NFL

NFL Picks Week 16: Predicting Weekend's Full Slate of Matchups

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 24:  Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a first half pass against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2013


NFL Picks Week 16
WinnerLoser
Miami Dolphins (-3)Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Bengals (-8)Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)Indianapolis Colts
St. Louis Rams (-4.5)Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Jets (-1)Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)Washington Redskins
Carolina Panthers (-2.5)New Orleans Saints
Jacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans (-4)
Denver Broncos (-9.5)Houston Texans
Detroit Lions (-9.5)New York Giants
Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)Arizona Cardinals
San Diego Chargers (-9.5)Oakland Raiders
Baltimore Ravens (-1.5)New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers (N/A)Pittsburgh Steelers
Philadelphia Eagles (-4)Chicago Bears
San Francisco (-10)Atlanta Falcons
Lines via VegasInsider.com

With 16 matchups scheduled for this weekend and countless postseason scenarios in play, Week 16 is sure to feature plenty of surprises. 

With 15 teams alive for eight remaining playoff spots, the stakes have never been higher. 

Here are my last-minute picks for Week 16's full slate of matchups

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 8:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a 20 yard fourth quarter touchdown pass to Eric Decker #87 (not pictured) during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

 

Denver Broncos Over Houston Texans

Watch for the Denver Broncos to rebound in Week 16 following a disappointing home loss to the San Diego Chargers in Week 15. After all, the Broncos will take on the NFL's worst team in the Houston Texans, who have lost 12 in a row.

Remember, Denver can clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye if it beats Houston and the Kansas City Chiefs lose to the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. The Broncos can also clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win and losses by the Chiefs and New England Patriots.

To put it simply, a win this weekend could go a very long way for the Broncos.

The oddsmakers have the Broncos as 9.5-point favorites on the road and it wouldn't be at all surprising if Peyton Manning and Co. covered the spread with ease. After all, Houston has lost six straight home games and is coming off a 22-point loss to the Colts in Week 15.

Denver will have a much easier time than last week on both sides of the ball, especially defensively, with the turnover-prone Matt Schaub set to start for the Texans at quarterback, per the team's official Twitter account: 

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions runs for a third quarter touchdown while playing the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on November 28, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Schaub has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season and ranks 29th in the league in passer rating, well below Manning, who ranks second coming into Week 16. 

Offensively, expect Manning and friends to be ready from the outset. The future Hall of Fame passer clearly isn't overlooking Houston, per DenverBroncos.com's Brandon Moree:

We don’t look at records, we look at the tape. On offense, we see a good defense. We see some outstanding players when you’re talking about guys like (Antonio) Smith and (J.J.) Watt and guys that can dominate a football game. We’re still getting to know them. They kind of had some injuries. They got some new players playing from the last time we played them so that’s what we’re focused on and I think we’ll do a good job getting ready to play.

Keep in mind that Manning will have had 10 days to prepare for the Texans defense come Sunday afternoon.

 

Detroit Lions Over New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 15: Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants is hit as he throws a pass in the 1st half  against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions no longer control their own destiny in the NFC North division race, but they can give themselves a solid shot at the postseason if they win out and finish 9-7. Before they can do that, they'll have to beat the reeling New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 16.

Although Detroit's dismal run of form (1-4 over their last five) hardly suggests it should be favored, the Giants' sloppy play (back-to-back 23-point losses) has the Lions coming into Sunday's game as 9.5-point road favorites. 

Don't expect the Lions to cover quite as easily as the Broncos, but do expect them to come out on top. 

While both Detroit and New York rank toward the top of the league in giveaways this season, the Giants have been much more generous, turning the ball over 39 times through 14 games and sporting a minus-17 turnover differential. 

On top of that, the Lions have more offensive weapons at their disposal, highlighted by Calvin Johnson, who ranks second in receiving yards and touchdowns coming into Week 16. On the other side, the Giants will be without their top wide receiver, Victor Cruz, according to NFL Network reporter Kimberly Jones on Twitter:

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 28: Strong safety James Ihedigbo #32 and inside linebacker Josh Bynes #56 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate a play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Rave
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

 

Baltimore Ravens Over New England Patriots

The defending Super Bowl champions are set to earn another crucial win this weekend when they topple the Patriots at home in a rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game.

While you can expect another hard-fought game between these two contenders, as pointed out by NFL.com's Albert Breer on Twitter, look for the Ravens to come out on top. 

Baltimore will be a slight favorite at home in this matchup—and for good reason. The Ravens are 6-1 at M&T Bank Stadium this season and have won four straight in Charm City. On top of that, they are playing excellent defense at home, allowing just 16.5 points per game there over their four-game home winning streak.

The Ravens defense has been opportunistic at home as well, forcing seven turnovers over the team's last four home games. 

Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer also likes the Ravens on Sunday, making some strong points in their favor:

The Ravens swept the Patriots last season, including their impressive victory in the AFC title game at New England. They still match up well against Tom Brady, and this one’s back in friendly Baltimore. The Ravens’ defensive backs are outstanding in covering and make quick tackles after the catch, and don’t need to contend with Rob Gronkowski, setting them up to keep Brady from overworking the middle of the field.

What's more, all four of New England's losses this season have come on the road, including Week 15's loss to the Miami Dolphins. Keep in mind that the Patriots have won just one road game since the start of October, going 1-4 outside of Foxborough since Week 5.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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