The following are my picks for the NFL’s Week Sixteen:
Thursday, December 21
Minnesota (6-8) at Green Bay (6-8) – 8:00 p.m.
The Packers have won two in a row, but are only 2-5 at home. The Vikings have won only two out of their last eight, and those victories came against mighty Arizona and fearsome Detroit. These two teams last met in Week Ten, with Green Bay picking up the win on the road, 23-17.
RJ’S PICK – PACKERS BY 5
Saturday, December 23
Kansas City (7-7) at Oakland (2-12) – 8:00 p.m.
The Chiefs have lost three in a row and are 2-5 on the road. That’s not good. However, the Raiders have lost seven in a row and are 0-5 against division rivals. And that’s just plain horrible.
RJ’S PICK – KANSAS CITY BY 11
Sunday, December 24
Baltimore (11-3) at Pittsburgh (7-7) – 1:00 p.m.
Baltimore has wrapped up the AFC North, but is still fighting for a first-round bye. Their defense has given up the fewest points of any team in the NFL. The Steelers have won three in a row and are 5-2 at home. This should be a great game.
RJ’S PICK – PITTSBURGH BY 2
Carolina (6-8) at Atlanta (7-7) – 1:00 p.m.
Carolina has completely collapsed, having lost their last four games. Atlanta still has a realistic shot at making the playoffs as a Wild Card in the sorry NFC.
RJ’S PICK – FALCONS BY 3
Chicago (12-2) at Detroit (2-12) – 1:00 p.m.
The Bears have already clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so I’m thinking they’ll pretty much hand this one to Detroit. Which is the only way Detroit could possibly win.
RJ’S PICK – LIONS BY 17
Indianapolis (11-3) at Houston (4-10) – 1:00 p.m.
The Colts looked impressive last week, beating a solid Bengals team after they had lost three of their last four. They’ve already clinched the AFC South, but Tony Dungy badly wants that first-round bye, so don’t expect them to just roll over for the Texans.
RJ’S PICK – COLTS BY 7
New England (10-4) at Jacksonville (8-6) – 1:00 p.m.
This is an incredibly tough game to pick. New England is 5-1 on the road, but Jacksonville is 6-1 at home. Both teams have outstanding defenses and above-average offenses. New England needs a win in order to clinch their division; Jacksonville needs a win in order to stay alive as a Wild Card contender. This is a must-watch matchup.
RJ’S PICK – JAGUARS BY 1
New Orleans (9-5) at New York Giants (7-7) – 1:00 p.m.
The first half of the season, the Giants were 6-2. But they have gone 1-5 so far in the second half. If they want to be playing into the postseason, they pretty much have to win this one. New Orleans has already clinched their division, and has a decent shot at a playoff bye. The Saints have a better record on the road (5-2) than the Giants have at home (3-4). Wanna bet Eli Manning wishes he was playing for the Chargers now?
RJ’S PICK – NEW ORLEANS BY 3
Tampa Bay (3-11) at Cleveland (4-10) – 1:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay has lost four in a row, and is 0-7 on the road. Cleveland has lost two straight, and is 2-5 at home. This game is a waste of three hours.
RJ’S PICK – BROWNS BY 4
Tennessee (7-7) at Buffalo (7-7) – 1:00 p.m.
The Bills have won two in a row. Tennessee has won five in a row. Neither team is going to make the playoffs this year, but both should have high hopes for next season.
RJ’S PICK – BUFFALO BY 1
Washington (5-9) at St. Louis (6-8) – 1:00 p.m.
Both of these sub-par teams won last week. The Rams are 3-4 at home; the Redskins are 2-5 on the road. Blah.
RJ’S PICK – RAMS BY 6
Arizona (4-10) at San Francisco (6-8) – 4:05 p.m.
Arizona is 1-5 on the road. Dennis Green is two games away from hitting the road. San Francisco is 4-3 at home and, amazingly, still in contention for the NFC West crown.
RJ’S PICK – SAN FRANCISCO BY 4
Cincinnati (8-6) at Denver (8-6) – 4:15 p.m.
The Bengals lost last week, but they had won four in a row prior to that. Denver won last week, but they had lost four straight before that. Both teams are still in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card slot. Denver’s home field advantage hasn’t been very advantageous this season; they are only 3-3 at Mile High.
RJ’S PICK – BENGALS BY 2
San Diego (12-2) at Seattle (8-6) – 4:15 p.m.
San Diego is a ruthless juggernaut of a football team. They have won eight straight. They have the highest scoring offense in the NFL (by far). They have an above-average defense. However, they have not (yet) clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so they are still sufficiently motivated. Therefore, the mediocre Seahawks (who have given up 19 more points than they’ve scored this season) are pretty much fucked.
RJ’S PICK – CHARGERS BY 8
Monday, December 25
Philadelphia (8-6) at Dallas (9-5) – 5:00 p.m.
If the Eagles can pull out a win here, they will be in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. Winning their division seemed out of the question back in Week 11, when McNabb went down with a season-ending injury. But Philadelphia has rallied with backup QB Jeff Garcia under center. They’ve won three straight games, and are 4-1 when playing divisional opponents, including a victory in Week 5 against the Cowboys. As for Dallas, look for Terrell Owens to come out of the tunnel wearing some phat Hannibal Lecter-style mouth gear.
RJ’S PICK – EAGLES BY 1
New York Jets (8-6) at Miami (6-8) – 8:30 p.m.
The Jets are still playing for an AFC Wild Card spot. The Dolphins are still playing Joey Harrington at QB.
RJ’S PICK – JETS BY 5
Week One 10-6
Week Two 12-4
Week Three 6-8
Week Four 9-5
Week Five 10-4
Week Six 10-3
Week Seven 7-6
Week Eight 8-6
Week Nine 8-6
Week Ten 8-8
Week Eleven 7-9
Week Twelve 12-4
Week Thirteen 7-9
Week Fourteen 8-8
Week Fifteen 11-5