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December 22, 2016

Week 16 NFL picks

Eagles NFL
122216CarsonWentz Frank Franklin II/AP

Carson Wentz had a chance to steal a game against the Giants earlier this season, but he missed an open Jordan Matthews for what would have been a go-ahead score.

For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 16 NFL picks. To note, the helmets indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.

Giants (-2.5) at EaglesWith the return of Lane Johnson, the Eagles will have their full starting offensive line for the first time since everyone thought they might be a good team. With Johnson, the Eagles were 3-1. Without him, 2-8. 

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Eagles vs. Giants (Rd. 2): Predictions, betting lines and TV/radio broadcast info | Eagles-Giants injury report, with analysis | Eagles stay or go | Jason Peters, Fletcher Cox will represent Eagles at the Pro Bowl | Eagles' Lane Johnson says he 'let the team down,' calls PED ban a 'sh**ty situation'

Still, the Eagles are in a tailspin, while the Giants are surging toward the playoffs. It's hard to justify picking the Eagles against a playoff team at this point. Giants 24-23.

Dolphins at Bills (-3.5): The Bills are all but done in the playoff race and their head coach is likely to be fired. Meanwhile, the Dolphins at 9-5 and still very much playing for the postseason. The Dolphins need this game more than Buffalo.

Jets at Patriots (-16.5): This is a tune-up game for Deflatey McGee and Filmy McFilmerson before the playoffs. No need to cheat in this one.

Titans (-5) at Jaguars: The Jaguars suck. #Analysis.

Vikings at Packers (-6.5): Sam Bradford's completion percentage is 71.6 percent, which could break the NFL's single-season record of 71.2 percent set by Drew Brees in 2011. And yet, the Vikings have scored 264 points this season, which is 25th in the NFL. If you subtract the six defense and special teams touchdowns Minnesota scored this season (second in the NFL), the Vikings' scoring output offensively is all the more unimpressive.

It feels like we've noted this before.

Chargers (-6) at Browns: L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L. Two to go.

Redskins (-3) at Bears: The Redskins' playoff odds are now at 25 percent after dropping a crucial game against the Panthers Monday night. The Skins now have to go on the road to face the deadly Matt Barkley on a short week. I think they'll manage.

Falcons (-2.5) at Panthers: After getting thrashed by the Seahawks 40-7 a few weeks ago, the Panthers could have packed it in for the season, but they have won two straight with nothing to play for other than pride. 

Meanwhile, the Falcons have also won two straight. Their wins came against garbage opponents (the Rams and Niners) by a combined score of 83-27.

Earlier this season, Julio Jones went off for 300 yards against Carolina. The Panthers are going to want redemption from that embarrassing effort, and Jones is hampered by a toe injury. I'll take Cam plus the points at home.

Colts at Raiders (-3.5): The Colts have been hammering bad teams, and losing to the good ones. That trend will continue in Oakland this week.

Buccaneers at Saints (-3): The Bucs handled the Saints' offense a couple weeks ago in Tampa, and they're actually 5-2 on the road this season. Meanwhile, the Superdome hasn't meant what it used to for the Saints, as they have already clinched their third straight non-winning season at home.

Cardinals at Seahawks (-8): David Johnson is likely to go over 2000 yards from scrimmage this week. Despite that, the Cardinals will be 5-9-1 if they lose this week in Seattle. The Cardinals have to be one of the three most disappointing teams of the 2016 season.

49ers at Rams (-3.5): In Week 1, the 49ers and Rams played one of the ugliest, most unwatchable games I've ever seen. I expect no different this time around.

Bengals at Texans (-1): The Texans have a -44 point differential, they benched their quarterback last week, and they're in a position to get a home playoff game on the strength of their 5-0 divisional record. It must be nice to play in the AFC South.

Ravens at Steelers (-5): The Steelers have won five straight games, allowing an average of 14 points per game over that span. They are beginning to look like the Super Bowl contenders many thought they were heading into the season.

Broncos at Chiefs (-3): After a suspect loss at home a month ago to the Bucs, the Chiefs went on the road in what may have been the NFL's best game of the season and beat the Broncos 30-27 in OT. After yet another suspect loss at home, this time to the Titans, the Chiefs will once again face the Broncos. Sunday Night Football will be must see TV on Christmas. I'll take Big Red again.

Lions at Cowboys (-7): If the Giants lose to the Eagles on Thursday night, the Cowboys will have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and thus have nothing to play for. Why would this line be seven?

BYE: All byes complete.

• Picks against the spread: Packers (-6.5), Buccaneers (+3), Lions (+7).

• 2016 season, straight up: 141-81-2 (.634)

• 2016 season, ATS:  36-29 (.554)

• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)

• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)

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