NFL Week 16 Picks: Breaking Down Most Intriguing Games on Schedule

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 15:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts on the bench during their game against the New York Jets at Bank of America Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Every week in the NFL seems to be a little crazier—and a little more fun—than the week before it. And in Week 16, with several huge matchups on tap, that trend seems destined to continue.

There are huge playoff implications in the works. Division titles could be won or lost. Some of the top stars in the games will be facing off. And two of the most exciting offenses—and suspect defenses—in the NFL will be battling on Sunday night.

It's enough to get you giddy. Below, you'll find a full list of predictions for Week 16, including a closer look at four premier contests.

Week 16 NFL Predictions
Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsDolphins
Cincinnati BengalsMinnesota VikingsBengals
Kansas City ChiefsIndianapolis ColtsChiefs
St. Louis RamsTampa Bay BuccaneersRams
New York JetsCleveland BrownsJets
WashingtonDallas CowboysWashington
Carolina PanthersNew Orleans SaintsPanthers
Jacksonville JaguarsTennessee TitansTitans
Houston TexansDenver BroncosBroncos
Detroit LionsNew York GiantsLions
Seattle SeahawksArizona CardinalsSeahawks
Green Bay PackersPittsburgh SteelersPackers
San Diego ChargersOakland RaidersChargers
Baltimore RavensNew England PatriotsRavens
Philadelphia EaglesChicago BearsEagles
San Francisco 49ersAtlanta Falcons49ers

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

In a way, this game doesn't exactly mean much beyond playoff positioning. The Chiefs are already locked into the No. 5 seed unless they win out and the Denver Broncos lose once, which isn't likely against the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders.

And the Indianapolis Colts will probably only get as high as the No. 3 seed, unless the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals completely fall apart down the stretch.

But this does look like a very likely playoff matchup in a game that would be played in Indianapolis. Perhaps in their home digs, the Colts will get the win, but in Kansas City it should be an entirely different result.

While the Chiefs have lost two games at home this season (5-2), an outdoor game plays into their run-based offense and superior defense. Meanwhile, the Colts have alternated wins and losses since their Week 8 bye (yes, they are due for a loss in that pattern), and are just 5-4 since starting the season 4-1.

Expect Jamaal Charles to have a very big day on the ground against the 27th-ranked run defense. This game will be tight—that's the Andrew Luck factor in play—but behind a strong running game and their excellent defense, the Chiefs will prevail.

Prediction: Chiefs win, 27-21

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens

Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates after kicking a 61 yard field goal during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Baltimore Ravens defeated the Detroit Lions 18-16. Mandatory Credit:
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Here's what we know about the Ravens: They are 6-1 at home, they beat the Patriots twice last year, they are fighting for their playoff lives, and they seem to get better later in the year, as we saw in their run to a Super Bowl title last season.

Here's what we know about the Patriots: They are without their top offensive weapon, Rob Gronkowski, they're just 3-4 on the road this season, and yes, believe it or not, they could still miss the playoffs altogether if they lose two straight, the Ravens and Miami Dolphins win out, and the Cincinnati Bengals win this week.

The Patriots survived without Rob Gronkowski earlier in the season because the defense was playing well, but they've since endured injuries to Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo and have given up 24 or more points in four straight games.

With Baltimore's defense playing well of late—it's held opponents to 20 or fewer points in four of the past six weeks—and the offense (and Justin Tucker) doing just enough to win, look for the Ravens to earn the win at home.

Prediction: Ravens win, 23-21

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

At home, the Saints have literally been unbeatable, going 7-0 on the season. On the road they are far more vulnerable, however, with a disappointing 3-4 mark. 

Now, with the NFC South title hanging in the balance, they travel to Carolina, where the Panthers are 6-1 on the season. And in their home digs, expect the Panthers to pound the rock and play far better defense than they did in a 31-13 Week 14 loss to Carolina.

The Panthers are currently eighth in rushing yards per game (129.4), while the Saints allow 116.4 rushing yards per contest, 21st in the NFL. If the Panthers can pound the rock and control the game on the ground—similar to how the St. Louis Rams beat the Saints in Week 15—they'll be one step closer to the NFC South title and No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Prediction: Carolina wins, 27-24

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

The Bears can't stop the run (32nd in rushing yards allowed per game); the Eagles have the league's leading rusher, LeSean McCoy (1,343 yards).

The Eagles can't stop opposing passing games (31st in passing yards allowed per game); the Bears have one of the league's most dangerous passing games, led by Brandon Marshall (90 receptions for 1,185 yards and 10 touchdowns) and Alshon Jeffery (80 receptions for 1,265 receiving yards and seven touchdowns).

Get ready for the shootout, folks.

It isn't easy separating these teams. Both have playoff implications to worry about, though the Eagles need only to beat the Cowboys in Week 17 to guarantee they'll win the NFC East. The Eagles lost their first four games at home but have won three in a row since, while the Bears are decent but hardly great on the road (3-4).

Both of these teams are extremely balanced on offense; we haven't even mentioned Matt Forte or DeSean Jackson yet. Neither defense could stop a fly with a windshield, let alone an opposing offense in an NFL game.

So what will be the difference in this game?

Turnovers, that's what. In 11 games this season, Nick Foles has thrown 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions. In nine games for the Bears, Jay Cutler has thrown 16 touchdowns and has been picked off 10 times.

In a game that may come down to whichever team has the ball last, expect a few Bears turnovers to be all the advantage the Eagles need.

Prediction: Eagles win, 31-28

Hit me up on Twitter. I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, tweet random fantasy musings and never forget Justin Tucker's performance in Week 15. Long will he be remembered among the ranks of fantasy greats.

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