Week 16 Matchup Predictions
Falcons (12-2) @ Lions (4-10): The Falcons are riding high after a dominant win over the Giants, while the Lions are feeling like they hit rock bottom, recently losing to the Cardinals, who had previously lost nine straight games. The Falcons have already locked up the NFC South, and need just one more win to clinch the best record in the NFC - they'll get that win this week.
Falcons win 31-24.
Saints (6-8) @ Cowboys (8-6): The Cowboys have had a pretty un-Cowboy-like month of December, winning all three of their games this month. They've won five of their last six games, the past two coming against some strong AFC North playoff hopefuls. This week, they'll have their hands full with the Saints, who just smacked around a pretty solid Buccaneers' team 41-0. However, the Saints will now have to head out on the road, where they always have a tougher time putting up points, and the Cowboys have surprisingly been playing with a sense of urgency as of late.
Cowboys win 31-28.
Titans (5-9) @ Packers (10-4): The Titans are coming off a nice home win over the Jets, but that isn't saying much considering many are calling that game the most embarrassing moment in the history of Jets football. The Packers are coming off another great game against the Chicago Bears, have clinched the NFC North, and will be fighting for a first round bye with the 49ers. They've won eight of their last nine games, and the Titans - who haven't beaten a team with a winning record all season - are not going to slow down Aaron Rodgers and company.
Packers win 35-17.
Colts (9-5) @ Chiefs (2-12): A win for the Colts locks them into the playoffs, while a win for the Chiefs... gets them a worse draft pick? The biggest issue with the Colts is their turnover margin, but the Chiefs are one of the only teams in the league with a lower number in that category. Andrew Luck can put points up on the board, while Brady Quinn - or whoever the Chiefs put behind center - can not.
Colts win 27-14.
Bills (5-9) @ Dolphins (6-8): Both of these teams are essentially playing for pride, but one player in particular is playing for a bit more - Ryan Fitzpatrick. With Bills' GM Buddy Nix recently stating that now is the time to pick a quarterback high in the draft, Fitzpatrick is going to want to play his best for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, he'll be facing a Dolphins' defense that - despite being ranked 26th against the pass - gives up the 6th least points in the league. Over the past four weeks, Miami has smoked the Jaguars, played tight with the Patriots and 49ers, and topped the Seahawks. The Bills beat the Dolphins in Buffalo by five earlier this season, but I say the tables turn this week.
Dolphins win 21-17.
Chargers (5-9) @ Jets (6-8): Mark Sanchez is finally benched! No more butt fumbles! We finally get to see Tim Te... Greg McElroy? The Jets may have taken a step forward by admitting that Mark Sanchez is not the answer, but a 7th round draft pick who has seen action in only one game during his two years in the league is not the answer either. The Chargers' defense can bottle up the run, which will force McElroy to win this one with his arm, and I don't think he's ready to outgun Philip Rivers.
Chargers win 20-13.
Redskins (8-6) @ Eagles (4-10): Robert Griffin III will almost definitely be returning to action this week, which is bad news for any Eagles fans hoping to squeeze out a pride-boosting win against a divisional opponent. The Eagles give up big chunks of yards at a time in the passing game, so I expect RG3 to have one of his "15 passes for 200 yard" type games. Despite Michael Vick being benched, the Eagles still turn over the ball too much, and they've forced only two turnovers over their past six games.
Redskins win 31-20.
Bengals (8-6) @ Steelers (7-7): The Steelers playoff hopes come down to this game, and you better bet that head coach Mike Tomlin has his boys absolutely fired up for this divisional matchup. Ben Roethlisberger has been playing well since returning from injury, but has yet to get a win since getting back on the field. I think the time is now for the former Super Bowl champion to step up and get his team this big win at home. The Steelers' defense suffocated the Bengals earlier this season, holding them to only 185 yards of total offense.
Steelers win 27-20.
Rams (6-7-1) @ Buccaneers (6-8): The Bucs were just demoralized by the Saints in New Orleans last week, while the Rams were demoralized by Adrian Peterson on their home turf. The Bucs' boast the top ranked run defense in the NFL, so Sam Bradford will likely have to chuck the ball around to win this game for the Rams. Unfortunately, the Rams are 3-5-1 when Bradford throws the ball more than 30 times. The Rams are 2-4 when they run for less than 100 yards (4-3-1 when they top 100), and they'll have a tough time reaching the century mark this week.
Buccaneers win 30-20.
Patriots (10-4) @ Jaguars (2-12): This shouldn't take much explanation. The Patriots have the top ranked offense in both total and scoring, and are top three in both giveaways and takeaways. The Jaguars are ranked 31st in both total and scoring offense, and are ranked dead last in defending the run. In addition, it's Tom Brady vs. Chad Henne.
Patriots win 35-13.
Vikings (8-6) @ Texans (12-2): If the Texans win this week, they'll have the top seed locked up in the AFC. However, they'll be hosting a very feisty Vikings team that is pushing for the playoffs, and just so happens to feature a popular MVP candidate in Adrian Peterson. Facing the 7th ranked defense that forces the 5th most turnovers in the league, I think too much of this game will be Adrian Peterson's burden, and he won't be able to beat a team as good as the Texans all on his own.
Texans win 27-20.
Browns (5-9) @ Broncos (11-3): Most people just assume that the Browns are a joke year in and year out, but they actually have not terrible this season. Previous to last week, they had won three in a row, and have lost some tight games to some good teams (Cowboys by three, Colts by four). However, they just let Kirk Cousins and the Redskins hang 38 points on them, and now they're heading to Denver to take on MVP candidate Peyton Manning.
Broncos win 31-17.
Bears (8-6) @ Cardinals (5-9): The Cardinals did it! They won a game! They broke their nine game losing streak! But they'll get another losing streak started this week when they face a Bears team that will be putting up their toughest fight to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Cardinals beat the Lions last week thanks two a couple defensive touchdowns and two other turnovers, but I expect the Bears to be more careful with the ball than the Lions were. In addition, the Cardinals' offense will be completely stymied by the Bears' 3rd ranked scoring defense.
Bears win 27-14.
Giants (8-6) @ Ravens (9-5): This is an interesting matchup, as both teams seem as if they could easily win or lose any game at any time. I like Eli to bounce back in this game and play at his best with his team in a must-win situation, while Joe Flacco will show us his bad side when dealing with a Giants' defense that forces the 3rd most turnovers in the NFL.
Giants win 27-21.
49ers (10-3-1) @ Seahawks (9-5): The Seahawks may be the first team since 1950 to score 50+ points in two straight games, but their streak will stop there, as they'll be facing the 49ers' top ranked scoring defense. Colin Kaepernick proved to us last week that he can get a win in the face of a barrage from Tom Brady and the Patriot offense, and he won't have to put up quite as many points this week against the Seahawks' 11th ranked scoring offense. The Niners are in a fight for a first round bye in the NFC, and they'll be fired up to take down a division opponent this week.
49ers win 24-20.