Thursday, December 20, 2018

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 16

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Washington @ Tennessee (-10)

The Titans shut out the Giants 17-0 at MetLife Stadium as Derrick Henry rushed for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"Derrick has been a beast in the last two games," Mike Vrabel said. "His stiff arm puts him on the list of the NFL's most powerful running backs. Conversely, Marcus Mariota's stiff arm puts him on the injury list."

Titans win, 20-14.

Baltimore @ L.A. Chargers (-4½)

The Chargers beat the Chiefs 29-28 at Arrowhead Stadium, erasing a 14-point fourth quarter deficit and closing the deal with Phillip Rivers' 2-point conversion pass to Mike Williams.

"The possibility of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is real," Rivers said. "And so is the possibility of the visiting team having actual home-field advantage. StubHub Center is only known as a 'pro-Chargers' venue because professional players called the 'Chargers' play there."

The Ravens whipped the visiting Buccaneers 20-12 and held on the the No. 6 seed in the AFC. Lamar Jackson passed for 131 yards and rushed for 95, and the Ravens totaled 242 ground yards as a team.

"This is the time of season to honor thy savior," John Harbaugh said. "Lamar insists I honor him as my savior, because he likes to tell me 'I'm the guy to 'save your' job."

The Chargers show up for pre-game warmups wearing Ohio State Buckeye gear, which startles Jim Harbaugh, but not John Harbaugh.

Ravens win, 24-23.

Minnesota @ Detroit (+5½)

The Vikings beat the Dolphins 41-17 as their offense piled up 418 total yards, including 220 on the ground.

"Our offense looked great one week after firing our offensive coordinator," Kirk Cousins said. "That's something Mike Zimmer can get used to. Not necessarily a game with great offensive output, but firing someone every week. That's something that could be easily accomplished. All we need to do is hire a kicker every week. Mike would fire a kicker twice a day if he could."

The Lions lost 14-13 at Buffalo and fell to 5-9 and 2-5 on the road.

"There's really not much for Lions fans to cheer about," Matt Patricia said. "We really don't even have a superstar that Lions fans can worship despite him being on a terrible team. There's a support group for Lions fans that are really bothered by that. It's called 'Meg-anon.'

"We tweeted out support for Matthew Stafford to make the Pro Bowl. It was soundly ridiculed on social media. If ridicule gets you to the Pro Bowl, then Matthew will probably be the starter."

Vikings win, 26-17.

Tampa Bay @ Dallas (-8)

The Buccaneers lost 20-12 at Baltimore and fell to 5-9. The Ravens ball-control rushing attack wore down the Tampa defense, while the Bucs offense found little success.

"Jameis played like he was distracted," Dirk Koetter said. "That may have been because of the 'Got crabs?' signs in the crowd, courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Foundation."

The Cowboys lost 23-0 at Indianapolis, suffering their first shutout since 2003. Dallas fell to 8-6, and now leads the Eagles by only a game in the NFC East.

"That zero on the scoreboard was a shock to the system," Jason Garrett said. "This franchise is certainly not used to seeing 'nothing,' whether that be on the scoreboard, a blood alcohol test, or on a police record.

"It appears my job may be on shaky ground, just a week after it appeared to be safe. Honestly, I don't know what to think. That's why I plan to surround myself with a team of AT&T Stadium ushers wearing jackets that say 'Job Security' on the back."

Dallas wins, 30-16.

Cincinnati @ Cleveland (-7)

The Browns beat the Broncos 17-16 at Denver on Saturday night and remained in the playoff hunt. Baker Mayfield passed for 2 touchdowns to lead the Browns.

"We're really pleased with our performance," Mayfield said. "We all just joined the 'Smile High Club.'

"Our past differences aside, Hue Jackson can expect a warm welcome when he returns to Cleveland. And I mean very warm. You could say it will be 'hot and steaming.'"

The Bengals beat the visiting Raiders 30-16, led by Joe Mixon, who rushed for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cincy snapped a 6-game losing streak, and improved to 6-8.

"Joe's easily the best running back on the team," Marvin Lewis said. "But believe it or not, he's second on the depth chart, because his reputation precedes him.

"Hue Jackson still has his supporters in Cleveland. Heck, he's even got a fan club. They're the people sitting in FirstEnergy Stadium behind the banner that says 'Hue-ge Boners.'"

Browns win, 27-17.

N.Y. Giants @ Indianapolis (-9½)

The Giants offense sputtered in a 17-0 loss to the visiting Titans, who held Saquon Barkley to only 31 yards rushing.

"After averaging 33 points in our last two games," Pat Shurmur said, "I thought our offense was laser-focused. I felt like they had 'zeroed in' on what they needed to do. Unfortunately, I was right.

"Lucas Oil Stadium is called 'The House That Peyton Built.' So I guess Eli will feel like big brother is watching."

The Colts crushed the visiting Cowboys, 23-0, as Marlon Mack powered for 139 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns.

"My guys knew they had to win," Frank Reich said, "and they responded. They were inspired by the words of Bobby Knight, who, in an impassioned pre-game speech, told the guys, 'Don't choke.'"

Colts win, 24-19.

Jacksonville @ Miami (-4½)

The Dolphins lost, 41-17, at Minnesota and fell to 7-7.

"There's a name for getting stomped one week after divine intervention gave you the win," Ryan Tannehill said. "It's called 'Miracle Whip.'

"The 'Miami Miracle' has already gone down in history here. Heck, there's already a strip club named 'Miami Miracle.' You should check it out. It's a very unique place. The dancers work the pole like any other strip club, but these poles aren't vertical, they're horizontal. Never has 'lateral' movement been so sexy."

The home-standing Jaguars lost 16-13 to the struggling Redskins. Jacksonville lost their 10th game, and speculation as to Doug Marrone's future intensified.

"Right," Jalen Ramsey said. "It's the most intensity seen in Jacksonville all season.

"I feel like I've been labeled the unofficial spokesman for this team. And I accept that title with open mouth. I've got an opinion on everything. And I'll probably never shut up, unless the saying 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all' becomes the law and punishable by death."

Miami wins, 23-13.

Buffalo @ New England (-12½)

The Bills beat the Lions, 14-13, and improved to 5-9. Josh Allen passed for a touchdown and rushed for another.

"That was a low scoring game," Allen said, "on the scoreboard and on the fan interest barometer.

"I've admired Tom Brady for years. Someday, I hope my passing skills can be like his. Until then, I'm content to say that the only way I can say I'm like Brady is that we're both 'single threat' quarterbacks."

The Patriots lost 17-10 to the Steelers at Heinz Field and failed to clinch the AFC East title.

"We're struggling," Tom Brady said. "I not quite ready to say our bubble has burst, but it's definitely deflating a bit.

"We've lost consecutive games in December for the first time since 2002. But who really cares what happened 16 years ago? For that matter, who cares what happened 16 years and 10 months ago, besides Charles Woodson and the Oakland Raiders? January 19, 2002 was an important day in the history of the New England Patriots, as well as in the history of illogical NFL rules. That day was so important, when I speak of it, I'm required to wear formal attire. That's why I'm wearing a 'Tucks-edo.'"

Patriots win, 31-13.

Green Bay @ N.Y. Jets (-2½)

The Jets lost, 29-22, to the visiting Texans despite a strong effort from rookie Sam Darnold, who passed for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"Sam showed a lot of promise," Todd Bowles said. "So the only ring I can offer Jets fans is a 'promise ring.' But I'm not even sure I'll be around to see Sam reach his potential. I'm waiting to see what will be under my holiday tree this year — a Christmas gift, or a parting gift."

The Packers lost 24-17 at Chicago as the Bears defense sacked Aaron Rodgers 5 times and ended his streak of consecutive passes without an interception. The loss officially eliminated Green Bay from the postseason.

"People can criticize me all they want," Rodgers said, "but they have to understand I basically played the season with one leg. And unlike Patrick Mahomes, I played it with one arm, too."

Packers win, 24-20.

Houston @ Philadelphia (-1½)

The Texans beat the pesky Jets, 29-22, at MetLife Stadium. DeAndre Hopkins had 10 catches for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"DeAndre is unstoppable," Deshaun Watson said. "And teams have tried everything: zone coverage, man-to-man coverage, double teams, triple teams, Tom Savage. None have worked."

With Carson Wentz done for the season with a fractured vertebrae, Nick Foles started and led the visiting Eagles to a surprising 30-23 win over the Rams.

"Nick looked to be in Super Bowl form," Doug Pederson said. "And I quickly named him starter for the Houston game. I mean, why dilly-dally around?"

Texans win, 24-21.

Atlanta @ Carolina (-2½)

The Falcons crushed the Cardinals, 40-14, led by a defense that forced 3 turnovers and scored on an interception return.

"Our defense played great," Dan Quinn said. "So great that I awarded them the game ball. That's certainly a change. Usually, where our defense is concerned, it's 'ball game.'

The Panthers lost a tight 12-9 decision to the Saints in the Superdome on Monday night. Cam Newton struggled, completing only 16-of-29 passes for no touchdowns with 1 interception. It was Carolina's sixth consecutive loss.

"Cam just doesn't look right," Ron Rivera. "No, that's not my opinion of his post-game costumes. It's my opinion of his throwing motion. Anyway, what is Cam wearing? Is he the lead singer of his own disco barber shop quartet called 'Cam Newton and the Bad Mechanics?'"

Atlanta win, 27-24.

L.A. Rams @ Arizona (+14)

The Cardinals lost 40-14 in Atlanta, dominated by a Falcons defense that recorded 7 sacks.

"Atlanta scored 40 unanswered points," Steve Wilks said. "That's roughly the same number of unanswered questions about my future here.

"The Rams are heavily favored, but we feel like we could shock them. That would be like us pulling the rug out from under them. That could literally happen, because State Farm Stadium has a retractable turf."

The Eagles stunned the Rams, 30-23, as the Philly defense forced 3 turnovers, handing Los Angeles its second straight defeat.

"We're starting the doubt ourselves," Sean McVay said. "We've gone from being considered the best team in the league to being a team that could suffer an early playoff exit. That's 'Ram tough' to 'Ram fluff.'"

Rams win, 27-20.

Chicago @ San Francisco (+6)

The Bears beat the visiting Packers and clinched the NFC North. The Chicago defense sacked Aaron Rodgers 5 times.

"Khalil Mack had 2½ of those sacks," Matt Nagy said. "That gives him 12½ on the year. The entire Raiders defense only has 11. Khalil was once the man in Oakland. Now, the biggest 'sack' artist in Oakland is that walking scrotum Mark Davis."

Bears win, 23-19.

Pittsburgh @ New Orleans (-5½)

The Steelers defense kept the Patriots in check in a 17-10 win over the Patriots. Jaylen Samuels rushed for 142 yards and Ben Roethlisberger passed for 2 touchdowns.

"What a game by Samuels," Mike Tomlin said. "I knew he would be an able replacement for the injured James Conner. Like any Pittsburgh running back, Jaylen is 'replace-able.'"

The Saints won a defensive struggle on Monday night in Charlotte, defeating the Panthers 12-9.

"We're only averaging 17 points per game in our last three," Sean Payton said. "But our defense has really stepped up and played like there's something extra motivating them."

Saints win, 27-24.

Kansas City @ Seattle (+2½)

The Chiefs lost 29-28 to the Chargers in a huge AFC West matchup on Thursday night. Kansas City squandered a 14-point lead in the final four minutes, and now faces the Seahawks in the difficult atmosphere at CenturyLink Field.

"We know it will be tough in Seattle," Andy Reid said. "Their defense is still formidable. Sure, they may not have a fancy name like the 'Legion of Boom,' but I like to tell myself that 'titles' are overrated."

Seattle wins, 30-27.

Denver @ Oakland (+3)

The Raiders lost 30-16 at Cincinnati and dropped to 3-11 on the year.

"We're being sued by the city of Oakland," Jon Gruden said. "We're being charged with not only sucking, but sucking the life out of the city, and sucking the team out of the city.

"Martavis Bryant has been suspended again for violating the league's substance abuse policy. It's his third such suspension, so he's guilty of abusing the substance abuse policy itself."

The Broncos lost 17-16 at home to the Browns on Saturday night.

"I stand by my decision to kick a field goal on fourth down from the Browns 6-yard line," Vance Joseph said. "I asked John Elway what he thought of my decision, and he said, 'You gotta go.'"

Raiders win, 26-17.

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