Whether football fans can believe it or not, the 2013 NFL season has reached Week 16, and bettors are already looking for the guaranteed picks in all the key matchups.
The slate of games in the penultimate week will have even the most casual fans excited about the action, but there are several marquee games that should be considered locks.
Here are the predicted winners in every meeting this weekend and a focus on the most important matchups.
|Away Team||Home Team||Proj. Winner|
|Miami Dolphins||Buffalo Bills||Dolphins|
|New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers||Panthers|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||St. Louis Rams||Rams|
|Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles|
|Cleveland Browns||N.Y. Jets||Browns|
|Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs|
|Minnesota Vikings||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals|
|Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||Broncos|
|Tennessee Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||Titans|
|Arizona Cardinals||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks|
|N.Y. Giants||Detroit Lions||Lions|
|Oakland Raiders||San Diego Chargers||Chargers|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens|
|Atlanta Falcons||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) vs. Chicago Bears (8-6)
The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to bounce back from a tough blowout loss in Week 15 to the Minnesota Vikings by hosting the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football. Despite both teams fighting for a playoff berth in their respective divisions, the home-field advantage will help the Eagles secure the victory.
As great as Philadelphia’s offense led by Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy has been this season—boasting a squad that is ranked first in the league rushing the ball and 10th through the air—the reason the team lost in Week 15 was the lack of elite play from the defensive unit.
Any chance either the Bears or Eagles defense can stop the other Sunday night in Philly? Looks like a 48-45 kind of game coming up...— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) December 17, 2013
The Eagles had allowed an average of fewer than 20 points per game during the previous five-week winning streak, but Philadelphia faltered against Minnesota by allowing 455 total yards of offense and 48 points.
That’s not good.
The Eagles’ 31st-ranked secondary must get back to basics if it wants to stop a Chicago team that boasts two of the most talented wide receivers in the league with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
With the fate of Philadelphia’s postseason hope hinging on a big win over the Bears, Chip Kelly and the Eagles should come out fast on their home field and hand Chicago a tough loss.
Predicted Final Score: Philadelphia 34, Chicago 27
Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (9-5)
After losing three games in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs have addressed many of the key issues plaguing the team and strung together two victories since. As well as the Indianapolis Colts have played at times this season, the team is far too inconsistent to be a legitimate threat to Kansas City on Sunday.
Led by the 215 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns of running back Jamaal Charles in Week 15, there is no offensive unit in the NFL hotter right now. The same can’t be said for Indianapolis.
The Colts have lost three of the team’s last five games and struggled at times in the victories. Quarterback Andrew Luck has lost several key pieces on the offense (i.e. Reggie Wayne) over the course of the season, but the biggest disappointment has been the addition of running back Trent Richardson.
Richardson has averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and failed to be the difference-maker the franchise gave up a first-round pick to acquire. The struggles will continue against the vaunted Kansas City defense.
In the battle of Charles vs. Richardson, the Chiefs have the distinct advantage and will control the clock and scoreboard throughout.
Predicted Final Score: Kansas City 40, Indianapolis 30
Dallas Cowboys (7-7) vs. Washington Redskins (3-11)
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off the most devastating loss of the season, but there is no better remedy for the issues that have plagued the team than a matchup with the lowly Washington Redskins.
Dallas amassed an astounding 466 total yards of offense in the 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but the team’s lack of commitment to the rushing attack in the second half left the door open for the epic comeback we saw Sunday.
Which projected winner needs the victory most?
Despite the tough loss, Dallas still boasts an incredibly talented offensive unit. Led by the consistent running of DeMarco Murray and the experience of Tony Romo, the Cowboys are more balanced on offense now than the franchise has been at any point over the last three seasons.
Romo will have a chance to bounce back from his two-interception performance against a Washington defense allowing 251.9 yards passing per game, but the key to success will be the commitment to running the ball. The Redskins have struggled against the run all season (17th in the NFL), and Murray must be given ample opportunities to shine.
As long as Dallas stays committed to keeping the offense balanced by using the run and the pass evenly, the team should secure the victory.
Predicted Final Score: Dallas 36, Washington 24
*Stats via NFL.com.