The NFL season is winding down which means divisional rematches are abound in Week 16. These are the perfect opportunities for redemption.While the playoff caliber teams separated themselves from the competition in Week 15 of the NFL season, the games were a lot closer than I thought they would be.
Last week was not kind to me as I posted my worst week of the year for NFL picks with a 2-12-1 record against the spread. I may have gone ice cold, but still have a shot at finishing above .500 this season.
Let’s give this one another shot.
New York Giants (10-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)
For the first time all season I am picking the Thursday night game for you, the New York Giants fans. Big Blue’s M.O. this season has been that they win games, but they’re all close games. In fact, Sunday’s Week 15 game against the Detroit Lions was just the second time all season that the Giants won a game by more than 10 points.
However, the NFL is the toughest league to notch wins in, so it doesn’t matter how many you win by, just as long as you keep putting tally marks in the “W” column. We all know the Eagles are out of the playoffs and would love nothing more than to hand the Giants a loss at “The Linc”.
New York is all but in the playoffs, but winning on Thursday would clinch it for them. The Big Blue defense should feast on Carson Wentz for a couple of turnovers and secure a playoff berth just in time for Christmas
Pick: Giants -2.5
Miami Dolphins (9-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-7)
There are about 6,000 tickets available for this game in Buffalo going for as low as $9 and I’m not sure why. I know it’s Christmas Eve and the Bills are pretty much out of the playoffs, but of all fan bases to skip out on a game, I thought Bills Mafia would be at the bottom of that list. The fans may have given up on this season, but if there’s one thing Jets fans learned from Rex Ryan teams is that the players don’t give up on that coach.
This situation is a little different and the better team here – the Dolphins – are getting points. I suggest you take them.
Pick: Dolphins +3.5
New York Jets (4-10) at New England Patriots (12-2)
Oh boy. This has been the New York Jets season from hell. We all know the story lines. Missed birthdays, players telling the world they don’t even want to play, injuries, second round draft picks who haven’t dressed for a game all season…. The list goes on and on. The lone bright spot from this season has been that Bryce Petty is getting significant playing time which should aide the Jets in their decision this offseason regarding a starting quarterback in 2017.
The New England Patriots are favored by over two touchdowns, which is a number that could easily hit. Earlier in the year the Jets only lost by five, so that is the basis for my pick in this game.
Pick: Jets +16.5
Tennessee Titans (8-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)
The Tennessee Titans pulled off maybe the biggest upset of Week 15 by winning in Arrowhead against the Kansas City Chiefs. That win put them in a great position to win the AFC South as long as they can win out.
The Jacksonville Jaguars just fired head coach Gus Bradley so expect this team to be in turmoil in the last two games of the season. This win by the Titans will set up a winner-take-all scenario for the AFC South in Week 17.
Pick: Titans -5
Minnesota Vikings (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (8-6)
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Minnesota Vikings started out the season 5-0 but have since posted a record of 2-7. Although they boast one of the best defenses in the league, their offense ranks dead last in rushing yards and near the bottom in points scored. I don’t care if you have the ’85 Bears defense; you’re not going far with offensive numbers like those.
The Packers have been putting up fantastic numbers on offense which has propelled them during their current four-game winning streak. Adrian Peterson is unsure if he will play this week, which just adds to the list of negatives for Minnesota. Plus if you remember, I don’t pick against the Packers in Lambeau.
Pick: Packers -6.5
San Diego Chargers (5-9) at Cleveland Browns (0-14)
The San Diego Chargers may be the most injury-plagued team in the NFL this season. Still, that’s no excuse for Philip Rivers and Co. who I think will have a bounce back year in 2017. Next on their schedule is the hopeless Cleveland Browns. Chalk that up as a win.
The only way the Browns get a win this year is if the Steelers have nothing to play for next week and rest their starters. In order for that to happen, Pittsburgh would need to beat the Ravens this week, which would clinch them the AFC North and lock them in as the third seed.
Pick: Chargers -6
Washington Redskins (7-6-1) at Chicago Bears (3-11)
The Redskins laid an absolute egg on Monday night against the Carolina Panthers that took them out of the driver seat for the last spot in the NFC playoffs. They essentially need to win out and hope for some losses from teams ahead of them. While the odds with that scenario playing out aren’t great, I do like their chances against the Chicago Bears on Saturday.
The Bears have been playing inspired football recently and getting Alshon Jeffery back from suspension last week definitely helped Matt Barkley in the passing game. However, the Redskins are more talented and just need this game more than Bears do. Hopefully, they want it more than the Bears do.
Pick: Redskins -3.5
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at Carolina Panthers (6-8)
The Panthers are clinging to the slightest of hopes of making the playoffs (their scenario includes another Redskins tie), but if nothing else, remains a talented team that has no quit in them. Divisional games haven’t been much of an obstacle for the Atlanta Falcons this year, but this game is different. For starters, the game is in Charlotte, outside and in the rain.
You may recall that the Falcons play more than half of their games inside a dome every single year. The Falcons do have the second highest point differential in the league, but that was bolstered in the last two weeks against the dredges of the NFC West. The Panthers won’t make the playoffs this year, but they will win this game or make it close.
Pick: Panthers +2.5
Indianapolis Colts (7-7) at Oakland Raiders (11-3)
The Oakland Raiders regained the top spot in the AFC West last week after a win in San Diego and the Chiefs lost at home. The Silver and Black have a good shot at clinching a first-round bye in Week 16. All they need to do is win and hope for a Chiefs loss against Denver on Sunday night.
The former has a high possibility of happening since the Raiders like to air it out and the Colts have been dreadful against the pass all season. Expect a big bounce-back game from Amari Cooper in the first of four games in the late afternoon time slot on Saturday.
Pick: Raiders -3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) at New Orleans Saints (6-8)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ran into a machine in Dallas last week in a loss to the Cowboys. They could not get their running game going at all which is vital to their success on offense. On the other hand, the New Orleans Saints offense came to play last week. Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks connected for two scores in a shootout in Arizona last week and you can expect similar results this weekend in the Superdome.
This loss for the Bucs will pretty much knock them out of playoff contention, but they will be back next year. They’re my way too early pick to win the NFC South next season.
Pick: Saints -3
Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) at Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)
Who could forget the first time these two teams met up in Week 7 in that classic 6-6 tie? I’m guessing a lot of NFL fans who wanted to push the memory of that abomination of a game way out of their heads. Well, the rivalry is back in Week 16 with the potential for the Seahawks to claim a first-round bye if they win and some other things go their way this weekend.
The Seahawks are the superior team in this game, but the Arizona Cardinals strike me as one of those teams that play each game like it’s their last. Coach Bruce Arians will avenge the tie from earlier in the season with a win on Saturday (at least a win against the spread).
Pick: Cardinals +8
San Francisco 49ers (1-13) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10)
This is probably the hardest game to pick this week because of the spread and because both of these teams stink. The over/under of 40 should tell you that this game is going to be a snooze fest. Both of these teams rank in the bottom four in total offensive yards and passing yards while the 49ers rank tied for 25th in points per game and the Rams rank dead last. I would stay away from the spread in this game and, instead, bet the under, but if I had to pick I would take the 49ers and the points. Remember, the 49ers only win this season came against the Rams.
Pick: 49ers +3.5
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) at Houston Texans (8-6)
In a savage move, the Houston Texans FINALLY pulled Brock Osweiler last week in favor of backup Tom Savage (Sorry, that pun was too easy not to take a swing at). It only took 16 interceptions to just 14 touchdowns, a 59 percent completion rate, and a QBR of 55 to bench Osweiler.
Way to go, Texans!
But on a serious note, the Texans have a good shot at winning the AFC South if they just win out. That starts on Christmas Eve at home in primetime against a disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals team. Let the Tom Savage era begin!
Pick: Texans -1
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
When this game ends, we could have a 2016 AFC North champion. That is, of course, if the Pittsburgh Steelers find a way to win at Heinz Field against the long-time divisional rival Ravens. These games are always rough, bruising games between bitter foes. I couldn’t imagine a more high stakes scenario between these two teams in the regular season. A stat of note: Le’Veon Bell failed to reach 100 total yards from scrimmage just once this season – Week 9 against the Ravens.
Pick: Ravens +5.5
Denver Broncos (8-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
The Chiefs were on a roll until last week’s heartbreaker to the Titans. If you look at just the stats, you would think the Chiefs are right around a .500 team. They rank near the middle or towards the bottom of every major offensive and defensive category. Kansas City doesn’t have a gunslinger at quarterback or a star running back; they figure out a way to move the ball just enough to win games. And they win those games by taking care of the football while turning over their opponents more than any other team in the NFL. Denver’s offense has been so bad lately that I would love to pick them here, but I just don’t see it happening.
Pick: Chiefs -3.5
Detroit Lions (9-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-2)
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys reassured the NFL that they were not about to enter a tailspin heading into the playoffs. The NFC East still isn’t locked up, but either a Giants loss or Cowboys win will guarantee the Cowboys their second NFC East crown in three years.
The Detroit Lions haven’t looked great on offense the last couple of weeks, despite posting a 1-1 record over that span. The Cowboys will improve to 7-1 at home on the way to shutting down the Lions non-existent run game. Maybe this game Dez Bryant will jump into the Salvation Army kettle too.
Pick: Cowboys -7
Week 15 Record: 2-12-1
Overall Record: 51-52-6
In Week 16, we will spell redemption “V-I-N.”