2017 NFL SEASON
C H R I S T M A S E D I T I O N
Week 16: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 16 results: 13-3 wins (season*: 141-72; .662); 4-11-1 v. spread (season*: 95-113-5; .446)
Saturday, 4:30 PM, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (Weather: Rain; high 50s)
Reasons: The Colts have nothing but pride to play for Saturday, while the Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot. Fighting is a strange word considering the Ravens are still one of the ten best teams in the NFL in several important metrics, on both sides of the ball no less, but such is life in the NFC North against the like of the Pittsburgh Steelers every year. The Ravens should cruise in the mud and pouring rain Saturday, but I’m not sure if anyone is winning by two touchdowns in the weather that’s predicted.
I told you not to take the points.
Minnesota Vikings 11-3 (-9) @ Green Bay Packers 7-7 (41): Vikings 20-14 Vikings 16-0
Reasons: Well, the Aaron Rodgers experiment failed, albeit barely, and now the Packers are left playing spoiler against their long-time division rival, or better put, long-time division enemy. The Vikings are playing for a top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and what better way to end the season without a playoff run than ruining a hated rival’s chances of doing anything special in their own playoff run? That’s what the season has come down to for Green Bay, as the most exciting thing happening these days in Lambeau is a disgruntled food vendor smashing into other employee’s cars in the team parking lot.
Blatant defensive pass interference wasn’t called on towards the end of the 4th quarter and the Vikings managed to secure their first shutout since 1993. It was clearly DPI, and Green Bay would certainly have kicked a spiteful field goal, but it was more fun to see the Packers eat crow for their terrible handling of Aaron Rodgers in the IR situation. It was also very cold.
Cleveland Browns 0-14 (+6.5) @ Chicago Bears 4-10 (38): Bears 21-16 Bears 20-3
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: 80% snow; mid-20s)
Reasons: 4-10 doesn’t really sound too much better than 0-14, especially considering the latter gains the top draft pick with their continued ineptitude. Then again, that hasn’t really worked out for the Browns, either. This is the most forgettable game of the weekend, as it’s one of the few games that don’t have any playoff implications.
Myles Garrett scored a defensive touchdown to give the Browns a glimpse of the future, which continued when the touchdown was called back because of a penalty. Cleveland secured the No. 1 pick in 2018’s draft and not a single person cares.
Detroit Lions 8-6 (-4) @ Cincinnati Bengals 5-9 (44): Bengals 23-20 Bengals 26-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Wintry mix; mid-30s)
Reasons: The Lions are fighting for their playoff lives Sunday, and might need a Christmas miracle considering Detroit’s entire offensive line seems questionable, the only thing attractive about Cincinnati is their defensive front, and the Lions are a dome team about to play in snow and freezing rain. Regardless, they’re playing the Bengals, certainly one of the more disappointing teams in the NFL in 2017.
The Detroit Lions are a disappointing bunch.
Los Angeles Rams 10-4 (-6.5) @ Tennessee Titans 8-6 (47.5): Rams 27-20 Rams 27-23
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN (Weather: Chance rain; mid-40s)
Reasons: It might rain, which the Rams aren’t used to, but that’s about the only thing that’s going to stop the Rams Sunday. The Rams are scoring more than 31 ppg and holding opponents to fewer than 20 ppg, while the Titans, despite a winning record, have actually given up nearly two more per game than they score. The Rams have a chance to wrap up the NFC West, although the Titans are still fighting for their playoff lives, too. I don’t see a Titans team that has lost to the Cardinals and 49ers in consecutive weeks beating a Rams team that owns that very division.
Road wins are important no matter how terrible your opponent is and the Titans aren’t even terrible. They’re just one of the biggest underachievers in the NFL.
Miami Dolphins 6-8 (+10.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs 8-6 (43.5): Chiefs 28-20 Chiefs 29-13
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, KS (Weather: Clear; low 30s)
Reasons: The Chiefs are in control of their own destiny, which is saying something for a team that started the season 5-0 and then subsequently lost six of their next nine games. The Dolphins are holding on to their playoff hopes for dear life, with Jay Cutler at the wheel, so if I’m the Chiefs at home in Arrowhead I like my chances.
The Chiefs seem to have found their ground again just as the rest of the AFC West fades away. AFC West Fade Away…dud…duh. Sounds like a Grateful Dead song.
Buffalo Bills 8-6 (+12) @ New England Patriots 11-3 (47): Patriots 27-21 Patriots 37-16
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: Cloudy; high 30s)
Reasons: The Bills haven’t made the playoffs in 17 years, but they have a chance this season, so of course Buffalo travels to New England in Week 16 to take on the team that has owned them at Gillette Stadium almost as long as the Bills have been in their playoff drought. The Patriots are coming off a two-game stretch where they lost a game (Miami) and then miraculously won a game (Pittsburgh), so on one hand you might think they’re vulnerable, but the smart money says the Patriots will take that miracle, button up, and prepare to get on track as the playoffs near.
The whole country outside of New England was as furious after two controversial calls similar to the right call the officials made in Pittsburgh the week before, and took two touchdowns away from Buffalo. Then New England crushed them, the city of Buffalo’s playoffs hopes and the nationwide Patriots Haters Ball with a final touchdown that would have negated any tomfoolery anyway. Imagine how upset everyone will be in February.
Atlanta Falcons 9-5 (+5.5) @ New Orleans Saints 10-4 (52.5): Saints 27-24 Saints 23-13
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Superdome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Falcons just beat the Saints 20-17 two weeks ago, and as Atlanta gave the Saints their second loss in three weeks, after New Orleans had won eight straight games, I had a feeling Drew Brees and the Saints would be circling this game at home to get revenge on their division rivals. New Orleans doesn’t have a choice, as Atlanta has the tiebreaker advantage over the Saints, and the Carolina Panthers are right there at 10-4 as well. The last time the NFC South was so dominant it was all the way back in 2010 when the division had three teams with 10 or more wins. The NFC sent the Tampa Buccaneers packing with a 10-6 record that year, and the same thing could happen to the Saints, Falcons or Panthers this year; or all three could make the playoffs.
Well, Atlanta squandered that chance.
Los Angeles Chargers 7-7 (-7) @ New York Jets 5-9 (42.5): Chargers 23-17 Chargers 14-7
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Sunny; low 40s)
Reasons: The Chargers defense is no joke and the Jets offense is one, so considering Los Angeles has to win or they’re out of the playoffs it’s a pretty safe bet the Chargers take care of business. However, there’s that little matter of Los Angeles traveling to New York to play a game at what seems like 9AM to them, but I imagine Phillip Rivers will bounce back from one of his worst outings of the season and keep the Chargers alive.
Does anyone else wonder if Bryce Petty is actually petty?
Denver Broncos 5-9 (+3.5) @ Washington Football Team 6-8 (40.5): Washington 23-21 Washington 27-11
Sunday, 1:00 PM, FedEx Field, Landover, MD (Weather: Cloudy; mid-40s)
Reasons: The Broncos have a nice little two-game winning streak going, but it’s too little too late for Denver. It’s over for Washington, too, and the interesting thing will be what Washington does with Kirk Cousins, who will likely eclipse 4,000 yards passing (although that number is inflated in the modern NFL), and could end up with 30 passing TDs and probably a 2.5:1 TD:INT ratio. That’s pretty good, but what has it really done for Washington? Attrition aside, once again Cousins contract status will dominate the off-season and by the end of all of it Washington might end up paying him more than they would have for a three-year contract three years ago. Denver has a lot to think about, too.
“You like that? Again?!” – Kirk Cousins, probably, after throwing three touchdowns in his final home game against the skeleton of a formerly great defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-10 (+10) @ Carolina Panthers 10-4 (46.5): Panthers 24-17 Panthers 22-19
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC (Weather: Cloudy; low 50s)
Reasons: What an awful year for Tampa Bay. A team with high hopes heading into the season, the Buccaneers faced adversity right out of the gate with Hurricane Irma postponing their first game, which erased the team’s bye week, and then things just worse from there. From PED suspensions, to conduct suspensions, to Jameis Winston being benched at times, to serious injuries 2017 was not the Buccaneers year (place political joke here). The Panthers have dealt with their own adversity all year, too, but have channeled that adversity into another potentially long playoff run.
It wasn’t easy but the Panthers came way with the win after a major scare against a desperate Buccaneers team…or should I say a desperate Jameis Winston. After the game the Panthers made their team much less likable chanting for team owner Jerry Richardson in the wake of racism and sexual misconduct allegations. Not a good look for a team about to stay in the headlines through the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars 10-4 (-4) @ San Francisco 49ers 4-10 (42): Jaguars 27-20 49ers 44-33
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, CA (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)
Reasons: The 49ers have won two straight games, and three of their last four, and newly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is 5-0 in the NFL as a starter, but I still don’t understand how Jacksonville is only favored by four points. I suppose being on the road and playing a transcontinental game is good for four points, but that’s about where it ends, because I’d expect the Jaguars to be favored by at least a touchdown. Both teams may be hot, but only the Jaguars have the top defense in the NFL and a top-five offense that scores nearly 27 ppg, and the Jaguars just beat the only team that has beaten San Francisco in the last month (Seattle).
Jimmy Effing Garoppolo.
Seattle Seahawks 8-6 (+5) @ Dallas Cowboys 8-6 (47.5): Cowboys 24-23 Seahawks 21-12
Sunday, 4:25 PM, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: Ezekiel Elliot is back and just in time to face a Seahawks defense that is suddenly vulnerable, having given up an average of 36 ppg over their past two games, although Seattle faced two of the best offenses in the NFL (LAR; JAX) in that stretch and have been dealing with serious injuries. Still, it’s hard to think Elliot isn’t going to come out of the gate roaring, and the statistics backing Dak Prescott’s improved play with Elliot in the backfield are well documented. It’s hard to believe both teams were potential Super Bowl contenders at the start of the season (Elliot’s suspension being an obvious obstacle), and now neither team has any room for error, as a loss would eliminate either from playoff contention. You know what the NFL stands for, right? Not For Long.
Looks like Ezekiel Elliot owes Erik Dickerson a game jersey, and it looks like Erik Dickerson will never get another scoop on Ezekiel Elliot ever again.
New York Giants 2-12 (+3.5) @ Arizona Cardinals 6-8 (40): Cardinals 21-20 Cardinals 23-0
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Giants could theoretically end up tied for the worst record in the NFL. That’s quite a fall from 11-5 last year, especially considering the Giants only got better on paper heading into this season, if not by additions certainly by the previous years experience. Such was not the case and New York’s fall seemed to come from atop the Empire State Building. The Cardinals season wasn’t much better as they lost their star running back David Johnson early in the year and then lost quarterback Carson Palmer for the season about midway through.
Statistically the game was about as even as it could get. Scoreboard-ly it reflected the Giants season. To make matters worse, Ei Apple was called a “cancer” by Landon Collins, which basically means both Eli’s have been shunned by the franchise in some form, one being a Manning Royal and the other being New York’s first round draft pick from this year. All is not good in Gotham.
Pittsburgh Steelers 11-3 (-9.5) @ Houston Texans 4-10 (45): Steelers 27-20 Steelers 36-7
Christmas, 4:30 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: Unless the Steelers are still pining over their loss to the New England Patriots last week by 4:30 Christmas Day, which I wouldn’t be surprised to hear, the Texans have no shot. Even without Antonio Brown the Steelers have so many weapons on offense, and the defense, although shaky since the loss of linebacker Ryan Shazier, only has one weapon to worry about on the Texans side: DeAndre Hopkins. Houston is another team that had high hopes heading into the 2017 season, but attrition took away their best players, and here we are.
The Texans were who we thought they were.
Oakland Raiders 6-8 (+9) @ Philadelphia Eagles 12-2 (47.5): Eagles 28-21 Eagles 19-10
Christmas, 8:30 PM, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA (Weather: Sunny; high 30s)
Reasons: How could we mention disappointing seasons without mentioning the Raiders? The team everyone thought might challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC won’t even make the playoffs. What’s worse is Oakland’s offense, stacked from the offensive line to the wide outs, has averaged a measly 20 ppg this season. It’s been the opposite kind of season for the Eagles, who lost their star quarterback to a season-ending knee injury and haven’t seemed to skip a beat. The Eagles look to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC on Christmas, and I don’t think the Raiders pose much of a threat to that. Merry Christmas, Eagles fans.
The Eagles suffered a little scare in more ways than one (including one of the Nick Foles injury variety), but they ultimately won the game and secured the No. 1 seed. The Raiders secured a very disappointing season.
Stay tuned for Week 17: #NFL Game Predictions for the Games w/ Playoff Implications (w/ spreads & analysis) coming Sunday morning.
*Minus two weeks due to technical difficulties