Last Week: 11-5 Season Record: 123-70
We’re almost at the end of my NFL picks. Excuse me while I bawl my eyes out. I’m going to end up missing most of these games because I’m working at that time, but hopefully my boss will at least let us listen to the Patriots game over the radio. There weren’t any Thursday games and for the Saturday games, I picked the Ravens and Vikings to beat the Colts and Packers, respectively. Let’s get to the games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) vs Carolina Panthers (10-4)
This is not how I expected the Buccaneers’ season to go. They showed so much promise and watching them on Hard Knocks, you could tell there was a lot of energy and hope with this team. But things just haven’t gone that way. It’s hard to tell where things really went wrong, but I like to point to early kicking woes that really killed their confidence early. The Panthers, on the other hand, have done a complete 180 from their huge letdown 2016 season and will more than likely make the playoffs, whether they host as a division champion or visit as a Wild Card team has yet to be determined. I’ve got the Panthers.
Projected Score: Panthers 30 Buccaneers 17
Cleveland Browns (0-14) vs Chicago Bears (4-10)
It’s the 1-year anniversary of the last time the Browns won a game, when they beat the Chargers thanks to a late blocked field goal. The Browns will look for another Week 16 Christmas miracle when they take on the Bears, who have also had a lot of problems this season. I would really hate to see a team go 0-16, that’s just no fun for anybody, even if it is the hapless Browns. But I can’t envision them stopping Jordan Howard, though if Deshone Kizer can find Josh Gordon a little more frequently, then I think they’ll have a chance. But I’ve got the Bears taking this one and the Browns falling to 0-15.
Projected Score: Bears 24 Browns 20
Detroit Lions (8-6) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-9)
The Lions got off to a great start last Saturday against the Bears but kind of disappeared in the second half offensively. Luckily for them, their defense kept up their great performance all game and they were able to get the win. Marvin Lewis won’t be returning to the Bengals next season and I get the sense at this point that the Bengals are going to be phoning in the rest of the season. I’ve got the Lions in a blowout and their playoff hopes will still be alive come Week 17.
Projected Score: Lions 35 Bengals 10
Miami Dolphins (6-8) vs Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)
The Dolphins defense has impressed me this season, especially cornerback Xavien Howard, who had perhaps his best performance of the season when he shut down star Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks. Things weren’t so great against the Bills last week, as offensively they couldn’t get a thing going. They’re going to struggle against the Chiefs, who have suddenly returned to their early season form now that Andy Reid has given up playcalling duties. I’ve got the Chiefs winning this, I don’t think the Dolphins can keep up with them offensively.
Projected Score: Chiefs 31 Dolphins 20
Buffalo Bills (8-6) vs New England Patriots (11-3)
Things could get chippy in this game. None of the Bills came to Tre’Davious White’s defense after Rob Gronkowski’s cheap shot a few weeks ago and they may be trying to make up for that this week. Keep an eye on how guys are covering Gronk throughout this game. The Buffalo defense was impressive the last time they played the Patriots, but their offense couldn’t do a thing, which led to their 23-3 loss. I still don’t think they’ll be able to score enough points and I think the Patriots will win this one. Whether people get ejected or not will be another story.
Projected Score: Patriots 27 Bills 17
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) vs New Orleans Saints (10-4)
A Saints win and a Panthers loss will clinch the division for the Saints so they’re going to be playing with some extra motivation against the Falcons this week. However, if the Falcons win and the Panthers lose, then there will be a 3-way tie for the top spot in the NFC South and I can’t think of a more perfect scenario the way the division has gone this year. I’m half hoping for a Falcons victory here, but I think the Saints are just too complete a team for the Falcons to beat twice in one year, as the main reason they won last time was the Saints shooting themselves in the foot. I’ve got New Orleans in a close one.
Projected Score: Saints 31 Falcons 28
Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) vs New York Jets (5-9)
The Chargers are one of the more underrated teams in the NFL this season and a lot of that has to do with how poor a start they got off to, as they were 0-4 until they defeated the Giants. The Jets are pretty much done this season, which Josh McCown’s injury seemed to signal. Bryce Petty has had his issues but wasn’t terrible against a good Saints defense last week. But the pass rush from the Chargers is going to fluster him and I think the Chargers are going to take this game in a cake walk.
Projected Score: Chargers 27 Jets 7
Los Angeles Rams (10-4) vs Tennessee Titans (8-6)
If the Titans aren’t careful, they could miss the playoffs entirely. They’ve already pretty much lost the division to the Jaguars, who with a win or a Titans loss will have officially clinched. The Jags take on the suddenly hot 49ers while the Titans are facing the even hotter Rams. Sean McVay’s squad has been an absolute revelation this season and I think he’s the frontrunner for Coach of the Year and I think they’re going to put a beatdown on the Titans, as they will cause too many problems for Marcus Mariota.
Projected Score: Rams 41 Titans 24
Denver Broncos (5-9) vs Washington Redskins (6-8)
Brock Osweiler looked pretty good in relief of the injured Trevor Siemian and it appears he’s going to be the starter the rest of the way. However that was against the Colts and having a good game against the Colts is like beating somebody who just got maced in a staring contest. The Redskins defense has been up and down this season but one constant has been Ryan Kerrigan, who was elected to the Pro Bowl this season. He’s been getting after the quarterback all year and I think if he’s not getting sacks, he will at least force Osweiler into some poor throws. I’ve got Washington.
Projected Score: Redskins 28 Broncos 20
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4) vs San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
Since Jimmy Garoppolo became the starting quarterback, the 49ers are 3-0. Now granted, they’ve played the Bears, Texans, and Titans, but still, considering the fact they were 1-10 heading into this stretch, you have to be excited if you’re a 49ers fan. However the Jaguars are a beast the likes of which they haven’t seen all year, as their defense is absolutely suffocating. I’ve got the Jaguars ending the 49ers’ run.
Projected Score: Jaguars 31 49ers 14
New York Giants (2-12) vs Arizona Cardinals (6-8)
The Giants are terrible and Eli Manning being reinserted into the starting lineup changed nothing. While the Cardinals haven’t been very impressive themselves, they’ve at least shown some positive things this season, such as Chandler Jones leading the NFL in sacks this season. The Giants are going to get their asses kicked, though each of the last two times I’ve said that they’ve gotten a win. I’m still taking the Cardinals in a blowout, but don’t be surprised if I jinxed them.
Projected Score: Cardinals 34 Giants 14
Seattle Seahawks (8-6) vs Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
This is basically a playoff game right here, as considering how tough a lot of the Wild Card competition is in the NFC, a loss will likely eliminate either of these teams. So pretty much everything is on the line here. The Cowboys will be getting Ezekiel Elliott back from his suspension in this game and it could be just the boost they needed. The Seahawks just got their teeth kicked in by the Rams following an emotional loss to the Jaguars. Based on these turns of events, I think I’m going to go with the Cowboys to win this game, handing the Seahawks their third loss in a row and ending their playoff hopes.
Projected Score: Cowboys 31 Seahawks 21
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) vs Houston Texans (4-10)
The first of the two Christmas Day games, the Steelers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Patriots where Jesse James’ touchdown was overturned, then Ben Roethlisberger’s fake spike was intercepted by Duron Harmon. Personally, I felt that the call on James was the correct one, as the ball did bobble when he hit the ground. However I do think the rule needs to be amended in the offseason. Plus they lost Antonio Brown for an unknown period of time due to a leg injury, however I think he will be back in time for the playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see how the Steelers offense performs without their stud playmaker against a Texans defense that has been solid despite the injuries. I think the Steelers will still win, but I think it will be a lot closer than it would’ve been had Brown been healthy. Eli Rogers will be a guy to watch.
Projected Score: Steelers 24 Texans 21
Oakland Raiders (6-8) vs Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)
The other of the two Christmas Day games, the Raiders have been a disappointment this season and things don’t appear to be getting any better as they head into Philadelphia, who despite having lost Carson Wentz, seem to still be in the thick of things with Nick Foles at the helm. They fell behind big against the Giants but were able to come all the way back and win, showing me that they will be fine with Foles at the helm. Probably not as fine as they would be with Wentz, but Foles is about as good a replacement as you could ask for. I’ve got the Eagles.
Projected Score: Eagles 31 Raiders 20
That’s it for the picks this week, there won’t be a blog on Christmas Day as my schedule on Christmas Eve is just way too packed. However I will try and write something on Christmas to post on the 26th. Your Christmas present from me is that I’m not going to tell you to leave a comment below or find me on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 or even contribute to my Patreon. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays.