NFL Picks Week 16: Playoff Hopefuls That Will Suffer Disappointing Losses

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIDecember 17, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 16: Christian Ponder #7 and Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings talk on the sideline against the St. Louis Rams during the game at Edward Jones Dome on December 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Vikings won 36-22 as Peterson rushed for 212 yards. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With a wild playoff race nearing its end, a few teams that need to get a victory in order to take a step towards the postseason will come up short.

The NFC wild-card spots are still wide open, and there are countless scenarios that can still play out. While the AFC playoff picture is simpler, it will still bring about an exciting finish.

The postseason will essentially start for a few teams this week, and NFL fans will see how the players for these franchises are able to deal with the pressure.

Here are the teams searching for a playoff berth that will take a step backwards in Week 16.

Pittsburgh Steelers over Cincinnati Bengals 

The Steelers were supposed to start their run towards the playoffs once Ben Roethlisberger returned from injury, but that has not been the case. 

After being upset by the San Diego Chargers and losing in overtime to the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh’s back is fully against the wall.

This is the type of situation in which Roethlisberger excels, and the seasoned Steelers will be aggressive and focused against the Bengals. Playing on the road, Cincinnati will not be able to match their division rival’s intensity.

Roethlisberger will step up for this contest and lead his team to victory.


Houston Texans over Minnesota Vikings 

Unfortunately for the Vikings, Houston is still fighting for home-field advantage. 

When the crowd starts getting loud at Reliant Stadium, every one of the Texans players will know exactly what is on the line in this game.

Houston will not overlook Minnesota, and regardless of how many yards Adrian Peterson gains in this game, the Vikings do not have the talent to beat the Texans when they are playing well.

Minnesota is unfortunate to have such a difficult schedule in the second half of the season, and their playoff hopes will start to fade after this loss.


San Francisco 49ers over Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks will have the 12th man on their side at CentryLink Field, but that will not provide the team with nearly enough of an advantage to take down the 49ers. 

The last time these two teams met, the Niners pulled through in a hard-fought defensive battle, but Colin Kaepernick was not playing at that point in the season.

Kaepernick will be bursting with confidence after fighting through early-game struggles against the New England Patriots to throw a touchdown late in the game that gave San Francisco the lead for good. 

The young quarterback will be the difference in this game, and the Niners will complete a season sweep over the Seahawks.