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Who are you picking to win the week 16 games?

Posted Dec 22, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 16 games?

NFL PREDICTIONS WEEK 16

It's that time of the year again, when since the trains aren't running anyway, it's OK to wish for snow. It's also a time to gather with family and friends, as I will be doing on Talksport Christmas Eve, enjoying the early games before YOUR Jacksonville Jaggernaut game airs later. The NFL season has already separated the Christmas cakes from the Christmas turkeys, which makes this week's picks seem dangerously obvious. And we all know what happens on any given Christmas Eve Sunday when that's true. All the best holiday wishes to all of you, thanks for reading, and have a very Merry Christmas, everyone.

SATURDAY

Indianapolis (3-11) at Baltimore (8-6): The Ravens beat you by playing good D, running the ball, throwing a few Flaccos deep, getting the odd DPI call, and letting Justin Tucker, who should be in the Pro Bowl, kick field goals every time that formula doesn't work. It has been the same since the turn of the century, only Matt Stover was the QB and Trent Dilfer the QB. The Colts don't really have a formula. Pick: Ravens

Minnesota (11-3) at Green Bay (7-7): A Christmas song: “In the tundra we can build a QB/And pretend that he is Aaron R/He'll say are we winning, well we should be/But you could do the job better by far” This is the first of a few trap games this Christmas weekend, and it's tempting to think the Vikes will get caught looking past the Pack while visions of sugar plums dance in their heads. Hundley got them close wins over the Bengals and Bucs, but these are the Vikes and their D ought to beable to make things too difficult for him, while the Packers' D will struggle. Pick: Vikes

CHRISTMAS EVE:

Tampa Bay (4-10) at Carolina (10-4): Palindromic Records! Cam vs Jameis! Big let down week for the Panthers? I like the idea that they are finally integrating the parts of their offense they were hoping would mesh when they drafted McCaffrey and Samuel (well, at least McCaffrey) and let Kelvin Benjamin go. But it took the return of Greg Olson, Cam's favourite receiver, to let that happen: his threat up the middle makes life easier for Funchess, gives more space to McCaffery, and helps the run game, which is still inconsistent –absent that 60 yard TD against the Vikes by Jonathan Stewart. But that's still too much for Tampa. Pick: Panthers

Cleveland (0-14) at Chicago (4-10): The funniest rumour this week was Hue Jackson moving on to coach the Bengals. C'mon, why not John Fox? The Bears' D ought to be able to do enough to deny the Browns a win; though watch for Duke Johnson to step up if he gets the chance. Pick: Bears

Detroit (8-6) at Cincinnati (5-9): A poem: “Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through Cincinnati/not a Bengal was stirring, cause the team had gone batty/ The Brown family was nestled all tight in their beds/while visions of Hue Jackson danced in their heads/I heard Marvin exclaim/as he drew out of sight/Merry Christmas to all/and to you Hue Good Night and Good Luck.” The Bengals, if motivated in a non-suspension worthy kind of way, could give the Lions fits, but pick: Lions

Miami (6-8) at Kansas City (8-6): Palindromic records! The win over the Chargers gives KC the tiebreaker and almost certainly their division, unless Jay Cutler's evil twin decides to spent the weekend on South Beach. The switch in play-calling to Matt Nagy was a master-stroke by Andy Reid, who tends to get predictable and move away from the running core of his offense. The thing to remember about the Chiefs is they have limited talent at wide receiver (Tyreek Hill remains a hybrid, not a true X or Z) just as Reid's Eagles teams did (apart from Tyrell Owens, and look what happened that year). The Dolphins' big strength is their D line, but it hasn't generated the kind of pass rush you'd expect (apart from a bravura performance against the Pats) and I don't expect to see that this week. Pick: Chiefs

Buffalo (8-6) at New England (11-3): Stephon Gilmore/Chris Hogan/Mike Gillesee/Eric Lee Bowl! There are two things going on here. First is from the Pats' POV. Gillesee (who cost NE a 5th round pick) has been inactive for weeks; Hogan has been injured and Gilmore, to whom the Pats gave a huge deal, has not been a shut-down corner. But Lee, signed off Buffalo's practice squad a few weeks ago, has been absolutely crucial to the Pats. From the Bills' POV, Sean McDermott came in to clean house and change the Rexy atmosphere. But letting Gillesee, Marcel Dareus and Marquise Goodwin go with minimal return (Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby got reasonable returns) has proven a challenge, and to still be in playoff contention is an achievement that speaks well for the future. Better than benching Tyrod Taylor for Nate Peterman. This is a trap game for the Pats; they have trouble with mobile QBs (see Carolina's win in Foxborough) and with Rex the Wonder Dg out, they'll need Gillesee, if he gets the chance, to shine against his old team. But the Bills aren't great at pressure from the front four, which is where McDermott likes it to come, and at home, you have to think pick: Pats

Atlanta (9-5) at New Orleans (10-4): A lot of us said the NFC South would send three teams to the playoffs, and right now only their holiday round-robin can stop that happening. Next week Carolina is at Atlanta and New Orleans in Tampa, making this game real must-win territory for the Falcons. Injuries are threatening the Saints D: this week they put Kenny Vaccaro, who was the Saints' leading tackler against the Jest last week while playing with a torn groin, and linebacker AJ Klein, on IR, where they join the medical firm of Anzalone, Okafor and Breaux. Klein, the ex-Panther, was really crucial to the improvement of the D this year, and though Man'ti Teo has been decent replacing him, he lacks Klein's range and savvy. Rookie Kenny Williams and Vonn Bell will play, and big surprise Ken 'Creepy' Crawley and ROTY candidate Marshon Lattimore are both back to match up with Julio Jones, who's as usual nursing his ankle through practice. The Saints also need to get their O line healthy, because this game boils down to run games: with Devin Coleman back and Devonte Freeman coming off a 22/126 (plus 5 catches for 68 yards) game against the Bucs facing off against Mark Ingram (12/74 2TD plus 5/77 receiving) and ROTY candidate Alvin Kamara (12/44 plus 6/45 1 TD) against a tough Jets' run D. The Saints are 6-1 at home, while the Falcons are 5-2 on the road, though this is a back to back road test for them. The week's top, most fascinating, and hardest to pick game. Pick: Falcons

LA Chargers (7-7) at New York Jets (5-9): The Jets are 4-3 at home, while the Chargers are 3-4 away, and 4-3 in their away home games. Let us sing: “Away in a StubHub no fans for their team/the San Diego Chargers laid down their playoff dream/the Stars on the Jets looking down where he lay/the little Philip Rivers sacked four times that day.” Actually, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram (a true Pro Bowl snub) will be tested by Bryce Petty's ability to scramble, though the Jest run game is more of a worry for the Chargers, who were shredded by Kareem Hunt last week. It would be the Chargerist thing ever to lose this one, but pick: Chargers

LA Rams (10-4) at Tennessee (8-6): Last year I looked at the sked and said Tennessee would win the South, which they probably would've done absent the loss of Marcus Mariota to injury. This year I looked at the sked and said the Titans don't make the playoffs: a. they aren't that good and b. they have to beat the Rams and Jags, though they are at home, and they would hold the tie-break over the Jags with a win. The Rams need to be able to stuff the run (it would be tougher for them were Derrick Henry to get more carries) but Wade Phillips ought to be able to hold the Titans' receivers in check, and the Ram offense should be able to produce. Pick: Rams

Denver (5-9) at Washington (6-8): Another Cousins audition game, another one of those hard to pick parody, I mean parity, games. These teams are somewhat similar, in that pass rush is their strongest point (Miller and Kerrigan both going to the Pro Bowl) and there are big names behind the pass rushers. But offensive inconsistency has been the problem: the Skins O line has been an injury-led mess and the Browncos' QBs have been mostly ditto. A few big sacks of Capt. Kirk or a few big runs by OJA could change this around pronto, but pick: Skins

Jacksonville (10-4) at San Francisco (4-10): Palindromic Records! The Irresistible Jaggernaut meets the moveable force, the undefeated Jimmy G! And unto you in Santa Clara has come a saviour, and he is Jimmy the G, and whichever Niner fans believe in him will have a run of victories. This is one of those games where how you pick it depends partly on whether your man-crush on Jimmy G is more powerful than that newly acquired faith in Blake Bortles. Instead, put your faith in the Jags' D. Like Gnat Coombs—I told him I'd mention he did call the Jags as a playoff dark horse before the season started. There, I've said it! Much as I hate to predict the first loss of Jimmy G's career, pick: Jags

New York Giants (2-12) at Arizona (6-8): A song: “Frostee the Snowman was alive as you or me/and the Cardinals say he could laugh and play/just the same as Nkemdiche/There must have been some magic/in the Cardinal cap he found/For when they placed it on his head/he bgan to sack dance around/Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump,
look at Frostee.” Sadly, there's no snow in Phoenix, and Frostee Rucker's sack dances have been few and far between. In some ways, with injured QBs stacked up like yule logs in the treatment rooms, and management losing half the defense (that Calais Campbell hasn't been bad for the Jaggernaut has he?) Bruce Arians has managed to scrape out six wins, while the Giants, whom some of my co-hosts on Talksport radio—I'm looking at you Gnat—were talking as Super Bowl contenders have tanked. Pick: Cards

Seattle (8-6) at Dallas (8-6): As was prophesied in the Book Of Raja, Zeke Elliott has returned to lead the Cowboys to the Promised Land. He may have to do it without Tyron Smith, who is crucial, but was clearly playing at less than full strength, but the Seahawks' D gave up 241 yards rushing to the Rams' law firm of Gurley, Brown and Austin last week. Seattle is just the kind of team to enjoy playing spoiler, and much of America would consider their spoiling the Cowboys chances as an early Christmas present. But you can't always get what you want. Pick: Cowboys

CHRISTMAS DAY FOOTBALL:

Pittsburgh (11-3) at Houston (4-10): This probably looked pretty tasty back in the summer. Or after halftime of the Texans' first game. Cameron Heyward is the no-so-little boy that Santa Claus forgot, probably the most egregious Pro Bowl snub, though Chris Boswell ahead of Jason Tucker or Steven Hauschka partly made up for that. This game is a worry, in the sense that the Steelers are coming off a big and controversial loss, and if the Pats' win Sunday will have no chance at top seed, but all season Pittsburgh have played down to (and up to) the level of their competition, but c'mon. Pick: Steelers

Oakland (6-8) at Philadelphia (12-2): And there came from the west three wise men; Davis, McKenzie and Del Rio, and they brought gifts to the rest of the league, like saying, we were just an injury away last year, let's fire our coordinators. A lot of people were expecting this one to look the other way around, but Derek Carr, like Marcus Mariota, hasn't looked the same since his injury. In Carr's case we have to wonder if he actually is incapable of throwing deep or if that's just the offense Todd Downing envisioned when they fired Bill Musgrave (who'd looked pretty good with Carr, though ugly with anyone else, last year). Still, give Downing Matt McGloin and see what happens. Hell, give him Carr. I don't care in Nick Foles or St Nick's at QB for the Eagles. Pick: Eagles

LAST WEEK: 14-2 SEASON: 152-72

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