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NFL Week 16 Christmas Picks

The staff at SB Nation Dallas-Fort Worth predicts the winner of each game in Week 16 of the NFL.

Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas.

We're winding down the regular season in the NFL, which is sort of sad. College football regular season has come and gone - so half of the football weekend equation is already gone, and in two weeks there won't be a slew of games on Sunday either. Ah well. 

Anyway, commentary is a bit brief this week since it's Christmas and all. I do have a treat finally - the updated standings. A couple of us have forgotten to pick a game here and there - and two of us have forgotten to pick weeks - but that's okay, we have calculators to compute winning percentage. 

Merry Christmas and enjoy.

 

Carolina (2-12) at Pittsburgh (10-4) - Thursday Night Football with another winner. The Steelers control their own destiny to the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye, and a game against the Panthers certainly will help the Steelers cause. It's been an ugly season in Carolina and there's no reason to think that will change on Thursday when the Panthers head to Heinz Field.

  • Liam Ponting: Steelers
  • Christopher Fittz: Steelers
  • Maurice London: Steelers
  • Robbie Griffin: Steelers - Sometimes, I'm interested in lopsided games, just to see how much the better team can annihilate the weaker team. Other times, the better team is the Steelers.
  • Brett Perryman: Steelers - This is going to be a boring mauling.
  • JP Starkey: Steelers - Yawn.

Cowboys (5-9) at Cardinals (4-10) - In August, this looked like a Christmas night treat. Then we learned that the Cowboys would quit under Wade Phillips, Tony Romo would break his collarbone and that the season was over before the midway point. Things haven't been much better in Arizona with the Cardinals still unable to find a quarterback to replace Kurt Warner

  • Ponting: Cowboys
  • Fittz: Cowboys
  • London: Cardinals
  • Griffin: Cowboys - There's a good chance this will be the first Cowboys game in years I have a chance to watch and don't.
  • Perryman: Cowboys - On paper this lines up as the most lopsided advantage the Cowboys have had all season. Of course it didn't look too bad on paper in 2008 either, and that was one of the most catastrophic games in franchise history.
  • Starkey: Cowboys - Would Cowboys fans rather see a loss? Jason Garrett wouldn't since he's fighting for his job, but it's basically Garrett v. higher draft pick right now, right?

Patriots (12-2) at Bills (4-10) - Hey, the Bills have actually played pretty well this year - and they may have found that they have a legitimate quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Buffalo played New England pretty hard early on in the season - but that was before the Patriots clicked and became the best team in the NFL. With a win, Tom Brady and the Pats clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

  • Ponting: Patriots
  • Fittz: Patriots
  • London: Patriots
  • Griffin: Patriots - Remember back when Buffalo almost won in Foxboro? Does it feel to anyone else like that never really happened now? Reminds me of when the Bills started the season by stomping the Pats before the Pats ran away to the title.
  • Perryman: Patriots - Come on.
  • Starkey: Patriots - Snow! Brady! Win.

Jets (10-4) at Bears (10-4) - The Bears are going back to the playoffs as NFC North champs - but they still have the second seed to play for. Chicago defeated Philadelphia, so if the records between the two stay even, the Bears will earn the bye week. It won't be an easy task this weekend when the Jets look to lock up a playoff spot of their own in Chicago. Mark Sanchez apparently has a shoulder injury which should cause him to suck even more hurt the Jets passing game.

  • Ponting: Bears
  • Fittz: Jets
  • London: Bears
  • Griffin: Bears - Jay Cutler against an attacking defense with ball-hawking corners seems like a recipe for turnovers, but I'm not picking a team with a QB with an injured shoulder to win on the road against a team of similar talent.
  • Perryman: Jets - Maybe no Sanchize, but I've been missing on Bears games all season, why stop now?
  • Starkey: Bears - Jay Cutler is the Scott Malkinson of the NFL.

Ravens (10-4) at Browns (5-9) - Peyton Hillis is hurting. He's surpassed both a collegiate and pro career high in carries by a wide margin and the Ravens are out for blood. Ray Lewis compared Hillis to a blind cat, so you know Lewis is angry. We all know Ray Lewis murders people  hits extra hard when he's angry. Baltimore still has hope for the division title, if Pittsburgh falters, so the Ravens still have possible seeding to play for.

  • Ponting: Ravens
  • Fittz: Ravens
  • London: Ravens
  • Griffin: Ravens - I like watching Flacco throw footballs. A lot. It's unhealthy.
  • Perryman: Ravens - The Ravens are tied atop the AFCN, but they're losing the division tiebreaker. They are going to want that two seed badly, so this is a big game.
  • Starkey: Ravens - Yawn x2.

Titans (6-8) at Chiefs (9-5) - Kansas City is a perfect 6-0 at home. They control their own destiny to head back to the playoffs - something not many would have predicted back in August. The Titans have been one of the bigger disappointments in the league. Will we even see Randy Moss on the field this week?

  • Ponting: Chiefs
  • Fittz: Chiefs
  • London: Chiefs
  • Griffin: Chiefs - Meh.
  • Perryman: Chiefs - Must-win for KC at home and the Titans are facing franchise-wide issues in a week and change.
  • Starkey: Chiefs - Hoping the Chiefs win out and make the playoffs.

49ers (5-9) at Rams (6-8) - Depressing that this game has legitimate playoff implications and it's even more depressing to think that one of these teams could very well host a home playoff game on Wild Card weekend. There's likely going to be more urgency from San Francisco - Singletary's job is likely on the line if the 49ers can't someway, somehow make the playoffs. We'll see if Sam Bradford can help get him fired.

  • Ponting: Rams
  • Fittz: 49ers
  • London: Rams
  • Griffin: Rams - It's just hilarious that a six and a five win team in week 16 are playing eachother in a game with huge division title implications.
  • Perryman: Rams - I'd pick the 49ers on a neutral field, but the dome is huge here.
  • Starkey: Rams - I promised myself not to pick San Francisco again this year.

Lions (4-10) at Dolphins (7-7) - There's not much incentive to watch this game. The Lions will look for their second consecutive road win (holy cow) while the Dolphins count down the days until the season is over - when they can start looking for a real quarterback. Even Jon Kitna would be a huge, huge improvement for Miami.

  • Ponting: Dolphins
  • Fittz: Lions
  • London: Lions
  • Griffin: Dolphins - I'm really tempted to take Detroit. I have this nagging feeling that I should be.
  • Perryman: Dolphins - Detroit has the poor record, but I'd argue that these are quite evenly matched teams.
  • Starkey: Lions - The Dolphins were one of my Wild Card teams to begin the year. I had them losing to the Pats in the AFC Title game. Whoops. Screw you guys, I'm never picking you again.

Redskins (5-9) at Jaguars (8-6) - The Jaguars no longer control their own destiny to make the playoffs. They need to the Colts to falter one of the next two weeks and the Jags need to take care of business on their own. They'll face Rex Grossman and the Redskins this week while the Colts face the Raiders in Oakland. Stranger things have happened.

  • Ponting: Jaguars
  • Fittz: Jaguars
  • London: Jaguars
  • Griffin: Jaguars - I predict McNabb plays, is not as good as Grossman was, and someone in the media talks about how he gritted his team in to almost winning and proved he should start.
  • Perryman: Jaguars - The Jags may fail to hold off the Colts, but it won't be because of this game. The Skins are shabby.
  • Starkey: Jaguars - I have a strange feeling that Washington will win, though.

Chargers (8-6) at Bengals (3-11) - Remember when the Bengals were supposed to be legitimate AFC title contenders? Neither do I, but some people thought that way at the beginning of the season apparently. San Diego will look to give Cinci their 12th loss of the year and hope that Kansas City falters. The Bolts need the Chiefs to drop one of their next two games to have a chance at making the playoffs.

  • Ponting: Chargers
  • Fittz: Chargers
  • London: Chargers
  • Griffin: Chargers - It's sad when the most confident I am about a game is your team losing at home. It's extra sad when that team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender.
  • Perryman: Chargers - My theory is that Norvell gets bored with football and punts the start of the season just to amuse himself.
  • Starkey: Chargers - The Bengals need to clean house.

Texans (5-9) at Broncos (3-11) - Surely Tim Tebow will deliver the day after Christmas, right? He completed eight passes last week, four of which were screens. Maybe it's the play calling, or maybe he's just not an NFL quarterback - either way, it's way too early to know. He'll face a really, really bad Houston secondary this weekend, so the odds are in Tebow's favor for this weekend.

  • Ponting: Texans
  • Fittz: Texans
  • London: Texans
  • Griffin: Texans - Tim Tebow's second start comes against the Houston secondary? Safe situation, I'll be interested to see if he can take advantage.
  • Perryman: Texans - Shouldn't TIm Tebow be playing on Christmas?
  • Starkey: Broncos - Tim Tebow cannot lose the day after Christmas. He just can't. Thom Brennaman's heart would shatter and his soul would be crushed.

Colts (8-6) at Raiders (7-7) - Ho hum, the Colts are in the drivers seat again after shutting down Maurice Jones-Drew last weekend - but they'll face another tough running game with Darren McFadden and the Raiders. If the Colts win out, they'll be in the playoffs once again - but the Raiders will look to give the Jaguars the upper hand again in the AFC South in Week 16.

  • Ponting: Colts
  • Fittz: Colts
  • London: Colts
  • Griffin: Colts - I'm suddenly starting to think I never appreciated getting to watch Peyton Manning's career enough.
  • Perryman: Colts - Now this game looks like fun. The Raiders can't win outside of their division, but home field is big here and the Colts face a tough matchup in the Oakland running game.
  • Starkey: Raiders - The Colts can't stop a good running back two weeks in a row. Upset of the week.

Giants (9-5) at Packers (8-6) - Talk about two different losses last week: the Packers played admirably in Foxboro with Matt Flynn at quarterback while the Giants imploded before DeSean Jackson gracefully ended the game with a walk-off punt return. Aaron Rodgers will be back under center for Green Bay, which is bad news for the Giants. If Green Bay wins, they're in the drivers seat for a wild card spot in the NFC while Big Blue would be on the outside looking in.

  • Ponting: Packers
  • Fittz: Packers
  • London: Packers
  • Griffin: Packers - Giants in the second half of the season, Packers in Lambeau in December. This seems like an easy pick.
  • Perryman: Giants - This is my favorite game of the week. This is very close to a play-in game, after the Giants' meltdown last week.
  • Starkey: Giants - I hate Big Blue with every fiber of my being, but I think they recover and win.

Seahawks (6-8) at Buccaneers (8-6) - Tampa Bay's playoff chances are waning after losing three of their last four - including a game at home to the Lions. They're still alive, though, and so are the Seahawks who are fighting for the NFC West title. 

  • Ponting: Buccaneers
  • Fittz: Buccaneers
  • London: Buccaneers
  • Griffin: Buccaneers - Giants underdogs, Bucs favorites. This is looking good.
  • Perryman: Buccaneers - Tampa is 8-6 and all but eliminated; Seattle is 6-8 and in first place - such is life in a world with four-team divisions. The Bucs are still better.
  • Starkey: Buccaneers - The Bucs are decent, the Seahawks are not.

Vikings (5-9) at Eagles (10-4) -  Have we seen the last of Brett Favre yet? I hope so. Anyway, Michael Vick and the Eagles will look to further their case for a first round bye in the playoffs. The Eagles need to end up with a better record than the Bears - who are playing the Jets and Packers to end the season. The Eagles? Well, they have the Vikes this week and the Cowboys next week. Advantage Varnson.

  • Ponting: Eagles
  • Fittz: Eagles
  • London: Eagles
  • Griffin: Eagles - The Cowboys have somehow managed to not even have one of the two most embarrassing seasons from pre-season Super Bowl hyped teams. God bless the Bengals and Vikings.
  • Perryman: Eagles - Philly is too good, and the Vikings are playing out the string at this point.
  • Starkey: Eagles - Shouldn't be close. Boring Sunday night game.

Saints (10-4) at Falcons (12-2) - A possible playoff preview here. The Falcons are likely going to win the division and earn the No. 1 seed even if they lose this game as they host the Panthers in Week 17. Still, this is an excellent test for Matt Ryan and the Falcons who are 6-0 at home this year. If Atlanta wants to establish themselves as the team to beat in the NFC this year, they'll need to win this game, otherwise people will still be talking about the Saints and Eagles as the likely teams to represent the NFC in Dallas come February. 

  • Ponting: Falcons
  • Fittz: Saints
  • London: Saints
  • Griffin: Saints - This is a really, really tough game for me. More so because I was calling the Falcons my non-Cowboys Super Bowl favorite before the year started, and I have a golden opportunity to stick with that. And they're at home here. I can't see them going 14-2, though, and this is the game in their way of that where the other team might be better. I'm going Saints, but I'm not confident about it.
  • Perryman: Saints - At first glance this is a great matchup, but it actually means very little in the grand scheme. The Saints do need to win one of their last two to assure a playoff spot, so I think their engine is revved a little higher.
  • Starkey: Saints - I'll take the Saints to win by at least 10.

Standings to Date:

Ponting: 149-75 (.665)

Code: 128-66 (.659)

Griffin: 146-78 (.651)

Perryman: 138-82 (.627)

Fittz: 139-85 (.620)

London: 124-89 (.582)

Starkey: 129-94 (.578)

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.