NFL Week 16 Picks - Early Games

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NFL Week 16 Early Games

All times Eastern

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Week 15: Rick: 5-10-1; Coin: 8-7-1
Cumulative: Rick: 107-112-5; Coin: 106-113-5

Saturday, December 21

1:00 pm Houston Texans (-3, 49 1/2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Houston holds all the cards in the AFC South. If they win this game, they're the champs of that division, but they'll have to do it on the road, against one of the most prolific offenses in the league.

Fortunately, for the Texans, the Buccaneers are tied with Arizona for 31st in yards allowed, a whopping 398. Only Miami has given up more points (435). Houston's offense is good enough to go toe to toe with the Bucs and come out on top.

Coin Flip: Houston

Prediction: Houston 37 Buccaneers 30

4:30 pm Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-6 1/2, 38) - In week four, New England engineered a 16-10 victory at Buffalo, the Bills' only loss in their first six games. However, that result was determined early in the game, when the Patriots intercepted Buffalo QB Josh Allen twice in the opening quarter, putting up 13 points before the Bills managed to score a field goal before half time.

Buffalo held the Pats to just a field goal the remainder of the game, but could not overcome their early deficit. Buffalo's offense has evolved, and their defense is on a par with New England's. A win here could put the Bills in a tie for first place in the division, though New England owns the tie-breaker.

Coin Flip: Buffalo

Prediction: Bills 17 Patriots 14

8:15 pm Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-6 1/2, 45) - Both of these are coming off losses in week 15. The 49ers were upended by Atlanta, 29-22, while the Rams were throttled at Dallas, 44-21. Edge goes to the 49ers by virtue of being at home and the Rams having to play a second straight road game. San Francisco won the first meeting, 20-7, in week six, and are tied with Seattle for first place in the NFC West. They play at Seattle next weekend, with the division on the line.

While both Seattle and San Fran are assured playoff spots, the Rams need to win out and hope Minnesota loses Monday night and next week, when they host the Bears. The Rams have been spotty and haven't won when needed. The 49ers have their number.

Coin Flip: Los Angeles Rams

Prediction: 49ers 27 Rams 17

Sunday, December 22

1:00 pm Baltimore Ravens (-10, 48) at Cleveland Browns - If Baltimore wins this game, they capture home field for the duration of the playoffs, plus a first round bye. That's plenty of motivation for the red-hot Ravens to extend their winning streak to 11 games.

Cleveland is the last team to have beaten the Ravens, posting a 40-25 victory in week four at Baltimore. Since then, the Browns are 4-6, including last week's 38-24 loss at Arizona, which officially removed Cleveland from playoff contention. The Browns' season has been a bust. The Ravens will likely mop up the stadium with the remains.

Coin Flip: Cleveland

Prediction: Ravens 35 Browns 17

1:00 pm Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts (-7, 46) - A meaningless game, as neither team has post-season possibilities. The Colts could finish 8-8 and tie Tennessee and Pittsburgh for the final wild card if those two each lost their final two games, but that would still not be enough, as Pittsburgh beat the Colts, 26-24, in week nine, on a missed field goal by Adam Vinatierri.

Carolina has nothing to either gain nor lose, and probably will turn some of their trick plays and exotic defenses loose.

Coin Flip: Carolina

Prediction: Panthers 24 Colts 17

1:00 pm Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins (-1, 47) - Unless the Bengals want to give up the #1 pick in the draft, they will lose this game, just like they lost 14 of 15 this season. Their only win was over the Jets, with whom the Dolphins split two games this season. Miami has won two of their last three home games, so that seems good enough.

Coin Flip: Cincinnati

Prediction: Dolphins 24 Benglas 20

1:00 pm Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons (-7 1/2, 46 1/2) - The Falcons are an enigma, a 5-9 squad that has wins over some of the best in the NFC. Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco have all fallen to the Falcons. Last week, Atlanta proved their mettle against the 49ers, downing them, 29-22, by the Bay.

Jacksconville also delivered something of a shocker, upsetting the Raiders in their final game at the Oakland Coliseum, 20-16. Jacksonville's offense is unlikely to keep pace with the Falcons, and Atlanta's defense should have an easy day.

Coin Flip: Jacksonville

Prediction: Falcons 40 Jaguars 13

1:00 pm New Orleans Saints (-3, 50 1/2) at Tennessee Titans - Pretty much needing to win out in order to reach the playoffs, Tennessee has its work cut out for it against the Saints, who are already in the playoffs as champion of the NFC South.

Tennessee has a solid team, and may still make the playoffs, but they're really overmatched against New Orleans. The Titans are 4-3 at home; the Saints are 5-1 as a road team. An upset is possible, but doubtful. The Titans can still secure a wild card under certain scenarios, but if they lose here, they would have to win next week at Houston and Pittsburgh would have to lose to Baltimore next week.

Coin Flip: New Orleans

Prediction: Saints 27 Titans 17

1:00 pm New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-2 1/2, 42) - In week four, the Giants tore up the Redskins, in New York, 24-3. Payback time for Washington, with many changes.

Coin Flip: New York Giants

Prediction: Redskins 34 Giants 14

1:00 pm Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, 38) at New York Jets - Pittsburgh hit a speed bump last week, losing to the Bills Sunday night, 17-10, in another low-scoring affair that Steeler fans have come to know this season.

While the Steelers play heady defense, their offense is arguably among the worst in the league. Though they've won four of their last six games, they've averaged just 15.5 points per game. The Jets, also winners of four of their last six, have average 25.2. Despite their 5-9 mark, New York is 4-3 at home this season. Could be the beginning of the end of the road for the Steelers.

Coin Flip: Pittsburgh

Prediction: Jets 26 Steelers 14

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