NFL Picks Week 16: Chris Simms' Game-by-Game Picks

Chris Simms@@CSimmsQBNFL Lead AnalystDecember 22, 2016

NFL Picks Week 16: Chris Simms' Game-by-Game Picks

0 of 16

    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Take it from the last guy Jon Gruden tried to draft and develop.

    Ol' Chucky would be the perfect author of Jared Goff's next professional chapter. The Rams should pick up the phone right now and offer ESPN large sums to free him up.

    L.A.'s last regime handled the former No. 1 pick with six layers of kid gloves. Gruden won't hesitate to throw the Cal product in the fire; he'd tell you that's how veterans are made. And Goff's time with Gruden on ESPN's Quarterback Camp will feel like preschool compared to the passing calculus No. 16 would be expected to absorb.

    I needed that mental ass-kicking coming from Mack Brown's pro-style scheme at Texas. I can only guess Jared Goff needs it too, considering he was still operating the full Air Raid spread offense in Berkeley this time last winter. Only top offensive teachers can smooth out that steep learning curve. Gruden is that guy.

    My first professional coach brings so much to the table from a marketing standpoint, like personality and name recognition. He'd have a defense in place that's ready to win and win now. But above all, Gruden should be the guy because he can tutor Goff, the prospect they've bet their future on.

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

1 of 16

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    When: Thursday, 12/22, at 8:25 p.m. ET (NBC, NFLN, TWTR)

    Against any other foe, Janoris Jenkins' up-in-the-air availability would have me concerned to pick the Giants.

    But these are the Eagles—the only team whose receivers are arguably a form of self-pass defense. Big Blue should be fine with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stepping in. That's especially true given how well Olivier Vernon and friends have beaten up quality offensive lines lately.

    Despite Lane Johnson's return, Philadelphia won't field better blockers than Dallas or Detroit did. Carson Wentz won't have much time to throw in Week 16.

    Prediction: Giants 24, Eagles 16

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

2 of 16

    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Atlanta’s offense has become even scarier without Julio Jones.

    That’s not a typo. Without the leading receiver in football, the one-two punch of Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan are free to spread the football around. A secondary like Carolina’s is no match.

    Expect a helping of quick Ryan throws—slants, curls, crossing routes—and screens to maximize Atlanta’s speed. Targets like Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel shouldn’t struggle to gain separation before and after the catch.

    Prediction: Falcons 30, Panthers 24

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

3 of 16

    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    This game hinges on Miami’s ability to stop—or at least slow down—LeSean McCoy.

    I’m not so sure the Dolphins can do it. Despite big-ticket names on their defensive front, the Dolphins still boast the 30th-ranked run defense in football. McCoy wouldn’t shock me if he had a day like Jay Ajayi did when these teams met in Week 7 (214 rushing yards).

    Speaking of which, has anyone seen Ajayi? He’ll disappear under the 100-yard mark yet again with Laremy Tunsil and Branden Albert both hobbling. Plus, Kyle Williams is back as Buffalo’s big run-buster. It’s up to you, Matt Moore.

    Prediction: Bills 24, Dolphins 22

Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears

4 of 16

    David Banks/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Washington will have had six days to bounce back from a soul-crushing loss.

    That’s enough time to refocus on the playoff picture. But it’s not nearly enough time to patch the issues up and down the Redskins defense. Matt Barkley and the Bears offense must be licking their chops in film study this week.

    Chicago will move the ball up and down on Washington, and it’ll be up to Kirk Cousins to match. With his speedy weapons against that secondary, he will in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

    Prediction: Redskins 28, Bears 27

New York Jets at New England Patriots

5 of 16

    Al Pereira/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Bryce Petty is in for a doozy.

    He’s made starts against Miami and San Francisco’s defense thus far. The one Bill Belichick coaches is in another stratosphere.

    Petty’s one saving grace—the Jets running game—won’t even be an option. Trey Flowers and Malcolm Brown are playing Pro Bowl-level ball in the trenches. Should Bilal Powell find his way past them, he’ll have a one-on-one meeting with Dont’a Hightower. Those rarely end well.

    I know these two AFC East foes normally play close contests. But c’mon. This is New England, and it’s almost January.

    Prediction: Patriots 31, Jets 13

San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

6 of 16

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    The Browns have only two chances to avoid joining the ’08 Lions Club.

    Make that one chance after this week. Coach Hue Jackson’s team can move the ball, but not enough to compensate for the crater-sized holes speckling Cleveland’s defense.

    There isn’t one pass-rusher in brown, orange and white capable of collapsing Philip Rivers’ pocket. There isn’t a defensive back capable of running with Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman or former Brown Travis Benjamin. Sounds like a three-touchdown-pass kind of game to me (at least).

    Prediction: Chargers 30, Browns 23

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

7 of 16

    Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    This is a Titans trap game, and they better beware.

    Why? Think back to the Thursday night blowout these two teams played in October (it’s hard to forget with those mustard Color Rush unis). Not only did DeMarco Murray run as he pleased, but Marcus Mariota also shredded Jacksonville’s defense. Jalen Ramsey and Co. are probably furious reviewing the tape this week.

    Even without Gus Bradley at the helm, that defense is playing better. Ramsey has evolved into a complete corner—one who can lock down Mariota’s top read and never let go.

    I expect No. 8 to struggle far more than he did the last time these teams met. Even then, it’ll be enough to squeak by a Blake Bortles-quarterbacked team.

    Prediction: Titans 23, Jaguars 17

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

8 of 16

    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Aaron Rodgers had to throw just to set up his own running game for 14 weeks.

    That is no longer the case. Rodgers can split the offensive workload with Ty Montgomery from here on out; the receiver-turned-running back proved he’s the answer to Green Bay’s ground-game woes. Anticipate lots of Montgomery to start out this game and keep noted Packer-beater Everson Griffen on his heels.

    Rodgers won’t stuff the stat sheet this week. Minnesota’s corners are physical and quick, perfectly suited to stop all the short rockets he releases. I see No. 12 as more of a game manager this time around, and that should be enough against a defense that needs to score itself to win.

    Prediction: Packers 21, Vikings 17

Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders

9 of 16

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Derek Carr isn’t the only one feeling that sore thumb.

    Latavius Murray and others have to take handoffs from shotgun; Carr’s thumb won’t allow him to take snaps under center. It severely impacts Oakland’s downhill running attack and all the play-action throws Carr makes off it.

    But never fear. Bruce Irvin is finally here, tag-teamming with Khalil Mack to form the pass-rushing duo Oakland expected this summer. Andrew Luck doesn’t have enough seasoning on his line (three rookie starters last week) to contain both Irvin and Mack at the top of their games.

    Prediction: Raiders 27, Colts 23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

10 of 16

    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Sean Payton says he’ll recycle some of his Buccaneers notes from two weeks ago to prepare for Week 16.

    Yeah, right.

    Payton’s team couldn’t get Drew Brees going back on Dec. 11. New Orleans was a dismal 4-of-13 on third- down attempts. An offensive savant like Payton won’t accept those stats again; he’ll look at what the Cowboys did so well and replicate it this week.

    So expect less Brees and more Mark Ingram. New Orleans has the size to run on Tampa Bay; the Saints will use it to their advantage this time around.

    Prediction: Saints 28, Buccaneers 25

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams

11 of 16

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Time to get your first win, Jared Goff.

    San Francisco doesn’t pose a defensive threat worth listing here. Like any quarterback, Goff should find success in the air this weekend. For the first time since he took over, he’ll be joined by an actually productive Todd Gurley. The Niners still surrender a league-worst 176.3 rushing yards per game, after all.

    Flip the field and you’ll see lots of Gurley’s counterpart running horizontally. It won’t be by Chip Kelly’s design; Carlos Hyde will need to avoid Aaron Donald in the center of L.A.’s defense all game long.

    Prediction: Rams 21, 49ers 16

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

12 of 16

    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Want to know what Cardinals-Seahawks II will be like?

    Replay their overtime kick-fest from late October. The Week 16 version figures to be just like that, except in Seattle.

    And that might make all the difference. Michael Bennett and a host of Seahawks quarterback-slayers won’t let David Johnson knife through their forces. It’ll be rough going for the NFL’s top all-purpose back in the air too, as K.J. Wright is one of the best cover linebackers in the business.

    Come 3rd-and-long, I don’t believe Arizona has a blocking answer to Seattle’s pressure packages and looks. Carson Palmer might retire at halftime.

    Prediction: Seahawks 17, Cardinals 15

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

13 of 16

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, 12/24, at 8:25 p.m. ET (NFLN)

    Wave goodbye to seven- and eight-man fronts, Houston.

    You wisely ended the Brock Osweiler era. That means the downfield passing game is actually a thing now under Tom Savage. Good for you! And good for Lamar Miller, who had more lanes to choose from with a respectable quarterback by his side.

    Also good: Houston’s pass defense. With Jadeveon Clowney seemingly shot out of a cannon on every play and three to four solid cornerback options, it now ranks No. 2 in football. Andy Dalton’s young receivers are about to disappear for 60 minutes.

    Prediction: Texans 24, Bengals 14

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

14 of 16

    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, 12/25, at 4:30 p.m. ET (NFLN)

    It’s safe to say these two bitter rivals won’t ever exchange Christmas gifts.

    But if Pittsburgh holds onto its AFC North lead, it should send a thank you gift Baltimore’s way. Because back in early November, the Ravens won and forced Pittsburgh’s offensive metamorphosis. It was the season’s turning point.

    Le’Veon Bell will lead the Christmas charge in the rematch. Baltimore will need to play much sounder run defense than it did last week (169 rushing yards surrendered) or the division will belong to all those Terrible Towel-wavers.

    Prediction: Steelers 21, Ravens 17

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

15 of 16

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, 12/25, at 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

    Bad offensive lines don’t travel well.

    It’s more than an old coaching adage from back in my dad’s day. It’s the reality right now on this Broncos team—to the point where Aqib Talib reportedly refused to let Russell Okung talk in a team venting session because the blocking was so poor last week, according to NFL.com's Michael Silver.

    More bad news is on its way in the form of Kansas City’s front seven. Justin Houston had a monster game (3.0 sacks) in the earlier meeting. Now, he’ll lead a righteously pissed-off group seeking to take the frustrations of a last-second Titans loss out on someone.

    That someone will be Trevor Siemian.

    Prediction: Chiefs 17, Broncos 16

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys

16 of 16

    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    When: Monday, 12/26, at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

    Detroit has the right kind of offense to pick Dallas apart slowly.

    "Slowly" is the key word there. We know Ezekiel Elliott and Co. will seek to sit on the football and limit Matt Stafford’s appearances. Detroit needs to give it right back on 10-, 11-, 12-play drives that keep Dallas’ offense on ice too.

    Stafford has shown the ability to do that. His defense has shown the ability to keep games close. Can it stay within one score of the 'Boys?

    That depends on Darius Slay’s availability. Without its top corner, Detroit will roll coverage on Dez Bryant, leaving Elliott to…do Elliott things.

    Prediction: Cowboys 19, Lions 16