Winning on the road is important in the NFL in general. For a few teams, it is essential over the last two weeks of the season if hopes of making the playoffs are to remain alive.
With just two games left in the regular season, the schedule is filled with must-win games. Almost none of the teams in desperate situations have both of their remaining games at home.
Looking over the schedule, I've identified the road teams that have the best chance to win major matchups this season. Before we get into that, here's a look at a table that shows my predictions for every game on the Week 16 schedule:
|Sunday, Dec. 22||Time (EST)||Location||Picks|
|Miami at Buffalo||1 p.m||Ralph Wilson Stadium||Miami|
|Minnesota at Cincinnati||1 p.m||Paul Brown Stadium||Cincinnati|
|Indianapolis at Kansas City||1 p.m||Arrowhead Stadium||Kansas City|
|Tampa Bay at St. Louis||1 p.m||Edward Jones Dome||St. Louis|
|Cleveland at N.Y. Jets||1 p.m||MetLife Stadium||N.Y.|
|Dallas at Washington||1 p.m||FedEx Field||Washington|
|New Orleans at Carolina||1 p.m||Bank of America Stadium||Carolina|
|Tennessee at Jacksonville||1 p.m||EverBank Field||Jacksonville|
|Denver at Houston||1 p.m||Reliant Stadium||Denver|
|N.Y. Giants at Detroit||4:05 p.m||Ford Field||N.Y.|
|Arizona at Seattle||4:05 p.m||CenturyLink Field||Seattle|
|Pittsburgh at Green Bay||4:25 p.m||Lambeau Field||Pittsburgh|
|Oakland at San Diego||4:25 p.m||Qualcomm Stadium||San Diego|
|New England at Baltimore||4:25 p.m||M&T Bank Stadium||Baltimore|
|Chicago at Philadelphia||8:30 p.m||Lincoln Financial Field||Chicago|
|Monday, Dec. 23||Time (EST)||Location|
|Atlanta at San Francisco||8:30 p.m||Candlestick Park||San Francisco|
|Brian Mazique's Prediction|
Chicago Bears over the Philadelphia Eagles
A win is almost a must if the Chicago Bears hope to make the playoffs. At 8-6, Chicago has a half-game lead over the Green Bay Packers and a full-game lead over the Detroit Lions. Because the Bears face the Packers in the season finale and the Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over them, there is little room for error.
As good as the Eagles' offense has looked with Nick Foles at quarterback, the defense has still been weak. In Week 15, Philly surrendered 48 points to a Minnesota Vikings team that was without Adrian Peterson.
For the year, the Eagles have the 30th-ranked defense in the NFL. Chicago's offense has scored the second-most points in the league this year behind the Denver Broncos. There is a lot of debate as to whether Jay Cutler or Josh McCown should be the starting quarterback for Chicago, but truth is, no matter who has started for the Bears, the team has still put points on the board.
The team has failed to score 20 points in a game just once this season.
The Bears defense isn't much better than the Eagles. It is only ranked 27th in the league, but with Lance Briggs cleared to return to the lineup, per Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, it is easier to trust Chicago's defense to make the requisite stops necessary to win the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers over the Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers ruled out of this huge game at Lambeau Field, per Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the Packers' chances of beating the Pittsburgh Steelers don't seem great. The Steelers defense has been showing signs of its old self over the last few weeks.
Only one of Pittsburgh's last six opponents has managed to accrue 400 yards or more of total offense.
A Matt Flynn-led passing attack won't have the luxury of facing a porous defense like the Dallas Cowboys again this week. Flynn threw four touchdown passes against a Cowboys defense that is one of the worst I've seen in 30 years of watching the NFL.
The Steelers will present a much tougher challenge. With a strong commitment to the run game, Pittsburgh should dominate time of possession and eliminate the Packers from contention.
Denver Broncos over the Houston Texans
First and foremost, the Texans are putrid. The team has lost 12 games in a row. Even though Matt Schaub is scheduled to get the start after an injury to Case Keenum, the 32-year-old veteran's attempts at redemption won't be enough to lead the Texans to a win.
Inside Reliant Stadium, there will be no cold weather for Peyton Manning to contend with. He will engineer the offense like a well-oiled machine.
After beginning the season 2-0, Schaub and the entire team has fallen apart.
With Manning and the Broncos still trying to lock down home-field advantage through the Super Bowl, there is a lot for them to play for. Denver will throttle the Texans to keep the nightmare in Houston going.
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