Week 16 NFL Games – Previews and Predictions


The week 16 NFL schedule is quite compelling, with six games featuring a pair of teams that are both battling for playoff positions. The best early game is a rematch between between the Saints and Panthers, taking place this time in Charlotte. New Orleans throttled Carolina 34-7 in the Big Easy two weeks ago, but the Saints have won just one of their last five road games, and that was by only four points over an Atlanta team that was just 2-8 at the time. Sunday night wraps up with Philadelphia hosting Chicago in a what should be a high scoring game that impacts a total of five playoff contenders in the NFC East and NFC North. Both New England and Baltimore fans will be keeping an eye on Minnesota at Cincinnati and Miami at Buffalo, and Pats fans will also be checking the scoreboard for Denver at Houston – and depending on the level of angst, perhaps Indianapolis at Kansas City as well.

For more on the playoff picture, check out Week 16 NFL Playoff Scenarios.


New England Patriots (10-4) at Baltimore Ravens (8-6) ★★★★★
Late game on CBS; Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

The Patriots look to get more production from Shane Vereen this week in Baltimore
(USA TODAY Images)

Terrell Suggs has been quiet lately, both literally and figuratively. T-Sizzle hasn’t had much to say to the media, even when baited with questions about the Patriots and Tom Brady; on the field he has ten total tackles over the last five games and not a single sack over the last six games. The New England offensive line has not been up to its usual high standards this season though, in part due to RT Sebastian Vollmer being on IR and LT Nate Solder missing time due to a concussion. The moribund Baltimore running game has shown some life the last two weeks (4.3 yards per carry last week), which is bad news for a Patriot defense that ranks 31st at 133 yards per game. More on this game here:
By The Numbers: A Statistical Preview of the New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
Christopher Price and the Patriots Fourth and Two Podcast
Patriots’ All-22 Film Study: Ravens’ Offense Presents A Challenge
Why the Patriots could be primed to push tempo again Sunday against the Ravens
Steve Grogan’s Grade: Pats-Dolphins Review and Ravens Preview
Ravens, NFL fans can thank Jacoby Jones for big plays
Patriots-Ravens: Who Gets The Razor’s Edge?
Ten Things You Need To Know About The Patriots-Ravens
Patriots’ Brady on Showdown versus Ravens: “We Need It”
Two Way Street: Looking at Both Sides of Patriots versus Ravens
Patriots’ Chandler Jones Closes Communication With His Brother As Battle Looms
Rookie WR Aaron Dobson Nearing A Return For Patriots

Pick • Ravens 23, Patriots 21
Patriots +2½
under 45
Final Score: Patriots 41, Ravens 7 … New England covers by 26½ … over by 3


New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Carolina Panthers (10-4) ★★★★★
Early game on FOX; Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
The Saints have lost four of their last five on the road, but get a bit of a break with the temperature in Charlotte expected to be around 70 on Sunday. New Orleans can clinch the NFC South and a first round bye with a win, while Carolina can clinch a playoff spot with a victory. The Saints may have been looking ahead to this game last week; after stymieing the Carolina defense two weeks ago, St. Louis was able to mount an effective pass rush for a 27-16 victory last week. New Orleans averages 33 points per game at the Superdome but just 18 on the road, and the Panthers have revenge on their mind after losing 31-13 in the Big Easy two weeks ago. Their home field advantage may not be so pronounced, but Carolina has won six in a row in Charlotte by an average score of 31-12 – and the Saints have been outscored by that same average score in their last two road games.

Pick • Panthers 24, Saints 17
Panthers -2½
under 47 (one unit) ✔ +100
Final Score: Panthers 17, Saints 13 … Carolina covers by 1½ … under by 17


Chicago Bears (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) ★★★★
Sunday night on NBC; Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
Both clubs could clinch their respective division with a win here, plus a little help. Chicago takes the NFC North with a victory plus losses by both Detroit and Green Bay; Philly wins the NFC East with a win plus a loss by Dallas. LeSean McCoy leads the league with 1,343 rushing yards and 1,850 yards from scrimmage, though he was limited to 38 yards rushing on just eight carries last week. Expect that to make a 180 Sunday against a Chicago defense that is by far the NFL’s worst, allowing 5.2 yards per carry and 152 yards rushing per game. That doesn’t mean the Bears are out of it though, as they can light up the scoreboard themselves, and the Eagles have yet to show they can stop an opposing passing attack. This should be a very competitive and entertaining high scoring affair.

Pick • Eagles 31, Bears 30
Bears +3½
over 55½
Final Score: Eagles 54, Bears 11 … Philadelphia covers by 46½ … over by 9½


Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) ★★★★
Early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf
The Colts haven’t beaten a good team since defeating Denver in week 7, and have not won two in a row since they beat the hapless Texans in their following game. Kansas City has bounced back nicely after their three game losing streak and their offense is clicking, averaging 42 points over their last four games. Jamaal Charles now has 1,836 yards from scrimmage; I don’t see Indy having the talent to stop him.

Pick • Chiefs 31, Colts 21
Chiefs -6½
over 44½ (one unit) ✘ -110
Final Score: Colts 23, Chiefs 7 … Indianapolis covers by 22½ … under by 14½


Arizona Cardinals (9-5) at Seattle Seahawks (12-2) ★★★★
Late game on FOX; Chris Myers and Tim Ryan
If you like watching two good defenses get after it then record this game to watch after the Pats game is over. Arizona has won six of their last seven games and has held opponents to 14 or fewer points six times this season. Seattle has won eight of nine and owns the NFL’s best record; they have limited opponents to twenty or fewer points eleven times this year. Last week the Seahawk defense picked off Eli Manning five times and they now lead the NFL with 22 interceptions, points allowed (14.6), yards per game (279), passing yardage (174) and yards per pass attempt (5.8). Carson Palmer seems to have finally grasped the Arizona offense, but they’re not strong enough to be the first team since 2011 to win at Seattle.

Pick • Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17
Cardinals +10½ (one unit) ✔ +100
under 44½
Final Score: Cardinals 17, Seahawks 10 … Arizona covers by 17½ … under by 17½


Miami Dolphins (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9) ★★★
Early game on CBS; Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson ran for almost 200 yards last week, and Buffalo’s game plan will be to repeat that performance against the Dolphins. The problem is that with both E.J. Manuel and Steve Johnson out for the Bills against a healthy Dolphin secondary, Miami will be stacking eight in the box. Will the Dolphins have an emotional letdown after beating the Patriots? Ryan Tannehill has completed 65 percent of his passes for 843 yards, 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the last three games; with the temperature expected to be in the mid-forties Sunday he and the Dolphins should be able to gain their ninth victory.

Pick • Dolphins 24, Bills 13
Dolphins -3 (one unit) ✘ -110
under 43½
Final Score: Bills 19, Dolphins 0 … Buffalo covers by 22 … under by 24½


Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) ★★★
Late game on CBS; Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots
Aaaron Rodgers is out once again, so Matt Flynn will make his fifth appearance and fourth start for the packers this year. Green Bay is somehow still in the race for the NFC North title, but that has more to do with other clubs than it does with their playing well. Detroit’s run has stalled due to their inability to not turn the ball over, most of Chicago’s starters on defense are injured, and their two recent victories were against the feeble Falcons and the self-destructing Cowboys. Pittsburgh looked solid in last week’s win against Cincinnati and are now 4-2 since the Patriots crushed them 55-31 in week 9. The Green Bay defense (25.9 ppg, 21st) can be run on (123 ypg, 25th; 4.6 yards per carry, 27th) and doesn’t fare too much better in the passing game (26 TD, 9 INT, 253 ypg).

Pick • Upset: Steelers 31, Packers 24
Steelers +2½ (one unit) ✔ +100
over 43½
Final Score: Steelers 38, Packers 31 … Pittsburgh covers by 9½ … over by 25½


Dallas Cowboys (7-7) at Washington Redskins (3-11) ★★★
Early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch
It will be intersting to see how Dallas responds from last week’s meltdown, when they blew a 23-point haftime lead and 12-point lead with less than eight minutes to play to a Packer team that was without Aaron Rodgers. The Cowboys have lost back-to-back games and three of their last five, and it is impossible for them to not hear the comparisons to previous December swoons. Dallas is on the verge of missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season and Tony Romo now has a 13-20 record in December and January. Fueling that fire is a key play late that Romo audibled and threw a pick; it was supposed to be a running play for DeMarco Murray, who was averaging 7.4 yards per carry against a soft Green Bay rush defense.

In 2011 Dallas lost four of their last five and last year they lost their final two games to miss the post-season; will that happen yet again? Perhaps, but facing a dysfunctional Washington team may be just what the doctor ordered. The Skins are dead last in the NFL in scoring defense (31 point per game), and their season can’t end soon enough for them. Washington has lost six in a row, by an average score of 30-17. Kirk Cousins put up some nice fantasy stats (381 yards, 3 TD) but more importantly he threw two picks and also had a fumble against an Atlanta defense that is among the worst in forcing turnovers. Both clubs would be well served to let their running backs (Murray and Alfred Morris) play a larger role – but that probably won’t happen.

Pick • Cowboys 27, Redskins 21
Cowboys -3
under 54
Final Score: Cowboys 24, Redskins 23 … Washington covers by 2 … under by 7


Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) ★★★
Early game on FOX; Dick Stockton and Ronde Barber
Matt Cassel has been by far the best quarterback for Minnesota all year. Bizarrely, head coach Leslie Frazier did not use Cassel when games mattered but is using him now that the only thing the Vikings are looking forward to is the draft. Meanwhile Josh Freeman collects $1,666,667 per week to watch games; wouldn’t it be worth it to give him one more chance to show something?

Pick • Bengals 34, Vikings 20
Bengals -7 (one unit) ✔ +100
over 47½
Final Score: Bengals 42, Vikings 14 … Cincinnati covers by 21 … over by 8½


New York Giants (5-9) at Detroit Lions (7-7) ★★★
Late game on FOX; Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston
The Detroit offense is third best in the NFL in passing yards (292) and total yards (405) per game but their problems with turnovers has become epidemic. The Lions have given the ball away 18 times in the last five games; that makes 31 on the season, with the Giants (39) being the only team with more. Defensively the Giants have been okay, allowing 3.8 yards per rush (4th) and 6.7 yards per pass (6th), so if they can find a way to protect the ball they have a shot. Calvin Johnson has only one touchdown in the last four games and has been limited to under 100 yards in each of his last two games; Detroit needs to get him going in order to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Pick • Lions 21, Giants 17
Giants +9½
under 49½
Final Score: Giants 23, Lions 20 in OT … New York covers by 12½ … under by 6½


Oakland Raiders (4-10) at San Diego Chargers (7-7) ★★★
Late game on CBS; Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker
The Raiders gave up 56 points last week, but a very large chunk of the blame for that outburst goes to their offense, who turning the ball over seven times. Matt McGloin threw four picks and also lost a fumble, and if Oakland continues to cough it up then the potent San Diego defense will run away with this game. The Chargers may be eliminated by the time this game gets under way – they need to win out while Baltimore and Miami both lose their last two games – but would still like to exact some revenge for a week five loss at Oakland that they wish they could have back. Philip Rivers (70% completion rate, 4,048 yards, 28 TD, 9 interceptions) is having an MVP-worthy year and should shred this Oakland defense.

Pick • Chargers 34, Raiders 24
Raiders +10
over 50½
Final Score: Chargers 26, Raiders 13 … San Diego covers by 3 … under by 11½


Denver Broncos (11-3) at Houston Texans (2-12) ★★
Early game on CBS; Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
The Houston musical chairs at quarterback continues, with Matt Schaub once again getting the call due to Case Keenum’s ankle injury. RB Ben Tate was mercifully placed on injured reserve with four broken ribs; with Arian Foster already on IR that leaves rookie Dennis Johnson to get the start. With or without a concussion, this is a good game to give wes Welker a rest; chances of the Broncos being upset by Houston are slim and none.

Pick • Broncos 28, Texans 17
Broncos -10½
under 53½ (one unit) ✔ +100
Final Score: Broncos 37, Texans 13 … Denver covers by 13½ … under by 3½


Tampa Bay Bucs (4-10) at St. Louis Rams (6-8) ★★
Early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick
From a fan’s perspective, there are four players worth watching: Tampa LB Lavonte David (126 tackles, 6 sacks, 5 interceptions, 9 passes defensed) and DT Gerald McCoy (8 sacks, 7 tackles for a losss), and RB Zac Stacy (854 yards rushing and 6 TD despite not starting until October) and DE Robert Quinn (15 sacks, 10 TFL) for St. Louis. Other than that this is an extended audition for 2014 for players like Buc QB Mike Glennon. Tampa Bay gained 172 yards on two scoring drives last week, and a mere 11 yards on their nine other drives in their loss to San Francisco. Glennon is not getting any help from the running game (under 70 yards in three of the last four games), but he hasn’t done much to state his case either. Glennon has failed to pass for more than 180 yards in each of the last three games, going 41-90 with four picks during that span.

Pick • Rams 27, Bucs 24
Buccaneers +5½
over 42½
Final Score: Rams 23, Bucs 13 … St. Louis covers by 4½ … under by 6½


Tennessee Titans (5-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) ★★
Early game on CBS; Andrew Catalon and Adam Archuleta
There is a fine line in the level of talent in the NFL, and Jacksonville may be the more motivated team right now. The Jaguars responded to being called possibly the worst team in the history of the NFL by winning four of their last six; Tennessee on the other hand has lost five of their last six after being talked about as a playoff contender. The wildcard in all of that is if the Titans are still embarrassed about being the first team to lose to the Jaguars this year.

Pick • Upset: Jaguars 27, Titans 24
Jaguars +5½
over 43½
Final Score: Titans 20, Jaguars 16 … Jacksonville covers by 1½ … under by 7½


Cleveland Browns (4-10) at New York Jets (6-8)
Early game on CBS; Marv Albert and Rich Gannon
The Jets have now missed the post-season for the third straight year, and as a result many in the Big Apple are calling for Rex Ryan to be fired; if that happens this will be the foot lover’s final home game. The frustration for Jet fans is nothing compared to Cleveland’s: the Browns have now missed the playoffs for eleven straight years, and have lost 10+ games in each of the last six years. The game will come down to how productive the New York front seven led by Mo Wilkerson (ten sacks) and Calvin Pace (nine sacks) is; when Jason Campbell is given enough time then Josh Gordon (NFL best 1,467 receiving yards) should be able to beat the Jet defensive backs for long gains.

Pick • Upset: Browns 17, Jets 16
Browns +2½
under 41
Final Score: Jets 24, Browns 13 … New Jersey covers by 8½ … under by 4


Atlanta Falcons (4-10) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden
When the schedule was made last spring this matchup was supposed to be a coup for ESPN and Monday Night Football, a rematch of last year’s conference championship game in the last regular season game at Candlestick Park. Instead we have an ineffective Atlanta team planning tee times on a long road trip with nothing to play for against a club that has become healthier and stronger over the last several weeks. The Niners should be able to play keep away by handing off to Frank Gore; San Francisco’s rushing offense is 5th in yards per game (137) and averages 4.2 yards per carry while Atlanta’s defense is allowing 131 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry, both the third worst in the NFL.

Pick • 49ers 27, Falcons 13
Niners -12½
under 46
Final Score: 49ers 34, Falcons 24 … Atlanta covers by 2½ … over by 12


Three-Game Parlay (one unit) ✘ -100
Saints-Panthers under 47
Dolphins -3 at Buffalo
Bengals -7 vs Vikings



$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

I had a bad feeling heading into week 15 seeing so many favorites playing on the road, but as it turned out the picks against the spread were okay – at least the ones I felt good about. Overall I should have had more confidence in some of those dogs that I was reluctant to pull the trigger on. Not much risked, which is a good plan when one’s confidence in those games is low, but I’ll take a double-digit return on one day’s investment any time.


Tale Of The Tape

Week 15 Results

Straight Up: 9-7, 56%
Underdogs to win straight up: 0-0

Against the Spread: 10-5-1, 67%
ATS picking favorites: 5-3-1, 61% (4-2-1, +60)
ATS picking underdogs: 5-2, 71% (0-0, +/-0)
ATS Confidence Picks: 4-2-1, 64% (+60)
One Unit Plays ATS: 4-1-1, +280
Two Unit Plays ATS: 0-1, -220
Three Unit Plays ATS: none
Four Unit Plays ATS: none
Five Unit Plays ATS: none
880 risked, net +60; +6.8% ROI

Over Under Total: 5-11, 31%
Picking Over: 5-6, 45% (1-0, +200)
Picking Under: 0-5, 0% (0-1, -110)
O/U Confidence Picks: 1-1, 50% (+90)
One Unit Plays O/U: 0-1, -110
Two Unit Plays O/U: 1-0, +200
Three Unit Plays O/U: none
Four Unit Plays O/U: none
Five Unit Plays O/U: none
330 risked, net +90; +27.3% ROI

Money Line: none

Best Play of the Week: correct (Cowboys-Packers (37-36)over); +200

3-Game Teasers: none
3-Game Parlays: none
4-Game Parlays: none

College Games: none

Week 15 Grand Total:
1210 risked
net +150
+12.4% ROI


Season Totals

Straight Up: 150-73-1 (68%)
Underdogs to win straight up: 23-21 (51%)

Against the Spread: 109-107-8 (50%)
ATS picking favorites: 54-52-7, 51% (25-22-1, -390)
ATS picking underdogs: 55-55-1, 50% (13-9, +370)
ATS Confidence Picks: 38-31-1, 55% (-20)
One Unit Plays ATS: 25-16-1, 61% (+730)
Two Unit Plays ATS: 10-11, 48% (-410)
Three Unit Plays ATS: 1-2, 33% (-360)
Four Unit Plays ATS: 1-2, 50% (-480)
Five Unit Plays ATS: 1-0, 100% (+500)

Over Under Total: 111-113 (50%)
Picking Over: 65-54, 55% (20-12, +1030)
Picking Under: 46-59, 44% (14-16, -320)
O/U Confidence Picks: 34-28, 55% (+710)
One Unit Plays O/U: 22-18, 55% (+220)
Two Unit Plays O/U: 9-9, 50% (-180)
Three Unit Plays O/U: 2-1, 67% (+270)
Four Unit Plays O/U: 1-0, 100% (+400)
Five Unit Plays O/U: none

Money Line: 2-0-1, +860

Best Play of the Week: 11-3, 79% (+2500)

3-Game Teasers: 8-6 (+610)
3-Game Parlays: 4-6 (+1520)
4-Game Parlays: 0-1 (-110)

College Games: 50-18-1, 74%; net +5415

Season Grand Total:
165-90-3 (65%)
37,090 risked
net +8,985
+24.2% ROI


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