NFL Week 16 Picks Against the Spread
Welcome back to the Rant Sports Expert picks against the spread. This time we try to analyze the spreads for Week 16 and let you know how we think all 16 games over the weekend will go. Thankfully there is no Monday night game this week, because those games have been snooze fests pretty much all year long. The NFL does their best to pick exciting prime time matchups and this year could only be described as a failure for the Monday and Thursday games.
That said, once again we have the most exciting matchup of the weekend on Sunday night. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks meet in Seattle in a battle with the NFC West crown on the line. The first matchup between these two was a slugfest that ended 13-6 in favor of the Niners. Seattle will be looking to settle the score and have a good chance to do so with the way they're playing.
Again picking the games this week will be resident Chicago Bears fan Jonathan Carroll, Dallas Cowboys fan Jeric Griffin, Atlanta Falcons fan Michael Collins, Philadelphia Eagles fan Dan Parzych and myself, self-proclaimed greatest New York Giants fan on the planet.
Last week should be considered pretty much a failure on our parts. Dan went 9-6, Jeric went 8-7, myself and Jonathan went 7-8, and Michael went 6-9. Hopefully we do a little better this week.
Do you agree with our picks or are we a bunch of boneheads? If you think the latter, reach out to us on Twitter with the hash tag #RML, which stands for Rant My Life.
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (+4)
Jeric - Atlanta wins and covers. For whatever reason, Detroit just can't put it all together and the Dirty Birds looked like the team to beat last week.
Jonathan - Jim Schwartz may be in the team photo for most underachieving American in 2012. And he's a jerk too. The Falcons shut up a lot of their critics last Sunday with an impressive win over Jeff Shull's Giants. I'm going with the Falcons in a laugher. Take the Dirty Birds and the points.
Dan – The Falcons made a huge statement last week after shutting out the New York Giants in their 34-0 win. They realize how important home-field advantage is for the postseason and the fact that the Lions are coming off a loss to the Cardinals makes it seem difficult for them to win in this one.
Michael - The Falcons may have finally figured out how to hit a late season stride, and the team doesn't want to lose that momentum. Detroit has spent most of the season figuring out how to lose. Falcons cover.
Me – The Falcons made a huge statement, yes, and they’ll probably win, but with Calvin Johnson going for Jerry Rice’s record I feel like this could be a shootout and Atlanta’s defense is not great. I’ll take the Lions to lose by three and cover.
Consensus: Falcons 4-1
Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers (-13)
Jeric - Green Bay will win, but I'll take Tennessee as an underdog. Never ever pick an NFL game with a spread more than about five.
Jonathan - The Titans are coming off a huge win over the New York Jets and screw the Packers. That being said, the Packers will win and cover.
Dan - On paper, the Packers would normally have no trouble covering the spread, but the offense hasn't stood out as much lately--which makes this seem like a trap game. Green Bay will most likely end up winning this game, but don't be surprised if Tennessee puts up a fight.
Michael - Green bay is a far superior team to the Titans, and the game is at Lambeau Field, but a 13 point spread is dangerous ground. But after watching the Titans struggle with the Jets, I'll call the Packers to cover that 13.
Me – The Packers have the type of offense that can cover 13 points easily. Tennessee’s defense is awful and Aaron Rodgers will carve them up.
Consensus: Packers 3-2
Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers (-8.5)
Jeric - See previous slide: Carolina will win, but Oakland will keep it relatively close. The Panthers won't cover.
Jonathan - The only people that win here are Panther's season ticket holders. And the Panthers that should cover the spread.
Dan - It's difficult to pick between these two teams, but you have to give the edge to the Panthers with the way the offense has played over the last two weeks after scoring 61 points. With the way the Raiders' defense has played this season, it's difficult to imagine them finding a way to shutdown Cam Newton--so expect Carolina to come out on top in this one.
Michael - If this game were in Oakland I'd call it that spread too big, but in Carolina I think the Panthers cover. They are clicking right now and the Raiders are struggling big time.
Me – The Panthers are rolling offensively and the Raiders are a joke on defense. Take Carolina to cover.
Consensus: Panthers 4-1
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-4.5)
Jeric - I'll take Miami and the points. Buffalo won't be able to contain Reggie Bush and Chan Gailey's offense is falling apart.
Jonathan - Gotta love the AFC East. Not really, but the Fins are hot. The Bills got their rear-ends handed to them in Canada. That being said, I think the Fins win but the Bills cover.
Dan - Another tough matchup between two teams that haven't seen their season go the way they were hoping it would, but the Dolphins may have the advantage in this one. Miami certainly has the better defense in this one and should have no problem shutting down a Bills' offense that has been anything but impressive the last few weeks.
Michael - If only the Bills had a quarterback...they'd still be a struggling offense. Miami covers with a big day from Reggie Bush.
Me – Division games are always tricky and I’d stay away from this one, but if I had to pick I’d take Buffalo to cover and lose by three or four.
Consensus: Dolphins 3-2
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)
Jeric - I'll take Cincinnati to win or lose by less than four. I'm predicting a three-point Steelers win.
Jonathan - Seems like these two teams play like 13 times a year. But the Steelers are on the ropes. The Bengals are not. Take the jungle cats and the points.
Dan - All of a sudden, this game turns into a must win for the Steelers after falling to the Cowboys last weekend. The Bengals control their own destiny as they currently hold on to the No. 6 seed and they realize how important this game is if they want to keep it that way--but it certainly won't be easy.
Michael - Bengals are going to pull the upset, beat the spread and knock the Steelers out of the playoffs all in one fell swoop.
Me - The Steelers are reeling defensively with their secondary all banged up, which plays directly into the Bengals’ hands. They’ll cover four points, and possibly even win.
Consensus: All Bengals
New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars (+14.5)
Jeric - New England will definitely win, but there's no way I'm giving the Patriots two touchdowns. I'll take Jacksonville to keep it within 14.
Jonathan - Two franchises headed in totally different directions. I'll take the Patriots and the points. This usually happens after a loss.
Dan - It's always difficult to pick such high spreads, but the Jaguars have been the laughing stock of the NFL this season and it's hard to imagine this game being close at all. Not to mention the Patriots will be hungry for a big win after losing at home to the 49ers on Monday night.
Michael - Here's another huge spread, and I think the Patriots are going to go into cruise control for the last two weeks. Patriots definitely win, but Jags will cover the spread.
Me – The Pats can do no better than 3rd place in the AFC now with their loss to the 49ers, which is exactly the kind of trap I would normally fall in and pick the Jags to cover. Patriots will put up 50 and win going away.
Consensus: Patriots 3-2
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (+6.5)
Jeric - It's a little much, but I'll take Indy to win and cover. Andrew Luck will be out to put his name back atop to list of rookie quarterbacks after getting bumped by Houston.
Jonathan - The Colts better start winning again. The Chiefs better not screw up the draft. The Colts win and cover.
Dan - Indianapolis has to be frustrated with the outcome of last weekend's game against Houston and luckily for them--they have a favorable matchup against a Kansas City team that hasn't accomplished much all season. Expect the Colts to breeze by in this one.
Michael - This is the week the Luck and the Colts stumble against an opponent they should easily beat. Chiefs will at least cover the spread, and will probably win the game.
Me – After the way the Chiefs played against the Browns, I have to believe the Colts win by at least two touchdowns. Easy cover here.
Consensus: Colts 4-1
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
Jeric - New Orleans is going in and the Saints should be insulted that Dallas is a three-point favorite.
Jonathan - The Cowboys are hot. The Saints are in limbo. I think this is the game where the Cowboys return to being the Pokes. Take the Saints and the points.
Dan - The Cowboys may be one of the hottest teams in football over the last couple of weeks, but they will certainly have their hands full against a Saints' offense coming off a strong performance against the Buccaneers. If anything, this matchup could turn into one high-scoring game.
Michael - This will be the end of the Cowboys magic. The Saints have found their offensive ammunition and will win a big shootout game.
Me – I desperately want to believe the Saints can win and help out my Giants in the playoff race, but I’ll take the Cowboys to cover. It will be close though. Oh…take the OVER if that’s your thing.
Consensus: Saints 4-1
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (+4.5)
Jeric - Easy one here for the Washington to win and cover.
Jonathan - The Eagles have been awful. The Redskins are hot. Nothing will make Andy Reid happier than to kill the Redskins playoff hopes. I think it happens. I am taking the Birds and the points.
Dan - As bad as it sounds, this is one of those no-brainer games considering how hot the Redskins have been over the last few weeks compared to the Eagles--who have lost nine of their last 10 games. Washington proved last week how good they can be without Robert Griffin III in the lineup and for a team that controls their own playoff destiny--they realize how important this game is when it comes to the NFC East title.
Michael - Redskins are going to hit a brick wall in Philadelphia, but will still win a close game. Philly covers and Washington wins the NFC East
Me – Again, really hoping for a miracle, but the Redskins will win by at least a touchdown.
Consensus: Redskins 3-2
St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
Jeric - I'll take St. Louis with the upset. Josh Freeman is playing some horrific football right now and Jeff Fisher's defense will take advantage of it.
Jonathan - Not much else to say here except the Rams are beginning to establish themselves as a contender of the future. Despite a tough loss to the Vikings, I think the Rams come back and win. Take the Rams and the points.
Dan - Tampa Bay showed weekend how poor their passing defense really is, but luckily the Rams' offense hasn't been anything to brag about either in 2012. Since the Buccaneers are playing at home, expect them to bounce back after last weekend's embarrassing loss to the Saints and win this one.
Michael - The streaky Bucs are in one of their downslides, and I don't see an upswing against a tough St. Louis defense. Rams win and beat the Bucs and the spread.
Me – The Bucs have been so up and down this season, but they’ll be up this week in a close win and will cover the three points.
Consensus: Rams 3-2
New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens (+2.5)
Jeric - I'll take Baltimore on a last-second field goal, so even Justin Tucker misses, the Ravens still only lose by one. It's underdog week!
Jonathan - The Giants are so up and freaking down. The Ravens are a team that confuses everyone. I like the Ravens to win and cover. The Giants are just too erratic at this point.
Dan - Nobody could have predicted the Giants to lose as badly as they did to the Falcons as the offense failed to put up a single point on the scoreboard. Even though the Ravens have lost three-straight games, they're beginning to fall into desperation mode where they know how important Sunday's game all of a suddenly is.
Michael - No way do the Ravens lose three straight games at home. New York is hurting both emotionally and physically after the embarrassing loss to Atlanta. Ravens win this one in a close game.
Me – The Ravens have won 12 in a row at home vs. NFC opponents, nine straight home finales and the Giants haven’t beaten the Baltimore franchise on the road since 1963. Fooled you! Take the Giants and the points.
Consensus: Ravens 4-1
Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans (-7.5)
Jeric - Again, I'll take the underdog. Minnesota is playing for its playoff life while Houston will be looking past this game. Plus, the Texans won't win by more than a touchdown if they do pull it out.
Jonathan - For the sake of the Bears I have to pull for the Texans, but the Vikings are playing well. I see the Vikings winning and covering this game.
Dan - For a defense that hasn't performed as well as they should have in the second half of the season, the Texans will be heavily tested against Adrian Peterson on Sunday as they look to hold on to the top seed in the AFC.
Michael - Don't like this matchup at all for the Vikings. There will be a lot of focus on Peterson trying to break the rushing record, and they'll feed him the ball a lot, playing into the hands of the Texans. Texans win, but Vikings cover.
Me – The Vikings are so one dimensional and Adrian Peterson will not like running against this defense. He’ll get the ball a ton and the game will be short with the Vikings trying to play keep away. Not sure there will be enough time for the Texans to cover that many points. Texas will win, but not by eight or more.
Consensus: Vikings 4-1
Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (-13.5)
Jeric - Denver will undoubtedly win the game, hands down. However, I think Cleveland will keep it within 10 points, so give me the underdog yet again.
Jonathan – The Broncos are becoming my favorites to win the AFC. The Browns had a short run. There's a lot of points in this game, so I think the Broncos will win but the Browns cover.
Dan - The Browns slim playoff hopes (as unlikely as they were) were shattered against the Redskins last weekend and it's hard to imagine them staying close with Peyton Manning and company on Sunday. There's a reason why Denver has won nine-straight games and expect them to make it 10 in Week 16.
Michael - Not sure why this spread is this large, but the Browns should be able to stay within a touchdown or so of the Broncos. Cleveland covers but takes the loss.
Me – Cleveland has only lost two games by 14 points or more this season. Their defense is pretty solid and the Broncos need the Texans to lose one of their final two games to get the AFC’s top seed. With the Broncos not having all that much to play for locked into the two seed, they’ll be content just grinding out a win and won’t put too much effort into dominating
Consensus: Browns 4-1
Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals (+5.5)
Jeric - Call me crazy after Chicago's free fall over the past six games, but I'll take the Bears to win and cover.
Jonathan - The Bears have to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Cardinals looked like an NFL team last Sunday. But I think the Bears will get off the shnide and win. I'm taking the Bears and the points.
Dan - This is the type of matchup the Bears need considering they've lost five of their last six games. Chicago realizes they could have easily won last weekend's game against Green Bay and now that the NFC North is out of the question--this game becomes a must-win if they have any shot at earning a Wild Card spot.
Michael - As much as I want to say this will be a rebound game for the Bears, a bigger part of me thinks this is the one that finally costs Lovie Smith his job. Cardinals cover, and possibly win.
Me - Arizona has a good enough defense, but with all the turnovers the Bears will force, they’ll run away with it.
Consensus: Bears 4-1
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (+1)
Jeric - Give me San Francisco and the points. Seattle is about to come crashing back down to earth.
Jonathan - The 49ers are in a tough stretch of games. They're gaining confidence every week. The Seahawks are tough at home. I'll take the Seahawks to win. This will be a great game.
Dan - The Niners made a huge statement on Sunday night with a strong offensive performance against the red-hot Patriots. The Seahawks' defense has been phenomenal this season, but Colin Kaepernick may be too much for them to handle with the way he's played over the last few weeks.
Michael - Seattle is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, and the Seahawks are firing on all cylinders. San Fran had a scare in New England and had some defensive weaknesses exposed. Seahawks pull the upset.
Me – The Seahawks are impossible to beat at home, but the 49ers have wins at New England and at Green Bay already this season. They are not afraid of their division foe, and will win by a field goal.
Consensus: 49ers 4-1
San Diego Chargers at New York Jets (-1.5)
Jeric - New York made the right decision to start Greg McElroy and it will "pay off" as the Jets will move down a spot in the 2013 NFL Draft. Give me the Titans of New York, the points and the irony.
Jonathan - Who cares? Both of these teams are disappointments. But one has to win. So I'll say the Jets win and cover.
Dan - Let's be honest--the Jets hit a new rock bottom with their loss to the Titans on Monday night as they ruined any chance of making the playoffs. With the way Mark Sanchez has been playing over the last six games (five of them he's thrown for under 200 yards), it's unlikely New York will cover in this one.
Michael - What? Jets favored?? I know this is the biggest joke spread in the league after Monday night's debacle. Chargers should and will win this game.
Me – Conventional wisdom would say pick the Chargers, but conventional wisdom never worked when Philip Rivers and an across the country trip is involved. Jets will shut down the Chargers and McElroy will do enough to win.
Consensus: Jets 3-2