Season: 140-72 (66%) / Last Week: 8-7 (53%) / Scott’s Pick: 4-9-1 (0-1)
My poor, poor T.J. Yates. Apparently there is a Take it to the Bank curse. Anyway, the season is literally in the home stretch with 11 of 12 the playoff spots possibly being decided this weekend. We had quite the head-turning Week 16 and the spoilers could be out in full force as the Colts proved with their first win of the season last week. An apology is also owed to the Chiefs, who I said had no shot at winning against the Packers, and they did. Good for you, Romeo and Co. Before we begin, I want to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday weekend. Let’s Take it to the Bank.
Texans @ Colts
Pick: Texans. The Texans have to bounce back from last week’s loss or Houston has no shot in the playoffs. The aforementioned Yates had a bit of a hiccup but still showed flashes of brilliance last week. The Colts won their Superbowl last week and should be chippy in this one. No one should be surprised if the home team pulls this one off.
Patriots @ Dolphins
Pick: Patriots. You can talk all you want about the Pats’ bad defense or the Fins’ spectacular turnaround, but this contest will come down to Tom Brady versus Matt Moore. New England has the better, more experienced coach and the better overall team, so the Patriots should put a hurting on a very overzealous Miami bunch. Brady will be the difference, but Wild Bill Belichick will be the blowout.
Jaguars @ Titans
Pick: Titans. The Titans can basically say goodbye to the playoffs following last week’s loss to the lowly Colts. Both teams have high quality running backs but the wide receiver units have scary differences in talent. Nate Washington has turned his career back on and could light up the Jags’ beaten up secondary. The defense of Jacksonville should make this game tight but Matt Hasselbeck is auditioning for a starting role next season and that could be tough to counter in a game that means virtually nothing.
Buccaneers @ Panthers
Pick: Panthers. Carolina spoiled Houston’s weekend in Week 15, and they will continue the Buccaneers’ losing streak in Week 16. Cam Newton has finally put up more than empty stats; he has put up wins. If Ron Rivera wants to inspire some optimism for next season, he needs to finish strong. A win over the helpless Bucs’ could be just the ticket. Raheem Morris is as good as gone in Tampa Bay.
Browns @ Ravens
Pick: Ravens. This division contest could not be more unappealing. The Ravens (once again) need to prove they can win consistently and convincingly. Pat Shurmur and his unit need to start showing they belong in the AFC North, but constantly come up short. This game in Baltimore should be no different.
Cardinals @ Bengals
Pick: Bengals. The Bengals are (now) a long shot for the playoffs, but their quick turnaround has been impressive. The Cardinals’ in-season turnaround has been just as remarkable. These two teams have coaches that seemed to be on their last leg in the preseason, but have now put together respectable units. The Bengals are the home team and the Cards are traveling west to east, meaning Cincy should have the advantage. The Bengals win a close, highly entertaining contest (in front of a likely half-empty stadium).
Vikings @ Redskins
Pick: Redskins. Give the Redskins some credit, they won the Giants game last week in convincing fashion. The Vikings are going nowhere but down, down, down. It is a shame that a team with a head coach whose specialty is defense, has such an awful unit on that side of the ball. Minnesota is having a tough time in all areas but the Redskins can definitely exploit the Vikings’ secondary with Santana Moss. The Skins will be impressive in this one.
Rams @ Steelers
Pick: Steelers. While last week taught us that anyone can beat anyone, it is hard to pick the Rams in this one. Steve Spag’s unit is just plain awful and at this point in the season, they may be worse than the Colts. Big Ben will rebound against St. Louis with at least a pair of touchdowns.
Raiders @ Chiefs
Pick: Chiefs. The AFC West could definitely take turn with outcome of this contest. The Chiefs surprised everyone with their powerful performance last week and there is no reason to think it won’t be duplicated. Oakland has impressive speed and athleticism but the Kansas City defense can match them. Carson Palmer was never worth two early round picks and he has been proving it over the past four weeks.
NY Giants @ Jets
Pick: Jets. The battle of New York (or well New Jersey) has not one but two playoff spots on the line. If the Giants loss, they are still alive but welcome the chance of Philly overtaking them in the playoff race. If the Jets lose, their playoff chances become pretty slim following two consecutive losses, including one against that same Philly unit. The Giants are the better team but the Jets need it more and have could be the more (albeit undeserved) confident bunch. Plaxico Burress could be tough to stop in the redzone against his former team.
Broncos @ Bills
Pick: Broncos. Tim Tebow faced some diversity last week, that won’t likely be the case in Week 16. The Bills are free falling completely and just at the wrong time. Buffalo went from first to worst in the division and the Denver defense has come into its own down the stretch, so the edge goes to the Mile Highers.
Eagles @ Cowboys
Scott Pick: Eagles. Boy, the whole NFC East is just one giant heap of confusion and mediocrity. The Eagles were expected to be great, and have barely been good. Yet at 6-8 the disappointing Philadelphia is somehow still alive in the division race. I’ve tried to write them off like 6 times this year — seriously, look it up — and they will not go away. Why? Because the NFC East doesn’t have a single team that seems to want the division. So here we are, week 16: the Cowboys can put a fork in Philly once and for all, but for the sake of drama, I’m going to predict that the Eagles play their best game of the year. Tony Romo has a chance to make a big time statement, but without DeMarco Murray, the Boys once again come up short. Cue the SportsCenter love-fest for the NFC East, week 17.
49ers @ Seahawks
Pick: Seahawks. Seattle could be the biggest enigma in the league. They have some of the biggest holes on offense, but seem to thrive against superior talent. Marshawn Lynch has been, perhaps, the MVP of league in the second half of the season. Lynch has been the main cog in the Seahawks success and he could be the one to breakthrough on San Fran’s special run defense. The game should be competitive but Seattle will put some kinks in the Niners’ first-round bye plans.
Chargers @ Lions
Pick: Lions. The Lions are back to their winning ways, fortunately so are the Chargers, which should make for quite the contest. Both teams have a shot at the playoffs after mid-season slumps. Phillip Rivers and Matt Stafford should put up huge numbers in the air but the Lions’ run defense could play the biggest factor in the game. Ryan Mathews has run free as of late but the Detroit front four should hold the San Diego backfield in check.
Bears @ Packers
Pick: Packers. The defending champs versus Josh McCown, who hasn’t started a game since 2007. Yeah, the Cheese Heads are bouncing back in Week 16.
Falcons @ Saints
Pick: Saints. It looks like Monday Night Football finally got one right, this should be the best game of the week. Both quarterbacks are coming into this game with confidence but New Orleans may have too many options to combat. This game will likely be a shoot-out but Drew Brees will definitely break Dan Marino’s single-season passing record on MNF. This one will come down to the last two minutes.