Spread ‘Em: Week 16 NFL Picks
Posted by Andrew Zercie on December 24, 2009
It being a holiday weekend for many, including myself, the picks for this week will be brief.
Tennessee (-3) over San Diego
With the glut of 7-7 teams in the AFC right now, and given the improbable nature of the Titans’ season (lost the first 6, then won 7 out of 8), it only makes sense that Tennessee would thrust themselves squarely into the hunt for a wildcard berth.
While San Diego is on an impressive winning streak, their position in the AFC pecking order is secure. The Chargers have the AFC West won. Tennessee is the more desperate team. They’re the pick.
Titans 27, Chargers 21
Green Bay (-14) over Seattle
With each passing week, the Seahawks seem to become more pathetic. The Packers lost a heart-breaker in Pittsburgh last week. They should welcome an opportunity at redemption at home against the Seahawks.
Packers 31, Seahawks 13
Oakland (+3.5) over Cleveland
Both of these bottom-dwelling tms have played better football lately.
However, with Brady Quinn on injured reserve for the rest of the season, the feeling is that the cohesiveness the Browns’ offense has shown lately will slip against an improved Oakland defense.
Raiders 23, Browns 14
Cincinnati (-14) over Kansas City
The Bengals will feed off the energy of their fans in the wake of Chris Henry’s funeral earlier in the week. Playing the woeful Chiefs in a supportive environment should provide catharsis both emotionally and on the scoreboard.
Bengals 33, Chiefs 10
Buffalo (+9) over Atlanta
With Matt Ryan and Michael Turner both back, the Falcons won on the road last week against the Jets. Meanwhile, the Bills are coming off a sluggish home defeat to the Patriots.
It’s clear that the Falcons are the better team. However, they are not a trustworthy pick to cover the spread. The Falcons’ defense is mediocre at best, and the Bills have done better in recent games at getting the ball to Terrell Owens. Atlanta doesn’t have anyone in the secondary to match up with Owens.
So long as Ryan Fitzpatrick can get Owens and Lee Evans the ball a few times, Buffalo should make enough big plays to stay in this game.
Falcons 27, Bills 24
Miami (-3) over Houston
The Houston Texans can score on most teams, but can’t stop most teams from scoring.
The Dolphins have a pretty diverse offense and a capable defense. They should be able to contain the Texans’ passing attack and push their record to 8-7, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
Dolphins 28, Texans 21
NY Giants (-7) over Carolina
In their Monday Night rout of the Washington Redskins, the Giants played with a sense of purpose it seemed. They dominated in all areas and put the game out of reach by halftime.
Like the Redskins, the Panthers are out of the playoff picture this season. Unlike the Redskins, the Panthers have a stable front office and a coach that seems to be in place beyond this year. They should provide more competition for the Giants. In fact, they could derail the Giants’ playoff hopes.
Still, the Giants’ play last week is reflective of their understanding that their season has gone wrong, and that they have the ability to play their way into the postseason. They have something to play for. Thus, the pick is the Giants.
Giants 30, Panthers 21
New Orleans (-14) over Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers played the Saints well earlier in the season, and it was tempting to pick them to cover this big spread.
However, with the undefeated season gone, the Saints recognize that they need to play better football in the next few weeks to be well-prepared for the playoffs. Surely their coach, Sean Payton, has relayed that message to his team during practice sessions leading up to this game.
Expect the Saints to perform well and win big.
Saints 37, Buccaneers 17
Jacksonville (+7.5) over New England
The Patriots’ offense has been predictable in recent weeks, and the team has struggled to beat teams they should dominate.
Jacksonville needs this game in a big way. At 7-7, they need to win this game and see other teams (Denver, for instance) lose in order for the Jaguars to have a chance at the playoffs.
Of course, New England has yet to lose at home this season, and the Patriots are trying to play better football and improve as the playoffs approach. They need a big performance just as much as the Jaguars need a win.
The Jags have played close games all season long, thanks to their style of play, and this figures to be another one.
Patriots 23, Jaguars 21
Pittsburgh (-2.5) over Baltimore
With their miraculous win over the Packers last week, the Steelers’ playoff chances were revitalized.
Pittsburgh remains a longshot to get the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl championship. Plus, in the Ravens, they face a team that is in the exact same position they are: desperate for a win this week to have a chance at the playoffs.
This has the potential to be the game of the week. It could be high-scoring, it should be dramatic, and it may come down to the final minute.
With the Steelers at home and favored by less than a field goal, they’re the safe bet. It should be a wild game though.
Steelers 37, Ravens 34
Denver (+7) over Philadelphia
Alright, I’m personally rooting for a Christmas miracle here. The Broncos are my team and I make no apologies for my allegiance to them.
The Eagles are playing better football at this point. They’re at home, and they can put the NFC East on ice this week, if they win and the Cowboys stumble against the Redskins. This is game that many expect the Eagles to win, and win easily.
Denver, despite losing six of eight, can make the playoffs without any help by simply winning their remaining two games. If they can limit the Eagles’ big play-driven offense and open up their own offense a bit, the Broncos can win.
It’s been a long time since the Broncos scored over 20 points, and this could be the week they find holes in the Eagles’ defense and make it happen.
Broncos 27, Eagles 23
Arizona (-14) over St. Louis
The Cardinals have been inconsistent lately and could use a big game against a weak opponent to boost confidence as the playoffs approach.
Enter the St. Louis Rams.
Cardinals 34, Rams 13
San Francisco (-12) over Detroit
The Lions have played more competitive football this year compared to last year. It may be trendy to pick the Lions in a game that doesn’t matter much to either team, since neither is in contention for a playoff berth.
However, the 49ers are 9-5 against the spread on the season. They may have missed some opportunities to win a few close games during the course of the season, but San Francisco is a better football team than they’ve shown. They should be able to score easily on the Lions’ woeful defense, and give their fans reason to cheer loudly on this holiday weekend.
49ers 31, Lions 14
NY Jets (+5.5) over Indianapolis
The Colts have home-field advantage wrapped up. They are 14-0. All they have to play for is a chance at a 16-0 regular season, something members of the organization have said repeatedly that they are unmotivated for.
While there may be some measure of pride in going undefeated, the Colts’ goal is another Super Bowl title, not going 16-0 and losing at some point the postseason.
The Jets are not better than the Colts. About the only way they even cover the spread, let alone win, is if Peyton Manning rests for the majority of the game. That’s what I’m betting on.
Jets 21, Colts 20
Dallas (-7) over Washington
Speculation swirls around both of these franchises. While it’s a near-certainty that the Redskins will have a new coach in 2010, the Cowboys could also have a new man in charge if they falter in the next two weeks and/or disappoint in the postseason.
Yet, following their strong performance and surprising win over New Orleans last week, the Cowboys should ride that momentum into Washington and throttle their division rival. Based on last week’s debacle against the Giants, the Redskins appear to have mailed in the remainder of their 2009 season. This game could feature the largest margin of victory of the week.
Cowboys 34, Redskins 7
Monday Night Football
Chicago (+7) over Minnesota
Brett Favre has faltered lately, and the Minnesota Vikings have not run the ball well in recent weeks. Some of that is due to the competition they’ve faced, but part of the reason the offense has struggled is that some key players, like Adrian Peterson, are playing through injuries that have limited their effectiveness on the field.
The Bears have the talent to pull off a win. In fact, many believed the Bears were a playoff team at the start of the season. To say this has been a disappointing season for the Bears would be an understatement.
With Minnesota slipping, they are ripe to be upset. The gut feeling is that the Bears will keep the score close for much of the game and the Vikings will manage to win late, fending off the naysayers for a week as the playoffs get closer.
Vikings 27, Bears 24