There will be plenty of playoff jockeying happening in Week 16. With two games left to play, only four teams have secured playoff spots, while eight vacant spots are up for grabs. Only 12 teams have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers are just a half-game behind the Chicago Bears for the NFC North title with two games left to play. Chicago will be in Philadelphia in Week 16, while Green Bay hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers and then the Pack hit the road to take on Chicago in Week 17. Aaron Rodgers has yet to be cleared to play, but he’s going to practice on Wednesday and hopes to experience no setbacks. All the Dallas Cowboys have to do to give themselves an honest chance to get into the playoffs as the NFC East champion is win on the road in Washington against the Redskins in Week 16. The Miami Dolphins were denied a chance to enter Week 16 as the No. 6 seed in the AFC. Miami is tied with Baltimore, but the Ravens would get in by virtue of head-to-head win percentage. The Ravens have a brutal final two contests to close out the season, while Miami will take on a couple of losing teams to finish its 2013 campaign. Two more wins by the Ravens would likely seal Miami’s fate as the No. 6 seed in the AFC, because the Ravens will likely lose at least one of their final games. Below are the times and games happening this week along with the Week 16 NFL Point Spreads and my predictions for you to ponder.
Sunday, December 22@1:00 PM ET
Cleveland at N.Y. Jets (-2.5) (o/u-40.5) PREDICTION: Browns +2.5
If the Jets can somehow find some traction in the running game against a stingy Browns defense, they’ll give themselves a chance, but the greater the burden on Geno Smith, the lesser the chance of their victory. Josh Gordon should feast on Antonio Cromartie, as several top wideouts have done this season.
Indianapolis at Kansas City (-7) (o/u-41.5) PREDICTION: Chiefs -7
The Indianapolis Colts have their division locked down. All that can change over the final two weeks is their seeding. The Chiefs, too, have a playoff spot wrapped up but still want to end the year with a better record than the Broncos and a first-round playoff bye. What matters most here, however, is the location of the battle. In Arrowhead, the Colts’ many problems this year will be clearly evident. The Chiefs will win.
Minnesota at Cincinnati (-7.5) (o/u-48) PREDICTION: Bengals -7.5
Cincinnati had a wake-up call in Pittsburgh, and Minnesota’s season has long since been put to bed. Cincy is hard to beat at home and their defense gets it done.
Denver (-10.5) at Houston (o/u-51.5) PREDICTION: Broncos -10.5
The Broncos defense gets its groove back against an inept and impotent Texans offensive unit. Meanwhile, Manning does enough to keep this team headed toward the No. 1 seed.
Tennessee (-5.5) at Jacksonville (o/u-44) PREDICTION: Titans -5.5
This is one of those divisional games that really could go either way. Still, the Jags are at home and they’ve beaten Tennessee in two of their last three meetings.
Miami (-2.5) at Buffalo (o/u-43) PREDICTION: Dolphins -2.5
Ryan Tannehill is playing good football and the Dolphins defense looked impressive versus Tom Brady and the Patriots. This is a game Miami should win.
New Orleans at Carolina (-3) (o/u-45.5) PREDICTION: Panthers -3
The Saints aren’t the same team on the road as they are at home. The Panthers are also a good home team and will have learned from their trouncing in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. Expect the Panthers to run it more successfully and get a narrow victory.
Dallas (-2.5) at Washington (o/u-52.5) PREDICTION: Cowboys -2.5
The Cowboys will bounce back after the brutal loss to the Packers against a Redskins team that is ready to move on to the offseason.
Tampa Bay at St. Louis (-5.5) (o/u-42.5) PREDICTION: Rams -5.5
The Rams can run the ball and rush the passer. That should translate to a win over the Bucs at home.
Sunday, December 22@4:05 PM ET
Arizona at Seattle (-10.5) (o/u-45) PREDICTION: Seattle -10.5
This Cardinals defense can play some good football, but that’s not enough to knock off the Seahawks at home.
N.Y. Giants at Detroit (-10) (o/u-49) PREDICTION: Lions -10
The Lions are in a must-win situation, and only Eli Manning is tossing more picks than Matthew Stafford lately.
Sunday, December 22@4:25 PM ET
Oakland at San Diego (-10) (o/u-49.5) PREDICTION: Chargers -10
The Chargers are playing almost lights-out over the past month, with a 3-1 record in their past four games. In that time, the Raiders have lost four straight, including defeats to bad teams like the Titans and Jets. If Philip Rivers can avoid multiple turnovers, the Chargers should roll.
Pittsburgh at Green Bay (OFF) PREDICTION: Packers
Though Matt Flynn under center will prove less challenging to the Steelers than if Aaron Rodgers is ready to go, it’s hard to see the Steelers going into the chill of Lambeau and getting a win. Regardless of the Green Bay quarterback, the Steelers look like they are going to be drawn into a shootout on Sunday, which gives a narrow advantage to the Packers.
New England at Baltimore (-2.5) (o/u-45.5) PREDICTION: Ravens -2.5
This is the toughest game of the week to predict. This Pats team has few weapons and relies far too heavily on Tom Brady to bail them out of every situation. That will catch up to them again.
Sunday, December 22@8:30 PM ET
Chicago at Philadelphia (-3) (o/u-56) PREDICTION: Eagles -3
The Bears defense can’t stop the Eagles; it can’t even hope to contain them. Any Bears turnovers will just be icing on the cake.
Monday, December 23@8:30 PM ET
Atlanta at San Francisco (-13) (o/u-45) PREDICTION: 49ers -13
This is a game the 49ers should dominate along the offensive and defensive fronts. Look for plenty of Frank Gore in the San Francisco win.
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