While “off” weeks are never fun, I’ve traditionally rebounded with strong showings the following week. I’m expecting that to be the case again this week, with the 2019 NFL regular season winding down.
Ready or not, here are my NFL Week 16 picks and predictions.
Houston (8-5) at Tampa Bay (6-7)
Saturday, 1 p.m. EST (NFL Network)
Point spread: Texans -3
Week 16 kicks off with what should be a highly contested matchup between the red-hot Buccaneers — winners of four straight games — and a Texans team that is fighting for their playoff lives. After jumping on Tampa Bay’s bandwagon several weeks ago, I’ll stay on it for at least one more week, as the Buccaneers’ top ranked run defense could be the difference in this game.
The pick: Buccaneers 30, Houston 27
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Buffalo (10-4) at New England (11-3)
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Point spread: Patriots -6.5
Buffalo’s defense Bills. While Buffalo’s defense may have officially ended Duck season in Pittsburgh, it will face a slightly better quarterback Saturday in Tom Brady, who will do just enough to help lead the Patriots to division-clinching win.on Sunday night that clinched a playoff berth for the
The pick: Patriots 23, Bills 13
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Los Angeles Rams (8-6) at San Francisco (11-3)
Saturday 8:15 p.m. (NFL Network)
Point spread: 49ers -6.5
For a second time this season, the Rams will struggle on the offensive side of the ball against a 49ers defense that is first in pass defense and fifth in scoring defense. The Rams’ inability to stop the run (they’re ranked 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed this season) is another reason why the defending NFC champ gets swept by the soon-to-be NFC West division champ.
The pick: 49ers 28, Rams 20
Jacksonville (5-9) at Atlanta (5-9)
The only thing these two teams have in common are their records. While the Jaguars were able to snap their five-game losing streak in Oakland, a win against an injury-marred Raiders team doesn’t impress me too much. The Falcons, however, did impress me by coming from behind to beat the 49ers. The Falcons’ overall play since their bye week is one of the reasons I’m taking them in this one, as Atlanta — led by quarterback Matt Ryan — improves to 5-2 since its Week 9 bye.
The pick: Falcons 26, Jaguars 21
New Orleans (12-3) at Tennessee (8-6)
1 p.m. (Fox, fuboTV, try for free)
Point spread: Saints -3
After falling just short in their first of two late-season games against Houston, the Titans get back on track at home against the Saints in Week 16. While Tennessee’s 30th ranked red zone defense scares me, I’m putting my faith in Mike Vrabel and his defense coming up with just enough stops against the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees, who were nearly upset on the road three weeks ago by the Falcons. I also think Ryan Tannehill can have success against New Orleans’ 17th ranked pass defense.
The pick: Titans 27, Saints 24
New York Giants (3-11) at Washington (3-11)
Despite their 3-11 overall record, the Redskins have looked considerably better over their past four games, as Washington is 2-2 over that span while nearly upsetting the Packers and Eagles. After a slow start to his rookie season, Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins has put together several impressive outings that includes his 261-yard, two touchdown performance against the Eagles. The Redskins will get over the hump while making up for their Week 4 loss to the Giants.
The pick: Redskins 21, Giants 20
Pittsburgh (8-6) at New York Jets (5-9)
1 p.m. ET (CBS, CBS All Access)
Point spread: Steelers -3
The Steelers are 1-5 this season against teams with winning records and 7-1 against sub .500 teams. Based on those facts, the Steelers should be able to beat at Jets team that is coming off a 21-point loss to the Baltimore Ravens. And while I am going with the Steelers, Pittsburgh needs to run the ball more than 15 times, which is the number of times they ran it in Sunday night’s loss to the Bills.
The pick: Steelers 20, Jets 16
Cincinnati (1-13) at Miami (3-11)
While the final score was lopsided, the Bengals, at least statistically, matched up with the Patriots in last Sunday’s home loss to the defending champions. After watching Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon rush for 136 yards against New England’s defense, I’m looking for him to have another big day against Miami’s 31st ranked run defense while leading the Bengals to their second victory of the season.
The pick: Bengals 20, Dolphins 18
Carolina (5-9) at Indianpolis (6-8)
1 p.m. (Fox, fuboTV, try for free)
Point spread: Colts -6.5
While I was initially leaning the Panthers‘ way, their has me going with the Colts to stop their four-game losing streak. The Colts’ defense, one of the NFL’s worst units over the past three weeks, should be good enough to stop rookie quarterback Will Grier, who is slated to make his first NFL start. Conversely, Jacoby Brissett and the Colts should have success against a Carolina defense that is 29th in the league in scoring and 30th against the run.
The pick: Colts 24, Panthers 20
Baltimore (12-2) at Cleveland (6-8)
1 p.m. ET (CBS, CBS All Access)
Point spread: Ravens -10
Believe it or not, the Browns were the last team to defeat the Ravens, way back in Week 4 behind Nick Chubb’s 165 yards and three touchdowns. While Chubb may have another good game on Sunday, it won’t enough to lead the Browns to a second victory over the Ravens, who are putting the finishing touches on a memorable regular season. Led by MVP front-runner Lamar Jackson, the Ravens even the season series with the Browns while clinching the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs in the process.
The pick: Ravens 30, Browns 20
Detroit (3-10-1) at Denver (5-9)
Like the Falcons, the Broncos are another 5-9 team that has shown significant signs of progress during the second half of the season. I’m going with the Broncos at home in this one, as rookie quarterback Drew Lock improves to 3-1 as a starting quarterback. Denver’s 10th ranked scoring defense should have a nice day against a Lions offense that hasn’t scored over 20 points in any of their previous four games.
The pick: Broncos 23, Lions 16
Oakland (6-8) at Los Angeles (5-9)
Injuries have killed the Raiders, who have lost four straight games and are essentially out of the AFC playoff picture. Oakland will be officially eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, as Phillip Rivers and the Chargers rebound after last week’s embarrassing home loss to the Vikings.
The pick: Chargers 21, Raiders 20
Dallas (7-7) at Philadelphia (7-7)
As good as the Cowboys looked last Sunday at home against the Rams, I have no faith in them following suit in Philadelphia in a game that will likely decide the NFC East champion. The Eagles have needed comebacks to defeat the Giants and Redskins over the past two weeks, but I’m putting my faith in Carson Wentz and Philly getting it done at home against a Cowboys team that has inconsistent all season.
The pick: Eagles 24, Cowboys 20
Arizona (4-9-1) at Seattle (11-3)
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals will give them a fight, but I don’t see the Seahawks losing at home to a sub. 500 team in a game they need to win to have a shot at earning a bye heading into the playoffs. Wilson strengthens his case for league MVP, as Seattle completes their season sweep of Arizona.
The pick: Seahawks 28, Cardinals 19
Kansas City (10-4) at Chicago (7-7)
8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Point spread: Chiefs -5
After picking the Bears to win in Green Bay last week, I’m not picking them at home against the Chiefs on “Sunday Night Football.” I expect another big game from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and I also expect to see another strong performance for a surging Chiefs defense that is now ranked 10th in the NFL in scoring.
The pick: Chiefs 24, Bears 17
Green Bay (11-3) at Minnesota (10-4)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Point spread: Vikings -4.5
After going against them last weekend, I’m rolling with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on the road in Minnesota. Minnesota’s offense is formidable, but the Packers’ defense, a group that has allowed just 41 total points in their last three games, should be motivated to have a big game in primetime after allowing 37 points the last time they played in front of a national TV audience. This game may come down to red zone efficiency, as the Packers and Vikings possess two of the NFL’s best red zone offenses and defenses.
The pick: Packers 23, Vikings 20