With Week 16 here, there are now only two more weeks left in the NFL regular season, in which teams can find a way to sneak into the playoff picture, or to make headway as a top seed with home field advantage.
The slate for Week 16 features a number of key games, including Jets vs. Bears, Giants and Packers fighting for their playoff lives and the Saints traveling to Atlanta to take on Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
Last Week: 10-6
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 16’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBSSports.com).
Pick Your Knows: NFL Week 16 Picks Against the Spread
Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-13.5)
Carolina’s anemic pass offense is well known, and the team’s run game has been serviceable at best. Upon traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the league’s best rush defense, it’s hard to imagine that the Panthers will be able to do much on offense. After losing to the Jets last week, the Steelers will be aggressively seeking to hold its division lead. Pittsburgh covers at home.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals (+6.5)
The Cardinals’ offense struggled last week with Skelton under center – and he will be the quarterback on Christmas Day versus the Cowboys. The Dallas offense continues to thrive, and even though the Cowboys defense lost a large lead against the Redskins last week, it’s hard to imagine that Dallas will falter against Arizona. Expect Dallas to cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (+3.5)
Both Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy showed up on this week’s injury report, but each will likely play. The Ravens will already know the result of the Steelers game, and it’s likely that Baltimore will need a win to keep pace in the division. Baltimore is riding the momentum of a huge home win against the Saints last week, while the Browns are wondering where they will fall in the draft, and whether they will have a new coach next year. Baltimore covers on the road.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (-2.5)
This is a huge game in deciding the NFC West playoff representative. Both teams struggle on offense (25th and 26th in the NFL respectively). The Niners only have one road win – but the biggest stat for this game is the sacks category. San Francisco allows the 5th most sacks (38), while the St. Louis defense has the 6th most sacks in the NFL (with 39). Expect St. Louis to pressure Alex Smith all day, and eventually eliminate the 49ers from playoff contention.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+7.5)
The Patriots were surprisingly taken to the wire against Matt Flynn and the Packers. This week, New England gets the league’s worst run defense, and Belichick will take advantage of the Bills wilth BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and also with Tom Brady and the short passing game. One clue that teams continue to figure out the Bills offense: Buffalo hasn’t scored more than 17 points over the last month. With this in mind, it’s a safe bet that the Pats cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: New England
Washington Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5)
Rex Grossman held his own last week against Dallas and will start again for the Redskins. Mike Sims-Walker and Maurice Jones-Drew were both limited in practice this week due to injuries. The Redskins struggle against the run, but Jacksonville couldn’t move the ball against an Indy defense that struggles in the same category. Grossman is fighting for future playing time and Washington is fighting to get out of the negative headlines. Take the ‘Skins and the points.
KP’s Pick: Washington
Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
Shaun Hill is back taking reps with the first string during the week, and the Lions have been a very productive offense with him under center. On offense, Detroit has a +8 TD/INT ratio, while the Dolphins are a -3. Detroit also holds its own on pass defense, and will get significant pressure on the QB, led by rookie Ndamukong Suh. The Lions won’t just keep this game under the spread, but Detroit will win it outright, for a second straight road win.
KP’s Pick: Detroit
New York Jets at Chicago Bears (-1.5)
This game features two of the top five defenses against the run, but one key stat to note is that the Bears have allowed more than twice the long runs than the Jets (13 of 20+ runs vs. 6). The Jets (6-1 on the road) continued to prove that they can win big games in hostile environments. The Bears have picked off 19 passes on the season, so Mark Sanchez will need to be efficient – and if he is, the Jets win this one outright.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)
Kerry Collins played well last week against Tennessee, and he has Kenny Britt clicking in the pass game and Chris Johnson carrying the ground game. The Chiefs have had issues protecting the quarterback over the last month, and the Titans have 38 sacks on the year (8th in the NFL). Kansas City needs a win to guarantee a hold on the division lead, and the Chiefs are undefeated at home. Still, Tennessee has the horses to keep this game close.
KP’s Pick: Tennessee
Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders (+3.5)
The Colts now control the division after last week’s win over the Jags. Austin Collie was placed on the IR and is out for the season. But Peyton Manning has managed to move the ball efficiently on offense, and top Oakland corner Nnamdi Asomugha is still battling injuries. Darren McFadden will likely give the Indy run game headaches, but the Colts contained Jones-Drew last week – and should have enough in the tank to cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (+2.5)
Tim Tebow held his own last week and will get another start for the Broncos. He should have more success against Houston’s weak pass defense. But the Broncos are last against the pass and have also struggled on defense. Knowshon Moreno is questionable with an injury, and if he’s out, that will put a serious cramp on Denver’s offensive productivity. With Moreno out, it’s a good bet that the Texans take advantage and cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Houston
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (+7.5)
Terrell Owens is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury and Chad Ochocinco is battling an ankle injury that will likely require offseason injury. Therefore, the Bengals’ offense is banged up – and while San Diego’s is too, the Chargers have not faltered on the scoreboard. This is a must win for the Chargers, so with that in mind, expect San Diego’s talented defense to force numerous Carson Palmer mistakes. Chargers cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (-2.5)
This game faces off two of the top three pass defenses in the NFL. New York is coming off a devastating loss to the Eagles, while Green Bay fought hard in a loss to New England. The Packers will get Aaron Rodgers back, which will give Green Bay a boost. Eli Manning has had an off year and could have issues with the Packers’ talented defense. This is a key game for both teams – and the gut feeling here is the Packers cover at home against the reeling Giants.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)
There’s motivation for both teams, as the Seahawks still have a chance to win the division and the Bucs still have an outside shot at the playoffs – albeit a very slim shot. Meanwhile, Seattle is a question mark for the following reasons: 1) The ‘Hawks are 2-5 on the road, 2) 29th in the NFL in yards allowed and 3) In four of its last five games, Seattle has lost by double digits to legitimate opponents. Tampa Bay is a legitimate opponent. Enough said – Bucs cover.
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-11.5)
Brett Favre came back last game, but left with another injury, this time a concussion. This means that Joe Webb will likely be the starter for the Vikings, which means trouble for the offense. The defense also appears to have mailed it in – and upon traveling to Philadelphia and taking on an Eagles team battling for a first round bye in the playoffs – it’s hard to imagine that the Eagles don’t win this one in a blowout. Philly covers.
KP’s Pick: Philadelphia
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
For those that have followed KP’s “Pick Your Knows” segment, you will know that the Falcons are undefeated at home, and Matt Ryan has only lost once in his career at the Georgia Dome. But this is the defending champion Saints coming to town, so expect a shootout. The first matchup between these two was a three-point win by the Falcons in New Orleans, and therefore call this a gut pick, but… New Orleans salvages a split.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans