Friday, December 24, 2004

NFL: Week 16 Picks

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings… Minnesota (1)
Playing at the Metrodome, Minnesota comes in with a big advantage. Green Bay, off a bad loss last week to Jacksonville, is already in the playoffs and fighting only for the NFC North divisional title. Due to the home field advantage, I like the Vikings in this one.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs… Kansas City (2)
If the Chiefs played any defense at all, they would have been a playoff team this season. It would seem that Kansas City has the ability to outscore mediocre teams like Denver and Oakland.

Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans… Denver (2)
Despite Denver’s recent struggles, they are good enough to beat Tennessee. I’ve finally figured out a way to pick Titans games. Go against home field advantage. Tennessee is 1-5 this season at home. If this game were being played in Denver, I’d go with the Titans.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions… Detroit (2)
Joey Harrington showed last week against Minnesota that he’s capable of leading his team to victory in the last two minutes. Neither of these teams have much to look forward to this year, meaning almost anything could happen in this game. Fifteen weeks into the season, Detroit’s shown them to be slightly better than Chicago.

San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts… Indianapolis (1)
On the artificial turf in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning should finally break Dan Marino’s single-season TD mark of 48. Most likely, we’ll witness an offensive shootout. San Diego has a hard time defending the pass, while Indianapolis can’t seem to tackle anybody. Whoever wins this game is a lock for the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs. However, the Colts weak defense could be cause for concern, especially against the balanced Charger offense. Overall, this one’s a toss-up.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars… Jacksonville (2)
The Jaguars win over Green Bay combined with the Denver and Baltimore losses put them back in the playoffs with the 6th seed. Now it’s up to them not to lose focus and take care of business at home. The way Fred Taylor is running the football, I like Jacksonville’s chances.

New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals… Cincinnati (2)
You have to wonder what might have been had Tom Coughlin decided to stick with Kurt Warner at QB. Looking at the weak state of the NFC, Kurt Warner would likely have won an extra game or two and led New York to the playoffs. Anyhow, I remain impressed with the Bengals, even after getting crushed by the surging Bills last week.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints… New Orleans (1)
Atlanta has reached the point in their season where nothing they do will advance their seeding. As a result, coach Jim Mora Jr. has decided to sit star QB Mike Vick for this game. Consequently, a hungry Saints team should have enough to win this game and remain in the playoff hunt.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers… Pittsburgh (3)
Baltimore desperately needs a win to get into the playoffs. Their loss to Indianapolis knocked them out of the playoffs and propelled Jacksonville into the last wild card. This should be a low-scoring, defensive oriented game. Last week was Pittsburgh’s one slip-up, and they managed to survive with a victory. They should come out ready, considering home field is still on the line.

Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers… Buffalo (3)
The Bills are right back in the playoff race. All SF has to do to get the #1 draft pick is lose to Buffalo and New England in Week 17. Buffalo should win this game by a very large margin.

New England Patriots at New York Jets… New England (2)
In games against the very elite teams (Pittsburgh and New England), the Jets have consistently come up just short. Despite losing to the Dolphins on Monday night, New England remains a team that knows how to win. The Jets are still learning how to perform in the big spot. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots losing two straight football games in December, knowing that a collapse could allow San Diego to sneak into the #2 seed.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks… Seattle (2)
The Cardinals are an entirely different team playing on the road. Their only road win this year was against the putrid Dolphins. I hate to pick the Seahawks anymore, but I will this week.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers… Carolina (1)
After struggling through a dismal start to 2004, Carolina has turned their season around and is in the playoffs with a record of 6-8. They showed heart last week, orchestrating a 4th Quarter comeback only to succumb in OT to the Falcons. I’d call this a “do or die” game in the NFC playoffs, but it seems that even the most mediocre teams can stay in the playoff hunt.

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys… Washington (1)
The Cowboys quarterback situation is a mess. Is it Henson, Romo, or Testaverde this week? The Redskins superior defense will cause problems for whoever is taking the snaps and should contain Julius Jones.

Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins… Miami (2)
I’m going against a promise I made a few months ago. In this one, Miami will likely enter the game as a slight favorite. It seems like Miami’s been playing a bit better and Cleveland has regressed greatly. The Browns have yet to win a road game this season. The Dolphins would surely like to end this miserable season with a big victory at the Pro.

Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams… Philadelphia (1)
The Eagles took a hit last week, losing WR Terrell Owens for the season. St. Louis comes into this game having looked horrendous in their last two football games. It’s hard to envision a scenario where the Rams are able to rebound and save their season against Philadelphia.


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