17 December 2014

2014 NFL Predictions: Week 16

With only two games to go in the season, this is a huge week in the NFL. And not only are there some greatly important games for playoff position but we also have the return to Saturday NFL games! Who doesn't love that? There will be a doubleheader of games this Saturday as well as one of the worst primetime games ever. That enough for you? Here are my picks for Week 16.

Last Week: 12-4
2014: 134-96
Locks: 10-5

Thursday, December 18th
Tennessee Titans (2-12) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) - NFL Network, 8:25
Yeah, this game is absolutely dreadful. After all, who wouldn't love a Charlie Whitehurst-Chad Henne showdown in primetime? I like the Jaguars here. The Titans have looked pretty terrible of late while the Jaguars, far from a quality football club, have showed some game of late. Look for an underrated Jacksonville defensive club to get after Whitehurst
Jaguars 21 Titans 10

Saturday, December 20th
Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) vs. Washington (3-11) - NFL Network, 4:30
The wheels continue to come off for Washington as they blew a 10-7 halftime lead in the Meadowlands to the Giants. Robert Griffin III will now be the guy again for the team after Colt McCoy got hurt and while he didn't look terrible this past week, he still is far from being the guy of the future. After a disappointing home loss on Sunday night to the Cowboys, look for Philadelphia to bounce back in a big way.
Eagles 33 Washington 20

San Diego Chargers (8-6) vs. San Francisco 49ers (7-7) - CBS/NFL Network, 8:25
What was at first bad in Santa Clara has gotten worse as the Niners have now lost three in a row and have not looked terribly competitive in any of those contests. The Jim Harbaugh era is just about over and their playoff hopes are in fact dead. They will host a team whose own playoff hopes are on the ropes (great rhyme action) as the Chargers have lost two in a row, albeit to two excellent teams in New England and Denver, and I just don't see them waking up for this.
Chargers 27 49ers 19

Sunday, December 21st
Green Bay Packers (10-4) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) - Fox, 1:00
We knew this before and we certainly know it now: the Packers are simply not the same team on the road as they are at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers was a mess against an excellent Buffalo pass defense, the receivers dropped a number of passes and the special teams units largely struggled in the team's loss in Orchard Park on Sunday. Now a team that a week ago was looking to get homefield advantage could very well miss the playoffs altogether. All of that in mind, I would be just about stunned if they loss to a dreadful Bucs club in Tampa.
Packers 35 Buccaneers 17

New England Patriots (11-3) vs. New York Jets (3-11) - CBS, 1:00
Hey, the Jets won a game on Sunday! Of course, nobody should get excited over beating a dreadful Tennessee team, even on the road, but wins are wins. Now, they have to host the Patriots who have put together two impressive wins in a row over playoff contenders in San Diego and at home against Miami. Sometimes Rex Ryan gets his teams up for games against the Patriots but I just don't see it happening this week with this team.
Patriots 34 Jets 20

Minnesota Vikings (6-8) vs. Miami Dolphins (7-7) - Fox, 1:00
Through a two-game losing streak in which the team has fallen apart in the second half both games, the Dolphins are all but dead in the AFC playoff race. Now they return home after a one week sojourn to Foxborough but they will also face a Vikings team that has been competitive virtually every week the last two months. I'm feeling the upset here.
Vikings 17 Dolphins 14

Cleveland Browns (7-7) vs. Carolina Panthers (5-8-1) - CBS, 1:00
As of press time, it is not certain as to whether Cam Newton will play this Sunday so this prediction could potentially change based on whether Newton or Derek Anderson starts. What we do know is that Johnny Manziel will be under center despite a terrible debut performance. Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised that Manziel looked lost particularly against a tough opponent in the Bengals so can we play like I think he can this week? Perhaps but even so, I like the Panthers at home.
Panthers 21 Browns 20

Detroit Lions (10-4) vs. Chicago Bears (5-9) - Fox, 1:00
After their dreadful performance on Monday night at home against New Orleans, and in the wake of the Aaron Kromer-Jay Cutler fiasco, the Bears have just about given up on this season. So I have no faith in them hosting a quality Lions club that is gunning for not just a playoff appearance but potentially a division championship and even a bye, and pull the upset. And especially so with Jimmy Clauson now starting under center. Therefore, the Lions are my Lock of the Week.
Lions 28 Bears 13

Baltimore Ravens (9-5) vs. Houston Texans (7-7) - CBS, 1:00
The Texans will be starting either Case Keenum or Thad Lewis this Sunday. Yeah. Bill O'Brien has lost two quarterbacks to IR with the third, Tom Savage, not being available this week and this is how they end up with those two guys. Houston's playoff odds are just about gone as is and it is going to be tough with all the injuries at quarterback to pull this one out at home against the Ravens.
Ravens 27 Texans 17

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) vs. New Orleans Saints (6-8) - Fox, 1:00
It's not that common that a matchup of teams with two losing records is significant playoff matchup but the NFC South in 2014 is not your usual division. New Orleans has a half game advantage on Carolina and a game advantage on Atlanta after getting a big win on Monday night in Chicago after the stunning blowout loss at home to Carolina. The Falcons allowed the Steelers to get an early lead at home, blowing an opportunity to take the lead in the division. I like New Orleans here because I still have confidence in them at home.
Saints 30 Falcons 28

Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) - CBS, 1:00
Sunday was a key game for the Steelers on the road in Atlanta given how tight the divisional race is in the AFC North and they hit the gas early and took advantage of that to win. They are a team that has truly been all over the place this season but they have looked good these last couple of weeks and I think back at Heinz Field they will get closer to the playoffs with a key win over the Chiefs.
Steelers 29 Chiefs 21

New York Giants (5-9) vs. St. Louis Rams (6-8) - Fox, 4:05
The football Giants have followed up their seven-game losing streak with a two-game winning streak (against feeble competition, mind you). How have they done it? With a healthy dosage of budding star Odell Beckham, Jr., that's how. He has been spectacular, without question. Can that continue against a strong pass defense in that of the Rams? I'm not sold. The potent pass rush will get after Eli Manning and not allow him to find Beckham as much down the field and slide this game towards the Rams.
Rams 19 Giants 14

Buffalo Bills (8-6) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-12) - CBS, 4:25
The Bills looked pretty darn impressive in their home win against the Packers as their tremendous pass defense held Aaron Rodgers in check all afternoon long. Buffalo has kept their playoff lives alive and now they will go to Oaktown needing wins. If they can keep a guy like Rodgers in check, I think they should be able to force Derek Carr into some turnovers.
Bills 24 Raiders 9

Indianapolis Colts (10-4) vs. Dallas Cowboys (10-4) - CBS, 4:25
Dallas looked very good in taking out the Eagles on the road on Sunday night and given that they will be hosting a Colts team that has not looked that great of late (albeit still winning, of course). But now the key cog for the Dallas offense, running back DeMarco Murray, has broken a bone in his left hand and is not a guarantee to play this week and if he does play, he is not certain to be at 100%. Even then, Tony Romo has been playing great of late and I think the Cowboys will get closer to the playoffs with a win here.
Cowboys 33 Colts 31

Seattle Seahawks (10-4) vs. Arizona Cardinals (11-3) - NBC, 8:30
The immortal Ryan Lindley will start for the Cardinals this week and while Bruce Arians always has his guys back, this is a problem. In his relatively limited experience in the past, including on Thursday night in St. Louis, Lindley has been a disaster under center. Now he will have to face the excellent Seattle defense that has been great of late. Not the best of looks.
Seahawks 20 Cardinals 10

Monday, December 22nd
Denver Broncos (11-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1) - ESPN, 8:30
With all the hoopla surrounding Johnny Manziel in his debut, the Bengals on both sides of the ball have largely been overlooked. Their defense confounded Manziel and the offense pounded the ground relentlessly with rookie Jeremy Hill. Now even then, the running game still was not all that great and that strategy simply will not work against the Broncos.
Broncos 34 Bengals 26

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