NFL Week 16 Picks - Early Games

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NFL Week 16 Early Games

All times Eastern

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Week 15 results: Rick: 87-1; Coin: 6-9-1
Cumulative: Rick: 103-115-5; Coin: 111-107-5

Friday, December 25

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (-7, 52) 4:30 pm (FOX/NFLN) - With Drew Brees back and a last week's game under his belt, he should be prime for an explosive performance and a win to maintain a one game lead over Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

Minnesota has dropped too many games its needed to win, including last week's 33-27 defeat by the Bears. The Saints are 5-2 at home, Vikings, 3-3 on the road.

Coin Flip: Minnesota

Prediction: Saints 31 Vikings 20

Saturday, December 26

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9 1/2, 54) at Detroit Lions 1:00 pm (NFLN) - The Lions are a miserable 1-5 at home, and they are coming off their sixth loss in their last eight outings, officially eliminated from playoff contention at 5-9 after losing at Tennessee, 46-25.

Tampa Bay is a solid 5-2 in road encounters, their average margin of victory 14.4 points in five road wins, which suggests they will ravage the Lions, as they do to sub-.500 teams with regularity.

Coin Flip: Tampa Bay

Prediction: Buccaneers 38 Lions 13

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-4 1/2, 49) 4:30 pm (PRIME) - The 49ers have slumped to 5-9 and are eliminated from playoff contention, so the only reason for them to play this is to act as a spoiler or finish out their contractual agreements.

8-6 Arizona has the seventh and last playoff spot currently in hand, so if they win out, they're in. A win here would go a long way toward the playoffs, with a final game at the LA Rams next week looming large. The Cardinals won their first meeting, in San Francisco, 24-20, in week one. It's not an understatement to believe the Cardinals have improved since then while the 49ers have deteriorated. An Arizona win would eliminate the Vikings, leaving only the 7-7 Bears as the only possible team that could knock them out. The Bears are at Jacksonville this week and host Green Bay next week.

Arizona should win the game, the question being by how much.

Coin Flip: Arizona

Prediction: Cardinals 24 49ers 14

Miami Dolphins (-2 1/2, 47 1/2) at Las Vegas Raiders 8:15 pm (NFLN) - The way Miami has been playing all season and the Raiders losing four of their last five, one would think the Dolphins to be a slight favorite here, though the Raiders have not been completely eliminated from the playoffs yet.

Vegas QB Derek Carr, who was lifted from last week's loss to the Chargers early on due to a strained groin muscle, has made a solid recovery and took part in a full practice last week.

The Dolphins are currently the seventh seed and need to win this game because they have a tall task at Buffalo next week, though the Bills have already clinched the AFC East and may rest some of their starters, especially if Pittsburgh loses to the Colts on Sunday. The Dolphins are #1 in points allowed, league-wide, giving up just 18.4 points per game.

Coin Flip: Miami

Prediction: Dolphins 28 Raiders 16

Sunday, December 27

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens (-12 1/2, 45) 1:00 pm (FOX) - This game should be a pretty good defensive battle as the Ravens are 4th in points allowed (20.5 ppg), while the Giants are 9th (22.2). Baltimore obviously has a big edge on offense, which will likely secure the win, but the Giants can be stingy and Daniel Jones will get the start at QB for the Giants who will leave nothing on the field in what is a must-win game for them as they are a game behind Washington in the NFC East.

It's also a crucial game for the Ravens, but home field has not been kind to them this season, where they are 4-3, while the Giants are a respectable 3-4 on the road. The Ravens have an obvious path to the playoffs. Just win here and next week at Cincy, and hope Miami, Indy, or Cleveland falters.

Coin Flip: Baltimore

Prediction: Ravens 20 Giants 13

Cleveland Browns (-9 1/2, 46 1/2) at New York Jets 1:00 pm (CBS) - To the dismay of their legion of fans, the New York Jets defeated the LA Rams last week for their first win of the season, putting in jeopardy the #1 draft pick this Spring. New York fans shouldn't fret much as they're probably going to get back to losing right here. Cleveland can lock up a playoff spot with a win and a loss be either the Ravens or Dolphins, which would be preferable since Cleveland hosts Pittsburgh next week.

Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland offense have been pretty consistent the past six weeks, notching five victories and are likely to victimize the Jets' secondary with mid-range to deep throws. Last week's 20-6 win over the Giants showed that the defense can play well, though the Giants could have kicked at least two, if not three field goals, opting instead to go on fourth down, failing deep in Cleveland territory on multiple occasions.

Coin Flip: New York Jets

Prediction: Browns 30 Jets 17

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-9, 45) 1:00 pm (CBS) - Really a nothing-burger here, as the Bengals are 3-10-1, and the Texans 4-11. Why is Houston so heavily favored at home where they are 2-4? Could it be that the Bengals are a woe some 0-6-1 on the road?

QB Ryan Finley (NC State, 2019 draft) engineered a stunning, 27-17, win over Pittsburgh last week, ad he may get the start again over ailing Brandon Allen. The Bengals turned three first half Pittsburgh fumbles in their own territory into two TDs and a field goal and held on for the win. They may get help from the Texans, who are -8 in turnovers this season. Points. Take them.

Coin Flip: Houston

Prediction: Texans 26 Bengals 22

Chicago Bears (-7 1/2, 47) at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 pm (FOX) - The Jaguars own the longest losing streak in the league at 13 and counting, and are just 1-6 at home this season. Chicago is a respectable 4-3 on the road and have won two straight to keep them in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Chicago has resurrected their offense with the return of Mitch Trubisky at QB, averaging 31 points per game over the past four contests. Jacksonville is 29th in scoring, at 19.6 points per game, so if the Chicago defense comes to play, this could turn into a rout.

Coin Flip: Jacksonville

Prediction: Bears 34 Jaguars 10

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs (-10 1/2, 53 1/2) 1:00 pm (FOX) - The Chiefs can lock up the #1 seed, a bye, and home field advantage through the playoffs with a in here, but the Falcons, despite their 4-10 record, are not exactly pushovers. Of their 10 losses seven have been by seven or fewer points, and they last three by five, three, and four.

The Chiefs are likely to win this game as they're 5-1 at home and host the Chargers next week. Atlanta should keep this one a little closer than KC would like.

Coin Flip: Atlanta

Prediction: Chiefs 31 Falcons 25

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2 1/2, 45 1/2) 1:00 pm (CBS) - The Steelers are reeling after three straight losses and come home to host the Colts, who are vying for either a wild card or possibly the AFC South title. Pittsburgh has already clinched a playoff berth, so they may not be as motivated as Indy.

The way the two teams have been playing recently, it's rather surprising to see Pittsburgh favored. The Colts have won three straight, five of their last six and should put the hammer down on Pittsburgh's offense.

Coin Flip: Pittsburgh

Prediction: Colts 31 Steelers 19

Carolina Panthers at Washington Football Team (-2 1/2, 44 1/2) 1:00 pm (CBS) - The Panthers have lost eight of their last nine and three straight. They are just 2-5 at home and have allowed opponents' 30 or more points in five losses this year.

Washington can close out the NFC East with a win and a Giants' loss as they have two wins over the Cowboys, who hold second place in the division along with New York. Seems a very doable task for the no-name team from DC whether it's Dwayne Haskins Jr. or Alex smith behind center. It currently looks like Smith will be a go for the Football Team.

Coin Flip: Washington

Prediction: Football Team 27 Panthers 21

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