Ho Ho Ho!
RJ Claus is in town and I've brought all of you gifts from the NFL Pole!
I've made my list and I've checked it twice, I know which teams are terrible and which are nice. It's a White Christmas for some folks while the Grinch has stolen the playoff dreams of others.
Week 16 kicks off with a Christmas Eve matchup on NFL Network's Thursday Night Football. So giddy up, giddy up, let's go! I can hear those sleigh bells ring-ting-tingling which means it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride with you through my weekly picks!
Don't touch the reindeer. They bite. I'm trying to calm them down, but they take after Odell Beckham Jr. so there's not much that I can do about it.
16Thursday Night Football: San Diego Chargers (4-10) At Oakland Raiders (6-8)
The boughs of holly are all around the Black Hole this week as it will be the final time that the Raider Faithful will get to see one of the finest to ever lace 'em up – Charles Woodson.
The Heisman-winning Wolverine announced that this season would be his last earlier this week. The Raiders responded by announcing that they might channel his Michigan days and line him up at wide receiver or have him serve some return duties. What a Christmas Miracle that would be!
Charles could line up at all 11 positions at the same time and probably beat this Chargers team as they are pretty spent. The Bolts have quit on the season as they seem to be destined for life in Los Angeles. Things could be worse.
Prediction: Chargers – 17, RAIDERS – 30
15Saturday Night Football: Washington Redskins (7-7) At Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)
The NFC East could be sewn up Saturday Night when the Washington Football Club visits the land where Super Bowls run dry… the city of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Those Redskins caught a little bit of fire last week with their impressive win over the Bills. The Eagles might as well have been on fire with how bad they played at home against the Cardinals.
Chip Kelly might be the real-life incarnation of The Grinch with all of his smoothie drinking ways. DeMarco Murray is little Cindy Lou Who… confused at how Chip would want to steal happiness and joy from him.
There will be no joy for either Chip or DeMarco as Kirk Cousins, of all people, will put the exclamation point on his Cinderella season. I like that.
Prediction: REDSKINS – 27, Eagles – 23
14Carolina Panthers (14-0) At Atlanta Falcons (7-7)
After he throws two interceptions this week, yes it is happening, Matty “Ice” will officially tie Peyton Manning for the league-lead in interceptions this season. As shocking as that sentence is remember that Manning hasn't thrown a pass since November 15th.
As terrible as the Falcons are, the Panthers are equally awesome. I'm convinced that these guys are untouchable. Whether you want them to go undefeated or not you need to accept that the fate of NFL History resting on the Atlanta Falcons is not a good idea.
Prediction: PANTHERS – 37, Falcons – 13
13Dallas Cowboys (4-10) At Buffalo Bills (6-8)
The Kellen Moore bandwagon has pulled into town! Are you on it?
As doubtful as that is, I'd imagine that Moore's crowd of supporters is still larger than Rex Ryan's. The Buffalo Head Coach has huffed and puffed more than usual this year, and it's gotten his team nowhere. Shocker.
Although Rex Ryan is as inept as they come, these Cowboys have served as a great tune-up game for those in need. Eddie Lacy was having a terrible year and under some heavy scrutiny up until two weeks ago when he played the Cowboys and everything was perfect again!
Look for all of the Buffalo problems to suddenly be their area of expertise on Sunday.
Prediction: Cowboys – 19, BILLS – 24
12Chicago Bears (5-9) At Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)
There are so many storylines going on around the NFL all the time that some are bound to slip through the cracks.
Lovie Smith is getting a chance to face his former team at his new casa. He's probably prepping some coal for their stockings.
I want to like the Bears. I really do. They have what should be at least a watchable team, but they find ways to continually ruin it.
Jameis has been so up and down during his rookie season, but he'll find a way to get it going on Sunday. His rookie year will go full circle as he beats the team based in the city where he was drafted. Hooray for circles!
Prediction: Bears – 20, BUCCANEERS – 27
11Cleveland Browns (3-11) At Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
Who has a better chance at survival… Frosty the Snowman in July or the Browns against any professional football team? Tough question, isn't it?
It's the right time to rock the night away for the Browns. Your season is over, Cleveland. This is who you are. Embrace it.
The Chiefs are rolling right now. If you think the Browns are getting in the way of that then you've had one too many candy canes this year.
Prediction: Browns – 16, CHIEFS – 33
10San Francisco 49ers (4-10) At Detroit Lions (5-9)
Our poor eyes.
Go to the store and get yourself a can of chicken noodle soup. You're going to need it after watching this game. I don't care that the Lions are coming off a win on Monday Night Football… these are two of the worst teams on this planet.
This year to, to save me from tears, I'm giving this game to someone special – Ebenezer Scrooge. Take care of this game for me, will ya buddy? Make it go away forever.
Prediction: 49ers – 9, LIONS – 23
9Houston Texans (7-7) At Tennessee Titans (3-11)
This is a real thing.
What did we do to deserve this horror? This is supposed to be the season of joy to the world!
Heaven and Nature are singing about how weird of a season this has been, and this game is as much proof as you need.
Joy to the Texans. You're less terrible. Barely.
Prediction: TEXANS – 17, Titans – 6
8Indianapolis Colts (6-8) At Miami Dolphins (5-9)
Seriously… what did we do as a society to deserve such terrible football games this late in the season?
I mean, you think “Week 16” and you immediately think about epic games with so much on the line. You think about watching this year's Colts with Matt Hasselbeck and now potentially Charlie Whitehurst versus this year's Dolphins and you feel like someone kicked you right in the jingle bells.
Santa has seen these teams when they were sleeping, and he thinks they play better football there in their dreams than they do on any kind of field.
Watch out, you will cry. You can pout Colts, I'm telling you why.
Prediction: Colts – 16, DOLPHINS – 27
7New England Patriots (12-2) At New York Jets (9-5)
Finally! A real game! This is just a stocking stuffer, but get excited.
We've got a great division matchup here between the Patriots and Jets. New England is in contention for the number one overall seed in the AFC while the Jets are trying to keep their wildcard hopes alive. This game smells like a peppermint mocha… nice and epic.
The Jets are going to get up for this game. They're going to throw the kitchen sink at the Patriots. This is the type of game that usually can overwhelm New England.
Which is why they're going to win it dramatically at the end.
Prediction: PATRIOTS – 34, Jets – 32
6Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) At Baltimore Ravens (4-10)
I could not care less that the Ravens beat the Steelers in the first matchup of these teams earlier this season.
That was a completely different Steelers team, one that was not scoring at absolute will on teams.
Pittsburgh just proved that their offense can hang with the best with their victory over the Broncos last week. All that Baltimore proved was that they seem to choose the pants that the team wears in the dark, or that they just don't care about looking good at all.
Give me Pittsburgh. Big.
Prediction: STEELERS – 37, Ravens – 10
5Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9) At New Orleans Saints (5-9)
The Jags are going to let it snow points everywhere! The Saints would have a difficult time hanging with them normally, but consider that Drew Brees is hurting and might not play and you've got a disaster waiting to happen.
You're going to hear some boos in New Orleans during this game. The Saints loyalists are going to reach their limit when they're getting boatraced by the Jaguars. Can you blame them?
Prediction: JAGUARS – 31, Saints – 14
4Green Bay Packers (10-4) At Arizona Cardinals (12-2)
Sunday is going to be a silent night in Green Bay.
All of the cheeseheads are under the incredible misunderstanding that they have a good football team on their hands. Has anyone caught more breaks, or had an easier schedule, than the Pack this year? Anybody? Bueller?
This is going to be a trip back down to earth for Aaron Rodgers as he and his friends are going to face an elite team for the first time in quite a while.
It's a shame that Tyrann Mathieu tore his ACL last week, but it won't matter during this game. The Cardinals are going to rock around Aaron Rodgers like a Christmas tree.
Prediction: Packers – 20, CARDINALS – 45
3St. Louis Rams (6-8) At Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
Jeff Fisher has one pretty reliable consistency with his Rams, and that's that they always get up for division games.
St. Louis has played San Francisco, Arizona, and Seattle pretty tough over the last few seasons. In fact they even beat the Seahawks in Week 1 of this season. The Rams rise above themselves for these big games.
Those days are over.
The Rams are having a Blue Christmas, and pretty much a blue existence. The Seahawks are peaking at just the right time and no one, especially the little baby sheep Rams, are going to get in the way of that.
Prediction: Rams – 13, SEAHAWKS – 33
2Sunday Night Football: New York Giants (6-8) At Minnesota Vikings (9-5)
The New York Giants have one of the most explosive and talented receivers on their team.
They will be without his services during this game thanks to his antics last week against the Carolina Panthers.
Odell Beckham Jr. is a game-changer and would have given the Giants a huge chance in this contest. Without him they are left to rely on Elisha and we all know how that can go.
Minnesota has lost a teeny little bit of steam, but a teeny bit is all its going to take to beat the G-Men who have 99 problems… all of them being pretty relative to OBJ.
Prediction: Giants – 17, VIKINGS – 27
1Monday Night Football: Cincinnati Bengals (11-3) At Denver Broncos (10-4)
There's a lot riding on this game.
The Bengals and Broncos are both in the running for a first round bye in this year's playoffs. The Broncos might even be getting ahead of themselves with that thought as the Chiefs are only a game behind them in the AFC West race. Yikes.
Good thing they have Brock Osweiler! Against AJ McCarron! What a weird season.
The Broncos are starting to fall apart, we saw it in Pittsburgh last week. A dance against one of the deepest teams in football is not the way to rebound and propel yourself forward.
Prediction: BENGALS – 24, Broncos – 20
[signoff author=”rjochoa” source=”fancred”]