It’s a pretty depressing feeling when your favorite NFL team is eliminated from playoff contention with two weeks to play, especially when they’ve been regulars nearly your entire adult life. But I have to give my Green Bay Packers credit off-the-field, they made the CORRECT decision to shut down Aaron Rodgers instead of play him for two meaningless games to end the 2017 regular season.
Rodgers rushed back from a broken collarbone suffered in Week 6 against the Vikings and while effective against the Panthers in Week 15, he wasn’t his usual pinpoint-passing self. Green Bay’s window to win another Super Bowl with ARod is getting shorter by the season but I’m confident they’ll be a playoff contender with him in 2018.
Thank you Packers coaches and management, I, as a fan, appreciate you looking forward to the future and not risking Rodgers’ health. Now please go find a competent backup QB other than Brett Hundley.
Fortunately this Christmas weekend slate features plenty of meaningful games so here are my picks below:
Week 16 NFL Picks
Last Week: 11-5 Straight Up (SU), 8-8 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 148-76 SU, 124-99-1 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; home teams in caps)
BALTIMORE 27, Indianapolis 10 (ATS: Ravens -10.5)
The Colts are pathetic…how coach Chuck Pagano hasn’t been fired yet is a total mystery. But this will be his 2nd to last game in Indianapolis and since the Ravens are in contention for a postseason spot, it won’t be pretty for Indy.
Minnesota 30, GREEN BAY 13 (ATS: Vikings -8.5)
Well the good news for my record is I won’t be picking the Packers either of the next two weeks. Fortunately Green Bay shut down Aaron Rodgers with nothing left to play for so getting Minnesota at -8.5 is a gift. The Vikings cruise to a first round bye in the NFC playoffs while the Packers end their home schedule with another thud.
CHICAGO 23, Cleveland 13 (ATS: Bears -6.5)
The Browns are going to end up 0-16…don’t kid yourselves. The Bears are playing out the string as well but have shown some progression of late. Chicago wins ugly in likely one of the final games for coach John Fox.
Detroit 27, CINCINNATI 17 (ATS: Lions -3.5)
I thought the Lions would stink this season. Yes, yes, I was wrong. They have been surprisingly decent and still have an outside chance at making the playoffs. After blowing a late lead to the Steelers a few weeks ago, the Bengals have seemingly quit on coach Marvin Lewis. Detroit’s questionable loss to Atlanta, in part due to a dumb NFL rule in the final seconds of games might very well cost them a playoff spot.
LOS ANGELES RAMS 30, Tennessee 24 (ATS: Titans +6.5)
The Titans continue to free fall and a once all-but-guaranteed playoff spot looks highly questionable without a win over the Rams this week. And how can I pick against LA, considering the way they dominated Seattle on the road last week? Tennessee may get the backdoor cover at the end but not the win.
KANSAS CITY 27, Miami 19 (ATS: Dolphins +10.5)
I know the Chiefs played very well against the Chargers in a key game last weekend and should likely lock up the AFC West title with a win over the Dolphins on Sunday, but don’t be surprised if this game is somewhat close throughout. If Jay Cutler can keep the turnovers in check, Miami CAN, and I mean that loosely, pull the upset. That’s a big IF though…
NEW ENGLAND 31, Buffalo 20 (ATS: Bills +12.5)
The Patriots destroyed the Bills three weeks ago in Buffalo…so why should the game be any closer in Foxboro? Call it a hunch. Tyrod Taylor and the Bills hang around for a while before falling to the AFC East Champion Pats. Tom Brady adds three more TD passes to a likely MVP season (considering some of the other contenders such as Carson Wentz and Antonio Brown won’t play in the final two weeks.)
NEW ORLEANS 37, Atlanta 24 (ATS: Saints -5.5)
Falcons on a short week with the Saints at home looking for revenge from the close loss to Atlanta two weeks ago. Giving 5.5 points seems like a gift. New Orleans wins the NFC South with a fairly dominant offensive performance against the Falcons.
Los Angeles Chargers 27, NEW YORK JETS 16 (ATS: Chargers -6.5)
Don’t give up hope yet, Chargers fans. Your team still has a legitimate chance to make the playoffs if the Titans and Bills lose out (which is very possible). A win over the reeling Jets shouldn’t be too difficult though the game is on the road.
WASHINGTON 19, Denver 17 (ATS: Broncos +3.5)
The Redskins don’t block very well and the Broncos don’t move the ball well unless they’re playing either the Jets or Colts. So what gives? Washington will win an U-G-L-Y game in this battle of teams long since eliminated from postseason contention.
CAROLINA 30, Tampa Bay 20 (ATS: Panthers -9.5)
I’ve been fairly impressed with Carolina of late…especially the effectiveness of their offense. Cam Newton and company will clinch a playoff spot with this win and very well could be a tough out in the playoffs (though New Orleans seemingly has their number this season.) As for the Bucs, I expect better fortune in 2018 with a new coach replacing Dirk Koetter.
Jacksonville 24, SAN FRANCISCO 20 (ATS: 49ers +4.5)
The Jaguars rarely cover the spread during even-numbered weeks this season…in fact they did so for the first time in Week 14 against the undermanned Seahawks. Look for new 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo to lose his first game as an NFL starter but San Francisco to cover by the dreaded half point. Jacksonville’s first division title since 1999 (and their first as a member of the AFC South).
DALLAS 30, Seattle 23 (ATS: Cowboys -4.5)
The Cowboys get star RB Ezekiel Elliott back from suspension and despite only around a 9% chance of making the playoffs, I expect them to put the final nail in the Seahawks’ 2017 coffin. With no running game and a suspect offensive line, there’s only so much Russell Wilson can do to help his Seahawks. Looks like I’ll be incorrect about my preseason prediction about Dallas firing coach Jason Garrett.
ARIZONA 15, New York Giants 13 (ATS: Giants +4.5)
The Cardinals haven’t score a touchdown in 10 quarters and coach Bruce Arians for some reason decided to bench QB Blaine Gabbert for Drew Stanton, an inferior talent at the position. Not a good decision. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Giants won but I’ll reluctantly take AZ on the strength of 5 more Phil Dawson field goals.
Pittsburgh 28, HOUSTON 13 (ATS: Steelers -9.5)
No Antonio Brown? Usually a problem for Pittsburgh but not this week. The Texans have packed it in for the Winter and won’t be competitive until next Fall. Ben Roethlisberger usually struggles on the road but not in this one…the Steelers roll and are one step closer to a first round playoff bye in the AFC.
PHILADELPHIA 34, Oakland 21 (ATS: Eagles -8.5)
In (Eagles QB and UofA alum) Nick Foles I trust…until the playoffs. The Raiders have to be so darn demoralized after they lost a game and their remaining postseason hopes on a crazy fumble at the end of Sunday night’s game vs. the Cowboys. As much as I’d like the last (NFL) Monday Night Football game of the season to be close…I just don’t see it.
NFL Week 16 Best Bets
Last Week: 4-0-1
Dolphins +10.5 vs. Chiefs
Saints -5.5 vs. Dolphins
Lions -5 at Bengals
Panthers / Buccaneers Over 47 Total Points
49ers +4 vs. Jaguars
And as usual, here are my weekly fantasy football predictions:
PPR HERO (an underrated player who will finish in the top-10 at his position this week):
Season Record: 4-11
Week 16: Eric Ebron (TE, Lions)
PPR ZERO (a top-15 player who will finish outside of the top-20 at his position this week):
Season Record: 11-4
Week 16: Kirk Cousins (QB, Redskins)
KICK IT TO WIN IT (A likely waiver wire kicker who will end up in the top-10):
Season Record: 6-9
Week 16: Phil Dawson (Cardinals)
PUNT OF THE WEEK (the team I think will punt most frequently therefore upgrading the other team’s fantasy defense…aka turning them into a top-10 fantasy D for the week):
Season Record: 12-3
Week 16: Indianapolis Colts (vs. Baltimore Ravens)