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NFL Pro Football 2011 Week 16 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 16 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 22-25

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, Dec. 22

Houston Texans (-6, 40) at Indianapolis Colts 8:20 pm - The Colts won their one game for the season, beating the Titans, 27-13, last week, but they'd better be careful of winning another because the Vikings and Rams are only a game ahead, at 2-12, and the Colts surely don't want to screw up their current status as the team to get the #1 pick in the next draft.

Understanding that and the fact that 10-4 Houston is tied with Pittsburgh and Baltimore for the #2 seed in the playoffs, this is a game which the Texans need to win.

The Texans were blown up by the Panthers last week, 28-13, but the Colts don't have any Cam Newtons on their roster, nor are the Texans likely to make similar mistakes as the Titans did last week, such as committing three turnovers.

Houston is 0-for-9 at Indy, so now would be a great time to break that skid, even with T.J. Yates at QB and wideout Andre Dawson out.

Prediction: Texans 24 Colts 10

Saturday, Dec. 24

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-13, 38 1/2) 1:00 pm - For a 4-10 team the Browns really suck, and they're probably going to suck even more with Seneca Wallace at QB, as Colt McCoy is still questionable for Cleveland.

Baltimore looked pretty listless on offense and aging on defense in their loss at San Diego last week. The Ravens still don't have a good vertical passing game, so that alone should keep Cleveland in the hunt.

The Browns probably won't win this one, but the last time these two lined up - December 4 - Baltimore won by 14, so, if Cleveland can just hang around - five of their losses have been by 11 points or less - they should cover.

Prediction: Ravens 20 Browns 13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-7, 48) 1:00 pm - The season might as well be over for the Buccaneers, while the Panthers, at 5-9 and winners of three of their last four, represent one of the more dangerous teams in the league.

Tampa Bay's losing streak has hit eight straight, and most of the losses have not been close. In fact, the fewest number of points the Bucs have allowed during the 8-game skid is 23 and teams have scored 31 or more five different times, including three weeks ago when the Panthers came to Tampa and basted them, 38-19.

Looks like more of the same for the rising Panthers.

Prediction: Panthers 34 Buccaneers 21

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-10, 48 1/2) 1:00 pm - Last week's string of upsets proved that anything can happen in the NFL, so exempting the Patriots from the mayhem isn't a foregone conclusion.

Miami is coming off a nice road win at Buffalo, 30-23, and heads to another cold climate setting to face the Pats for the second time this season.

New England won the first meeting, in Week 1, 38-24, but that was just the beginning of the Dolphins' seven game losing streak. Since that ended, they're 5-2 and playing pretty good football. The points look pretty tasty.

Prediction: Patriots 31 Dolphins 24

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-2, 41 1/2) 1:00 pm -
Kansas City pulled off the shocker of the season last week, topping the unbeaten Packers, 19-14, and the result was no fluke.

The Chiefs have the core of a good defense, and they showed up against Green Bay, plus a new regime begun under Romeo Crennel with QB Kyle Orton leading the offense.

Oakland, which appeared to have the division locked up three weeks ago, at 7-4, has hit the skids, losing three straight, while Tim Tebow and Denver have taken over the lead at 8-6. A loss by the Raiders here would drop them to 6-7 and into a tie for last place with the Chiefs, regardless of what Denver and San Diego do.

It should be interesting to see how the emotions flow in this game and if Oakland comes out running hard after losing a nail-biter to Detroit by a point last week.

Both teams are still alive for the division crown, but the Raiders should put an end to Kansas City's euphoria.

Prediction: Raiders 23 Chiefs 17

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-7, 40) 1:00 pm - The Titans still have a sliver of hope to make the playoffs, but they'll need plenty of help from more than just one team, and they'll have to win this and next week's game at Houston, though even that may not be enough.

Jacksonville is one of a handful of NFL teams with new coaches, but their record is not good. They beat Tampa Bay, 41-14, but were on the opposite end of the same score last week at Atlanta.

Tennessee doesn't produce much offense usually, which will contribute to keeping this one close. The Jags have won just once on the road this season, and they already have a 16-14 win over the Titans in the book, so the upset potential is there and Maurice Jones-Drew should provide enough balance on offense to win this and end Tennessee's fading hopes.

Prediction: Jaguars 20 Titans 17

Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals (-4, 40 1/2) 1:00 pm - Here are two of the more surprising teams in the league, in a game in which the loser will probably be eliminated from playoff contention and the onus is on the Cardinals, sporting a lousy, 2-5 road record.

The Bengals gutted out another win last week over the Rams, 20-13, and have the advantage of home field here, though they are only 3-3 at Paul Brown Stadium.

There are some very mixed stats surrounding this match-up. Arizona is 6-12 ATS in its last 18 games on the road, while the Bengals are just 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games at home.

Still, the Bengals' defense has been staunch all season and Andy Dalton has performed marvelously as a rookie QB on a team that began the season with plenty of question marks.

Prediction: Bengals 31 Cardinals 21

--- Story continues below ---

NY Giants at NY Jets (-3, 45 1/2) 1:00 pm - The battle for New York will be played in New Jersey, but that doesn't matter to either of these teams, both of which are in desperate need of a win.

The Giants fell flat on their collective faces in their 23-10 home loss to the Redskins, while the Jets were mercilessly pounded by the Eagles, who are 2-0 since Michael Vick's return.

One key question is which team will show up: the Giants, who have trailed in every game this season (not a good sign) and rallied to win seven times, or the Jets which showed poise from QB Mark Sanchez and a defense that stuffs everything?

Probably, the answer is somewhere in between, though judging by the Giants' lack of concentration of defense and their overall lack of a solid running game, the Jets' defense should dominate.

Prediction: Jets 27 Giants 20

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St. Louis Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers (-16, 37 1/2) 1:00 pm - Ben Roethlisberger limped around for 60 minutes in Monday night's loss at San Francisco and his poor performance led to the 49er win. The short week surely doesn't benefit him nor the Steelers, which had a chance to finally take the lead in the AFC North away from the Ravens, but fell short, losing 20-3.

Meanwhile, the Rams played a much better game against Cincinnati than they've done all season, but still came up a touchdown short in a 20-13 loss, their 12th of the season.

The news is that the Steelers may rest Roethlisberger for the remainder of the season, while the Rams will likely start Kellen Clemens at QB, who handled the offense with particular aplomb last week.

If Bradford and Big Ben do start for their respective teams, this could be called the "Hobbled Bowl," but in any case, the Rams getting a TD+ looks like a choice.

Prediction: Steelers 20 Rams 19

Denver Broncos (-3, 41) at Buffalo Bills 1:00 pm - Tim Tebow hasn't played in really bad weather, but his time in Denver surely has him acclimated to what he'll be dealing with in Buffalo. It's unlikely to be really cold, but it may be windy, which favors the Broncos, because they like to run the ball often and the Bills' run defense is one of the worst in the league. At 29th, they allow a whopping 139.5 yards per outing.

With that going for them, Tebow could rack up 100 yards on the ground all by himself. Besides, the Bills have lost seven straight.

Prediction: Broncos 28 Bills 21

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins (-6 1/2, 44) 1:00 pm - The Redskins showed some resilience last week, beating the Giants in their own yard, and they continue to play good football since Rex Grossman took back the quarterbacking duties.

At 2-12, the rumors coming out of Minnesota are that some players have already packed it in for the season, and if that's the case, there is probably a goof deal of dissent in the locker room.

Last week's 42-20 loss to the Saints was the Vikings' sixth in a row and they are just 1-6 on the road. Washington is only 2-5 at home, but four of those losses came against teams with winning records, and the other was to Philadelphia.

Prediction: Redskins 34 Vikings 13

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, 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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