With the playoff picture only needing to dot a few more i’s to be complete, every game is vital in Week 16. Almost ever team has something to play for, and with that comes some intense matchups that everyone will be on the edge of their seats watching. Here are my predictions for Week 16’s noon games:
December 24, 12:00 CT @ Gillette Stadium
The Patriots have been flying as of late, while the Jets are coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Dolphins. Brady and co. still need to win to ensure home-field advantage, and the Jets were eliminated long ago. It doesn’t matter that the Patriots are notoriously shaky against the Jets. It doesn’t matter that MVP-candidate Brady might not play. New England wins this one easy.
New England Patriots 31-17 New York Jets
December 24, 12:00 CT @ New Era Field
The Dolphins absolutely trounced the Jets last week with Matt Moore performing spectacularly in Tannehill’s place, and now they go to Buffalo to face another AFC East rival in the Bills. Miami is very much in the playoff hunt, but although they currently hold a wildcard spot they need to get this win to fend off the rest of the teams in the hunt and solidify their playoff chances. Buffalo, on the other hand, are basically eliminated from playoff contention, due in large part to their disappointing quarterback play and the injuries to skilled positions that they picked up over the season. Still, it’s an AFC East rivalry matchup that could go either way, especially with Buffalo having a phenom in Shady McCoy and the Dolphins still relying on Matt Moore (I don’t care how well he did against the Jets, it’s the Jets). The Dolphins defense has been very impressive, however, and I believe they can stuff up Shady McCoy enough to force Tyrod Taylor to have to win this one for the Bills. I don’t have faith that he will, and Miami will be one step closer to the wildcard match.
Miami Dolphins 24-21 Buffalo Bills
December 24, 12:00 CT @ EverBank Field
It’s been a bad season for the Jags yet again, and steps have been taken to make sure that the franchise has a winning season sometime soon in the future. It’s not impossible: look at Oakland and Kansas City. Gus Bradley is gone, and if Bortles can get his groove back there is enough talent on this team to be decent. But they aren’t right now. They are atrocious, and at 2-12 they just don’t stand a chance against a Tennessee team on a roll and still in the hunt. Mariota, Murray, and Walker roll over the Jags away from home.
Tennessee Titans 31-16 Jaguars
December 24, 12:00 CT @ Soldier Field
The Redskins have been an inconsistent team all season, but they lie at 7-6-1 with two games to go and could very well grab a wild-card spot. The bad news is that Green Bay, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota could all still take that spot as well, and so Kirk Cousins has to lead Washington to two wins in these next two games to have a chance at the playoffs. Chicago’s season, on the other hand, was over a long time ago, and at 3-11 all they can hope for is to save some face and prepare for next year’s high draft pick. The Bears actually took the Packers to the wire last week in a fourth-quarter rally, and if they can show that potential all game long they could upset Jay Gruden’s men. But I refuse to put my money on the Bears, especially after watching Matt Barkley throw those awful picks last week.
Washington Redskins 24-21 Chicago Bears
December 24, 12:00 CT @ Lambeau Field
Oh how the mighty have fallen. 5 games into the season, we would’ve looked at this game as two playoff-bound teams battling it out for a better road to the Super Bowl. Now it seems as though only one of these teams will make it to the playoffs, and this game will most likely decide which team that is. Green Bay won their last match against rivals Chicago, but had to rely on a last ditch 62-yard completion to Jordy Nelson to save face after their defense fell apart against the lowly Bears offense in the 4th quarter. They are one game behind the Lions in their division, and could still win the NFC North if they beat Detroit in the season closer. But in order to have the chance to have at that division title, they will need to win this match against the Vikings, and if they lose against Minnesota they could lose any chance at the playoffs to the surging Bucs or Washington. It’s do or die time Rodgers and company, as it is for Bradford and the Vikings. Minnesota is 7-7, and with no chance to win the division the only route for them to the playoffs is through the wild-card spot. They will need to win out, and hope that Green Bay, Washington, and Tampa Bay all lose their final games in order to make it through. After that showing against the Colts? Yeah, right. The Packers win this division matchup to set up a thrilling final game against Detroit.
Green Bay Packers 27-17 Minnesota Vikings
December 24, 12:00 CT @ FirstEnergy Stadium
Which is worse: The team that has yet to win, or the team that has every chance to win and consistently finds a way to come out on bottom? That’s what this matchup is. No playoff implications, no glory to be had, just pure prideful football. With all the injuries that San Diego has, and with the Browns needing a win at home more than the Indians needed to learn how to close out a 3-1 World Series lead, I’m going with Cleveland to break the winless streak on the back of…oh my god I can’t believe I’m saying this…RGIII.
Cleveland Browns 17-13 San Diego Chargers
December 24, 12:00 CT @ Bank of America Stadium
The Falcons currently lead the oft-unpredictable NFC South, and Matt Ryan (and Devonta Freeman as per last game) are on a pretty impressive offensive roll. Still, they are only one game ahead of Tampa Bay, and if they lose to Cam Newton and the Panthers they could very well find themselves in a battle for a wild card spot. They will probably be in the playoffs, but a loss at home to a wounded, angry Carolina defense could spell trouble in Atlanta. We all know how much Cam likes to compete, and I think he’ll do everything in his power to draw blood and give his team a slim shot at saving their playoff hopes.
Carolina Panthers 28-27 Atlanta Falcons