Can Patrick Willis and the 'Niners defense hold off Seattle?
Folks, here go, Week 16 and last-minute NFL picks with the spread.
With postseason and NFL draft order implications on the line, we can fully expect one awesome day of football.
And it ends with a colossal NFC matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
There, pro football fans get an early holiday present in two teams that are exact replicas of one another. Is there an advantage for San Francisco or Seattle despite being mirror images?
Yes, believe it or not.
But before we check out the prime-time showdown, let's view the rest Sunday's action.
Note: All spreads are courtesy of FootballLocks.com.
Earlier this week, according to the New York Jets' official Twitter feed:
#EA Greg McElroy has been named the Jets starting QB for Sunday’s game with the San Diego Chargers.— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 18, 2012
This, however, isn't a disadvantage for the Jets.
New York can still run the ball and the San Diego Chargers don't force turnovers consistently. The Chargers also don't put up big numbers offensively in terms of yards and points.
Another ugly game for the Jets, but victory in Week 16.
Jets against the spread
New York 13, San Diego 9
Final Score: San Diego 27, New York 17
This one is too simple.
The Green Bay Packers are capable of racking up insurmountable yards and points.
The Tennessee Titans give up far too many yards and points per game.
Flip sides and the Titans offense doesn't possess the high-powered attack to match Green Bay. Also, the Packers defense is gaining confidence from recent weeks.
Packers against the spread
Green Bay 28, Tennessee 3
Final Score: Green Bay 55, Tennessee 7
The only concern here are the Carolina Panthers playing down to their opposition's level.
Carolina has certainly played up as well, but the inconsistency is an advantage for the Oakland Raiders.
Fortunately for the Panthers, Oakland lacks on both sides of the line. Despite ranking No. 7 in passing offense, much of that has been inflated courtesy of garbage time.
Cam Newton and Co. are much more explosive and Oakland's vulnerable defense won't slow down the Cats.
Panthers against the spread
Carolina 30, Oakland 13
Final Score: Carolina 17, Oakland 6
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins make an intriguing matchup.
Buffalo can run the ball well, but continues to struggle at stopping the run.
Miami plays solid defense up front; however, it has failed miserably against the pass. Interestingly enough, we've seen the Bills present a respectable passing game this season—namely twice against the New England Patriots.
The Dolphins don't have the offensive potential because the passing game has yet to really stretch defenses. As a result, Buffalo controls the line and wins on the ground with C.J. Spiller.
Bills and the points
Buffalo 16, Miami 10
Final Score: Miami 24, Buffalo 10
In a crucial AFC North showdown, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers face a must-win situation.
Here, we see Cincy's pass rush with a league leading 43 sacks against a suspect Pittsburgh offensive line.
The Steelers don't slam the rock consistently and the Bengals do shut down the trenches. In turn, the Andy Dalton to A.J. Green connection takes advantage of additional possessions by stretching Pittsburgh to field a balanced attack.
Bengals and the points
Cincinnati 20, Pittsburgh 16
Final Score: Cincinnati 13, Pittsburgh 10
Watch out, because the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars will be a blowout.
The question is: How much will Tom Brady and Co. win by?
Well, the Jags fail to slow anyone down, especially balanced and faster-paced offenses. Jacksonville's offense also lacks the efficiency to match any pace New England sets.
This game will be over by halftime.
Patriots against the spread
New England 42, Jacksonville 7
Final Score: New England 23, Jacksonville 16
As long as the Indianapolis Colts can isolate Jamaal Charles, a 10th win will happen.
Indy's defensive weakness to the Kansas City Chiefs is against the run because Charles does average almost five yards per rush.
Therefore, anticipate the Colts loading the box to take Charles' production out of the game. Offensively, Andrew Luck must push the tempo as K.C. does not present the explosiveness to keep up.
Factor in some turnovers because of the Chiefs' inability to have ball control and the Colts get a needed road win.
Colts against the spread
Indianapolis 23, Kansas City 10
Final Score: Indianapolis 20, Kansas City 13
DeMarcus Ware is the key to this game.
For one, the New Orleans Saints' offensive approach obviously remains the passing game.
Secondly, the Dallas Cowboys must get pressure on Brees as he has been rather interception-prone in 2012. The Saints can still keep pace with anyone, though, including the Cowboys.
Tony Romo is carrying the offense because Dallas doesn't field a consistently reliable ground game to remain balanced. And for as bad as New Orleans can be defensively, Dallas being one-dimensional is an advantage for the Saints.
Given that New Orleans possesses a more dependable rushing attack, the Saints sneak out of Big D with a big victory.
Saints and the points
New Orleans 31, Dallas 27
Final Score: New Orleans 34, Dallas 31 (OT)
Good news for the Washington Redskins' fans.
In the final anticipated step, Redskins doctors cleared QB Robert Griffin III to start Sunday’s game vs. Eagles, via league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 22, 2012
Considering the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive woes throughout 2012, it doesn't matter which quarterback is under center for Washington.
The Redskins possess a unique offensive approach and Robert Griffin III only makes them more fast-paced. Philly's offense also won't keep up because Washington's defense is playing with added confidence during the win streak.
Redskins against the spread
Washington 35, Philadelphia 17
Final Score: Washington 27, Philadelphia 20
For those that love physical football, the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers present that kind of game.
Each offense works off a strong running back and the defenses are well-versed at stuffing the run.
So, this game will be decided by the impact of Steven Jackson and Doug Martin. One disparity between the Rams and Bucs, though, resides in the pass defense.
Tampa is among the worst, despite numerous interceptions, and St. Louis locks down man-to-man. Factor in Jackson getting established on the ground and the Rams passing game is enough to edge out the Buccaneers.
Rams and the points
St. Louis 14, Tampa Bay 10
Final Score: St. Louis 28, Tampa Bay 13
Obviously Adrian Peterson needs to produce for the Minnesota Vikings to pull the road upset.
Also, the Houston Texans aren't the most dominant against the run by allowing an average 4.1 yards per carry.
Minnesota does not have the passing game, however, to stretch Houston downfield and prevent Wade Phillips from stacking the box. Switch to the Texans offense and there is enough balance to keep the Vikings honest throughout.
Peterson undoubtedly gets his numbers, but Houston possesses the better defense and stronger overall offense to control the tempo.
Texans against the spread
Houston 27, Minnesota 17
Final Score: Minnesota 23, Houston 6
The Cleveland Browns must find a way to move the rock against the Denver Broncos.
Now yes, that's obvious.
However, moving the ball on Denver is significantly more difficult than at first glance. The Broncos do everything right: Rush the passer, cover and stop the run.
Cleveland has shown sparks of moving the ball in 2012, but not consistently. As a result, the Broncos slow down the Browns and Peyton Manning takes over when on the field.
Broncos against the spread
Denver 34, Cleveland 16
Final Score: Denver 34, Cleveland 12
The New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens face eerily similar circumstances.
Although Baltimore clinched a playoff berth, the AFC North is still up for grabs along with the NFC East.
That said, the difference in this matchup resides in each defense's pass rush. Uncharacteristically, both have struggled in 2012, but the Giants have been far worse by comparison.
Baltimore also possesses the better backfield courtesy of Ray Rice. As a complete back, Rice's impact on the ground, as a check-down target and with pass protection is a distinct competitive advantage.
Ravens and the points
Baltimore 24, New York 17
Final Score: Baltimore 33, New York 14
The Chicago Bears are a vulnerable defense against the run.
And after Beanie Wells scored three rushing touchdowns in Week 15, expect the Arizona Cardinals to slam the trenches in Week 16.
We also have to expect the Bears to stack the box as a result. In coverage, double-teaming Larry Fitzgerald is all that needs to occur, though, because Arizona's offensive line still must prove consistency at run and pass-blocking.
The Bears offensively just need to run the ball and shorten the game. Arizona's coverage is capable of blanketing Brandon Marshall, so running to control the line of scrimmage will keep the Cards offense off the field.
Cardinals and the points
Chicago 21, Arizona 17
Final Score: Chicago 28, Arizona 13
Welcome to the game of the week.
Two teams of literally identical philosophies on each side of the line, the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers matchup is the definition of a chess match.
If there's one minute disparity, it's defending the run.
Patrick Willis and the Niners allow only 3.6 per rushing attempt to Seattle's 4.5. The offenses present similar rushing and overall capabilities, so the front seven of each side will determine this outcome.
Here, we see another low-scoring contest that is won by the stronger rush defense to stifle the opposing offense.
49ers and the points
San Francisco 16, Seattle 13
Final Score: Seattle 42, San Francisco 13
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