NFL Picks Week 16: Predictions for Games with Biggest Playoff Implications

Michael DulkaContributor IDecember 20, 2012

NFL Picks Week 16: Predictions for Games with Biggest Playoff Implications

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    A number of playoff spots and seeding are on the line in the NFL's Week 16. With no game on Monday night, football fans are in for a frantic 27 hours of football that could decide their team's fate heading into Week 17. 

    Of the 16 games this week, 13 of them have some direct bearing on how the playoffs will shake out with teams either looking to stay alive, clinch a spot or move up to a higher seed. Of all the games that playoff implications, here are the predictions for the biggest. 

Redskins vs. Eagles

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    Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III should be making his return to the lineup from a knee injury against the Philadelphia Eagles. When the season started, it seemed the playoff implications for this game would be flipped, with the Eagles playing for the division and the Redskins playing for pride. 

    The Redskins will be able to points up on the Eagles defense that has struggled all year, and defensively, the Redskins will take advantage of the Eagles miscues. Nick Foles hasn't played great football, turning the ball over six times in six games while running back Bryce Brown hasn't been able to hold on to the football.

    This game won't be close as RGIII heats up and gets the Redskins another step closer to the playoffs. The Eagles turn the ball over too many times and RGIII converts turnovers to points. 

    Prediction: Redskins 31, Eagles 13

Saints vs. Cowboys

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    The Saints are heading struggling towards the finish line while the Dallas Cowboys are finding ways to win. The Cowboys need a win to keep pace with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins in the crowded NFC East. The Cowboys have found ways to win their last three games, trailing in every game and winning the three games by a combined nine points. 

    The Cowboys can't afford to risk getting behind and having to come back once again. They've escaped with a bit of luck and eventually that luck will run out. The Saints have the firepower to take advantage of the Cowboys' mistakes and put points on the board quickly.

    The luck ends for the Cowboys as the Saints put up points in a hurry, and instead of coming back from this, Tony Romo throws it to the wrong team. The Saints will continue to play with the rhythm they found against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

    Prediction: Saints 34, Cowboys 23

Giants vs. Ravens

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    The New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens are both coming off big losses that made things much more difficult heading into the final two weeks of the season. The Giants are reeling and don't look like the Super Bowl team they were a year ago, while the Ravens don't look like the team they were at the beginning of the season. 

    This game strictly depends on which versions of each consistent team shows up. If they both show up, the Giants have the advantage with the Ravens' injury problems on defense. 

    The Giants defense has enough left in the tank to make sure Joe Flacco doesn't bounce back from a bad showing last week. The good Eli Manning shows up to throw a pair of touchdown passes as the Giants escape to 9-6 heading into Week 17. 

    Prediction: Giants 23, Ravens 17

Bengals vs. Steelers

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    The Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers play in an AFC North battle with both teams still alive in the division and wild-card races. The Steelers have lost four of their last five games, while the Bengals have won five of six games. 

    The Steelers running game has been a carousel of disappointment as nobody has been able to get anything going on the ground. The pass offense has been inconsistent with Roethlisberger coming back from injury. The Bengals on the other hand are rolling, despite not playing consistently good football. 

    The Bengals should have the advantage, but the Steelers' experience has been a big factor before and will be in this one. Neither team plays well as each defense beats up on the offense. The Steelers battle through to get a victory and stay alive. 

    Prediction: Steelers 17, Bengals 13

49ers vs. Seahawks

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    The game of the week comes on Sunday Night Football as the San Francisco 49ers battle the Seattle Seahawks. This game would have been even better had the 49ers lost to the New England Patriots and this game was for the division, but playoff seeding is on the line in this one. 

    First-year starter Colin Kaepernick will have a tough task leading the 49ers into noisy CenturyLink Field and could struggle early in the game. Once he settles down, he gives the 49ers a great chance of making plays against the Seahawks defense. 

    The 49ers are the much more experienced team and it will show Sunday night. Kaepernick continues to make 49ers fans forget there was a quarterback controversy just weeks ago, as he lights up the vaunted Seahawks defense. Marshawn Lynch gets shut down by the 49ers rush defense, making it difficult for Russell Wilson. Seahawks make it close with a late rally. 

    Prediction: 49ers 27, Seahakws 24