Thursday, December 22, 2011

NFL Week 16 Picks

Not a good week for me last week, maybe I can rebound.

Last Week's Record: 7-9
Year to Date Record: 143-81

Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts
Could this be another trap game for the Texans? The Panthers went up early on the Texans last week and didn't look back. T.J. Yates didn't play terrible, but he didn't do enough to help his team win, and that could be a problem come playoff time. The Texans pass defense, which had been strong all year, was beaten by Cam Newton. Maybe it was Wade Phillips not being there, but the Texans defense just seemed a bit off last week. The Colts finally won last week, and it was their defense that made some plays. Surprisingly, the Colts shut down Chris Johnson last week. The Colts have been playing hard the last few weeks, and it finally paid off for them last week. You bet the Colts remember the beating the Texans gave them in Week One, but I don't know if the Colts have enough to pull off an upset for the second week in a row. I think the Texans right the ship this week and win a close one.

Houston 21  Indianapolis 17

Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs
The slow collapse of the Raiders continues. Losers of three in a row, the Raiders once bright Playoff chances now appear to be dim. The Raiders had a win in their sights last week, but they let the Lions drive 96 yards downfield to take the lead. A lot of the poor play can contributed to the defense, which has given up 34, 46, and 28 points during this three game losing streak. But a lot of the blame can be given to Carson Palmer as well, who hasn't been playing as well as he did during his start with the Raiders. He sure doesn't look worth a 1st round pick right now. The Chiefs, meanwhile, pulled off the upset of the year last week when they handed the Packers their first loss. The team played hard under interim coach Romeo Crennel, who made a strong case to get the permanent head coaching gig. The defense stepped up big time for the Chiefs, holding the Packers to their lowest point total of the year. If the Chiefs can hold the Packers to 14 points, I think they can keep the Raiders in check. Give me the Chiefs here.

Kansas City 23  Oakland 13

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans
What else is their to say about the Jaguars at this point? Blaine Gabbert continues to look terrible, the defense got shredded by the Falcons last week.This is an organization in need of a complete overhaul in the off-season. The Titans lost a crucial game last week against the then winless Colts, pretty much crushing their playoff chances in the process. The Titans have looked better the last few weeks with Jake Locker in at QB and not Matt Hasselbeck. I think Locker is the QB next year for sure, but who gets the nod this week? It's Hasselbeck if he is healthy, but does he give the Titans the best chance to win? I don't think so. I would start Locker, but I'm sure Coach Munchak thinks the veteran gives him the best chance. Either way, the Titans should take care of the lowly Jags here. The Titans playoff hopes stay alive.

Tennessee 20  Jacksonville 10

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots
The Dolphins are doing just enough to make sure they aren't in position to get a top QB in the draft next year. Matt Moore is playing well enough to warrant a chance at the starting next year, but he did the same thing when he was with Carolina, and it didn't work out as well as they hoped. The good news for the Dolphins is that Reggie Bush is surprising everyone with his performance as the featured back in Miami. I never thought Reggie Bush would be a featured back, but he's proving me wrong. The Patriots showed last week again why they are the constant class of the NFL. Going into Denver against a red hot Broncos team, the Pats put up 41 points against a good Broncos defense. Tom Brady relied on some of his secondary options in the game, specifically Aaron Hernandez and Chad Ochocinco. The defense did enough to help its team win. They still aren't all the way there, but if the offense can put up 30+ points on a constant basis, then the defense's flaws can be hidden. The Pats win here. They are the better football team.

New England 38  Miami 24

Arizona Cardinals vs Cincinnati Bengals
All John Skelton does is win. The Cardinals are now 7-7 and are clinging to their playoff lives. I don't think they make it, but they definitely showed signs of improvement towards the end of the year. I don't think Skelton is the QB of the future either, but it definitely shows that the Cardinals may have made a mistake in trading for Kevin Kolb this off-season. Beanie Wells is finally living up to his potential at RB, and the defense has played better in recent weeks. And Patrick Peterson is turning into the next Devin Hester of punt returns. The Bengals are in a tie for the last playoff spot in the AFC with the Jets. The Bengals play their last two games at home, but that may not even help considering no one shows up for those games. The defense will face a big test with Larry Fitzgerald coming to town. Skelton looks his way often, and the Bengals pass defense has been shaky the last few games. I expect a heavy dose of Cedric Benson from the Bengals in this one, especially with A.J. Green a bit banged up. The Cardinals are playing good football right now, but I'm not a fan of teams going from west to east coast to play early games. Give me the Bengals here.

Cincinnati 24  Arizona 21

Denver Broncos vs Buffalo Bills
TebowMania was brought back down to Earth last week. Tebow himself didn't play bad, but the defense did not hold up its end of the bargain. If the Broncos expect to make the Playoffs and compete, then they need to put up a better showing then they did against New England. The good news for the Broncos is that they face an easy rebound game here against a down and out Bills team, losers of seven straight. Their run defense is still awful, so expect a lot of Tebow and Willis McGahee here. With Von Miller and Elvis Dumervill rushing Ryan Fitzpatrick, expect a lot of bad throws leading to turnovers. The Bills may already be regretting Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract. The Broncos know a win here could clinch the AFC West for them, so they give their all and take down the Bills.

Denver 28  Buffalo 17

St. Louis Rams vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers don't know if Ben Roethlisberger can play this week, but does it really matter? A Charlie Batch lead team should be able to beat this lowly Rams squad. All they have to do is take advantage of cornerbacks number 11 and 12 who are starting for the Rams this off-season. And they can do that when they pound the ball with Rashard Mendenhall, setting up the play action. I don't know if Kellen Clemons can lead the Rams into the end zone in this one. Steelers win easily.

Pittsburgh 27  St. Louis 6

New York Giants vs New York Jets
It's the Battle of New York, and both of these teams are coming off horrible losses. The Giants, after going to Dallas and winning, lost to the Redskins at home last week. That's a bad thing to do. The Giants looked like they had all of the momentum headed down the stretch, but they just hit a serious road block. It was the Giants second bad home loss of the season, with this loss going with their Seattle loss. The Giants offense was shut down by a defense that gave up 30+ points to the Patriots and Jets the last two weeks. The secondary, which was burned by Tony Romo two weeks ago, was burned again by Rex Grossman. The Giants can still make the playoffs if they win out, but they are facing a just as hungry Jets team in this one. The Jets were embarrassed in Philadelphia. They were never even really in the game. Mark Sanchez looked awful. The defense was burned by Mike Vick constantly. The Jets just looked like they didn't show up to play. The Jets have played well against bad teams this year, but have only beaten one team with a record over .500, and that is the Cowboys in Week 1. This one really is toss up, but I think the Giants are the slightly better team, and they win this one.

NY Giants 27  NY Jets 23

Minnesota Vikings vs Washington Redskins
The Redskins have shown signs of life in the last few weeks, and it makes you wonder why Mike Shanahan ever switched to John Beck during the season. The Redskins improved play can also be contributed to the emergence of Roy Helu in the backfield. Helu has become the centerpiece of the Skins offense, and it is allowing the passing game to open up with Santana Moss, and Brandon Banks throwing trick passes.The Vikings are also showing fight on offense, but the defense is so banged up that it is tough for them to stop anybody, especially in the secondary. The Vikings offense is better because everyone is finally healthy. Percy Harvin is now a duel threat and just as dangerous as Adrian Peterson. I'm still going with the Vikings here. They are playing the better overall football right now.

Washington 31  Minnesota 24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers
Tampa continues falling, falling falling. They didn't look like they cared last week against Dallas. Just like Jacksonville, there is nothing new to write about this team. It looks like the Bucs have packed it in and are ready to hit the off-season. The Panthers are coming off of a big road upset last week against Houston. I said during my Week 15 Review that the Panthers are a team to watch next year, especially when they get healthy on defense. Cam Newton is the next Mike Vick at QB, and the running game has finally emerged after a slow start. They also have a duel threat at TE with Greg Olson and Jeremy Shockey. The Panthers are the better team, and they win here.

Carolina 34  Tampa Bay 23

Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens
The bad Joe Flacco showed up last week for Baltimore, and that is a bad thing if he is going to play like that on the road in the Playoffs. The good news for the Ravens is that they may only need to go on the road once during the Playoffs. But they also steered away from Ray Rice too early in last Sunday's loss to San Diego. Rice should be getting 30 touches a game through the air and ground. It takes the pressure off of Flacco. But you also have to be worried about the defensive effort of the Ravens last week, giving up 34 points to the Chargers. They shouldn't do that against the lowly Browns this week. Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Bernie Kosar couldn't help the Browns now. They could be the least relevant team in football. The Ravens win here.

Baltimore 28  Cleveland 10

San Diego Chargers vs Detroit Lions
To me, this is a more intriguing game then the Battle of New York. The Chargers are riding a 3 game winning streak and are one game out of the AFC West and the last AFC Wild Card spot. Phillip Rivers has lost only two games as a starter in December. There's something about this month that he likes. The Chargers running game has also come alive, with Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews complementing the other very well. The Chargers defense, which had been shaky all year, has given up 14, 10, and 14 points the last three weeks. And in the week they gave up 10 points against the Bills, the one touchdown was scored by the Bills defense. The Lions are one win away from clinching the team's first playoff berth in a decade. The Lions had a great come from behind win last week against Oakland. The Lions offense has done a good job of adjusting to the double and triple teams on WR Calvin Johnson. Matthew Stafford is spreading out the ball more to WRs Titus Young and Nate Burleson, as well as TE Brandon Pettigrew. The Lions defense is still a liability in the secondary, and that could be a problem with the Chargers coming to town. Even if the Lions shut down Antonio Gates, they still have to worry about all of the other Chargers weapons at WR. I've been switching my pick for this game all week. The Lions know they go to Green Bay next week, so they need the win. But the Chargers are red hot right now, and I don't think I can bet against them.

San Diego 35  Detroit 31

Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones said that he is scared of the Eagles. And he should be. Mike Vick and the Eagles offense has come alive in the last few weeks. It is the way they should have been playing all year. The Cowboys have had problems in the secondary this year, and you know Mike Vick and Co. will take advantage of it. If the Eagles played like they did all year the last two weeks, maybe they would actually be leading the NFC East right now. The Eagles three headed trio will look to shut down the Cowboys three headed trio of WRs. But they also have to worry about Jason Witten. The Cowboys passing attack, and offense hasn't been the problem this year. The defense, specifically the secondary, hasn't improved much under Rob Ryan. Tony Romo doesn't play the best all the time, but the secondary has been constantly bad all year. The loss of DeMarco Murray hasn't slowed down the Cowboys offense with Felix Jones playing his part well. This game has high scoring affair written all over it. The Eagles whipped the Cowboys in Philly, but it will be closer here. But I still like the Eagles to pull off a mild upset.

Philadelphia 35  Dallas 30

San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks
The 49ers fought through two separate power outages on Monday night to beat a very good Pittsburgh Steelers team. It keeps the 49ers hopes of a first round bye alive. It also showed just how dominant the 49ers defense is. They shut down the Steelers offense. Now sure Ben Roethlisberger was hurt, but it still takes a lot to shut down the Steelers. Alex Smith did just enough to help his team win. He still missed a couple of throws, but as long as he doesn't make mistakes then he will be fine. Seattle's hot streak continued with their third straight win last week in Chicago. They essentially ended the Bears playoff hopes while strengthening theirs. It will still take a lot for Seattle to get in. The only way Seattle gets in is with two straight wins and two straight Lions losses. It isn't out of the realm of possibility, especially with the Lions difficult schedule. The 49ers haven't given up a rushing touchdown all year, and Marshawn Lynch has scored a TD in 10 straight games. Something gives here, and I think Lynch finds his way into the end zone. I'm giving the edge to Seattle in a close, low scoring affair.

Seattle 16  San Francisco 13

Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers
This Christmas night game looked way more appealing about a month ago. Now the Bears are starting Luke McCown at QB after Caleb Hanie has looked terrible the last three weeks. It isn't all his fault, if Matt Forte was still in the backfield I think the Bears offense would be better. But Hanie also threw a couple of bad interceptions last week which were inexcusable. The Bears playoff hopes are on life support at this point, and they are getting an angry Packers team in Lambeau. The Packers suffered their first loss of the season last week at Kansas City. The offense finally met its match with a very good Chiefs defense. The Bears defense is just as good, but the Packers also put up 27 points on the Bears in Week 3. Aaron Rodgers should be able to pass the ball on the Bears. The Bears have a good run defense but the Packers don't rely on the run, so that doesn't matter too much. The Packers defense also should rebound nicely after last week. They didn't play terrible, but they also couldn't get the Packers offense the ball back when they needed to stop the Chiefs. The Packers clinch the #1 seed in the NFC with a win, and they get that here against a bad Bears offense.

Green Bay 34  Chicago 14

Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints
We all remember what happened the last time these two teams played. In over time, the Falcons went for a 4th and 1 at their own 28 yard line and they were stopped. Many people questioned Mike Smith's tactics. Did he not trust his defense to stop Drew Brees? Hell, I wouldn't trust the 85 Bears defense to stop Drew Brees at this point. Atlanta has won four of five since that game, and they still have a shot at winning the NFC South if they win in New Orleans. The Saints defense hasn't been that intimidating in recent weeks, and Matt Ryan has been playing very well. His WRs, Roddy White and Julio Jones, have played very well in recent weeks. While the Falcons offense has been playing well, the Saints offense is on another level. Drew Brees is trying to force his way into the MVP discussion. Brees has so many targets that it is almost too easy for him. He also has Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas at his disposal in the back field. The Saints offense is just too difficult to focus on one person to stop. You have to get pressure on Drew Brees, but even then, he can still get rid of the ball in a quick and timely manner. I think this game is high scoring, but the Saints pull out the win. Just too many weapons all around.

New Orleans 31  Atlanta 27

My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week's Record: 0-4 (Not So Money Huh?)
Year to Date Record: 34-25-1

Denver -3 at Buffalo: Bills can't score, and the Broncos defense is better than they showed last week.

NY Giants +3 at NY Jets: I think the Giants have more talent and have a better offense.

Pittsburgh -14 vs St. Louis: Rams might not score 14 points.

Green Bay -13 vs Chicago: The Bears offense is BAD.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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