Sunday, December 27, 2015

NFL Week 16 Primer (With Picks): Just the Picks, Yo

Tom Brady and the Patriots can lock up home field advantage this weekend against the rival Jets, but New York will be hungry for a win to keep pace in the AFC Wild Card race.
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We just finished up Christmas and we've got New Year's coming up quickly, so I'm not going to bore you with much other than our picks.

Sure, the AFC is still a jumbled mess, and it's possible than an 11-5 Broncos or Jets team misses the postseason, but things should shake out nicely once the weekend is finished.

Let's not waste any more time, here are our games of the week and picks.

Game(s) of the Week

New England at New York Jets (1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

The Patriots will be looking to lock up home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, while the Jets are just hoping to keep pace in the crowded AFC Wild Card race. These games are, seemingly, always close (assuming there are no butt fumbles), and both teams have something to play for. Should be fun.

Carolina at Atlanta (1:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

The Panthers are 14-0, and it still seems like there's just no way they run the table (including the postseason). But, dude, they're undefeated in Week 16! That's incredible, so they continue to get "Game of the Week" status.

Green Bay at Arizona (4:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

The NFC probably has four legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and these are two of them, so you can't ask for much more than that.

Cincinnati at Denver (8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN)

Don't look now, but if Denver loses this game, and all the Wild Card contenders (KC, PIT, NYJ) keep winning, Denver will be in serious jeopardy of missing the postseason.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

OAKLAND (-4.5) over San Diego

At least we were close. 

Pittsburgh (-10) over BALTIMORE

Baltimore is up poop's creek without a paddle, and Pittsburgh is the hottest team in the league right now other than maybe Kansas City (and, well, obviously, Carolina and Arizona, and maybe Seattle - but you get the point).

JP: These aren't your big brother's Ravens, as injuries have decimated Baltimore. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh might be the scariest Wild Card team since Green Bay in 2010 or the Steelers in 2005, thanks to an offense that is among the league's best when Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are working together.

New England (-2.5) over NEW YORK JETS

JC: The Patriots are playing for the No. 1 seed throughout the AFC Playoffs. They never blow those games. The Patriots always win must-win games in the regular season. Always.

JP: Brady and the boys would like nothing more than to lock up home field advantage, and, effectively, knock the Jets out of the playoffs.

Houston (-3) over TENNESSEE

Brandon Weeden is garbage, but Zach Mettenberger is steaming garbage, which, in this analogy, is worse. 

JP: I don't care who Houston's quarterback is, and neither should you.

KANSAS CITY (-10.5) over Cleveland

JC: Cleveland was a sneaky underdog play earlier this year, but they've failed to cover even bigger spreads against Cincinnati and Seattle, so I don't see them covering this one.

JP: The Chiefs join Pittsburgh as a scary AFC Wild Card contender, and should have little trouble with the hapless Browns.

San Francisco (+11) over DETROIT

[spit take]

JP: I get that Detroit is probably better than it's record indicates, but I still can't give 11 with the Lions against anybody. Even against the Niners.

BUFFALO (-7) over Dallas

If Dallas's season keeps going this way they're going to end up bringing back Drew Bledsoe for Week 17. 

JP: Buffalo is (mostly) healthy. That's about all I need to see going against Dallas.

TAMPA BAY (-3) over Chicago

JC: Sure, I guess so. 

JP: Both these teams are now out of the playoff picture, but the Bucs are young and hungry to finish the year on a high note. I'll roll with the home team.

Carolina (-6.5) over ATLANTA

I'm going to roll with Carolina until further notice, playoffs included. I haven't seen any reason to gamble against them. 

JP: Carolina is undefeated and Atlanta is garbage.

SEATTLE (-13.5) over St. Louis

Hahahahaha remember when I picked St. Louis to turn their season around and win the NFC West? That was hilarious. What a great joke. 

JP: The Seahawks are as hot as anyone, and Russell Wilson is playing like a man possessed.

ARIZONA (-3.5) over Green Bay

Even with a 14-0 team in the same conference, are we sure that Arizona isn't the best team in the NFC? If they win this game by 20, that might become a conversation. 

JP: The Cardinals are just better at this point. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have found the Fountain of Youth, while David Johnson is a human wrecking ball. Add in the motivation of playing to lock up a first round bye, and I've got to take the Cards.

DENVER (-3.5) over Cincinnati

Denver's defense against A.J. McCarron just seems too good to be true. But giving less than a touchdown is too tempting to pass up. 

JP: With the danger of missing the playoffs looming, Denver's defense will take care of business at home against a backup quarterback.

Here Are The Picks We Disagree On (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

JC: PHILADELPHIA (-3) over Washington

I think Washington sucks, and I think Philadelphia sucks slightly less. And if Washington wins the NFC East, something went dreadfully wrong, so I'll ride with Philly. 

JP: Washington (+3) over PHILADELPHIAWashington isn't awful, while Philadelphia sometimes is. This one has the feel of either a close one, or a game that Washington runs away with to lock up the NFC East. Either way, Washington is the pick.

JC: MIAMI (-1) over Indianapolis

I hate both of these teams and refuse to spend more than five seconds considering this pick. 

JP: Indianapolis (+1) over MIAMI

I have no idea, but Miami has been hot garbage lately, so I'll pick what I perceive to be the lesser of two awfuls.

JC: NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Jacksonville

I was on the "Jacksonville to win the AFC South" bandwagon, but that ride closed up shop with their loss last week. Neither team really has any desperation left, so I'll go with the better offense.

JP: Jacksonville (+3.5) over NEW ORLEANS
With Drew Brees' status in question, and the Saints' defense still very not good, I'll go with Jacksonville's explosive offense, even in the Dome.

JC: MINNESOTA (-7) over New York Giants

Is it just me, or does this game have "Minnesota 38, New York 6" written all over it? There are years that the Giants surge to a Super Bowl title, and then there are years that they completely and totally fall apart down the stretch. They're already 6-8. 

JP: New York Giants (+7) over MINNESOTA

If you love backdoor covers (haha, backdoor covers), you've gotta love the Giants. Odell Beckham being out gives me pause, but Eli will find a way to keep this one within a touchdown.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 9-5-2
Season: 120-97-7
Last Week's Disagreements: 0-3
Season's Disagreements: 29-30-2

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 12-2-2
Season: 121-96-7
Last Week's Disagreements: 3-0
Season's Disagreements: 30-29-2

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