• Jake Klausner

NFL Week 16 Games Preview

Only 2 Weeks Left Until Playoffs


Week 16 in the NFL is always a bittersweet time of the year because we are nearing the end of the football season. However, we have to look past that and think ahead to the fantastic football weekend we have in store. It starts with a pulse-pounding TNF game, and then we have two games on Christmas Day, followed by a full Sunday slate and an exciting Monday Night Football matchup with playoff implications. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, as we look forward to watching some men in pads.


Before you go on to read my preview, here's a look at the updated playoff picture through Week 15.



 

San Francisco 49ers (8-6) vs. Tennessee Titans (9-5)

Thursday 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NFL NET Line: SF -3.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

49ers:

  • The Niners have found their stride in recent weeks as they notched their fifth win in six games last Sunday against the Falcons. The offense looked to be clicking on all cylinders as RB Jeff Wilson Jr. led San Fran in rushing yards with 110. They will most likely be without Elijah Mitchell (concussion/knee) on Thursday, so expect Wilson to get most of the load in the backfield. Jimmy Garoppolo has turned it around as of late ever since George Kittle returned to the lineup. Kittle and versatile receiver Deebo Samuel have been productive as of late as they look to continue that on Thursday. Another player to look out for is Nick Bosa on the defensive side, whose 15.0 sacks rank third-best in the league.

Titans:

  • On the other hand, the Titans still sit atop the AFC South but face stiff competition from the Indianapolis Colts. It also doesn't help that they blew a 13-point lead on Sunday against the Steelers. Turnovers continue to haunt the Titans' offense, as their struggles without Derrek Henry continue. Ryan Tannehill hasn't had a terrible season, but his production has lacked as of late due to the absence of Henry. Both WR Julio Jones (hamstring) and RB D'Onta Foreman (ankle) are questionable for Thursday, but Foreman will likely suit up. Jones has battled injuries all season, as has the entire team.


PREDICTION:

You have to assume this is a must-win for both teams. The Titans can clinch the South with a win and Colts loss, but the Niners are hot now, and Shanahan's offense has been cooking. I see this game being close, but ultimately, the Niners' offense is too talented. I like the Niners to win a hard-fought contest.

Pick: SF -3.5

Cleveland Browns (7-7) vs. Green Bay Packers (11-3)

Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX/NFL NET Line: GB -7.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Browns:

  • After a devastating loss on Monday, the Browns are hoping to rebound. The good news is that they are expecting all of their guys to return from the Covid list. That includes Baker Mayfield, Kevin Stefanski, Jarvis Landry, and many more. The bad news is that they have to travel to Green Bay and take on Aaron Rodgers. They also basically have to win out if they want to make the playoffs. Also, Myles Garrett is questionable for Saturday's game due to a groin injury.

Packers:

  • On the other hand, the Packers don't have anything to lose. They've already clinched their division and, on top of that, a playoff spot. The one thing left on their plan is to settle home-field (and win the Super Bowl). Aaron Rodgers shows us why he is one of the best as his TD/INT (30:4) ratio ranks first in the league. I guess the toe is fine. Another thing worth noting is Jaire Alexander, one of their best defenders, will likely return from the IR.


PREDICTION:

If Myles Garrett cannot go for Cleveland, it'll be a long night for that defense. Regardless of whether or not he plays, I still like the Packers' chances at home. Plus, they've got Aaron Rodgers! What could go wrong?

Pick: GB -7.0

Indianapolis Colts (8-6) vs. Arizona Cardinals (10-4)

Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: NFL NET Line: ARI -1.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Colts:

  • The second matchup on Christmas Day features another matchup with playoff implications. Last Saturday, the Colts dominated the Patriots by simply running the football. I expect most of the same on Saturday. Jonathan Taylor will get some MVP when the season is all but over. Taylor has a chance to tie LaDanian Tomlinson's streak of 12-straight games with at least one rushing TD. The one flaw for Indy has been Carson Wentz and his tendency to make mistakes. I expect him to try and get more involved on Saturday, but for the most, they'll do what they do best, and that's pound it up the middle with JT.

Cardinals:

  • The Cardinals are starting to look more like frauds rather than contenders. After starting the season 7-0, they've dropped four out of their last seven, including an embarrassing loss to the Lions. From watching their game last week, I could tell that Kyler Murray looked a little lost out there, especially without DeAndre Hopkins. This has to feel like deja vu for Arizona, who was in a similar position last year but faltered down the stretch and fell short of making the playoffs.


PREDICTION:

If they continue to build off their performance from last week, I think the Colts will be dark-horse contenders in the playoff. The Cardinals are a good team, but they've been struggling lately. I expect the Colts' defense, led by Darius Leonard, to punish Kyler Murray and make him feel uncomfortable. That will open things up for JT to do his thing. I expect a physical game up front, and I'm taking the Colts to win a tight battle.

Pick: IND +1.0

Detroit Lions (2-11-1) vs. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: ATL -5.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Lions:

  • The Lions have nothing to play for, but you've got to admit, that game against the Cardinals was no fluke; they dominated them. However, they will likely be without their QB for Sunday's game against the Falcons. Jared Goff was placed on the reserve/Covid list following his near-perfect performance, jeopardizing his status for Sundays.

Falcons:

  • Despite their tough loss last week in San Fran, the Falcons are still alive in the playoff race for now. Even if they can win on Sunday, their remaining games are @ Buffalo and at home against the Saints, so their chances of winning are slim. Matt Ryan has had a good year, considering the lack of talent at wideout, but he got murdered by Nick Bosa and the Niner defense. In other words, the offensive line sucks.


PREDICTION:

I'm expecting the Falcons to take care of business Sunday. Jared Goff on the Covid list is costly for the Lions, but at least they'll still be in the race for the number one overall pick.

Pick: ATL -5.5

Baltimore Ravens (8-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: CIN -2.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Ravens:

  • Baltimore is no longer leading the division following the heartbreaking home loss to Green Bay, and they sit just outside of the playoff picture. Lamar Jackson's status for Sunday's crucial contest remains up in the air. If he cannot go, Tyler Huntley will fill in for the second-straight week. Huntley has proven his worth as of late; in each of his last outings, he's shown nothing but improvement. Last week's game was Huntley's best outing, as he connected with Mark Andrews on two TDs, and rushed for two scores to help the Ravens stay in the game. If Jackson cannot go, I think Ravens fans will worry too. However, this is a must-win scenario.

Bengals:

  • The Bengals are coming off a road win against Denver last week. While the win wasn't pretty, they still sit atop the AFC North, based on head-to-head. In the previous outing, Cincy crushed Baltimore on 41-17. Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase were electric all day, and the Ravens had no answer for them. Heading into this week's matchup, the Bengals are nursing a few injuries on the offensive, most notably, Joe Mixon. On Sunday, Mixon injured his left ankle and will likely begin the week as a limited participant. However, Mixon has proven to be quite durable this season, and I expect him to suit up for Sunday's affair.


PREDICTION:

Unlike their previous meeting, I don't see this game being a blowout. Both teams need this win to take control of the division. The Bengals are at home, and the Ravens are unsure if Jackson will be fit to play. With that said, I expect the Bengals to come out on top in a highly physical game.

Pick: CIN -2.5

Los Angeles Rams (10-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: LAR -3.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Rams:

  • The Rams may have found their stride late in the season, which could threaten some other teams. After their win against the Cardinals a couple of weeks ago, the Rams have tons of confidence as they look to take the NFC West possibly. They'll be well on their way if they can manage a victory on the road against the Vikings. The Vikings aren't known for stopping the pass, so look for Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp to build their inseparable connection.

Vikings:

  • The Vikings currently hold a playoff spot but know they have little margin for error. Kirk Cousins has put together a stellar season, but he has regressed as of late due to the absence of Adam Thielen. After his 200-yard game against Pittsburgh, RB Dalvin Cook took a bit of step-back, but I expect him to bounce back as that's what good running backs do. The story in this game is Justin Jefferson going up against Cooper Kupp. Both Kupp and Jefferson are miles ahead of every receiver as they have been balling out.


PREDICTION:

Look for both Stafford and Cousins to air it out quite a bit. The Skol Nation will give their hometown team some much-needed support, but I don't think that will be enough. Thanks to a last-second field goal, I see this game being a high-scoring offensive affair, with the Rams edging out the Vikings.

Pick: LAR -3.0

Buffalo Bills (8-6) vs. New England Patriots (9-5)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: NE -2.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Bills:

  • After getting dominated by the New England ground game in their previous, the Bills are looking for redemption. I don't expect the conditions in Foxborough to be as bad as they were in Buffalo, but it'll still be pretty chilly. Josh Allen's foot appears to bother him still as he didn't do as much running in their win against Carolina, but RB Devin Singletary produced a season-best 86 yards on the ground to give Allen some help. They will need Singletary and Zach Moss to step up against a tough Patriots' defense. Buffalo is determined to defend their AFC East crown, and Bills Mafia knows this is a must-win for their beloved team.

Patriots:

  • Last week, the Patriots lost to the Colts to end their seven-game winning streak. Coming into this game, the Patriots (9-5) still sit atop the AFC East, the second-ranked team in the AFC. I expect Rookie QB Mac Jones to throw the ball more than he did in their last meeting with Buffalo as he only attempted three passes. Jones will have to play without Kendrick Borne (reserve/Covid list), and N'Keal Harry is questionable for Sunday's game.


PREDICTION:

Despite the game being played in New England, I think the Patriots may have peaked a little too soon. After all, Mac Jones is only a rookie and will have to face a lot of pressure on Sunday when he faces a hungry Bills squad. I picked Buffalo the first time; that didn't work, but I'm still going with Buffalo in this one because I think they have learned from their last meeting.

Pick: BUF

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) vs. New York Jets (3-11)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: NYJ -2.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:



  • Gosh, do I really have to talk about this game? If you aren't a fan of either of these teams, what's the whole point of tuning in? I guess the only thing I can think of is that the loser puts themself in a position to grab the number one pick in the upcoming draft. Both teams could use it as these two teams suck. The Jags are just starting their post-Urban Meyer campaign while the Jets want to continue building around their young QB. One thing is for sure, they both have a lot of work to do!


PREDICTION:

Honestly, this game is a toss-up for me, and not in a good way. There's a good chance we see a combined ten turnovers in this game, but I think the Jets will make the fewest mistakes, and they will win the game. I guess the Jags win because they potentially get the number one pick.

Pick: NYJ -2.5

New York Giants (4-10) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: PHI -10.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Giants:

  • The Giants are pretty much dead in the water when it comes to playoff contention. They've shut down QB Daniel Jones (neck) for the remainder of the season, and Mike Glennon stinks. Expect Jake Fromm to see some action on Sunday.

Eagles:


  • The Eagles, led by their fierce running attack, will look to keep their playoff hopes alive against the G-Men. Jalen Hurts the tendency to make mistakes at times, but when he's on, he rarely misses, and their running game is deadly, as they are averaging close to 220 yards per game, which ranks first in the NFL. In their win against Washington, Philly rushed for 238 yards, becoming the first team since the 1985 Chicago Bears to have seven consecutive games with 175-plus yards on the ground. Of course, back then, the Bears had Walter Payton.


PREDICTION:

I see the Eagles continuing to run all over the field, and they will dominate the Giants on Sunday.

Pick: PHI -10.0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4) vs. Carolina Panthers (5-9)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: TB -11.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Buccaneers:

  • Tampa has a chance to capture their first NFC South title with a win on Sunday. However, Tom Brady will have to navigate without his top offensive playmakers. First, RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) was placed on the IR following Sunday's loss and will miss the remainder of the regular season. They signed LeVeon Bell to mend the loss. Additionally, WR Chris Godwin (ACL) is out indefinitely and likely won't be available for the playoffs. Mike Evans (hamstring) is week-to-week but is playing this week. The Bucs' more important news is that the team has reinstated WR Antonio Brown following his three-game suspension for falsifying his vaccination status. He will likely play on Sunday against Carolina.

Panthers:

  • The Panthers still have an outside chance to make the playoffs, but that means winning out, and that's no easy task. That means having to beat the Bucs twice in three games. I don't think Cam and the Panthers have it in them. If you were to ask me, I think the Panthers should look ahead to next season.


PREDICTION:

I expect Brady and co. to bounce back against the Panthers and clinch the NFC South. I don't see the Bucs losing another game in the regular season.

Pick: TB -11.0

Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) vs. Houston Texans (3-11)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: LAC -9.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Chargers:

  • The Chargers are coming off a heartbreaking OT loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but they still hold a wildcard spot in the AFC. Justin Herbert has a solid sophomore season, but he'll have to navigate his offense again without some key contributors. Austin Eckler and Joey Bosa won't be available for Sunday's contest after getting placed on the reserve/Covid list. Joshua Kelly and Justin Jackson will assume the roles in the backfield. With that said, I still expect the Chargers to stick with their balanced attack on offense.

Texans:

  • Davis Mills hasn't looked that bad since taking over as Houston's starting QB. Last week against Jacksonville, he picked up his first career win, and he is well on his way to becoming the future for the Texans. They will likely get a high draft pick, so we will have to see what route Houston chooses.


PREDICTION:

I see the Chargers' high-powered offense being too much for the weak Texans' defense. I like the Chargers win big.

Pick: LAC -9.0

Chicago Bears (4-10) vs. Seattle Seahawks (5-9)

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: SEA -7.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Bears:

  • After last week's loss to the Vikings, the Bears (4-10) are officially eliminated from playoff contention. I think Justin Fields has a bright future ahead; he needs the right coach. It's looking like Bears fans will get wish as I don't expect Matt Nagy to stick around for much longer.

Seahawks:

  • If they want to sneak into the playoffs, the Seahawks need many things to happen. Sitting at 5-9, they are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but that means winning the remainder of their games. Like Nagy, I think Pete Carroll's job could be in jeopardy if the Seahawks fail to make the playoff. Under Carroll, this is their first losing season in nine years, and they are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second-straight season.


PREDICTION:

With the game in Seattle, I see the Seahawks taking advantage of the 12th man faithful, and they will take care of business against an inferior Bears squad.

Pick: SEA -7.0

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: KC -10.0



WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Steelers:

  • With the Chiefs experiencing Covid problems, this is Pittsburgh's chance to make a move in the AFC wildcard race. While Ben Roethlisberger has reverted to his second-half heroics, the defense has been the main story of this team. T.J. Watt is arguably having his best season yet, as his 17.5 sacks lead the NFL. Not to mention, he's only played in 12 games. However, if the Steelers want to this game, they have to have a good performance out of Big Ben and their offense. Look for RB Najee Harris to get some action after just 18 yards on 12 attempts last week.

Chiefs:

  • The Chiefs come into this game as the number one seed in the AFC playoff picture. Their win against LA puts them in an excellent position to win the AFC West. However, Patrick Mahomes will have his work cut out as seven players, including Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, are all on the reserve/Covid list. It's unclear whether or not they play, given the new Covid protocols allow for vaccinated players to play, assuming they have no symptoms. Kelce is vaccinated, so assuming all goes well, it's possible he suits up. Kicker Harrison Butker is also among the players on the Covid list.


PREDICTION:

Due to the potential absence of Kelce and Hill, I see this game being low-scoring. Both defenses can bring pressure at the QB and can create turnovers. I think the Chiefs will win a close game, but I'm not ruling out the Steelers.

Pick: KC (PIT +10.0)

Denver Broncos (7-7) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: LV -1.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Broncos:

  • This late-afternoon contest features two AFC West vying for a playoff spot. The Broncos are looking to bounce back from their loss last week against Cincinnati. QB Teddy Bridgewater is doubtful for Sunday's game after taking him to the hospital following a blow to the head. Drew Locke will assume the role of starting QB.

Raiders:

  • The Raiders are coming off their significant victory on Monday against the Browns. Derek Carr led the Raiders down the field to set up Daniel Carlson for the game-winning field goal. Carr has put together a solid season as he is second in the NFL in passing yards. Considering what the Raiders have gone through this season, it would be amazing to see Vegas sneak into the playoffs.


PREDICTION:

I'm expecting both defenses to step up in this game, but ultimately, the Raiders have more talent on the offensive. Also, look for Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby to make his presence known, as I think he will give Drew Locke a lot of trouble.

Pick: LV

Washington Football Team (6-8) vs. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NBC Line: DAL -10.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Washington:

  • This game is a must-win for Washington (6-8) as they take on the Cowboys for the second time this season. Both Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen were placed on the Covid list on Friday, leading to Tuesday's game against the Eagles. If all goes according to plan, I'm expecting both QBs to clear Covid protocols in time for Sunday night's matchup with the Cowboys, with Heinicke likely to get the nod. Washington stayed in the game in their previous outing with the Cowboys but was overwhelmed by the Cowboys' defense.

Cowboys:

  • Speaking of the defense, it seems as if the team's identity revolves around their defense. Despite the offense showing signs of regression, the defense is doing their part to help the Cowboys contend for a title. It's hard to single out just one person, as there are many contributors to this stout unit. LB Micah Parsons is already a sure-fire for DROY, but his play has drawn attention for DPOY honors. He leads all rookies with 12.0 sacks and is on pace to break the rookie sack record held by Jevon Kearse (14.5). Another player worth mentioning on this defense is Trevon Diggs. Like his teammate, Diggs is one of the top candidates for DPOY due to his league-leading ten interceptions.


PREDICTION:

While Dallas is a solid team, their offense has been inconsistent lately and has allowed their opponents to stay in the game. However, I don't see Washington providing enough resistance in this game, and I see Dallas winning at home.

Pick: DAL -10.5

Miami Dolphins (7-7) vs. New Orleans Saints (7-7)

Monday 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN Line: NO -3.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Dolphins:

  • It's hard to believe that arguably the hottest team in the NFL is the Miami Dolphins. After starting the season 1-7, the Phins have won seven straight and are trying to become the first team to get above .500 after starting the season 1-7. Tua Tagovailoa overcame a sluggish start and looked like a solid QB despite defeating the Jets last weekend. Not to mention, they are expecting Jalen Waddle to return from the Covid list this weekend. However, they are going up against a hungry Saints defense that's coming off a historic performance.

Saints:

  • The Saints are coming off a dominating defensive performance against Tom Brady and the Bucs. Cameron Jordon earned defensive player of the week honors as the veteran sacked Brady twice and forced him to fumble. The offense is slowly starting to find an identity with Taysom Hill as the QB has shown some elusiveness with his feet. Oh, and they still have Alvin Kamara carrying most of the load in the backfield.


PREDICTION:

I think this might be the hardest one to pick out of all of the games because both teams are vastly similar. They are both led by their defenses and have serviceable QBs. However, I'm not entirely sold on Taysom Hill's throwing ability, as he can't quite hit the deep ball. Having Waddle back will help Tua a lot in the passing, and they will also be able to run it with Myles Gaskin and Duke Johnson Jr.

Pick: MIA +3.0


Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake. Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner Get caught up before Week 16 begins:

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