NFL Week 16 Predictions

Week 15 was a rough week for predictions, as I went just 7-9. Let’s try to improve this week with so many important matchups!

Redskins (7-7) at Titans (8-6) Saturday

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Photo Cred: redskins.com

We one again have football on Saturday. Therefore, our week of football will start with two teams competing for the playoffs. Both the Redskins and Titans are currently on the outside of the playoff picture in their respective conferences, and neither team can afford to lose another game. It’s safe to say that both teams will play with a lot of fight in this game, so it should be very close. Still, the Titans will pull away with a tight victory. Tennessee has looked like a completely different team these last two weeks, establishing themselves as a run-first team centered around running back Derrick Henry. Assuming to continue to rely on Henry, they should continue their success against a Washington front seven that has struggled at times this season. They also have one the league’s most underrated secondaries, who should feast on Josh Johnson, who is making just his second start since 2011. Beating the Jaguars in a close game is one thing, but the Titans may very well be a playoff time, and they’ll show why this week with a big win. Prediction: Redskins 17 Titans 19

Ravens (8-6) at Chargers (11-3)

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Photo Cred: NBC Sports

On the last of the two Saturday games, the Ravens will head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers in a crucial matchup. The Chargers could take over the AFC West and the #1 seed with a win and a Chiefs loss, while Baltimore needs to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. This will be a test for Lamar Jackson. The rookie quarterback will face a defense ranked in the top half of the league, and this will be his first ever primetime game. Baltimore doesn’t have to rely on him thanks to their defense and the running attack that Jackson created with his dual-threat ability, but they’ll still need to him to step up in order to beat arguably the best team in the NFL. Jackson also have been careless at times with the ball this season (9 total fumbles, three interceptions), which isn’t exactly a formula to take down Phillip Rivers. Speaking of Rivers, he’s been stellar lately leading one of the league’s most explosive offenses. Baltimore allowed 27 points to an equally explosive Chiefs offense, but unlike the Chiefs, the Chargers have a strong defense. This will be an extremely close game, but I’ll take the more experienced quarterback in Rivers over a turnover-prone rookie quarterback in Jackson. Prediction: Ravens 21 Chargers 23

Texans (10-4) at Eagles (7-7)

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Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Are the Texans being disrespected, or are the Eagles actually back? Despite having a significantly better record, Houston is an underdog at Philadelphia this week. The Eagles did just upset the Rams last week with Nick Foles back under center, but I expect them to take a step back this week. Part of Philadelphia’s success last week was because the Rams didn’t expect for them to regain their mojo from last year just with Foles back, but now they’ll have a target on their backs. The Texans are hungry, looking to secure a first round bye, and will be able to match Philadelphia’s fire and energy in a way the Rams couldn’t. Folks may have had success last week, but he did so behind a solid rushing attack. Houston ranks 4th against the run, so Foles won’t be able to rely on his running backs this week. Foles may be able to move the ball against the Texans’ 26th ranked pass defense, but the same can be said with Deshaun Watson against the 31st ranked pass defense. Philadelphia is vulnerable to big plays, while Houston is at it’s best with big plays down the field. This is a tough pick to make, but I trust the star-studded Texans a little more than the Eagles to pick up a critical victory. Prediction: Texans 24 Eagles 23

Packers (5-8-1) at Jets (4-10)

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Photo Cred: foxsports.com

In one of the few games this week without playoff implications, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will look to prevent going 0-8 on the road this season, while Sam Darnold will look to lead the Jets to a win in their final home game. Green Bay may be 5-8-1, but I’m still convinced they are nowhere near as bad as their record would indicate. In fact, they have a positive point differential this season. Meanwhile, the Jets are a bad football team, as shown by their negative 4.8 point differential. Furthermore, Aaron Rodgers is still a tremendous quarterback, while Sam Darnold has been turnover prone despite his strong outing last week. The reasoning for this prediction as simple as it seems, I’ll take the better team and the better quarterback in a game that neither team has anything to play for. Prediction: Packers 26 Jets 23

Bills (5-9) at Patriots (9-5)

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Photo Cred: Sporting News

Who would’ve guessed that by Week 16, the Patriots would have still not clinched a playoff berth? As a result of a two-game skid, New England still hasn’t clinched the AFC East, but that will almost certainly change this week. Josh Allen and is ability to use his legs make him exciting, but do we really think Bill Belichick is going to let a rookie  quarterback with a 52.2% completion percentage come into Foxborough in a game they have to win? Buffalo’s defense will be able to hold New England’s offense, but it doesn’t matter. Allen’s likely struggles on the road and his issue with turnovers will give the Patriots lots of opportunities with short field, and we know very well that the Patriots do not waste opportunities. The Bills have never beaten Tom Brady on the road, and there’s no reason to think that will change with a rookie quarterback that may still be too reliant on his legs. It may have taken longer than issue, but the Patriots will finally stamp their ticket to the playoffs once again. Prediction: Bills 17 Patriots 26

Vikings (7-6-1) at Lions (5-9)

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Photo Cred: freep.com

In Week 9 this week, the Vikings sacked Matthew Stafford tens times. Stafford is likely still having nightmares about that game, and this game could be ugly for him as well. Stafford’s supporting cast is even more depleted than it was then without his top receiver in Marvin Jones Jr. and his running back in Kerryon Johnson. In fact, it’s hard to imagine how the Lions, who have failed to put up 20 points in four straight games, doing so this game. They may do so with garbage time points, which will be reflected in my final score prediction, but they’ll struggle to move consistently against this stellar Vikings defense that ranks 4th in yards allowed. Minnesota’s offense looked rejuvenated last week with new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who installed offensive balance in the Vikings’ game plan. That offensive balance will likely allow the Minnesota to have more success winning road games. The Vikings need to win this game in order to keep hold of a wildcard spot, and I don’t expect them to blow it against a putrid and stale Lions team. Prediction: Vikings 23 Lions 20

Buccaneers (5-9) at Cowboys (8-6)

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Photo Cred: tampabay.com

What happened to the Cowboys? After winning five straight, Dallas was shut out by the Colts in a blowout 23-0 loss. Back at home this week, they’ll get back on track against the Bucs, who just seem to be counting the days until this season is over. Home field advantage may play a big role in this game. Dallas is 6-1 at home this season, while Tampa Bay has six consecutive games on the road after winning at New Orleans in week one. More important, however, is the wide talent gap between this two teams. Tampa bay’s defense is a mess, ranking 27th in pass defense and run defense. Expect Ezekiel Elliot to have a huge game, while Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper also have fields. 30+ points seems very reasonable for the Cowboys this week, which is more than enough for their stout defense, who will going up against a Buccaneers offense that is inconsistent, turnover prone, and struggles to run the football. These two teams are currently on two different worlds, and I expect this game to be decided by at least two scores, if not more. Prediction: Bucs 21 Cowboys 31

Bengals (6-8) at Browns (6-7-1)

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Photo Cred: bengalswire.usatoday.com

Are the Browns seriously favored by double digits? As 10 point favorites at home against the Bengals this week, Cleveland is favored by double digits for the first time since 2007. That  spread may be too much for the Browns to cover against a divisional opponent, they should have no trouble coming away with another win. Cleveland has won four of their last five, and have been efficient on both sides of the football. Baker Mayfield has justified being the number one overall pick in last year’s draft, and between him and rookie Nick Chubb, the Browns should have no trouble scoring against a Bengals defense that ranks 29th in both pass defense and rush defense. Cleveland’s defense may struggle at times, but they do a good job forcing turnovers. The Browns are the better team on both sides of the football, and was at one point leading 28-0 when these two teams met earlier. In what has been an improbable season for Cleveland, they’ll continue to reward their fans for all of the previous rough seasons with a terrific performance in their last home game of the season. Prediction: Bengals 24 Browns 30

Falcons (5-9) at Panthers (6-8)

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Photo Cred: Yahoo Sports

Coming into the season, this Week 16 matchup between the Falcons and Panthers looked to be one that would likely come with playoff implications. That is not the case. Carolina is still mathematically alive, but Cam Newton is out for the rest of their season as he rests his shoulder, while they’d have to surpass several teams in improbable fashion to make it to the postseason even if they win out. As for the Falcons, their inconsistency on both sides of the balls in addition to their injury issues has made this an extremely long season for them. Still, someone has to win. Newton may be out, but Carolina should still be able to finally get back into the win column to end what is currently a six-game losing streak. Taylor Heinicke has only thrown five career passes, but Newton had been awful throughout this losing streak due to his shoulder issues, so this is not a significant downgrade. Plus, they’ll be able to rely on Christian McCaffrey as well as DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel in the short passing game to make life easier for Heinicke. Plus, going up against an Atlanta defense that ranks near the bottom in a lot of categories will also make life easier for him. The Panthers are also 5-2 at home this season, while the Falcons are just 1-5 on the road and are only averaging just 20 points a game away from home. It’s hard to trust either team, but I’ll take a Carolina team that plays well at home, has the significantly better defense, and is nowhere near as bad as their record. It may be too late, but the Panthers will finally come away with a victory. Prediction: Falcons 24 Panthers 28

Jaguars (4-10) at Dolphins (7-7)

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Photo Cred: arizonasports.com

In a battle of Florida teams, the somehow 7-7 Dolphins will look to keep their playoff teams against a Jaguars team that looked like it quit two months ago. Despite being in the bottom of almost every possible statistical category and having a negative 5.6 point differential, Miami has somehow found ways to win, especially at home. They’re 6-1 at home this season, including wins against the Bears and Patriots. It’s safe to say that they are a tough team to beat in their home stadium, and it’s not like these Jaguars are a threat. Jacksonville is averaging just 16.1 points per game, and Cody Kessler and his 76 passer rating has actually made the Jags worse offensively than they were with Blake Bortles. Furthermore, the Dolphins have been amongst the league’s best at forcing turnovers, while the Jags have given the ball away more than most of the teams in the NFL. I expect a high-spirited Dolphins team to find yet another way to win, taking advantage of Jacksonville’s mistakes to possibly keep their playoff hopes alive into Week 17. Prediction: Jags 17 Dolphins 20

Giants (5-9) at Colts (8-6)

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Photo Cred: indystar.com

Last week, the Giants and Colts had completly opposite weeks. While New York was shut out by the Titans, Indianapolis shut out the Cowboys. In fact, the Giants and Colts have had completly opposite seasons. New York is 5-9 despite being a dark horse Super Bowl pick at the beginning of the season, while Indianapolis is in the playoff hunt despite being expected to win no more than four games by most experts. It’s a classic battle between the overachievers and the underachievers, and the overachieving Colts should be able to overwhelm the Giants. Behind Andrew Luck, Indianapolis had one of the best offenses. Marlon Mack was able to run for 139 yards against a stout Cowboys front seven, so one could only imagine the damage he could do to a New York defense that ranks 28th in the league. Plus, Luck will have all day to throw, as the Giants rank 30th in sacks. With all day to throw and with Mack running wild, Luck will be able to pick apart this secondary. Meanwhile, the Colts front seven is coming off of a dominating performance, and they’ll likely pressure Eli Manning often going against an offensive line has given up 46 sacks (T-4th most) this season. Without Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants aren’t the same team. If Indianapolis is able to shut down New York’s offense, which it will, there’s going to be no issue winning this game with Luck under center. The Colts are the better team on both sides of the ball, and are the ones playing for something behind their home fans, and they’ll coast to a huge, blowout victory as a result. Prediction: Giants 16 Colts 26

Bears (10-4) at 49ers (4-10)

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Photo Cred: bearswire.usatoday.com

The Bears have done it. They’ve won the NFC North for the first time since 2010, and are still in the running to secure a first round bye. With the division wrapped up, can Chicago stay focused? It’s a legitimate question to ask, especially considering they are going up against a 49ers team that has a winning record at home and just beat the playoff-caliber Seahawks. San Francisco has given it all they’ve got recently under head coach Kyle Shanahan, but it won’t be enough to beat these Bears. Shanahan may be a genius, but there’s almost no way a team with Nick Mullens at quarterback can win against this Chicago defense, and that’s more of an acknowledgment of how dominant this defense is rather than an indictment on Mullins. San Francisco has struggled to protect whoever is under center for them this season; they’ve allowed 44 sacks, tied for 7th most in the NFL. They’re in for a long day against a Khalil Mack and a stellar Bears pass rush that is tied for fourth in sacks. Moreover, the 49ers have the league’s worst turnover differential, while Chicago has the league’s best turnover differential. If that trends continue this game, and the Bears win the turnover battle, than San Francisco has no chance winning this game. A slow start in the always rough west coast trip can be expected, but it can also be expected for Chicago to take complete control of this game one way or another. Prediction: Bears 27 49ers 22

Rams (11-3) at Cardinals (3-11)

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Photo Cred: revengeofthebirds.com

Currently on a two-game losing streak, the Rams will certainly be eager to get back on track sooner rather than later. Luckily for Los Angeles, they’ll try to do so against a Cardinals team that just lost by 26 to a Falcons team that entered that game with a 4-9 record. Los Angeles can be vulnerable on defense occasionally, but there’s no way an Arizona offense that ranks last in passing yards, rushing yards, and points per game will be able to take advantage. As for the Rams offense, it’s unclear if  the injured Todd Gurley will suit up for this game, but it may not matter. Arizona ranks 30th against the run this season, and just allowed Atlanta to run for over 200 yards despite the fact they came in to that game ranked last in rushing yards. If Los Angeles can run the ball effectively, that will take the pressure off of the struggling Jared Goff, who has been forced to throw the ball way too often. This is exactly what the Rams need- a tune up game against an inferior opponent. This seems like the type of game where Los Angeles breaks through on both sides of the football, as well as the type of game that is decided by halftime. Prediction: Rams 35 Cardinals 19

Steelers (8-5-1) at Saints (12-2)

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Photo Cred: triblive.com

In this matchup between the Steelers and Saints,  Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees will face off for probably the last time in their careers. This game may be in New Orleans, but Roethlisberger will steal the show this week. With two 1,000 yard receivers in Antonio Brown and Juju Smith Schuster, it’s no surprise Roethlisberger and the Steelers have the league’s third ranked pass offense. Against a weak New Orleans secondary that ranks 28th against the pass, Pittsburgh will be able to move the ball down the field with ease all game long. On the other side of the ball, the Saints need their running game to get going to succeed offensively. Unfortunately for them, the Steelers ranked 6th defending the run, and Drew Brees’ struggles in recent weeks show that he cannot carry the load. Roethlisberger and the Steelers will come away with a big road victory as a result. Prediction: Steelers 30 Saints 27

Chiefs (11-3) at Seahawks (8-6) SNF

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Photo Cred; seattletimes.com

On Sunday Night Football, the Chiefs and Seahawks will face off in Seattle in what may be the game of the week. Both teams are coming off of rough, close losses, and need to get back on track this week. So who will indeed get back on track? They may be the underdog, but I firmly believe Seattle will win this game. The Seahawks have the formula to beat even the league’s most explosive offenses. They have the league’s best rushing attack, and rank amongst the league’s best in time of possession. This is a perfect match for Kansas City, who struggles to defend the run and will need Patrick Mahomes to get settle in a tough environment to play in. If Seattle is able to limit Mahomes’ opportunities, it will force him to try to make the most of them when he gets it. That’s where turnovers happen, something Mahomes has had trouble avoiding at times this season. Meanwhile, the Seahawks rarely ever turn the ball over, as Russell Wilson does a tremendous job taking care off the ball. In picking the Seahawks, I’m taking the home team with the more experienced quarterback who will likely win both the time of possesion battle and the turnover battle. They’re technically underdogs, but the Seahawks should be expected to win this game, especially considering they are 16-2 in primetime at home under Pete Carroll. Prediction: Chiefs 24 Seahawks 27

Broncos (6-8) at Raiders (3-11)

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Photo Cred: broncoswire.usatoday.com

If you were hoping to wrap up your Christmas Eve with a Monday Night Football game with playoff implications, then you’ll likely be disappointed with this matchup between the Broncos and Raiders. Still, this is a classic AFC West matchup in a game that should be competitive, and is one that is hard to predict. The Broncos haven’t the same team since losing Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders, but they’re still more than capable of beating a Raiders team that just lost by 14 to a Jeff Driskel led Bengals team. Denver has a couple of key attributes going into their favor. Their rushing attack led by Phillip Lindsay has been unstoppable at times, and they’ll likely dominate against an Oakland defense that ranks dead last in rush defense. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have struggled mightily to protect Derek Carr all season long, and they’re facing a lethal Broncos pass rush led by Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb. Additionally, Denver has one of the league’s best turnover differentials at +9, while Oakland has struggled with both giveaways and takeaways (-6). The Broncos, although depleted, are still the better team and will come away with a primetime win on the road against a divisional rival. Prediction: Broncos 24 Raiders 20

 

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