NFL Week 16 Picks: Matchups Guide, Advice and Early Score Predictions

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2017

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 17:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans warms up during pregame warm ups prior to the start of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Week 16 may not have wild finishes like the previous slate of games, but we're inching closer to a solid playoff picture as teams start to clinch berths.

Saturday's early matchup will feature a Baltimore Ravens team looking to remain viable in the AFC wild-card race as they wait for a Buffalo Bills or Tennessee Titans loss.

The Minnesota Vikings could remain home throughout the entire postseason if they can win out and the Philadelphia Eagles lose their last two games. First, a victory over the Green Bay Packers in Saturday's evening matchup would keep the pressure on the NFC East champions.

There's so much buzz about running back Ezekiel Elliott's return and the Dallas Cowboys' chances of sneaking into the playoffs. However, there's one team in the NFC that we shouldn't overlook down the stretch.

Finally, which AFC team, currently in the playoff picture, is likely to collapse in the final two weeks?

We'll predict winners, scores and break down contests with playoff implications for Week 16.

           

Week 16 Matchups and Score Predictions

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens: Ravens 34-13

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: Vikings 27-17

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets: Chargers 28-10 

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals: Cardinals 23-17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers: Panthers 34-20

Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears: Bears 24-20

Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals: Lions 30-21

Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs 31-17 

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots: Patriots 30-23 

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: Saints 31-28

Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans: Rams 35-20

Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins: Redskins 27-7

Jacksonville Jaguars at San Francisco 49ers: Jaguars 24-13

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys 34-30

Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles 28-20

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans: Steelers 38-14

              

Week 16 Storylines

Will Aaron Rodgers Play Spoiler to the Minnesota Vikings' Home-Field Advantage Hopes?

The Atlanta Falcons' 24-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially eliminated the Green Bay Packers from playoff contention. There's no reason to put quarterback Aaron Rodgers at risk for further injury to his collarbone that's not fully healed, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

After spending eight weeks on injured reserve, Rodgers threw three interceptions in his return against the Carolina Panthers. It's the fourth time that's happened in his career, all against NFC South teams on the road.

Based on Rapoport's information about Rodgers' collarbone, it's best to shut him down for the final two games of the regular season. Nonetheless, in his postgame press conference, he didn't rule out finishing the year in action. 

The decision goes head coach Mike McCarthy, who will likely weigh Rodgers' conditioning and the team's season outlook. If the 34-year-old suits up Saturday against the Vikings, he would ruin Minnesota's chance at catching the Philadelphia Eagles for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

               

Detroit Lions Flying Under the Playoff Radar 

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to the sideline against the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by G
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

After the Packers' loss to the Panthers, the Cowboys have become the new dark-horse favorite to sneak into the playoff picture in the NFC. However, many have skipped over the Detroit Lions who sit at the seventh spot waiting for the Falcons to drop another game.

The Lions have one impressive victory on their 2017 resume against the Vikings—the same contest running back Dalvin Cook went down with a season-ending knee injury. Nonetheless, Detroit finishes with a favorable schedule, especially if the Packers start Brett Hundley over Rodgers in the last two games. 

The Lions will travel on the road to play the Cincinnati Bengals who have a head coach that may potentially seek employment elsewhere in the regular season, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 16: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the Chicago Bears on the field prior to the start of the game at Ford Field on December 16, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Chi
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Between the Bengals' flat performances over the past two weeks, scoring 14 total points, and Rodgers potentially on the sideline in the regular-season finale, the Lions have a clear pathway to 10-6. Still, Detroit needs two Falcons losses to claim the No. 6 seed.

              

Tennessee Titans on Verge of Late-Season Meltdown

Prepare for the Titans collapse down the stretch. Head coach Mike Mularkey's team didn't look impressive even during victories against clubs with subpar records.

Over the past two weeks, Tennessee has lost to the bottom squads in the NFC West and look well on their way to finishing the season 8-8. Tennessee will host the Los Angeles Rams Sunday and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular-season finale. 

The Rams dominated the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 and look to clinch the NFC West title with another victory. Based on recent performances, the Titans don't have the urgency or the momentum to beat an offensive juggernaut in their upcoming matchup.

Tennessee's pass defense couldn't stop San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from moving the ball into position for a game-winning field goal. Now, the unit will take the field with the league's No. 1 scoring offense that ate the Seahawks alive 42-7 on their turf.

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