Week 16 NFL Predictions

Posted: 12/22/2013 by levcohen in Football

It’s week 16, and you know it’s crunch time when the Thursday Night games are done. So yeah, this is the first time that I’ll predict all 16 games on one post.
Let’s just look at the teams that are in “must win” situations, and examine how much of a chance they have:

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins, at 8-6, are tied with the Ravens for the wild-card lead, although the Ravens hold the tiebreaker. The Dolphins’ schedule to close out the season looks markedly easier than the Ravens’, as they close out with Buffalo and the Jets, both well below .500. Still, with the way the Ravens are playing, any loss for the Dolphins would pretty much knock them out. They need to take care of business in Buffalo, and they should have a good chance to do so.

Baltimore Ravens: Believe it or not, if the Ravens win their final two games, they will not only make the playoffs but they’ll also be AFC North Champions and host a playoff game. The last two games will be tough (against the Patriots and at the Bengals), but after Justin Tucker’s 61 yard winner against the Lions on MNF, they’ll feel that they can do anything. Given the state of their offense, is it possible that Tucker is their greatest weapon? As he displayed, he can hit from anywhere (he’s hit 6 from at least 50 yards this year) and is also incredibly accurate (35/37 total). So if the Ravens get anywhere inside the 45, they’ll be expecting at least 3 points, something most teams can’t say. Anyway, the Ravens are in a good spot, but they need to win this home game against the 10-4 Patriots, who are coming off a loss. It’ll be tough, but it’s definitely must-win. And if they can move the ball offensively on anyone, it has to be the Patriots. Maybe the Pats’ porous run defense will help kick-start the lagging run game.

Dallas Cowboys: Everyone is pointing to their week 17 game against the Eagles, but that game might be worth nothing if the Cowboys lose to the Redskins in Washington. Dallas is a game back on the Eagles but do hold the tiebreaker. So they need to stay a game back or tie it to lead to that win-or-take-all game next weekend.

San Diego Chargers-Pittsburgh Steelers: Neither team is mathematically eliminated (neither are the Jets), but they definitely need to win out among other things. Both have winnable games, with the Steelers facing off against a Rodgers-less Packers team and the Chargers home against Oakland.

NFC North Trio: The Packers, Lions, and Bears are all separated by a game. If either the Packers or the Bears win out (they play each other in week 17), they automatically win the division. So if both the Packers and the Bears win this Sunday, then the Lions will be mathematically eliminated. Quite a fall from where they were a few weeks ago, when they looked like locks to take advantage of injuries to Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler and win the division. It hasn’t happened, and now the Lions will need to win their final two games and hope for a loss by both the Packers and the Bears. That’s not far-fetched, though. The Bears are in Philadelphia while the Packers are again without Aaron Rodgers. If both lose, the Lions will make the playoffs if they take care of business. Which doesn’t usually happen. This is how I see the NFC North at the end of the season:

1. Chicago Bears (10-6)
2. Detroit Lions (9-7)
3. Green Bay Packers (7-8-1)* assuming Rodgers doesn’t return in week 17, which would be a pretty safe bet if the Packers lose this week and both the Lions and Bears win.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have a tough task ahead of them, with must-win games against the Seahawks and 49ers coming up. Right now, it looks like Arizona will win the award for “Best team to miss the playoffs”.

On to the picks:

Miami Dolphins (8-6, 9-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-9, 7-7):*
Line: Dolphins favored by 2
Over/under: 43
My prediction: Bills- 23, Dolphins- 17.. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but the Bills have a sneaky-good home field advantage. They have covered five of their seven home games, and five of their six games as home underdogs. And it seems just like the Dolphins to get everyone’s hopes up and then let them down at the end. I just have a feeling about this game that says upset.
Bills cover

Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1, 8-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-5, 8-5-1):
Line: Bengals favored by 8.5
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: Bengals- 27, Vikings- 23.. The Bengals have actually covered every single home game this year, so they have a good homefield advantage. But the Vikings have been playing really well recently, and this spread seems a little bit too high given what they just did to the Eagles last Sunday. I don’t think there is any quit in this team.
Vikings cover

Indianapolis Colts (9-5, 8-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3, 8-6):*
Line: Chiefs favored by 7
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Colts- 30, Chiefs- 17.. Both of these teams were overrated, and now both seem a bit underrated. I dislike the Chiefs, but I believe that they are the second best team in the AFC, if only by default. But they just came off of two wins by a combined 60 points. And they are pretty much locked into the #5 seed, because the Broncos won’t likely lose again in their piece-of-cake final two games. This could well be the 4 vs 5 game in two weeks, so watch the match-ups here. I like the Colts here, but the Chiefs in the rematch.
Colts cover

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10, 6-8) at St. Louis Rams (6-8, 6-8):
Line: Rams favored by 3.5
Over/under: 43
My prediction: Rams- 16, Buccaneers- 10.. Bleh.
Rams cover

Cleveland Browns (4-10, 6-8) at New York Jets (6-8, 7-6-1):
Line: Jets favored by 1
Over/under: 42
My prediction: Jets- 26, Browns- 20.. Another “Bleh” game. The Browns are tanking more than the Jets are.
Jets cover

Dallas Cowboys (7-7, 8-6) at Washington Redskins (3-11, 4-10):
Line: Cowboys favored by 3
Over/under: 53.5
My prediction: Cowboys- 31, Redskins- 24.. The Cowboys are going to win this game. It seems almost inevitable, and follows the storyline. As an Eagles fan, I’m hoping for a new storyline to emerge from this game, and hopefully it’s a QB controversy in Washington. If Kurt Cousins wins this game, who knows what will happen in these two disjointed front offices.
Cowboys cover

New Orleans Saints (10-4, 7-7) at Carolina Panthers (10-4, 8-5-1):
Line: Panthers favored by 3
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Panthers- 24, Saints- 17.. This pick is simple for me: The Saints just haven’t proven anything at home this season. And until they really prove themselves at home, I’m siding with the home team. And I’m happy to take the Panthers as short favorites.
Panthers cover

Tennessee Titans (5-9, 6-7-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10, 5-9):
Line: Titans favored by 5
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Titans- 27, Jaguars- 20.. I picked wrong on the Jaguars last week, and I think that they are just a really poor home team. The Titans have proved to be decent on the road, so I’ll pick them here to win (and cover) in Jacksonville.
Titans cover

Denver Broncos (11-3, 9-5) at Houston Texans (2-12, 3-11):- Lock of the Week
Line: Broncos favored by 10
Over/under: 53
My prediction: Broncos- 30, Texans- 14.. This has to be the lock, even with the Texans at home. They have clearly given up, and although they kept the Patriots close a few weeks ago, I don’t think they have much hope in a game that suddenly means something (home field advantage) to the Broncos.
Broncos cover

New York Giants (5-9, 5-9) at Detroit Lions (7-7, 6-8):
Line: Lions favored by 10
Over/under: 49
My prediction: Lions- 31, Giants- 23.. Could this be a game the Lions lose? Sure, but I have no idea. They also could blow out an outmatched Giants team.
Giants cover

Arizona Cardinals (9-5, 10-4) at Seattle Seahawks (12-2, 10-4):
Line: Seahawks favored by 10
Over/under: 43
My prediction: Seahawks- 24, Cardinals- 17.. I think the Cardinals will keep it close here, but the Seahawks will clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
Cardinals cover

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8, 7-7) at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1, 6-8):*
Line: Packers favored by 1
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Steelers- 24, Packers- 20.. Matt Flynn had another moment on Sunday, but I think they are flashes in the pan.
Steelers cover

Oakland Raiders (4-10, 7-7) at San Diego Chargers (7-7, 8-5-1):
Line: Chargers favored by 10
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: Chargers- 30, Raiders- 24.. The Chargers never really blow teams out.
Raiders cover

New England Patriots (10-4, 6-8) at Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 7-7):
Line: Ravens favored by 1
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Ravens- 27, Patriots- 23.. Ravens win against the depleted Patriots, but it will definitely go down to the wire. All of the Patriots games seem to end that way, and I think this one will end in the Ravens favor with home field advantage making the difference.
Ravens cover

Chicago Bears (8-6, 4-9-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6, 7-7):*
Line: Eagles favored by 3
Over/under: 55
My prediction: Bears- 35, Eagles- 30.. This one is simple to me; the Bears need to win this game, and the Eagles don’t. Chip Kelly has told the press that his starters will be in the game in what would be a meaningless game should the Cowboys win earlier in the day, but I think he could still yank them early. Or I would hope so.
Bears cover

Atlanta Falcons (4-10, 5-9) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4, 10-4):
Line: 49ers favored by 14
Over/under: 45
My prediction: 49ers- 30, Falcons- 10.. Should be a walk in the park for the 49ers at home in their last game at Candlestick. I think they could run up the score in their last home game (as a wild card, they likely won’t play a home playoff game), so I’ll pick them to cover.
49ers cover

Upset picks:
Bills over Dolphins
Colts over Chiefs
Bears over Eagles
Steelers over Packers

Lock of the Week:
Broncos over Texans


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