Week 16 NFL PicksPosted: December 27, 2015
Employ these recommendations at your own peril. Gambling is ungentlemanly.
[Home team in caps. All lines per VegasInsider.com consensus.
Carolina (-6.5) vs. ATLANTA
At stake: Carolina clinches home-field advantage with a win. The Falcons are eliminated. Even if they win out and the Vikings lose out, the Vikings win the tiebreaker based on their head-to-head win in Week 12.
Derek: It wasn’t too long ago that the Panthers whipped the Falcons 38-0. Not enough has changed in the last 14 days to make me think the Falcons have a shot. The Panthers pick up the NFC’s top seed.
Will: With all the holiday hubbub, I’m afraid I haven’t even peeked at this week’s schedule. My picks will thus be abbreviated, because football picks aren’t what’s really important this time of year. You know what is? God. Country. Family. The American Way. All of which points to a big Panthers win.
TAMPA BAY (-3.5) vs. Chicago
At stake: Draft position.
Derek: One thing I’ll enjoy about football season ending is not having to put thought into who’s going to win games between teams that are out of it, like this game and the following three. Well, unless you think the Jaguars really have a shot at winning the AFC South.
Oh yeah, Bucs-Bears. I guess I didn’t put much thought into it after all. I’ll just take the points.
Will: You took the words right out of my mouth. Points all day.
BUFFALO (-6.5) vs. Dallas
At stake: Draft position.
Derek: I’ve seen my fair share of Cowboy quarterbacks this year. I’ll take Buffalo.
Will: I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the unusually warm weather will knock the Bills askew. Dallas prevails in the mildness.
NEW ORLEANS (-3) vs. Jacksonville
At stake: The Jaguars are mathematically still alive, but they’ll need to win out and get lots of help in the form of Colts/Texans losses and fortuitous tiebreakers. Football Outsiders puts the chances of this happening at 3.5%.
Derek: Drew Brees is playing with a painful injury, and the underdog Jags are clinging to their slight playoff hopes. I’ll take the Jags.
Will: The Saints’ performance this season has been every bit as drunk as New Orleans itself. While I respect that — a team should always reflect its city — I reckon they’ll be dealing with a nasty holiday hangover. Jags take it.
DETROIT (-10) vs. San Francisco
At stake: Draft position.
Derek: These two teams have been out of the playoffs for weeks, and I’m supposed to lay 10 points with one of them? I’ll feel so much dumber losing if I die on the “Detroit -10” hill. Niners it is.
Will: That has to be a misprint. San Francisco for sure.
KANSAS CITY (-11) vs. Cleveland
At stake: The Chiefs clinch a playoff spot with a win. They still have a shot at winning the AFC West, but would need help in the form of Denver losses.
Derek: Here’s a quote from Cleveland resident Will Gibson on the state of the Browns:
As far as tanking…I mean, they really don’t have to. If they give up 50 points total in their last two games, they will have allowed more points than the 1999 expansion team. It’s remarkable how bad they are. I also don’t really know who they could bench that would make a difference besides Joe Thomas. Maybe Gary Barnidge? They just suck.
I’ve been a fan of some bad Seahawks teams, but I can’t remember thinking “it’s impossible for us to tank because it wouldn’t really make a difference if we sat our best players.” So, uh, this is a long-winded way of saying I’m taking the Chiefs.
Will: I recuse myself from this selection because I can’t pick against the Browns.
MIAMI (-2.5) vs. Indianapolis
At stake: The Colts have an outside shot of winning the AFC South, but they’ll need to win this game and get some help.
Derek: Maybe if Matt Hasselbeck were making a spot start, I’d feel comfortable taking the Colts. But he’s way too beat up, and I don’t trust Charlie Whitehurst. The Dolphins … finish this one with a win.
Will: No idea. I’ll take the points.
New England (-3) vs. NEW YORK JETS
At stake: The Patriots clinch home-field advantage with a win. The Jets will help their Wild Card chances with a win and would benefit from the Steelers and Chiefs losing.
Derek: I was tempted to take the Jets because of all of New England’s injuries, but three points isn’t enough to make me feel comfortable. The Patriots somehow win with a bunch of players no one has ever heard of.
Will: Yep, today’s the day that that James Davis guy (is that his name?) becomes a household name. Pats.
Houston (-3) vs. TENNESSEE
At stake: The Texans clinch the AFC South with a win and a Colts loss.
Derek: This seems like some kind of philosophical question. Do you side with the horrendous Titans at home, or a team led by Brandon Weeden? There isn’t supposed to be an answer, so I’m not picking one. I’ll say the Texans win by exactly three for the push.
Will: I so so so love that this game has playoff implications. What a dumb season. I’ll take the points.
Pittsburgh (-10) vs. BALTIMORE
At stake: The Steelers clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Jets loss. They still have a shot at winning the AFC North if they win out and the Bengals lose out.
Derek: I think this is going to be ugly. The Steelers want revenge for blowing their game against the Ravens on Thursday night in Week 4. Ryan Mallett(!) is starting for the Ravens. They’ve been blown out at home by the Seahawks and Chiefs the last two weeks. The Steelers need this game for playoff purposes. I wouldn’t take the Ravens unless I was getting more than 20. Needless to say, I like Pittsburgh.
Will: Agreed all around. The Ravens are nearly on the Browns level in terms of ineptitude, except they have more injuries to help explain themselves. Stillers.
ARIZONA (-4.5) vs. Green Bay
At stake: Arizona has clinched the NFC West. They clinch a first-round bye with a win. Football Outsiders gives them a 2.2% chance at the NFC’s top seed, but that would require winning out and the Panthers losing out. The Packers have clinched a playoff spot. They clinch the NFC North with a win and a Vikings loss.
Derek: The Cardinals are on a tear, and the Packers have looked just bad enough in the last month to make me not trust them outside of Lambeau, especially against a superior opponent. Honestly, I think the spread is a little low because the Packers are such a public team. Arizona clinches a bye.
Will: In my heart of hearts I think Arizona is absolutely good enough to win this thing by two touchdowns, but I’m backing the Packers based on Aaron Rodgers alone.
SEATTLE (-12) vs. St. Louis
At stake: Seattle has clinched a Wild Card spot and has no chance at the NFC West. They are playing to get either the fifth seed (a trip to Washington) or the sixth seed (a trip to Green Bay or Minnesota).
Derek: I like to fall asleep with the TV on. In the days leading up to Sunday, I like to put on an old football game between the Seahawks and whoever they’re playing that week–preferably a game the Seahawks won handily, because I’m insane. I’ve had some trouble this season since Seattle hasn’t had much recent luck against the AFC North and NFL Game Pass only goes back to 2009. I also had trouble this week. Most of Seattle’s games with the Rams in the last few years have been either losses or ugly wins. Not the sort of thing to help me rest easy. And that’s why I say the Rams cover. I think the Seahawks will win, but not in a way that helps me sleep during either Rams week next season.
Will: You are insane. I say the Seahawks win comfortably.
MINNESOTA (-7) vs. New York Giants
At stake: If the Packers lose, this game is meaningless, as the Packers and Vikings play next week in what would essentially be the NFC North Championship game. If the Packers win, the Vikings need to win this game to keep their hopes of winning the NFC North alive, and next week would still be the NFC North Championship game. The Vikings are in the playoffs regardless. The Giants are eliminated since the Redskins won the NFC East on Saturday night.
Derek: It’s tough to pick this game since, as mentioned, there’s a chance this game won’t mean anything to the Vikings and they bench everyone. But there’s also a chance it’ll mean a lot to them. It won’t mean anything to the Giants either way, and they won’t have Odell Beckham. I’ll go out on a limb and say the Vikings cover.
Will: How about some good old fashioned Ewing Theory action? I’ll take the Giants.
DENVER (-3.5) vs. Cincinnati
At stake: Cincinnati clinches a first-round bye with a win. They clinch the AFC North with a win or a Steelers loss. Denver clinches the AFC West with a win and a Chiefs loss. They clinch a playoff spot with a win or a Jets/Steelers loss.
Derek: AJ McCarron was serviceable last week against the lowly 49ers. On the road at Denver is an entirely different story. Broncos win, and possibly win big.
Will: I like the way you think, friend. Broncos it is. Now let’s all go get holiday drunk.