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

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 18, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 16: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles as he looks on in the fourth quarter during the game against the New England Patriots at Heinz Field on December 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Even with multiple playoff berths still up for grabs, Week 16 of the 2018 NFL season will have a tough time matching the excitement of its predecessor.

Starting with the Los Angeles Chargers' come-from-behind win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the slate saw six different contests decided by three points or less.

Then again, since the stakes are only rising the deeper we get into the calendar, maybe that will be enough to produce another magical weekend.

Let's break down the week ahead with score predictions and a closer examination of two can't-miss contests.

                   

Week 16 Matchups and Score Predictions

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans: Titans 28, Redskins 13

Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers: Chargers 27, Ravens 23

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns: Browns 34, Bengals 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys 20, Buccaneers 17

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions: Vikings 31, Lions 23

New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts: Colts 20, Giants 10

Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins: Dolphins 17, Jaguars 6

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots: Patriots 34, Bills 13

Green Bay Packers at New York Jets: Packers 22, Jets 9

Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles: Texans 24, Eagles 20

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers: Falcons 31, Panthers 27

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals: Rams 31, Cardinals 10

Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers: Bears 27, 49ers 17

Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints: Saints 35, Steelers 31

Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks: Chiefs 30, Seahawks 23

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: Broncos 20, Raiders 12

                    

Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

These interconference foes share at least two things in common.

Each was commonly cited as a trade-deadline winner for landing a difference-making receiver with Golden Tate going to Philly and Demaryius Thomas heading to Houston. The two teams also enjoyed pleasant surprises in Week 15, with the Texans climbing into the AFC's No. 2 slot by virtue of the Patriots' loss to the Steelers and the Eagles staying alive by upsetting the Rams.

After an 0-3 start to the season, Houston has won 10 of its last 11 games. Picking up an 11th victory in 12 tries could be tricky without a healthy Lamar Miller, who exited Saturday's win with an ankle injury.

He's been key in giving this offense balance, registering half of the team's rushing scores (four) and more than half of its rushing yards (917).

Philadelphia, meanwhile, is once again attempting to rally around Nick Foles. The reigning Super Bowl MVP stepped in for a hobbled Carson Wentz (back) and steered the squad to Sunday's upset of the Rams.

Although Foles didn't find the end zone, he did complete 24 of his 31 passes for 270 yards and helped the offense reach 30 points for only the second time this season.

"We're just comfortable with him back there," Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood told reporters. "We don't feel like anything has fallen off. We know he's going to step up there and do the job."

There's something about seeing Foles under center that gives Philly this team-of-destiny feel. But the Texans have more talent, plus they're loaded with motivation. It's possible that this victory, coupled with the right help, could give Houston both the AFC South and a first-round bye. 

                

Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints

Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

The Steelers are who we thought they were—provided we all agreed they're the least predictable team in the business.

As hyperbolic as that might sound, who's going to argue against it? Pittsburgh spent the previous three weeks crashing and burning amid a crushing three-game skid that culminated with a baffling loss to Oakland. The Steelers immediately followed that by knocking off what should have been a motivated Patriots team. Go figure.

"I wouldn't say we were at a crossroad, but there was sink or swim, whatever you want to call it," Ben Roethlisberger said. "Some decisions needed to be made. Are we going to step up and play and come together as a team? Are we going to kind of divide each other? What's going to happen? Nobody knows."

Just like nobody knows whether the Steelers suddenly found their form or merely took advantage of an uncharacteristically sloppy Patriots team (14 penalties for 106 yards, one interception).

Pittsburgh's identity will be clearer after a trip to the Big Easy, where the Saints have lost once all season.

New Orleans hasn't exactly dominated of late, but its relative struggles have been tied to the offensive's inability to travel well. Why is that relevant to this home matchup? Because the Saints are one victory away from locking up the NFC's top seed and creating a path where they don't have to play outdoors again all year.

This has major shootout potential, but it's hard to imagine the Steelers keeping pace with Drew Brees and Co. The Saints are averaging 41.8 points over their last four home games, with Brees passing for better than 340 yards in all but one.  

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