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Week Sixteen Picks

December 23rd, 2017

My week 15 started out rough (I was 1-2 both straight up and against the spread from Thursday through Saturday) but ended up OK.

I finished the weekend 14-2 straight up and 8-6-2 with the points. I can live with that.

I can also live with my results on the season so far: 153-71 (.683) straight up and 111-102-11 (.520) against the spread.

And that contentment can only mean that the pigskin Grinch is on his way to steal my last can of Who-hash.

Here’s what not to expect in week 16.

Indianapolis (+13.5) at Baltimore
The Ravens will be riding a four-game win streak when they show up in Foxborough for the divisional round of the playoffs, having wrapped up their regular season with wins over the Browns in Cleveland, and the Colts and Bengals at home, then knocked off the Chiefs on wild card weekend. And certain Patriots fans are going to freak out, because they honestly believe the Ravens are possessed of some anti-Pats magic. Should be a fun week; I’m really looking forward to it. Oh, yeah, and in the meantime, Baltimore airs its grievances against Indianapolis with a Festivus beatdown. Ravens by 21.

Minnesota (-9) at Green Bay
Shutting down Aaron Rodgers for the season once they’d been officially eliminated from postseason contention absolutely, unquestionably was the right move for the Packers. But at the same time, you can’t raise the white flag on Tuesday and expect your team to come out and fight for a win on Saturday. The Vikings would have won by four if the Packers had been trying. In this context, the margin moves to 10 or better.

Detroit (-4) at Cincinnati
I think there’s a pretty decent chance the Lions make the tournament as the NFC six seed. The Bengals, on the other hand, are well past done. Detroit by six.

LA Chargers (-7) at NY Jets
The Chargers next loss comes in Jacksonville two weeks from now. Los Angeles by six.

LA Rams (-6.5) at Tennessee
If the playoffs started today, both of these teams would be in. When the playoffs actually start two weeks from today, just one of these teams will be in. The one that belongs there. Rams by nine.

Cleveland (+6.5) at Chicago
There’s no real reason to believe the Browns can win this game. Just a nagging sense that 0-16 is incredibly hard to achieve. And still, I think 0-16 is in the cards. Chicago by four.

Tampa Bay (+10) at Carolina
The Panthers still have a shot at the division. The Bucs have a solid shot at a top 5 draft pick. Carolina by 13.

Atlanta (+5.5) at New Orleans
When these teams came together in Atlanta two weeks ago, the Falcons were able to leverage home field on a Thursday night and pull of a three-point victory. With no such advantage to be exploited here, Atlanta suffers the first of two straight losses that ultimately drop the Falcons out of the postseason. Saints by a field goal.

Denver (+3.5) at Washington
The Racists are at least marginally better than the Broncos. And they’re at home. So, sure, why not? Washington by six.

Miami (+10.5) at Kansas City
I don’t expect the Chiefs to have much success in the postseason, but they’ll be fine until the end of December. Kansas City by two touchdowns.

Buffalo (+12) at New England
The last meeting between these two teams came in the middle of a brutal stretch that saw New England playing five of six games on the road. This one comes as the Patriots settle into a home stand looking that they hope will run through the AFC playoffs. The Patriots make a big statement while the Bills take a big step toward the offseason. Patriots by 17.

Jacksonville (-4) at San Francisco
I’ve been as impressed as anyone with what Jimmy Garoppolo has been able to accomplish since taking over as the starter in San Francisco. But, um, let’s be realistic, OK? Jacksonville by 10.

NY Giants (+3.5) at Arizona
I just hope for the sake of all the wide-eyed little kids out there that Santa doesn’t get too caught up watching this game for the ages to start his route on time. Cardinals by three.

Seattle (+5) at Dallas
I’m not sure either of these teams is going to be playing two weeks from now. But a win here at least gives the Cowboys a solid chance, especially if the Eagles can lock up home field on Monday night, which would give them nothing to play for when Dallas travels to Philadelphia next weekend. I suspect Dallas gets the job done, though it would be very un-Seahawks-like for Seattle not to go down fighting. Cowboys by three.

Pittsburgh (-9.5) at Houston
The Steelers have shown signs this week that they’re having a hard time moving on from their heartbreaking loss to the Patriots on Sunday. I won’t be surprised if that gives way to a slow start for Pittsburgh in this game. But the Texans are so weak and in such disarray that I can’t believe it matters in the end. Pittsburgh by a touchdown.

Oakland (+9) at Philadelphia
I don’t expect anything to be settled for either of these teams on Saturday or Sunday. So I do expect the game to go to the more balanced team that’s also playing at home and playing for a result it can achieve all by itself. Philadelphia by six.

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