We’ve arrived at the penultimate week of the regular season, and if the Eagles vs. Redskins showdown for the NFC East title isn’t indicative of just how wonky this NFL season’s been, I don’t know what is.
As my grandfather told me last weekend — as he scolded me about my NFL pessimism — there are no bad football games, there are only good football games between bad teams.
He’s evidently more optimistic than I am, but luckily for both of us, and everyone, Week 16 has a whole bunch of genuinely good games.
Between the Packers/Cardinals, Broncos/Bengals, and the terrific slate of NBA games (Cavs/Warriors!), you’ve got more than enough ways to shamelessly avoid your in-laws and extended family.
So happy holidays, everyone, and enjoy the games. This year, I got my two nephews baseball bats to teach them the importance of motivation!
[Last week: 8-7-1]
San Diego Chargers (+5) @ Oakland Raiders
The Chargers showed up for their last game at the Qualcomm Center, and I think the Raiders show up for what might be their last game at The Coliseum.
The pick: Raiders -5
Washington Redskins (+3) @ Philadelphia Eagles
What if I told you that Kirk Cousins and Sam Bradford would square off in a division-deciding game?
The pick: Redskins +3
New England Patriots (-3) @ New York Jets
For as well as the Jets have been playing, this is a must-win for the Pats in order to lock up the 1-seed. Brady and Belichick aren’t letting that slip away. Especially not against the Jets.
The pick: Patriots -3
Houston Texans (+4.5) @ Tennessee Titans
Brandon Weeden is going to be a starting quarterback in the playoffs for a division winner. Is this some sort of sick joke?
The pick: Texans -4.5
Cleveland Browns (+12.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs
This is the game Johnny Football cements himself as Cleveland’s franchise quarterback. Or at the very least keeps it close against the Chiefs. Maybe?
The pick: Browns +12.5
Indianapolis Colts (+1) @ Miami Dolphins
I genuinely feel sorry for Matt Hasselbeck. He did not sign up for the sort of unrelenting physical beatdown he’s suffered over the course of the season. He should be playing golf right now. Lucky for him, he’ll have Chuck Pagano to golf with all of next season.
The pick: Miami -1
San Francisco 49ers (+9) @ Detroit Lions
Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III are both going to be on the move over the summer, and it’s my great hope that they somehow both end up in the NFC East.
The pick: Lions -9
Dallas Cowboys (+6) @ Buffalo Bills
Matt Cassel, bless his heart, threw an interception on a play that was also flagged for intentional grounding. That’s fantastic stuff.
The pick: Bills -6
Chicago Bears (+3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Truly nothing to watch for in this one.
The pick: Bears +3
Carolina Panthers (-7) @ Atlanta Falcons
I think Bill Barnwell best summed up this whole BATGATE imbroglio:
Does anybody really think that there was ever a threat that Carolina players were going to attack Odell Beckham Jr. with a bat? Reports that Panthers players used homophobic trash talk before the game are what really deserve genuine scrutiny, not the possibility that they were somehow going to execute a Tonya Harding-style attack on the star receiver.
The pick: Panthers -7
Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) @ Baltimore Ravens
Should be a snooze, although as we saw last week, the Steelers are good at making their lives much more difficult than they need to.
The pick: Steelers -10
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) @ New Orleans Saints
A definite snooze.
The pick: Jaguars +3.5
St. Louis Rams (+13.5) @ Seattle Seahawks
The Rams always seem to play well against Seattle.
The pick: Rams +13.5
Green Bay Packers (+4.5) @ Arizona Cardinals
What a bummer about Tyrann Mathieu. I still think the Cards are good enough to make the Super Bowl, but it’s going to be tougher now.
The pick: Cardinals -4.5
New York Giants (+6) @ Minnesota Vikings
Thanks, Tom Coughlin, for the two Super Bowls. It was fun while it lasted. (Was it?)
The pick: Vikings -6
Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) @ Denver Broncos
Let’s see what A.J. McCarron is really made of against the league’s most handsome 6’7 quarterback, Brock Osweiler.
The pick: Broncos -3.5
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