NFL Week 16 Preview and Predictions
Week 16 Headlines
Packers Shut Rodgers Down: After seeing their hopes for the playoffs dashed, the Green Bay Packers have opted to shut down Aaron Rodgers for the remainder of the season.
Zeke Returns: After finally serving his six-game suspension, Ezekiel Elliot will make his return to the field on Sunday when the Cowboys host the Seattle Seahawks.
Marvin Lewis Done in Cincy: After 15 seasons (including zero playoff wins) in that have made him the longest-tenured head coach in franchise history, Marvin Lewis is planning to leave the Bengals after this season to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Fantasy Football Start Em/Sit Em
Starting Quarterbacks: Dak Prescott, Blake Bortles, Philip Rivers, Nick Foles
Sitting Quarterbacks: Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr
Starting Running Backs: Dion Lewis, Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins, Latavius Murray, Jordan Howard
Sitting Running Backs: Marshawn Lynch, Samaje Perine, Frank Gore, Doug Martin
Starting Receivers: Juju Smith-Schuster, Stefon Diggs, Robert Woods, Mohamed Sanu
Sitting Receivers: Randall Cobb, Marquise Goodwin, Jamison Crowder, Rishard Matthews
Starting Tight Ends: Jack Doyle, Greg Olsen, Evan Engram, Delanie Walker
Sitting Tight Ends: Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Charles Clay, Austin Hooper
Starting Defenses: Ravens, Panthers, Chargers, Eagles
Sitting Defenses: Seahawks, Bills, Texans, Titans, Falcons
Colts vs. Ravens: Baltimore controls their own playoff destiny. They’re headed to postseason play if they win their final two games. The dysfunctional Colts have one foot in the offseason as it is. They’ll fight long enough for the Ravens defense and Alex Collins to knock it out of them. Baltimore picks up the win here.
Vikings vs. Packers: Even though the Packers have shut down Aaron Rodgers, I still expect them to be out for blood. The Vikings are the team that put Rodgers on the shelf and essentially ruined their season. Case Keenum should keep his head on a swivel this game. I expect this game to get dirty. Maybe not Steelers and Bengals levels of absurdity, but a physical game nonetheless. With a first-round bye still on the line and a superior team, I expect the Vikings to take care of business in this one.
Rams vs. Titans: Los Angeles passed another test last week when they went to Seattle and manhandled the broken remains of the Seahawks. With a virtual lock of the NFC West, they can make it official and break out the hats and t-shirts with a win over the Titans. Tennessee has been in free fall recently, and are currently in danger of falling right out of the playoff picture. They need a win badly. So expect a desperate effort from them. Unfortunately, it won’t be enough. They don’t have the playmakers on defense to stop the Rams offense and their offense isn’t playing well enough to keep up. The Rams will win and lock up their first division title since 2003 (their first in LA since 1985).
Bills vs. Patriots: Buffalo is another team barely hanging on to their playoff hopes. The sad part is their Nate Peterson experiment may cost them in the end. Not only did it cost them a potential win, but it also gave the LA Chargers the tiebreaker over them. Winning out would be the ideal scenario for the Bills, but a trip to Foxborough complicates things. New England has their own agenda. They have to keep winning to secure the top seed in the AFC after getting the advantage over Pittsburgh a week ago. Brady has only lost to the Bills three times in his career. Don’t expect Sunday to be the fourth time.
Browns vs. Bears: This is it. The last chance for the Cleveland Browns to secure a win in 2017. With a loss to the Patriots and the Jaguars sneaking up on them in the standings, Pittsburgh will be all in against Cleveland in Week 17. Like the Browns, Chicago has a rookie quarterback under center. They were penalized 13 times in their loss to Detroit last week. Also, they have lost 10 games in four straight seasons. Statistically, the Bears rank 31st in passing yards and are a run-heavy team. So of course, the Browns will load up the box and force the Bears into passing. But can they stop Jordan Howard? Probably not. But I’m predicting a Christmas miracle for the Browns. In a sloppy and probably low-scoring game, I’m picking Cleveland to end the madness and secure their only win of the season.
Falcons vs. Saints: Atlanta is in a beautiful position. They control their own playoff destiny and own the tiebreaker against all the teams behind them in the standings. Even better, they win the NFC South if they win out. However, their level of play is concerning. They squeezed by in their last two games with close wins. They could’ve easily lost both games. Their defense isn’t making enough plays despite their speed and athleticism. Their offense isn’t playing up to standard either. And given their recent history, an embarrassing collapse isn’t exactly impossible. The Saints will be healthier than they were a few weeks ago and hungrier as well. They know they gave one away to Atlanta a few weeks ago. And in their house, I believe we see a more focused and disciplined effort from the Saints. Nearly 200 yards in team rushing and 300 yards from Drew Brees wouldn’t be a shock. Look for the Saints to win.
Lions vs. Bengals: The Lions playoff hopes are on life support. They need the Falcons to falter to even make it. But with so much to play for, I don’t expect a Bengals team playing so poorly to stop them now.
Buccaneers vs. Panthers: Jameis Winston played is coming off his best game of the season. Had he been playing like that for the entire season, the Buccaneers may have lived up to the NFC sleeper hype. But the fact still remains that he isn’t the most consistent QB in the league. Plus, the Bucs defense is still banged up. Cam Newton is playing his best football since his MVP season and the defense is to be respected. Don’t expect the Panthers to keep the Bucs around like the Falcons did. I expect the Panthers to win big.
Dolphins vs. Chiefs: After a midseason slide, the Chiefs are back in control of the AFC West and their playoff destiny. A win here would lock up the AFC West. The Dolphins playoff hopes barely have a pulse at this point. They’d need the miracle of collapses from the Chargers, Titans, Ravens, and Bills. Kansas City is clicking right now, and won’t miss this opportunity to secure their playoff spot. I expect them to win this one.
Broncos vs. Redskins: The Broncos were able to find some offense against the Colts last week, but that was just the Colts. While Washington is banged up beyond recognition, they’ll still go down shooting. And with the Broncos dysfunctional offense, this game should be close. The difference is the Broncos top-ranked total defense. They’ll take care of their end. And as long as the Broncos stick to the run like they did last week, I expect them to win the game.
Chargers vs. Jets: The Chargers blew a golden opportunity last week. Now they no longer control their own destiny. They have two routes to the playoffs that both require them to beat the Jets in New York and the Raiders in what will be an L.A. homecoming for them. The first route would require the Chiefs to lose their final two games. The Chargers would enter the postseason as AFC West champions. The second route requires the Titans to lose twice and the Bills to lose once. But it all starts with taking care of the Jets. While the Jets have shown plenty of heart this season, they’re just about out of gas. The Chargers will take care of business.
Jaguars vs. 49ers: San Francisco has clearly found their guy at quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo has won all of his starts thus far, but his luck runs out this week. He hasn’t faced anything like the Jags defense. Plus, Jacksonville has a chance at a first round should the Steelers falter. Winning out would keep the pressure on. So expect Jacksonville to do just that.
Seahawks vs. Cowboys: It’s beginning to look like Seattle’s Legion of Boom era is over. The Jaguars and the Rams saw to that. Their playoff hopes are at the miracle stage. They would have to win out and hope the Falcons and Lions collapse down the stretch. With the current state of things, they’re practically limping into Dallas to play the Cowboys. And to make matters worse, the Cowboys have a well-rested Zeke back in the fold. Dallas has their own playoff hopes that are quickly fading. They need to win out, have the Falcons or Panthers lose twice, and the Lions to lose once. With Zeke back, this is a far better team that can go back to doing what they do best. Zeke will power the offense on the ground while taking the pressure of the defense thanks to the time of possession. He also takes the pressure off of Dak since opposing defenses will be focused on the run. The Seahawks are a battered team coming apart at the seems. A perfect opponent for the Cowboys to beat.
Giants vs. Cardinals: With both of these teams headed to early fishing trips, I’ll go with Bruce Arians ability to motivate. The Cardinals win a close game that no one cares about.
Steelers vs. Texans: With the gut punch of a loss to the Patriots, the Steelers cannot afford any more missteps. The Jaguars own the tiebreaker over them and are just one game back. They have to take care of the chalk outline version of the Houston Texans. Expect a blowout and a win in favor of the Steelers.
Raiders vs. Eagles: Thanks to a folded index card and a costly ‘doing to much’ fumble at the goal line, the Raiders playoff hopes are all but dead. The Raiders have to go on the road and beat the Eagles and win their LA homecoming against the Chargers just to start. Then they have to hope the Bills lose their last two games, the Titans lose their last two games, and the Dolphins win their last two games. So basically, their season is over. The Eagles can clinch home-field advantage with a win and should have no trouble doing so. The Raiders defense is awful. Nick Foles played well last week and should continue that trend against one of the worst defenses in the league. The Raiders won’t be able to even stop the run. Offensively, the Raiders have routinely underachieved. You can forget about them running against the Eagles front. And Derek Carr is good for a turnover or two as well. The Eagles will have no issue dealing with the Raiders.