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Week 16 Predictions for the 2014 NFL Season
There are still a few murky areas to clean up before we see the entire playoff picture in completed form. The Patriots, Broncos, and Colts have clinched their respective division while the Cardinals have clinched a playoff birth. Divisions like the AFC/NFC North and NFC East will be decided by the end of the season so we'll have to wait until then. Some teams such as Houston, Atlanta, and San Diego will keep their playoff hopes alive with a win this week. Going to be a fun week. The last week though should be even better. Good luck to your team.
Titans @ Jaguars: I'm giving an overall grade of a D+ for Thursday night games. Only a couple were watchable. There were some games you felt excited for and circled on your calender when the schedule was released but they ended up being a dud. Maybe what could happen is don't even schedule Thursday night games (other than the ones on Thanksgiving) to begin with. The "schedule committee" can just wait until the season starts and take notice on what teams are playing at their best. Of course to make it easier on the coaches and players, schedule that respective Thursday game for the week after the next week. So if you look at it, TNF won't officially start until the third week. Could be a lot of work but it might be an improvement. Of course, there is also the popular "schedule Thursday games for teams that are coming off a bye week". I'm sure something will be figured out.
Eagles @ Redskins: Continuing with my scheduling suggestions, maybe a Saturday game could have been scheduled last week. Of course there was the Army-Navy game and the Heisman Trophy presentation so it wouldn't have worked out. Saturday games are pretty fun to watch overall, unlike the Redskins this season. A winnable game for Philadelphia as they try to get into the playoffs.
Chargers @ 49ers: Another Saturday game that is very important for a team to get into the playoffs: San Diego. It could go either way but I do think San Francisco will rain on the Chargers hopes. After all, the players will likely play their heart out for the fans in their final home game of the season in what has been very disappointing. It will also be Jim Harbaugh's last home game. Maybe there will be mixed feelings from players but regardless, he's done a very good job.
Vikings @ Dolphins: Kicks and throws alike are what Vikings Blair Walsh and Teddy Bridgewater would like to have back from last week in what would have been a nice win over Detroit. It was a good first half up until the interceptions that were thrown allowing the Lions to make off with 10 points to end the half. The defense did well enough to only allow one touchdown and three field goals. Should be a fun defensive battle in South Beach.
Ravens @ Texans: Seems like nearly every season, we see these two teams meet up. This will be the sixth time in seven years they meet and Houston has been on the losing end for the most part. I'm not sure who will get the start at quarterback but watch out for Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs.
Lions @ Bears: Jimmy Clausen will get the start for Chicago after the benching of Jay Cutler. Hopefully it will allow Cutler to evaluate himself and the game of football. So much potential coming into this season only to go out in smoke. Who knows what will happen when the season is over. No quarterback problem for Detroit's Matthew Stafford. Only thing is it will be interesting to see how he performs next week at Green Bay (I really think that this game will be flexed for Sunday night) and in the playoffs, if they do get there. That defense will cause some trouble but Stafford will be the x-factor.
Browns @ Panthers: The Panthers have allowed an average of 269 total yards on defense in the last three games. Will they hold Cleveland scoreless for the second consecutive week? That is unknown but I'm pretty sure Johnny Football will have a better game. We're not in college anymore after watching his first start. For him to become Johnny Playoffs, well maybe Cleveland can copy what Seattle has been doing. Speaking of playoffs, Derek Anderson, who is undefeated as a starting QB for Carolina, was on Carolina's roster last season when they won the NFC South. Now he made the Pro Bowl in 2007 when he was playing for the Browns and finished with a record of 10-5. No playoffs but they were close. Beats me what happened in the seasons after but I'm sure he will have something for this game in mind.
Falcons @ Saints: These two teams met to begin the season and, in a sense, will meet again to end the season (well there is still one week to go). Both defenses stink so it is going to be a high scoring game (when has it not been a high scoring game whenever the Saints and Falcons met). Drew Brees really look determined last Monday in Chicago to get a win and keep their playoff hopes alive so I am giving New Orleans the win.
Packers @ Buccaneers: The dropped pass by Jordy Nelson (could have been a touchdown or at least a FG) against Buffalo last Sunday will be looked at as the possible slip-up that prevents Green Bay from winning the NFC North, and possibly getting a bye week for the playoffs. However, you surely have to be concerned about the Packers offense going up against a more physical defense because they really couldn't do much on some possessions last week. We'll find out next week how Aaron Rodgers and their offense does against Detroit. Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will miss the remaining two games which should make Rodgers very happy.
Chiefs @ Steelers: Probably one of the biggest games of the week between two potential playoff teams. At this moment, Pittsburgh is in while Kansas City is not. Based on the playoff machine on ESPN, the Chiefs have to win the next two games to clinch a spot. For the Steelers, they would have to win at least one game and hope the Broncos beat the Bengals on Monday night. They can clinch the North if they win out. The Chiefs are allowing the most rush yards per carry (4.9) in the AFC and will face Le'Veon Bell, second-leading rusher in the league.
Patriots @ Jets: Been some rough games to watch for the Jets. We'll see what happens at seasons end (coaching changes and draft/FA additions) and for the next few years but it looks like they will be last in the AFC East for some time. Again, we'll see. For New England, they will have something to say about Terrance Knighton's (Broncos DT) Super Bowl comments.
Giants @ Rams: I've been undecided for the most part between these teams because of the catching brilliance by Odell Beckham, Jr. I'm amazed on how he has been doing this season (maybe he will win Offensive Rookie of the Year) but I also had something in the back of my mind and figured that he will be good. However, as amazing he has been, I think the Rams defense will hold the Giants down.
Bills @ Raiders: The win last week against the Packers gives Buffalo a 4-0 record against NFC North teams. Considering the status of Green Bay and Super Bowl talk, probably their best win of the season. Not sure what will happen with Kyle Orton and/or EJ Manuel, but I like them over Miami in the years to come. The Raiders have found their quarterback in Derek Carr so hopefully there won't be any major changes that occurs in the offseason that will negate his growth. A wide receiver or defensive player in the 2015 draft can help. Buffalo's defense will make the difference giving them nine wins heading into the last week of the season.
Colts @ Cowboys: Cowboys are at home where they haven't been very great all season (3-4 record at home compared to a 7-0 road record) but I like their chances against Andrew Luck and his turnover issues. As long as Tony Romo doesn't make any mistakes himself then Dallas has a chance. Despite DeMarco Murray having a limited role on offense (I'm thinking that will happen because of his hand) there is no reason to worry about Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar carrying the rock.
Seahawks @ Cardinals: The Seahawks already took care of Arizona on their own field so now it is time to head to the desert. Mind you it will be against another backup quarterback as Drew Stanton was taking over for Carson Palmer when Arizona met up in Seattle. Now it is Ryan Lindley under the helm as he takes over for Stanton. I am giving the Cardinals some wiggle room because they are coming into this game with a little over a week of rest. The run game for Arizona, both offensively and defending it, will make a difference in this game because of the recent success they have had running the ball the last two weeks. Last weeks game defending the run was quite a positive turnaround compared to the week prior (Gave up 126 rushing yards to KC to 69 rushing yards to the Rams in the next game). It will be a closer game than what some might expect but I really like the way Seattle has been playing overall lately.
Broncos @ Bengals: Probably one of the more intriguing Monday night games we will get to view this season between these two playoff teams. I would think this game is of more importance for Cincinnati because they go on the road to Pittsburgh next week. If they take a loss, they will have to hope that a) Pittsburgh beats Kansas City this week and b) Kansas City beat San Diego next week. Somehow this tie that they have will come in affect in their favor at the end. Denver comes in to this game allowing the least total yards per game in the AFC and have established quite a run game offensively.
Bonus: Bowl games start this upcoming Saturday (Dec. 20) with the R+L Carriers Bowl in New Orleans ending with the Championship game on January 12. Here, I will make my pics up to Christmas Eve and will make more for the next article and so on.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Nevada vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs. UTEP Pick: UTEP
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Colorado State Pick: Utah
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Air Force Pick: Air Force
Raycom Media Camallia Bowl: South Alabama vs. Bowling Green Pick: Bowling Green
Miami Peach Bowl: BYU vs. Memphis Pick: BYU
Boca Raton Bowl: Marshall vs. Northern Illinois Pick: Marshall
San Diego Poinsettia Bowl: Navy vs. San Diego State Pick: San Diego State
Popeyes Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky Pick: Central Michigan
Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Rice Pick: Fresno State