-y nine game losing streak. AZ is #4 vs the pass, and #28 vs the run. The Bears do not have a running game that can take advantage of Arizona's poor run defense.
Beanie Wells had three touchdowns last week, but he has just five total in 2012 (all at home) and he averages a measly 2.8 yards per carry (3.0 at home).
The biggest shame in the desert is that Larry Fitzgerald is so good, but all Cardinals quarterbacks reek. Fitz is sure to miss 1,000+ receiving yards for the first time in six seasons.
The Cardinals do have 32 takeaways (4th best in NFL). Bears cornerback Tim Jennings leads the NFL with eight interceptions. The Cards have tossed 18 interceptions which ties them for the worst in the NFL.
The Cardinals are the worst team in the NFL on 3rd downs. That is the only thing that keeps me from predicting an upset here. I am very underwhelmed with the Bears lately, but I will take them to win this game (VERY tempted to take the upset, but AZ QBs are so putrid that I cannot predict the upset here).
49ers at Seahawks
(10-3-1) San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
The 49ers are 5-2 on the road, while the Seahawks are 6-0 at home.
Big ol' game here.
These two met up in week seven and the Niners won 13-6. Since then the 49ers have gone 5-1-1 and the Seahawks have gone 5-2. Also since then Colin Kaepernick has taken over as the main man under center for the 49ers.
Russell Wilson has been a wonderful story in 2012. In that week 7 game he was just 9 for 23 for 122 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. He has been MUCH better lately.
Wilson has a dozen touchdown passes and just two interceptions at home. His QB rating in Seattle is a whopping 118.4.
Kaepernick has five touchdowns and two interceptions, with a QB rating of 96.2 on the road.
In that week 7 game both running backs had big games. Frank Gore had 16 carries for 131 yards (8.2 per carry) and Marshawn Lynch had 19 carries for 103 yards (5.3 yards per carry). In 2012 Gore is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, and Lynch is at 4.9 yards per carry at home.
The Seahawks have back-to-back 50 point scoring games (wow). That has not been done in 60 years (wow).
20 of SF's 35 sacks have come on the road. 20 of Seattle's 35 sacks have come at home. Both QBs are going to be under fire in this game. Kaepernick had four touchdown passes at New England last week, but going against the 12th man is a different animal all together.
Aldon Smith had zero sacks vs Brady, but that was the first sackless game for the stud in the last eight games (Smith is tied with J.J. Watt at 19.5 sacks for the best in the NFL).
The Niners have won four straight games vs the Seahawks. I will take Jim Harbaugh over Pete Carroll 10 times out of 10. San Fran is 23-6 under Harbaugh. Seattle is on fire, but this will be the 49ers fifth straight victory over their NFC West foe. 49ers win.
Colts at Chiefs
(9-5) Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (2-12)
The Colts are 3-4 on the road, while the Chiefs are 1-6 at home.
Andrew Luck has a massive future, but he is overrated currently. He has 23 turnovers (yikes) and on the road he has been poor more often than not. Luck has 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on the road, and his QB rating is a very poor 69.3 on the road.
Luck has been very good in the first quarter with six touchdowns and zero interceptions, but in quarters 2,3, and 4 he has a combined 14 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
The Colts average 4.4 yards per carry on the road, and they have six of their 10 rushing touchdowns on the road.
Brady Quinn is putrid. In 2012 KC is 1-7 when Quinn plays, and in his career he is 4-14 as a starter. This season he has as many touchdown passes on the road as you or I have, which is to say zero. He has been picked off four times on the road.
Jamaal Charles was terrible in 2012 vs the Raiders with 14 yards on 14 carries in their two meetings. Other than that he has been very good. Vs any team not named Raiders Charles has 1,216 yards, and a yards per carry average at a gaudy 5.2.
As worthless as Tim Tebow has been for the New York Jets we see the same thing for Chiefs addition Peyton Hillis. This once good running back is averaging 19 yards per game, and he has a mere one touchdown this season. His yards per carry is at a measly 3.1.
As bad as Luck has been on the road this game will be a breeze for him. The Chiefs have the 3rd fewest sacks in the NFL, and no team has fewer interceptions than KC.
The Colts offense is good on 3rd down, the Chiefs are not.
This is a game where the Colts will romp. Colts win.
Bills at Dolphins
(5-9) Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (6-8)
The Bills are 2-5 on the road, while the Dolphins are 4-3 at home.
The Dolphins have a rare chance to earn a 5-3 home record. In the past 10 years Miami has had five home wins three times (never more than five). In 2010 and 2011 Miami had a combined total of five home wins.
Reggie Bush opened 2012 with consecutive games north of 100+ yards from scrimmage. He did not break the century mark again until week 14, and he did it again last week. As a Dolphin Bush has played the Bills three times. In two games he was awful with a combined 52 yards on 25 carries (2.1 yards per carry = yikes). However in week 16 last season Bush exploded for 25 carries and an amazing 203 rushing yards (career-high).
Since the divisions were altered in 2002 the Dolphins have losing records vs all three AFC East foes. Against the Bills they are 9-12 including losing this season in week 11, 19-14. In that game Miami totalled just 184 yards on offense (yikes).
Miami is 1-3 so far vs their division. Ryan Tannehill has a mere one touchdown vs the division (yikes).
Dolfans have excuses for days as to why Tanny has struggled so mightily in his rookie season, but the truth is his accuracy has been bad. This area needs massive improvements. I would say that the inconsistent running game, plus horrid play-calling have contributed to Tanny's struggles, but in calling it the way I see it I have to say that his accuracy has been an issue.
One sure knock against Tanny is he has zero 1st quarter touchdowns. That means he has taken the game-plan and executed well to start games zero times and that is surely concerning. I really want to see a 1st quarter touchdown in this game.
One thing I like about Tannehill is he has thrown zero interceptions over the past three games. It has been over 100+ passes since Tanny was last picked off.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has just one interception in Buffalo's five wins. This is a Dolphins defense that reeks with creating turnovers. In their last nine games Miami has two interceptions (wow...amazing futility).
C.J. Spiller and Steve Johnson each have just two road touchdowns this season.
Miami is a top-5 team for creating sacks, but at home they have just 14.0 sacks. Cameron Wake has 14.0 sacks on the season (4th best in NFL) but he has just 4.0 at home.
Mario Williams has had a great second half of his debut season in Buffalo. He has 10.5 sacks on the season, and 8.0 of those have come on the road.
Buffalo's defense is terrible on 3rd downs. The potential for Bush to have a big game here, plus the Bills 3rd down issues does make me think the Dolphins will win this game. Miami is 3-2 at home vs teams they should beat, and the Bills match that description. Dolphins win.
CLICK HERE for all of my Miami Dolphins and NFL articles...@craigballard77
Chargers at Jets
(5-9) San Diego Chargers at New York Jets (6-8)
The Chargers are 3-4 on the road, while the Jets are 3-4 at home.
What can you say about this game? Greg McElroy vs Philip Rivers. Putrid team vs putrid team. Horrible head coach vs horrible head coach. Yikes all around...
Ryan Mathews is OUT. Ronnie Brown is likely OUT. That leaves the running backs in this game to be Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley, Shonn Greene, and Bilal Powell. Yikes. Putrid.
Malcom Floyd is OUT.
The Jets want to play ground-and-pound yet have zero running backs capable of it. As much of a punchline as Mark Sanchez has been I would want to acknowledge that the Jets skill position players are the worst collection of "talent"I have ever seen, and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is horrible.
Could this be the last home game for Sanchez in a Jets uniform? Tebow? Rex Ryan?
This will certainly be the final road game for Norv Turner.
The Jets pass defense has maintained its good play. They are ranked #2 vs the pass. The rush defense has been unrecognizable as they are ranked allllll the way down at #29 (yikes).
The Chargers have 16 of their 27 sacks on the road, and McElroy is not a viable/sustainable option at QB.
The Jets may be the only team in the NFL (maybe KC) who I would take the Chargers to beat. Two terrible teams, but I have to pick one so it is going to be the Chargers.
Bengals at Steelers
(8-6) Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
The Bengals are 5-2 on the road, while the Steelers are 4-2 at home.
Big ol' game here that will go a long way in shaping the playoff scene in the AFC. The Bengals enter the game as the #6 seed in the AFC, while the Steelers are #7.
This is a series that has been dominated by the Steelers. In 2009 the Bengals swept both games vs Pitt, but other than that the series is 20-4 for the Steelers in the 2000's (wow).
Cincy is trying to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-1982.
The Steelers are on a 1-4 free-fall, while the Bengals are charging with a 5-1 run.
In their week 7 match-up Andy Dalton was just 14 for 28 for a putrid 105 yards. Ben Roethlisberger was 27 for 37 for n278 yards. Both QBs had one touchdown and one interception in that game.
In that game Jonathan Dwyer had 122 rushing yards, but the Steelers can hardily count on that sort of production from him as he has 122 total the past four games.
The BenJarvus Green-Ellis that Pitt will face this week is much different than the one they faced in week 7. BJGE had zero 100 yard games, but the past five weeks he is averaging 109 rushing yards per game.
The Steelers defense has been unrecognizable at home. They have a mere 11 sacks at home, and just a putrid one interception in Pittsburgh.
The Bengals lead the NFL with 43 sacks, and 25 of those have come on the road.
This is a series that Pitt owns, but this is a game that the Bengals will win. A.J. Green is awesome, and he has been massive on the road. The Bengals will have a passing game, and a running game, and should have a good chance to play well on defense in this game. Bengals win.
Patriots at Jaguars
(10-4) New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)
The Patriots are 5-2 on the road, while the Jaguars are 1-6 at home.
This game needs very little analysis. Even if the Patriots were not coming off a loss we would surely be on the same page in predicting that this game will be a beat-down.
Chad Henne vs Tom Brady aka Glass Joe vs Mike Tyson. Henne is 1-4 vs Brady and Bill Belichick.
The Pats are one game up on the #4 seed, and one game behind the #2 seed.
The NFL is all about 3rd down conversions. The Patriots are numero uno for converting on 3rd downs, while the Jags are #31.
The Pats have (way) more 1st downs than any other team, while the Jags have allowed the second most 1st downs in the NFL.
Tom Brady has 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions on the road, and has been sacked just nine times on the road. The Jags have a putrid 15 sacks, and just six at home (yikes).
This Patriots secondary can be had, but this is not a Jags team that can put up big numbers. Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon have big futures, but if Henne is your QB your time is not now.
Only the Bears (37) have more takeaways than the Patriots (36).
This game has ugly blowout written all over it. Patriots romp.
Vikings at Texans
(8-6) Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans (12-2)
The Vikings are 2-5 on the road, while the Texans are 6-1 at home.
The Vikings two game winning streak has them all the way up to the #6 seed in the NFC. There are four NFC teams fighting for the final playoff spot who are 8-6, but the Vikes are in the drivers seat as they have the tie-breaker over all of them currently so they are the #6 entering week 16.
A Texans victory assures them of being a top-2 seed in the AFC which means week one of the playoffs they are off, and they would host at least one playoff game.
Adrian Peterson is on absolute fire. He has eight straight games north of 100+ rushing yards. In that time span he has amassed 1,303 rushing yards, and nine touchdowns. If All Day only had those eight weeks he would still be at #4 for rushing yards, and tied for 6th for rushing touchdowns. Wow, incredible run this guy is on.
The Vikings passing offense is the worst in the NFL. Their top wide receiver has not played in 1.5 months, yet still has 14 more catches and 243 more receiving yards than any other wide receiver. The talent cupboard for the Vikes pass game is bare.
Christian Ponder has a dozen interceptions and 14 touchdowns. Eight of those touchdowns have been to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
The Vikings defensive ends are good. Jared Allen has 9.0 sacks, and Brian Robison has 7.5 sacks.
Minny linebacker Chad Greenway has 140 tackles which is tops in the NFL.
Only the Bengals (43) have more sacks than the Texans (42). J.J. Watt has a whopping 19.5 sacks (tied with Aldon Smith for best in the NFL, and just 3.0 sacks away from the record).
The Texans also boast a great running game. Arian Foster has gone north of 1,000+ for the third straight season. His 14 rushing touchdowns are number 1 in the NFL.
Andre Johnson has over 1,000+ receiving yards for the sixth time in his great career.
The Texans defense is a top-5 unit against the run. The Texans will be able to somewhat handle Peterson. In this game the Texans are solid all around, while the Vikes only have Peterson as their chance to be good. Texans win.
Browns at Broncos
(5-9) Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (11-3)
The Browns are 1-5 on the road, while the Broncos are 5-1 at home.
The 2-3 Broncos have reeled off nine straight wins and have become the 11-3 Broncos. Denver has scored 30+ points in seven of those nine games (wow).
The Browns have a measly six wins in their past 30 road games (yikes).
This game is in Denver where Peyton Manning has tossed 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Knowshon Moreno has picked it up lately with back-to-back games north of 100+ yards (118 and 119...touchdown in each game too).
Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has been a turnover machine at home, but on the road he has just five interceptions and nine touchdowns.
Trent Richardson has found the end-zone a lot, but his rushing yards production has been on the decline for several straight weeks now. Check the decline: 122, 105, 95, 85, 72, 42, and last week a measly 28. He does have seven touchdowns over that span, but surely more yards are needed from this power player.
Josh Gordon will need to find the end-zone in this game to keep the Browns close. He has four of his five touchdowns on the road.
The Broncos defense is a tad under the radar. They are one of only four defenses that rank in the top-10 vs both the pass and the rush.
Denver is one game ahead of the #3 seed, and one game behind the #1 seed in the AFC. The Patriots are the #3 and they own the tiebreaker over the Broncos thanks to a week 5 31-21 Pats victory over the Broncos. The Pats have the Jags and the Dolphins remaining so they are likely going to get to 12 wins. The Broncos would need to win their final two games to ensure the #2 seed (Texans beat Broncos so Denver would have to win their last two games and Houston lose their last two for the Broncos to pass the Texans...that is not going to happen, but earning the #2 is a legit possibility for Denver).
This is a big game for the Broncos if they are to earn a top-2 seed in the AFC. Broncos will romp in this game.
Giants at Ravens
(8-6) New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
The Giants are 3-4 on the road, while the Ravens are 5-2 at home.
Super Bowl XXXV rematch.
Both teams come into this game desperate for a win. The Ravens are in the playoffs, but are limping to the finish line as 9-2 has become 9-5. The defending champs Giants have seen 6-2 become 8-6. The G-Men were in a playoff position all season, but with their 2-4 run and tiebreakers they lose they enter week 16 as the #9 seed in the NFC.
The Ravens will surely remain the #4 seed in the AFC, but they are struggling and have made a coaching change on offense. This will be the first home game where Jim Caldwell is calling the shots on offense.
Joe Flacco is much better at home than on the road. He has 13 touchdowns and just five interceptions at home. Ray Rice has seven of his nine touchdowns at home. We should see a good game from the offense this week (they are in need of one).
NYG has lost three straight on the road. The have scored 29 total points in those games, and they hit rock bottom last week at Atlanta as they were hammered 34-0. The Giants have just one sack in their last three road games.
Eli Manning has just five of his 20 touchdown passes on the road (wow). Victor Cruz has just two road touchdowns, and Ahmad Bradshaw just one.
The Giants are favored in this game. I will take the Ravens in the upset.
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