NFL Predictions Week 16: Early Picks for the Week's Most Exciting Games

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 9:  Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs out of the pocket against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 9, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Kevin Casey/Getty Images)
Kevin Casey/Getty Images

The NFL playoffs do not start for another few weeks, but Week 16 provides fans with some games that could be previews for postseason battles.

In addition, there are a number of battles that are "win or go home" for teams on the brink of securing playoff spots.

While injuries and other factors will change the outlook of these games later in the week, it is never too early to look ahead. 

These are the top games of the week with full predictions.


San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

This divisional battle was flexed to Sunday Night Football, and fans will not be disappointed. 

The 49ers and Seahawks are both led by strong defenses, powerful running backs and young, mobile quarterbacks.

While defense is each team's biggest strength (both are currently tied for the fewest points allowed in the NFL), the two sides combined for 91 points scored in Week 15.

However, the thing that will ultimately change this game is the location. The Seahawks have not lost at CenturyLink Field this season.

They hold a 6-0 record at home despite a very tough schedule. Opponents that traveled to Seattle have a winning percentage of 57, but the Seahawks took care of them all.

As well as the 49ers played in a win over the New England Patriots, the defense allowed 520 yards. The Seahawks are certain to take advantage of this and come away with a big victory.

Prediction: Seahawks 17, 49ers 13


New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens

Both teams are desperate for a win, but at least the Ravens have clinched a spot in the playoffs. The New York Giants will probably miss the postseason if they suffer another loss.

This makes the game incredibly important for Eli Manning and company.

The defending champs were embarrassed by the Atlanta Falcons in a 34-0 loss on Sunday. Manning threw multiple interceptions for the second game in a row and the fifth time this season.

To make things a little better, the Giants will face a team that is playing even worse after losing three straight games. Baltimore is in danger of losing the division after a 9-2 start.

However, one thing that Tom Coughlin and the Giants have proven over the years is their ability to win when their back is against the wall. This is that time.

Prediction: Giants 27, Ravens 20


Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

It is amazing that the Steelers still have a chance at reaching the playoffs after what has occurred this season.

Pittsburgh has dealt with devastating injuries on both sides of the football and has lost four of its last five games. However, a win against the Bengals would put them in position to get the final wild-card spot in the AFC.

The problem is that Cincinnati has played very well in the second half of the season. After a 3-5 start, the Bengals have won five of six games, allowing only 12.5 points per contest.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is also averaging 99 rushing yards per game over that stretch.

Cincinnati is simply a more complete team at this stage of the season and should take one step closer to the postseason with a tough road win.

Prediction: Bengals 23, Steelers 14