Thursday Night's game is one of the worst games in NFL history, let alone just on Thursday Night. But don't tell the fan that...
Week 16: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 16 results (season): 7-9 (156-81-1 .653); 11-5 v. spread (116-122-1 .485)
Week 16 Notes: Eight road teams are favorites this week – half! That’s remarkable. In addition, 13 of the 16 games have playoff implications. Considering the TEN v. JAX game could be for the #1 pick in the draft, the only irrelevant games are STL v. NYG and sadly, the SD v. SF game, which actually features teams that could finish with winning records…and no playoffs. Such is the NFL.
Tennessee Titans 2-12 (+3.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 2-12 (40.5): Titans 21-20 Jaguars 21-13
Thursday, 8:25 PM, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: Cloudy, low 50s)
Reasons: There are only four teams in the NFL with 12 loses, and two of them face off Thursday night in quite possibly the worst Thursday Night game this season, which is really saying something. Both of these teams reside in the AFC South meaning one division contains two of the four 12-loss teams, yet the NFC South still has three fewer losses than the AFC South. If that doesn’t drive home how terrible the NFC South is I don’t know what does. As far as this game is concerned, the Titans have a respectable pass defense, and the Jaguars have been playing better the past few weeks, but neither of these points is reason enough to watch this game. That is, unless you like train wrecks. The only team with a worse point differential than either of these two teams is the Oakland Raiders (-168), and it’s not by much. The Jaguars have the NFL’s worst offense, and the Titans who are just a hair better offensively, are the league’s second-worst defense, which is just a hair worse than Jacksonville’s. Yeah, this game is going to be terrible. Or maybe a battle between two terrible teams results in an epic game.
Philadelphia Eagles 9-5 (-8) @ Washington Natives 3-11 (50.5): Eagles 28-21 Natives 27-24
Saturday, 4:25 PM, FedEx Field, Landover, MD (Weather: Cloudy, high 40s)
Reasons: The Eagles, once 5-1 and firing on all cylinders, and seemingly in complete control of their own destiny, are now 4-4 in their last eight games and in real danger of being left out of the playoffs altogether – forget winning the NFC East. The Eagles need to win and for the Dallas Cowboys to lose this week just to stay in contention. Luckily for Philadelphia they face the laughingstock of the NFL, the Washington Natives. Just because it’s Saturday, don’t expect RGIII to return to his college form against a potentially vicious defense that can take the ball away. The Eagles have been turning the ball over at an alarming rate all season (-8), but so have the Natives (-9). I’m not sure either team has any confidence in their quarterback play, but at least the Eagles have a running game and a defense, while the Natives are simply one of the worst teams in the league. The Eagles also can’t lose.
The Eagles could become the second 10-6 NFC team in as many years (ARZ), but that’s if they win Week 17. The Eagles blew their chance to keep pace with the Cowboys in the NFC East and lost to the lowly Natives.
San Diego Chargers 8-6 (-1.5) @ San Francisco 49ers 7-7 (41): 49ers 21-20 Chargers 38-35 OT
Saturday, 8:25 PM, Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, CA (Weather: Cloudy, low 50s)
Reasons: Apparently the Michigan Wolverines are the talk of this game. Let’s put it this way – the 49ers have already been eliminated from the playoffs in 2014, despite the chance to go 9-7, and the San Diego Chargers need several things out of their control to happen in order for them to make the playoffs, despite potentially finishing 10-6. So we have two CA teams from each conference that could end the season with winning records, yet this game is nothing more than a sun-baked spoiler if the 49ers prevail. The Chargers are a far better team on paper, and the 49ers’ offense has quickly become one of the worst in the NFL, but they’re home (although they’re 3-3) and they still have one of the league’s best defenses. With Phillip Rivers hurting and the offensive line still scrambling, the 49ers play with just enough pride to win out.
The 49ers led 28-7 at the half, but then somehow one of the league’s best defenses failed them, and the Chargers literally charged through and scored 31 unanswered points, including the three in OT, to recharge their playoff hopes. It’s been real, Jim Harbaugh.
Cleveland Browns 7-7 (+3.5) @ Carolina Panthers 5-8-1 (41): Panthers 24-20 Panthers 17-13
Sunday, 1 PM, B of A Stadium, Charlotte, NC (Weather: Sunny, high 40s)
Reasons: The Panthers have to win to have any shot at the playoffs, and the Carolina defense has played well enough in the past few weeks that Cleveland could be in trouble trotting out Johnny Manziel again. Cam Newton looks to be ready, which is a horrible idea, even with a hobbled Browns’ defense, but the Browns have nothing to play for, Manziel is simply a deer in headlights about to be run over, and the Carolina Panthers are desperately trying to salvage a 5-8-1 season 11 months after being 10-4 at the same point last year.
Johnny Manziel was knocked out of the game and the Panthers forced a final game showdown with the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South title…and final spot in the NFC playoffs.
New England Patriots 11-3 (-10.5) @ New York Jets 3-11 (46.5): Patriots 28-21 Patriots 17-16
Sunday, 1 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Sunny, low 40s)
Reasons: If you live outside of the Northeast you have the Patriots trashing the Jets. If you live in the New York area, you think the Jets are going to win. If you live in New England you understand completely that these late-season AFC East matchups against inferior opponents don’t always bode well, the Jets defensive front line is the only quality aspect of their team and Tom Brady’s kryptonite, and about the only thing Rex Ryan lives for these days is to beat his closet hero, Bill Belichick. The head says Patriots all day everyday, but the heart knows better.
This game was closer than most expected, but three or fewer points have decided this series for a few years now, several by blocked kicks. The Patriots sealed home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, while the Jets sealed Rex Ryan’s fate.
Minnesota Vikings 6-8 (+6.5) @ Miami Dolphins 7-7 (42): Dolphins 24-20 Dolphins 37-35
Sunday, 1 PM, Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: Sunny, mid-70s)
Reasons: Both teams could end .500 or better, yet neither has a shot at the playoffs this season. Considering neither represents a spoiler in any situation, this game is officially irrelevant.
What an incredible game. The Vikings defense was their only strength, yet their offense kept them in this 37-35 thriller; the same could be said about the Dolphins. Miami did all they could to keep their playoff hopes alive, including the unheard-of “blocked punt walk-off”, but alas, it wasn’t enough.
Baltimore Ravens 9-5 (-5) @ Houston Texans 7-7 (41): Ravens 24-21 Texans 25-13
Sunday, 1 PM, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Ravens need to win to keep pace in the AFC North and get one of the worst matchups to do that against, except that they’re on the 9th QB, so actually the Ravens don’t have much to worry about…assuming they can score points.
Talk about a team doing all it can to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Texans and JJ Watt pulled out all the stops, and took the Ravens, who were desperate themselves, to task in their own house. Now the Ravens have to hope for a Chargers’ loss to the Chiefs, who are still alive themselves. The Texans breath that same thin air.
Detroit Lions 10-4 (-8.5) @ Chicago Bears 5-9 (44.5): Lions 24-21 Lions 20-14
Sunday, 1 PM, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: Cloudy, low 40s)
Reasons: The Lions are battling the Packers for the NFC North title, and hold the tiebreaker over them if they win out, meaning the Lions will drop this all-important game against the hapless Bears. Oh wait a minute; the Bears are inexplicably trotting out Jimmy Clausen over Jay Cutler, a move that doesn’t make any sense on any level – sending message, trade bait, releasing, etc. The Lions are their own worst enemy, and could just as easily be 4-10 as 10-4, so I’ll be frank: If Jay Cutler were playing the Bears would win.
The Lions won, but their continued bone-headed play cost them their center Dominic Raiola next week - for stopping a player’s ankle (actually for “repeated offenses”) - and most likely the division as they face Green Bay at Lambeau Week 17 for the title. Both make the playoffs regardless, but only one team goes anywhere.
Atlanta Falcons 5-9 (+6.5) @ New Orleans Saints 6-8 (56): Saints 28-27 Falcons 30-14
Sunday, 1 PM, Mercedes-Benz Dome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: How hilarious is this? These two teams, both predicted to have far better seasons in 2014, are both in danger of ending the years with losing records, yet this game could be for the NFC South title. Confused? So is the rest of the NFL, including the members of the NFC South. A rematch of the Week 1 37-34 OT thriller in which the home Falcons prevailed, these two teams are still pretty evenly matched 165 weeks later, to boot (Both teams “lose” their respective games: ATL -25-26; NO – 26-27). Look for New Orleans to avenge that loss and basically wrap up the division.
It’s amazing how quickly the Saints have fallen off. Many pundits had the Saints going to the Super Bowl, or at least battling the Seahawks for NFC supremacy, but the Saints were 3-5 at home this year, one of the wins coming in OT, and Drew Brees…well, Brees had another career year, but you’d never have known it.
Green Bay Packers 10-4 (-12) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-12 (+48.5): Packers 28-20 Packers 20-3
Sunday, 1 PM, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL (Weather: 30% rain, mid-70s)
Reasons: All signs, brains, and statistics point to Green Bay. The fact the Packers are on the road, where they are terrible relative to Lambeau Field, and the fact that Tampa Bay has lost seven games by 6 or fewer points tells a different tale. The Packers are actually playing for something, as are the Buccaneers, both of which require the Buccaneers to lose, so it’s hard to imagine the Packers losing two in a row on the road.
The Packers rolled, but Aaron Rodgers may have rolled something. His health and the draft position of the Buccaneers were the only things of interest coming out of this game.
Kansas City Chiefs 8-6 (+3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers 9-5 (46.5): Steelers 26-24 Steelers 20-14
Sunday, 1 PM, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (Weather: Sunny, mid-30s)
Reasons: One of the intriguing games of the week, both teams are still alive, although both also need help, the Chiefs slightly more than the Steelers. The Steelers simply have to win and hope Cincinnati loses, but the Chiefs need to win and have several others lose. All of this only covers the emotional aspect of the game, so here’s the technical aspect: the Chiefs have one of the best defenses in the league (4th-ranked scoring defense) and the Steelers have one of the best offenses in the league (6th-ranked scoring offense). Something has to give.
This epic late season AFC battle didn’t disappoint, and the Steelers went from a strange question mark to playoff team, although their SOS ranks last in all of the eight potential playoff teams, and by a long shot. What’s my point? I wouldn’t expect them to last. The Chiefs are barely alive.
New York Giants 5-9 (+5.5) @ St. Louis Rams 6-8 (43.5): Rams 24-21 Giants 37-27
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: Yikes. Let’s put it this way: the Rams are the best team in the NFL with a losing record and the Giants are in “wait until next year” mode. I’m looking forward to Jenkins v. Beckham Jr. That’s about it.
Odell Beckham Jr. has erupted into a star. That is all.
Buffalo Bills 8-6 (-6.5) @ Oakland Raiders 2-12 (37.5): Bills 24-20 Raiders 26-24
Sunday, 4:25 PM, O. Co. Stadium, Oakland, CA (Weather: Sunny, mid-60s)
Reasons: The Bills are fighting for their playoff lives, have one of the best defenses in the NFL, have just beat one of the best teams in the NFL, and the Raiders are one of the worst teams in the NFL. All of this points to a Bills’ victory, but they’re traveling across the country, which usually doesn’t bode well for east coast teams. Luckily for them the game’s at 4:25.
Good for the Raiders, three in a row. Now they’ll get another high draft pick for their improvements. The Bills, on the other hand, blew their chances at the 2014 playoffs, although they did inch a little closer this season. I guess that transcontinental flight did hurt.
Indianapolis Colts 10-4 (+3.5) @ Dallas Cowboys 10-4 (55.5): Colts 28-24 Cowboys 42-7
Sunday, 4:25 PM, AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The afternoon games haven’t disappointed on paper yet this season, and Week 16 is no exception. Perhaps the game of the week, the Colts come into Dallas looking to secure a high seed in the AFC, having wrapped up the putrid AFC South last week, and the Cowboys, experiencing their best season in years, are simply fighting for their playoff lives. If the Cowboys win and the Eagles lose, the Cowboys win the NFC East for the first time in memory. The problem is the Cowboys have a losing record at home. Yes, at home. The Cowboys are 3-4 at AT&T Stadium, more like “America’s Stadium”, while the Colts are 4-2. The real issue is the Cowboys, who never seem to live up to the biggest moments when they matter most. Here’s one of those moments.
Boy did I get this game wrong. Congrats to the Cowboys, NFC East Champions. I can’t wait to watch them in the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks 10-4 (-8) @ Arizona Cardinals 11-3 (37): Seahawks 21-17 Seahawks 35-6
Sunday, 8:30 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ (Weather: Sunny, mid-50s)
Reasons: This is the perfect opportunity for the Cardinals to prove they belong, to win the NFC West, and secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Good luck. The Seahawks have gone from 6-4 and questionable to 10-4, in complete control, and back to being the leagues top defense - in six weeks. Ok, the second-ranked defense at 17.3 ppg (DET allows 17.0 ppg). Guess who’s 3rd? The Arizona Cardinals…at 17.4 ppg. That’s right, this matchup not only features the two top teams in the NFC West, they’re also the two top teams in the NFC – and the second- and third-ranked defenses in the league, separated by 0.1 ppg allowed. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they face the Seahawks at the wrong time, no matter how terrible Wilson and the Seahawks passing game is.
I guess Bruce Arians found out who the better defense was. Does anyone want to face the Seahawks in the playoffs? Doubtful, but the Patriots won’t mind facing them in the Super Bowl.
Denver Broncos 11-3 (-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals 9-4-1 (47.5): Broncos 28-24 Bengals 37-28
Monday, 8:30 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: 50% rain; low 40s)
Reasons: Apparently Peyton Manning is hobbled and people are concerned. Know who isn’t concern? Me. The Bengals are all talk, especially when it comes to prime time games, and it doesn’t get anymore prime time then this. The Broncos are looking to keep pace with the Patriots and secure a top seed; the Bengals are holding on to the AFC North for dear life, and have the Ravens and Steelers breathing down their neck. No matter this game is at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals almost have no shot considering the circumstances.
Peyton Manning threw four INTs and essentially threw the Broncos out of home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That means Denver might have to travel to New England in January, and if Manning’s bad weather performance is any indication, they’re in trouble. The Bengals, on the other hand, silenced the critics and performed in prime time, winning the NFC North and possibly securing a first round bye.
Check back Sunday for Week 17: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) at ProFootballMedia.com!