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NFL Pro Football 2010 Week 16 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 16 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 23-26

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, December 23

Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-15, 37) 8:20 pm - After being taken out behind the woodshed and beaten mercilessly by the Jets lat week, the Steelers are out to regain some swagger in the final weeks of the season, and there's probably no better team to do that against than the 2-12 Panthers, who are also a dismal 0-6 on the road.

Carolina managed to end their 7-game losing skein with a 19-12 win over the Cardinals, but that was at home and against another horrendous (1-6) road team. Pittsburgh should have everything their way in this one, including the weather, which figures to be cold and blustery, not something the boys from Carolina are particularly excited about.

Prediction: Steelers 24 Panthers 6

Saturday, December 25

Dallas Cowboys (-7, 45 1/2) at Arizona Cardinals 7:30 pm - Well, so much for the NFL Network, with a "special" game here on Christmas featuring two last place teams with a combined record of 9-19. Many will argue that the Cowboys are demonstrably better, though they have won just one more game than the Cardinals and have allowed a whopping 396 points thus far in the season.

The big edge for the Cowboys is on offense, where they average 25.3 points per outing, compared to the Cardinals' 18.2. That translates into a solid seven-point advantage, but it's arguable that the Dallas defense has not experienced any kind of revival, having given up 30, 35, 30 and 30 points in their last four games. Dating back to 1999, these two have tangled 10 times, splitting the games evenly, though the Cowboys have a 7-3 edge ATS. There's a bit of a regional rivalry here, so let's go with the home boys to squeak one past the Cowboys.

Prediction: Cardinals 24 Cowboys 21

Sunday, December 26

New England Patriots (-8 1/2, 44) at Buffalo Bills 1:00 pm - As much as anyone would like to believe that the Bills will take this rematch seriously and keep things in perspective and the game close, New England has not been exactly showing any signs of weakness lately. Buffalo came within a few plays of upsetting the Pats back in week 3, but still lost 38-30, and are now without the services of their best receiver, Lee Evans, who is out for the remainder of the season.

Additionally, the Bills are extremely thin at linebacker with a total of six on injured reserve, which means that QB Tom Brady and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis will exploit the vulnerable Buffalo underbelly. The Pats have won six straight, the second-longest current streak in the league and can wrap up home field for the duration of the playoffs with a win. There's little doubt they'll gat the job done.

Prediction: Patriots 31 Bills 17

NY Jets at Chicago Bears (-1, 36 1/2) 1:00 pm - The Jets showed incredible resolve last week, coming off consecutive losses to win a road game in Pittsburgh, 22-17, and saving their season. With Miami losing to Buffalo last week, the Jets now seem to have an easy path to the playoffs, albeit as a wild card, just like last season.

One can make the same case for the Bears, who overcame the elements and dismantled the Vikings on a frigid Minnesota Monday night, 40-14. Chicago clinched their division and is playing now for positioning and home field in the playoffs. They're currently tied with the Eagles at 10-4, but hold a home field tie-breaker against them due to a 31-26 win in week 12, so they could wind up with the second-best record in the NFC, quite a feat. But, with the Jets on the road for a second straight week and seemingly having resolved their issues, the Bears will be hard-pressed to defeat a team which feels the urgency of the moment.

As the line suggests, this one could go either way, but look for the Jets to begin pounding the ball inside on offense and for their defense to take control like they did in the latter stages of the win at Pittsburgh last week.

Prediction: Jets 20 Bears 16

Baltimore Ravens (-3 1/2, 39) at Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm - Unless Pittsburgh is upset by the Panthers on Thursday night, the Ravens will know they need a win here to reach the playoffs and keep pace with Pittsburgh to possibly steal the division in the final week of the season. Cleveland is coming off consecutive road losses, at the end of a brutal three-game road trip, which took them from Miami, to Buffalo, to Cincy.

Baltimore won the first meeting, back in week three, 24-17, and the Ravens, coming off their huge victory over New Orleans, seem to have found their best stride at the right time. Cleveland has split their six home games and the losses weren't by much, losing by two points to the Chiefs, six points to the Jets in OT and 10 points to Atlanta. This is still a divisional game and the Browns would love to play spoiler. At 5-9, the Browns have already equalled their win total from last season. An upset here would be no surprise, as the Browns have proven a tough out almost every week.

Prediction: Browns 19 Ravens 17

Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins (-3 1/2, 41 1/2) 1:00 pm - Well, the Dolphins tried their best, but after losing to Buffalo last week - just a week after beating the Jets - are 7-7 and officially out of contention for the post-season. The 4-10 Lions have been out of it since about Week 4, but come to play every week and have won their last two, beating tow of the better teams in the conference, Green Bay and Tampa Bay, and probably damaging the post-season aspirations of both.

Both of these teams really play hard, even though all the talent isn't exactly in the right places, but the Lions have seemed to be on the verge of offensive greatness all season. Drew Stanton threw for 252 yards last week against the Bucs, and has shown considerable maturity over the past three weeks. Look for him to lead the Lions to their third straight win.

Prediction: Lions 34 Dolphins 21

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Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6, 44) 1:00 pm - Trying to figure out the NFC West is about as puzzling as attempting to read the mind of a four-year-old. The Seahawks are still tied for first place with the Rams and can actually take the lead in the division with a win here and a loss by the Rams to the 49ers. If the Seahawks lose and the Rams win, Seattle would have to beat St. Louis by more than 17 points in the final week of the season, due to a Week 4, 20-3 Rams win.

While all of that will likely not be sorted out until next week, the Bucs still can reach the playoffs, but they'll likely need to win this and their season finale at New Orleans next week and get some help. A win here is critical for both teams, but Tampa has a slight edge on defense and Seattle's 2-5 road record doesn't help their cause much. However, the Bucs have won only three of their seven home games, and two of those were by 3 points (Cleveland) and 1 point (St. Louis). The other win was a 31-16 blowout of Carolina.

On the other hand, the Seahawks generally get killed on the road, so there's no telling what kind of wildness might ensue. when in doubt, take the points, take the game OVER and punt.

Prediction: Seahawks 27 Buccaneers 24


Washington Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7, 46) 1:00 pm - After losing to the Colts last week, the Jaguars absolutely musty win this game. Though they're still even with Indianapolis in the AFC South at 8-6, they would lose a tie-breaker in head-to-head wins by virtue of points. The Jags cloe out the season at Houston next week with Indy hosting Tennessee, so they could win by virtue of a better division record. With all that in mind, the Jags need to focus on the task at hand, beating the Redskins, and, considering the mess with demoting Donovan McNabb to the #3 QB, Washington has probably made their job a little easier.

Rex Grossman will get the starting nod for Washington, and he'll be under pressure not only from the Jags' defense, but by the weight of the situation, as he's being evaluated by coach Mike Shanahan for next season. Gross man had a nice unveiling in Washington's 33-30 loss to Dallas last week, going 25-43, for 322 yards and 4 TDs, though he did throw two picks. Amazingly, the Jags are ranked 28th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 26.1 ppg. Their up-and-down season has been mostly up since their bye in Week 9, winning four of six.

A must-win situation at home points to a Jacksonville triumph.

Prediction: Jaguars 31 Redskins 20

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-5, 42 1/2) 1:00 pm - The Titans are out of playoff contention, but that doesn't mean they won't show up, as witnessed in their 31-17 win over Houston last week. The trouble for them is the location. The Cheifs are one of just three teams unbeaten at home this season (New england and Atlanta are the other two).

Kansas City came up with a big win last week in St. Louis, beating the Rams, 27-13, behind heady defense and Matt Cassell, who looked confident and poised in the offense after missing a week. The persistent Chiefs still hold a one-game edge on the Chargers and could keep them out of the playoff by winning this and their final home game against the Raiders. Tennessee is a worthy opponent, but KC is on the brink of something special and they're primed to go 7-0 at home.

Prediction: Chiefs 24 Titans 17

San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (-2 1/2, 39 1/2) 1:00 pm - OK, the NFC West is just so crazy that San Francisco still has a shot to take the division, though they'd need to win this game, have Seattle lose to the Bucs, and could then make the Seahawks-Rams game next week a moot point by beating Arizona and finishing with a 5-1 record in the division, thus winning all critical tie-breakers.

The 49ers haven't impressed anybody other than themselves all season, but amazingly are still positioned to win the division, and, considering they already beat the Rams, 23-20, in San Fran on November 14, they will have to prive they can do it to them again.

Since this scenario needs to get crazier, the 'Niners will win and create the first 7-9 division champion in the history of the league.

Prediction: 49ers 24 Rams 14

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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