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Merry Christmas. Week 16 NFL Picks

Santa brought extra gifts this year so there are plenty of intriguing games to enjoy on Sunday. A legend returns home, a quarterback is legendarily bad, and a legendary TV contestant gets my vote to be an NFL coach. Enjoy the NFL now. Soon we’ll be stuck watching bowling.

Last Week:  10 – 6 – 0
Season:       140 – 84 – 0

Friday (7:30PM ET)

Chargers at Titans
More often than not, holiday football games are “token” contests, meaning the NFL broadcasts a ho-hum game to intrude on family time (think crappy Thanksgiving football). Friday night’s game will be an exception. Over their last eight games, the Chargers are 8-0 and the Titans are 7-1. We could be in for a real treat between two playoff caliber teams. Obviously, Tennessee is desperate for a win and San Diego still needs one more victory to clinch the second seed. If the Chargers stumble to an 11-5 finish and the Patriots win out, New England would steal the first round bye based on record in common games. This holiday game actually matters! Who am I kidding? I would watch Chris Johnson practice at this point. He’s unbelievable. (*12/25 11:20PM ET Update: I posted this before the game took place. Please do me a favor and continue on to the next game. What’s done is done. Just move on. Seriously, next game. No please … please don’t read on. Ahh crap.) If you’re unable to watch, here’s what’ll happen. The Titans will win because they need it more; the Chargers are away from their families on Christmas; and Chris Johnson. The media will then stampede off San Diego’s bandwagon, bombarding us with “Chargers are flawed” columns and articles for the next few days. Ignore it all. Yes, the Charges are somewhat flawed, but that’s old news. I told you so weeks ago. TITANS

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Bills at Falcons
If you haven’t noticed, I can get excited about any NFL matchup. It isn’t hard for me to find one or two reasons to sit through an entire football game. I consider this an amazing gift. My wife would argue it’s a curse. Regardless, it took a lot of digging to find just one reason to tune into this game. Drum roll please ……. Atlanta is looking for back to back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. Aaaannddd it’s always fun to watch Terrell Owens suffer. FALCONS

Chiefs at Bengals
I’m starting to believe the Bengals would have benefited more if the playoffs were in October. Their offense is blah, the defense is banged up, and they can’t sell out at home, even after winning the AFC North. The possibility of hosting the Ravens or Steelers in the Wildcard round of the playoffs cannot excite the Bengals. Beating either team three times in one season is a hefty task. At least the Chiefs are in town this week. Look for Kansas City to line up in the first “penny” defense the NFL has ever seen. For those who are unaware, the “nickel,” “dime,” and “quarter” packages employ multiple (5-7) defensive backs. The “penny” package puts seven down lineman on the field with four linebackers. When you surrender 286 rushing yards to a running back named “Jerome Harrison,” drastic measures are necessary. BENGALS

Raiders at Browns
Raise your hand if you predicted these teams would enter the week 2-1 in their previous three, both including victories over the Steelers? …… That’s what I thought. Browns QB, Brady Quinn is done for the year and a trade for Jake Delhomme would actually upgrade the Raiders quarterback situation. (Yes, it’s that bad.) In other words, stay away. Stay far, far away. P.S. You know you’re JaMarcus Russell and your franchise has no hope for you when you lead your team on the game winning drive one week and then are benched for CHARLIE FRYE the following week. RAIDERS

Seahawks at Packers
Matt Hasselbeck’s had a horrendous season. It’s ok though. He’ll have an opportunity to make it right on Sunday. No, I don’t mean throwing for 250+ yards and 3 TDs in an upset victory. That isn’t enough, nor does it interest me. All Hasselbeck needs to do is win the opening coin toss and confidently declare, “We want the ball. We’re gonna win.” Once it’s done, all of Hasselbeck’s 2009 transgressions are forgiven. Well, at least in my book. Let’s go Maaaa-aaaatt! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) Let’s go Maaaa-aaaatt! PACKERS

Ravens at Steelers
Get in your car, find a concrete barrier. Now drive 40 MPH directly into that barrier. Get out of your car, stretch, and make sure you’re not bleeding internally. Done? Congratulations, your body’s just experienced the equivalent of one game in this fierce rivalry. Actually, with playoff lives at stake on Sunday, you may need to push 55 MPH. Best of luck. STEELERS

Texans at Dolphins
While the Dolphins are a solid team, I’m hoping they don’t make the playoffs. Without their wildcat offense, I’m not intrigued or entertained. Finishing 9-7 would give Miami a very good chance of reaching the postseason, however. As for the Texans, they need a new coach. Actually, they need a winner. Russell Hantz should be their next coach. Yes, that Russell Hantz. The Survivor Godfather will need coordinators to manage the football side of the job, Russell will handle the winning. I know you’re shaking your head right now thinking, “Too far, Ryan. You’re an idiot.” A logical response, but think about it. The guy’s a puppet master. He gets people to perform so he can win. As the Survivor finale demonstrated, Russell only wants to win. No, he didn’t win the million dollars. He did, however, outplay his peers and for all intent and purposes, win the game. Other than Kobe Bryant, have you ever seen someone more devastated with second place? Russell even offered $100,000 to the chosen winner for the title of “Soul Survivor.” Winning is everything to this guy. Houston needs someone to develop a winning culture. Russell is that man. DOLPHINS

Jaguars at Patriots
Jacksonville has been presented a golden opportunity to grab a playoff berth and prove to the league that their not just an average team with a decent schedule. After all, the Jaguars have played the Colts tougher than anyone else this season. There’s something wrong with New England though and you can’t convince me otherwise. Tom Brady moves closer to bad with each passing week. Bill Belichick can’t get out of his own way. The defense is unstable, and the offense relies entirely on Wes Welker. Randy Moss is also available for 3-4 plays per game. However, it’s important to note that the “I’m Randy Moss and refuse to play hard for four quarters” union has agreed to an increase of 5-6 plays per game in the postseason. So things are looking up for the Patriots. If the Jaguars had a defense that could pressure Brady, I would confidently pick them to win. They don’t, so I won’t. PATRIOTS

Buccaneers at Saints
Tampa Bay will have a tough time stopping an angry New Orleans team that is out to clinch the NFC’s top seed. How tough? Think a five-year-old who just found out Santa isn’t real. Yes, this is going to be ugly. SAINTS

Panthers at Giants
It’s been a busy week for Carolina. First, Jake Delhomme landed on injured reserve. Then, rumors spread that the Panthers could look to trade DeAngelo Williams in the offseason (hopefully not true). Finally, Matt Moore was invited to spend Christmas at Steve Smith’s house while Delhomme shoveled the driveway. I don’t believe the NFL is fixed, but if it is, someone needs to make sure Carolina has a quarterback next year. Smith is too entertaining to be irrelevant for an entire season. Carolina needs him. The NFL needs him. Opposing cornerbacks need him (for guidance). Unfortunately, I may have to secretly root for the Giants on Sunday. Seeing Dallas miss the playoffs again would be too much fun. GIANTS

Game I’ll Watch: Ravens at Steelers, Panthers at Giants
Game I’ll DVR: Jaguars at Patriots

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Lions at 49ers
Alex Smith has two more weeks to prove he can be the quarterback of the future for San Francisco. Last week’s 3 interception, disappointing performance in a must-win game didn’t win him any supporters. By now I’m sure you’ve all seen previews for Avatar. The movie consists of humans and CGI characters in battle. It looks good too. Why can’t the NFL use this technology to incorporate Barry Sanders and Jerry Rice into this matchup? I would certainly watch. 49ERS

Rams at Cardinals
St. Louis is on pace to the land the top pick in the 2010 draft. Unfortunately, there won’t be a franchise quarterback to select. Steve Spagnuolo will need to find a creative way to bring in a quarterback. Marc Bulger is well into his decline and Keith Null doesn’t look like the immediate answer. Perhaps Spags can work out a deal with former boss Andy Reid for Michael Vick?  Never say never. CARDINALS

Jets at Colts
Now that the Saints have fallen, I find it hard to believe Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis starters will play the entire game. In fact, the Jets can force the Colts’ hand by pounding Manning early and often. There’s zero chance Colts Head Coach, Jim Caldwell leaves Manning in to take a beating just so the team can finish 16-0. With the Jets’ playoff lives on the line, this may be their only hope of outlasting the Colts. On the other hand, Indy looks serious about closing the season strong and not ruining any momentum they have heading into the playoffs. Caldwell and the Colts have kept quiet about their intentions this week, so I’m guessing they play long enough to end New York’s season. Also, how many interceptions does Mark Sanchez need to throw before they stop using “The Sanchize” nickname? You’d think 20 would be enough. COLTS

Broncos at Eagles
The heart and soul of the Philadelphia Eagles over the past decade returns. Brian Dawkins wasn’t as great as Reggie White, Steve Van Buren, or Chuck Bednarik, but he will go down as the most beloved Eagle of all time. No player, in his words, “partied” with the fans like Dawkins did. If the Liberty Bell, William Penn, and Rocky were stolen from Philadelphia on the same Sunday that everyone’s puppy died, Philly fans would still go crazy when Brian Dawkins emerged from the tunnel. As for the game, I’m nervous. Denver absolutely needs a win and the Eagles have notoriously stunk against the AFC under Reid. Here’s hoping Reid and the coaching staff slowly work Brian Westbrook back into the offense “Tiger Woods Style.” You know … a little action on the side. EAGLES

Game I’ll Watch: Broncos at Eagles
Game I’ll DVR:
Jets at Colts

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Cowboys at Redskins
I’m not going to even bother. Last week I spent 300-400 words praising the Redskins and Jim Zorn. I got myself so worked up that I picked them to defeat the desperate New York Giants. Zorn showed his appreciation by running a play he stole from 3rd graders at recess. I’ve never hated the Redskins more. It gets worse. I saw my brother at my parent’s house for the holidays, his first words to me, “you were right on about those Redskins.” Crap. Worst of all, I’m tempted to pick the Skins again. No way they wet the bed on national TV two weeks in a row, right? RIGHT? That’s it, no more eggnog for me. COWBOYS

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Vikings at Bears
In lieu of broadcasting their usual Monday Night Football pregame show, ESPN should air clips of the MNF producers’ meeting in April (upon learning of this game), and this past week (now that Jay Cutler is on national TV again). I would assume the tone changed from a Will Ferrell/Vince Vaughn romp to a desolate viewing of Apocalypse Now. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2009 Cutler effect! His ineptitude transcends the ’09-’10 76ers. Who else is excited for the annual Brett Favre late-season collapse? I’m pumped. VIKINGS

If I were Charles Barkley…

Weekly Reminder: I pick every game so I don’t look like a pansy and only pick the easy ones. I bombed last week. This season has been a disaster. My goal was to be around 60% at season’s end (now impossible). As is the weekly custom, there is one over/under as well (because they’re too much fun not to have at least one).

Picks
San Diego Chargers (+3)
at Tennessee Titans
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-14)
Oakland Raiders (+3) at Cleveland Browns
Kansas City Chiefs (+14) at Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons (-9)
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (-3)
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants (-7)
Tampa Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-14)
Jacksonville Jaguars (+8) at New England Patriots
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)

St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-14)
Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (-12)
Denver Broncos (+7) at Philadelphia Eagles
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (-6)

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins (+7)

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (+7)

Last Week: 9 – 7 – 0
Season: 94 – 95 – 4

Over/Under
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Over 41.5

Last Week: 0 – 1 – 0
Season: 6 – 8 – 1

(Lines as of 12/23, 1:41PM ET, from bodog)

2 Comments

  1. bro coyle

    Where is this rumor about DeAngelo getting traded stemming from? I need to make sure it is nothing more than a rumor.

  2. danielle

    in-a-propriate action on the side. now I
    can’t let Lydia read your blog. =)

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