NFL WEEK 16 PICKS

2022-12-20 · 7 min read · NFL/Football
Bengals Joe Burrow and Jaguars Trevor Lawrence

Jeremy Reper/USA Today Sports | Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer

Comebacks were one of the main storylines in Week 15 of the NFL season, a week which began with the greatest come-from-behind victory in NFL history as the Minnesota Vikings erased a 33-0 halftime deficit on Saturday, defeating the Indianapolis Colts 39-36.
With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the only teams assured of postseason football in the AFC are the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys are all guaranteed at least one playoff game in the NFC.
At this stage, only two teams that finished last in their divisions in 2021-22 are in that same position this time around (Denver Broncos and New York Jets), and we are guaranteed to have a new Super Bowl champion after the Rams lost to the Packers on Monday Night Football.
Besides the Rams the only other teams out of playoff contention are the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears.
Plenty of massive encounters to look forward to, and here is a look at my breakdowns and predictions for Week 16.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
Incredibly the Jags are in with a legitimate chance at the postseason thanks partly to the stellar play of their quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The former Clemson star is beginning to live up to the hype surrounding him in college, posting a 111.2 passer rating with a 70.4 completion percentage and 14 TD throws in his last six games with just one pick.
The Jets have fallen further behind in the AFC playoff race, with Robert Saleh forced to go back to Zach Wilson because of injuries as the man that was taken after Lawrence in the 2021 draft tossed a pick in New York's 20-17 loss to the Detroit Lions, their third straight.
  • Prediction- Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 New York Jets
Expect Lawrence to get hurried often in this one, given the Jags' injury woes on the O-line; however, Jacksonville's running game has been consistently sharp most of the year, and I expect that will tip the scales in their favour on Thursday.
Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens
Close but no cigar has been the story in Atlanta lately, with the Falcons losing three straight games by a single score, as Desmond Ridder had an ordinary debut, to say the least, throwing for 97 yards while rushing for 38 versus the New Orleans Saints.
It's got to feel like déjà vu for the Ravens, who've struggled without the injured Lamar Jackson, putting up less than 20 points in three straight games as they lost their lead in the AFC North last weekend and they’re hoping to avoid missing the playoffs without Jackson for a second straight year.
  • Prediction- Atlanta Falcons 14-19 Baltimore Ravens
Neither side has been sharp when they have the ball, but the Ravens D have allowed a touchdown or less in two of its last three games, and that should be enough to win them this game against an inexperienced Falcons QB.
Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers
It's been full speed ahead for Dan Campbell's team in Motor City as the Lions have turned into the darlings of the NFL, losing just once since November.
Jared Goff and the offense put up over 300 yards for a sixth consecutive outing last week, with Detroit just a game behind the Washington Commanders in the NFC playoff race.
Another team still alive in the postseason battle is the Carolina Panthers, who came up short against the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend, but if they win out, they will make the playoffs as the winners of the NFC South.
  • Prediction- Detroit Lions 30-17 Carolina Panthers
The Lions' offense has been tough to stop all season, and as solid as Sam Darnold has been lately, I don't see him being able to match Detroit blow for blow offensively.
Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
While fans were throwing snowballs on Saturday in Buffalo, Bills QB, Josh Allen was throwing darts to his receivers with four TD passes.
This year's number two-ranked offense had over 400 yards last weekend for the first time since their narrow victory against Detroit on Thanksgiving (28-25).
The Bears may be out of the playoff picture, but Justin Fields and company showed they are not ready to pack it in for the season, as Chicago's QB ran for 95 yards and threw for 152, giving the Philadelphia Eagles quite the scare, narrowly losing 25-20.
  • Prediction- Buffalo Bills 27-17 Chicago Bears
The Bears' top-rated running attack has been one of the few things keeping them in ball games this year, but I don't see them being quite as efficient on the ground versus the Bills, who have only allowed over 100 rushing yards once in four of its previous five encounters.
New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns
The Saints ended a two-game losing streak last week, averaging 6.3 yards per play as Dennis Allen's team are in a dogfight in the NFC South with all four teams within a game of one another, and the division winners likely to be the only team that will make the postseason in 2022-23.
Deshaun Watson has not looked spectacular since returning from a lengthy suspension, but his running backs have bailed him out, rushing for over 100 yards in two of their last three games.
  • Prediction- New Orleans Saints 17-20 Cleveland Browns
Ground and pound has been the key to Cleveland's success all year, and that approach should serve them well against a defensive unit in New Orleans that gave up 231 rushing yards to the Falcons.
Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs
Geno Smith was more intelligent in his decision-making last week; however, Seattle's ground game let them down, with less than 100 rushing yards in five straight encounters, losing on four occasions.
The Chiefs' top-rated offense helped them win another squeaker last Sunday as Patrick Mahomes threw for 336 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a narrow 30-24 OT victory versus the Houston Texans.
  • Prediction- Seattle Seahawks 21-34 Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid's team have gotten a little complacent and failed to put their previous two games to bed, but lucky for him the Chiefs are so talented that they don't need to be great for four quarters to win games.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
A big second quarter kept the Giants above the playoff line as they got the ground game working last weekend, with Saquon Barkley averaging 4.8 yards per carry along with a touchdown, ending a four-game winless streak with a 20-12 triumph over the Washington Commanders.
The Vikings memorably clinched the NFC North making history with a come-from-behind win against the Colts putting up 820 yards passing in their last two games.
  • Prediction- New York Giants 20-30 Minnesota Vikings
Brian Daboll's team are not consistent in the passing game, while Minnesota can turn a close game into a blowout or vice versa, so I expect the Vikings explosive offense to keep that momentum from Saturday's victory going this weekend.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Cincy's offense was not at its best against the Bucs on Sunday, but they still won comfortably as Joe Burrow has thrown for multiple scores in three straight encounters with the Bengals back in first in the NFC North.
Bill Belichick saw his team literally throw their game against the Las Vegas Raiders away last week as Jakobi Meyers lateraled the ball right into the hands of Vegas' Chandler Jones, who ran it back for a score on the final play of the fourth quarter when the game was tied, as the Pats were beaten for the third time in their last four encounters.
  • Prediction- Cincinnati Bengals 33-24 New England Patriots
Burrow could be hurried plenty against a dangerous New England D-line, but he's always been able to bounce back and make plays no matter how many hits he takes.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
In what has been a forgetful season for the Texans thus far, Lovie Smith's team have shown signs of life for the first time all season.
They narrowly lost to the Cowboys after giving up a last-minute touchdown (27-23) and followed that up with an OT loss versus KC in Week 15 (20-24) as Davis Mills completed half of his throws and tossed a pair of touchdowns in that defeat versus the Chiefs.
The Titans have lost four in a row and might be regretting trading AJ Brown during the 2022 draft, as Ryan Tannehill threw for just 165 yards in a loss to the Chargers.
  • Prediction- Houston Texans 14-17 Tennessee Titans
What seemed like a forgone conclusion weeks ago is now very much up in the air as the Titans are just a game above the Jaguars in the AFC South, but fortunately for them, Derrick Henry seems to be back on track, and the Texans have allowed over 100 rushing yards in their last three games.
Washington Commanders at San Francisco 49ers
Taylor Heinicke has been anything but spectacular since becoming the Commanders starting QB; however, until last week, he rarely made a mistake.
Unfortunately for Ron Rivera’s crew he was careless with the football against the Giants, fumbling twice as Washington failed to score over 20 points for the third successive encounter.
Brock Purdy has taken the league by storm since becoming the third Niners quarterback to see the field this year.
However, Kyle Shanahan's defense is unquestionably the backbone of this team, conceding fewer than 20 points now in seven straight games.
  • Prediction- Washington Commanders 14-24 San Francisco 49ers
I am giving Purdy and the Niners the edge in a matchup of two upstart quarterbacks, but not solely because of him.
San Fran’s defensive unit, across the board, has been far and away the best in the NFL this season, and there are not enough game-breakers in Washington to cause them problems.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles' season may have just taken a turn as leading MVP candidate Jalen Hurts suffered an injured shoulder which could keep him sidelined for this game, with Philly currently on a five-game winning streak, scoring 30 or more points in three of those contests.
Dallas looked to be in control of their road outing with the Jaguars, but a failure to pressure Trevor Lawrence consistently cost them.
They only managed one sack on the second-year pivot as Dak Prescott tossed a pick-six in overtime, with the Cowboys losing 40-34.
  • Prediction- Philadelphia Eagles 24-30 Dallas Cowboys
Hurts' status could be the opening the Cowboys need to get back in the win column, and while Gardner Minshew is a capable backup, I expect him to force the ball while under pressure, with the Dallas defense creating some turnovers.
Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Patriots were evidently in a giving mood ahead of the holiday season as they gifted their former coordinator Josh McDaniels a victory last week with the league’s leading rusher Josh Jacobs averaging 4.2 yards per carry in that Raiders win.
Mitch Trubisky put forward his best outing as a Steeler last weekend, and Mike Tomlin's defense came to play as well, holding Carolina to only 21 rushing yards.
  • Prediction- Las Vegas Raiders 25-15 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Raiders' explosiveness offensively, I believe, will be too much for Pittsburgh to handle in this one, keeping Las Vegas' postseason aspirations intact.
Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins
The Packers' run game has kept their slim playoff hopes alive, with AJ Dillon averaging over five yards per carry against the Bears and Aaron Jones doing the same in a victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.
Miami is currently on a three-game losing streak, with their defense conceding over 400 yards to their opponents in back-to-back affairs.
  • Prediction- Green Bay Packers 23-31 Miami Dolphins
Coming back to South Beach should allow Tua and that offense to get back into their comfort zone, with the Dolphins winning three straight contests at Hard Rock Stadium, putting up 30 points or more in their previous two home games.
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams
Denver's offense, minus Russell Wilson, looked as sharp as we have seen all year against the Cardinals, thanks to a solid run game with Latavius Murray putting up 150 yards on the ground.
The Broncos have scored more points over the past two weeks (42) than they managed in their previous three fixtures.
The Mayfield magic did not happen for Baker and the Rams on Monday Night Football as the former Browns and Panthers QB threw for just 111 yards while only boasting 13 first downs in a loss at Green Bay (24-12).
  • Prediction- Denver Broncos 16-17 Los Angeles Rams
These have been two of the most disappointing offenses in the NFL this season, but the Rams have a little more versatility than Denver and Mayfield’s experience is what has me leaning towards the Super Bowl champs to win this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals
Tom Brady threw for over 300 yards for the first time since late October, but his inconsistency has hurt this group all season, with the 45-year-old tossing multiple picks in back-to-back contests and at least one in his last three outings.
Arizona's aerial attack was as poor as we saw all year last Sunday, with Colt McCoy only throwing for 78 yards.
McCoy hasn't had much time to find open receivers, with the Cardinals allowing 15 sacks combined in their previous four games.
  • Prediction- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-14 Arizona Cardinals
If there is one thing the Bucs have done consistently well in 2022, it would be their ability to get to the quarterback, and that should be enough to keep them in first in the unpredictable NFC South.
Los Angeles Chargers at Indianapolis Colts
The Chargers are back in business, winning consecutive games and in control of their playoff destiny, thanks to its receiving depth, as eight or more players have caught passes from Justin Herbert over the past two weeks.
Jeff Saturday's Colts were on the wrong side of history last Saturday, giving up a 33-point lead to the Vikings, allowing 92 points combined in their previous two games.
  • Prediction- Los Angeles Chargers 34-20 Indianapolis Colts
LA have many options for Herbert to throw to, and the Colts' secondary are like a wounded animal right now, allowing seven total touchdown passes in their last two encounters.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre

Share

Up Next

Sports Tree Blog

NHL EASTERN CONFERENCE ROUND 2 PREDICTIONS

Read more2024-05-05 · 2 min read
NHL/Hockey
Sports Tree Blog

MESSI BEGINNING TO BREAK RECORDS FOR MLS

Read more2024-05-03 · 2 min read
MLS/Soccer

Sports Tree

© 2024 Sports Tree LTD.

The sports tree newsletter

Sign up for the newsletter

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms of Service  and Privacy Policy. You can opt out at any time.