Welcome to a New Year’s Day edition of RJ’s Weekly NFL Picks!
When the clock struck midnight last night the 2015 Cinderella Carriage officially turned into a pumpkin as the calendar flipped over to 2016. Can you believe it?
The same will hold true for 26 NFL teams on Sunday when their seasons come to a close as six lucky franchises chase Super Bowl glory.
The 2015 season has been one of the weirdest in recent memory with so many big stars missing significant time. For some teams, like our Cowboys, when the clock hits 0:00 there will be a sense of relief as we can finally move on to a new season, and a new year, of new hope.
Let’s pick every NFL game for the first time in 2016. You and me. We’ll do it together. Happy New Year!
New Orleans Saints (6-9) At Atlanta Falcons (8-7)
Long gone are the days where this matchup would produce almost 90 combined points. 2016 has brought about change to the calendar, but this rivalry has been different for quite some time.
Julio Jones is chasing history so the Falcons are going to air it to him a ton, but Drew Brees is falling apart from a health perspective so it’s hard to imagine that New Orleans can hang with them.
New Orleans is going to be one of the more fascinating franchises to watch this offseason as we see what they’re going to do with the aforementioned Brees and Head Coach Sean Payton. They’ve been such a successful pair for so long… with the end perhaps in sight I think they’ll pull one more out for the Saints faithful.
Prediction: SAINTS – 31, Falcons – 27
New York Jets (10-5) At Buffalo Bills (7-8)
The New York Jets have a win-and-you’re-in playoff scenario. Whether it’s 2015, 2016, or any other year… something that optimistic is never safe in the hands of the Jets.
The Buffalo Rex Ryans will supposedly be getting up for their Head Coach and the opportunity to spoil his former team’s chances at the Playoffs. Sorry Rexy, not buying it.
The Bills are pathetic. It actually saddens me.
I recently watched the 30 for 30 Four Falls Of Buffalo and if you didn’t know… there is some deep NFL History circling those wagons (I highly recommend the documentary if you’ve got some time this weekend).
Buffalo already announced that they will not be bringing Mario Williams back next year, so perhaps it’s not a far stretch to say that things aren’t exactly super positive around that neck of the woods right now.
J-E-T-S take care of B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S on Sunday. Book it.
Prediction: JETS – 24, Bills – 13
Detroit Lions (6-9) At Chicago Bears (6-9)
This has the makings of a snooze-fest.
The super inept Lions against the hapless Bears in what will probably be a sludgy Soldier Field… yikes.
So that means this will be a wild and crazy shootout, right? That’s how 2015 treated us all season long.
Prediction: LIONS – 41, Bears – 37
Baltimore Ravens (5-10) At Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
Who would have ever said back in August that the Case Keenum-led Baltimore Ravens would take down the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers?
You can put your hand down, Mrs. Keenum.
The Ravens shocked the world last week with a win over their biggest rival, but they’re out of gas when it comes to miracles.
The Bengals may have lost on the Monday Night Football finale, but they’re not a bad team. They’ll take care of business. On to the next one, please.
Prediction: Ravens – 10, BENGALS – 23
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6) At Cleveland Browns (3-12)
The Steelers have to be just sick in their guts over last week’s loss.
Good thing they’ve got the Browns up next.
While Mike Tomlin is actually 4-7 in his last 11 games versus below .500 teams, and even though he’s lost to clumsy Cleveland teams before, this team is just too talented.
Big Ben, Antonio, and the crew will take care of business. They’ll need a Jets loss to get into the dance, though. Things don’t seem likely. The ghost of Case Keenum will haunt them forever. Ouchie.
Prediction: STEELERS – 34, Browns – 20
Washington Redskins (8-7) At Dallas Cowboys (4-11)
How the tides have turned.
A year ago the already-crowned NFC East Division Champions went on the road in the classic Cowboys/Redskins matchup and handed the home team a bitter loss in their own house.
Those Cowboys feel like so long ago.
The Redskins are officially this season’s division winners and have nothing to play for – the exact same circumstances that we had last season. Ugh it hurts to type.
This game will finally put us out of the misery that we’ve endured all season long. Let’s go out in style.
Prediction: REDSKINS – 24, Cowboys – 9
Tennessee Titans (3-12) At Indianapolis Colts (7-8)
Marcus Mariota has been ruled out of this game so it’s hard to say that the Titans are even watchable.
The Colts enter this contest needing a win and eight other things to go there way to have any chance at the postseason. Things don’t look so good, Indy.
If you weren’t snoozing after Detroit and Chicago this one will make your eyelids heavy. God knows who is playing quarterback for the Colts, but he’s probably still better than Zach Mettenberger.
Give me the Colts.
Prediction: Titans – 10, COLTS – 16
New England Patriots (12-3) At Miami Dolphins (5-10)
The Patriots are coming off of a loss against their hated rivals – the New York Jets.
The Miami Dolphins are the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
The Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill and Dan Campbell.
Candy from a baby, man.
Prediction: PATRIOTS – 27, Dolphins – 17
Philadelphia Eagles (6-9) At New York Giants (6-9)
Tuesday, December 29th was a dark day for Cowboys, Redskins, and Giants fans everywhere as the Eagles officially released Chip Kelly of his Head Coaching duties.
The good news for Giants fans is that Odell Beckham Jr. will get to play for their officially eliminated from playoff contention team, but he’ll probably make some nice catch and everything will be ok.
The loser of this game will have to play in London next year as they will finish third in the division… and as the Rams are playing that team in London next year it would appear as if the loser has to leave the country.
Enjoy your trip across the pond, Giants.
Prediction: EAGLES – 23, Giants – 16
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) At Houston Texans (8-7)
I’ve been a deep believer of the Jacksonville Jaguars this season.
I legitimately believe that in a few years they are going to be one of the AFC’s top teams should their offensive playmakers all stay there. They’ve got something special going on.
It’s not enough right now, though.
The Houston Texans sneakily have one of the league’s best defenses and they understand one of the most fundamental things about football that evades most teams: get the ball to your best players.
The Texans throw it to DeAndre Hopkins even if he’s covered by 12 guys. I love that. He’s the best guy on the field – give him a chance.
Prediction: Jaguars – 24, TEXANS – 30
San Diego Chargers (4-11) At Denver Broncos (11-4)
I can’t be the only one that’s annoyed with the Broncos this season.
It seems like Denver has caught break after break. I mean, how is the fact that Peyton Manning (one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time) not starting one of the biggest stories each and every week?
The Broncos’ luck is bound to run out at some point, but it won’t be against the Chargers. These guys have completely quit and now they’ve lost touch with reality.
Confused? Let me tell you what’s up. San Diego fined Eric Weddle, one of their best players, ten thousand dollars for watching his daughter dance at halftime last week. Then they put him on IR this week.
Considering that they might be leaving San Diego the Chargers could’ve gone out a lot more classy, they deserve to lose.
Prediction: Chargers – 13, BRONCOS – 23
Oakland Raiders (7-8) At Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)
Nine nine nine nine! The Kansas City Chiefs have won nine games in a row!
The Raiders played perhaps, although I seriously doubt it, their last game in Oakland last week. This game will be the last time that we ever see Charles Woodson. That’s a lot of history going on there.
History is nice and makes our hearts full, but the Chiefs are going to fill up the scoreboard. Boo-ya.
Prediction: Raiders – 17, CHIEFS – 30
St. Louis Rams (7-8) At San Francisco 49ers (4-11)
Jeff Fisher’s Rams beat the Seahawks? Color me surprised.
The Rams have a rule. They are one of the worst teams on earth outside of the NFC West, but inside of that division they are kings. Hi, 49ers.
One of the national predictions for the season that’s reached fruition seems to be that San Francisco would be flaming hot garbage. The Rams will win this one and we’ll be stuck with Jeff Fisher for another year. Hooray.
Prediction: RAMS – 16, 49ers – 9
Seattle Seahawks (9-6) At Arizona Cardinals (13-2)
Now here is a game!
There isn’t too much drama as both of these teams have already clinched playoff spots, the Cardinals the division, but we’re looking at a potential playoff matchup in the making here.
I don’t expect Seattle to show everything that they’ve got against Arizona considering that they might be re-visiting the University of Phoenix Stadium in a few weeks. There isn’t a whole lot to gain for Seattle as they seem to be in prime position to travel to Washington during the wildcard round of the playoffs. They’ll “like that.”
Give me the Cardinals. It’s their house and they want that #1 seed.
Prediction: Seahawks – 23, CARDINALS – 33
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9) At Carolina Panthers (14-1)
The Panthers are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL right now, even though they lost last week.
I don’t totally subscribe to “good losses,” but the Panthers have a lot more mental toughness than most teams. The Buccaneers do not.
Cam and Co. will get back to their winning ways with a nice layup against the Bucs before they take a week off to get ready for the real deal. Swish.
Prediction: Buccaneers – 13, PANTHERS – 37
Sunday Night Football: Minnesota Vikings (10-5) At Green Bay Packers (10-5)
NBC traditionally flexes the most exciting game of the regular season finale into this spot. There’s a sense of calm over Cowboys Nation as it does not feature us with our lives on the line against a division foe.
Neither the Vikings nor Packers are fearing for their playoff lives in this game as they’ve both already clinched, but the rights to the NFC North are up for grabs. This game also has an interesting twist in that, under some permutations of playoff scenarios, the loser could be visiting the winner a week from now in the wildcard round.
If you follow me on Twitter then you know how hard I’ve pounded the table that the Green Bay Packers are massively overrated. Think about it… who have they beaten this year?
Of course the easy answer is the team they’re playing in this game – the Minnesota Vikings. I trust those Vikings more, though. They flexed some serious muscle last week on Sunday Night Football and I expect that they’ll do it again with the division on the line.
Look out for Adrian Peterson to have one of the games of his life.
Prediction: VIKINGS – 23, Packers – 20