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The Oratory's NFL Picks for Week 16
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on December 26, 2009, 1:06 PM

John: Welcome to week sixteen of the Oratory's NFL Picks. I am John Canton joined as always by my fellow prognosticators James Deaux and Matt Henry. This week is full of home teams as the favorites. The only two road favorites are the ones in the Sunday night and Monday night games. It feels like an easy week is coming, which probably means a lot of upsets. Who knows anymore? Last week's 8-8 straight up record for me was very disappointing. I'm hoping for a big time bounce back week with double digits in wins. Of course, going against a red hot Chargers team on Christmas Day wasn't a great start for me.

Matt: Last year the Patriots were 11-5 and missed the playoffs. This year, odds favor at least one 9-7 team making the post season in the AFC. For the past six weeks, nearly all of the top AFC teams have been losing games bringing the talk of parity in the NFL back to the forefront. Going into week 16 there are currently 12 teams either assured of a playoff spot, or still close enough to be a part of the conversation. Some of these teams will be eliminated this week either by wins by a top team (Denver, Baltimore), or with a head to head loss, (Pittsburgh, Miami or Texas). Many of the top contenders in the AFC face tough challenges as the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh, the Broncos travel to Philadelphia, the Jaguars travel to Foxboro, and the Jets travel to Indianapolis. Either Miami or Houston will be eliminated with a loss in that head to head matchup, and the Titans face a tough challenge as they host the Chargers. The NFL must be loving this playoff mess in the AFC, I know I am.

Last week's results:
Matt 10-6
John 8-8
James 8-8

The standings for the season:
James 154-70 (.688)
John 145-79 (.647)
Matt 142-82 (.634)

All game times are Eastern.

Buffalo at Atlanta 1:00 PM
James: Atlanta is playing for back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. They’re at home. Matt Ryan is going to play. Buffalo is down to their third quarterback. Yeah, I’m picking the Falcons, too. Atlanta 31 – Buffalo 17

Matt: The Falcons still hold out hope of the elusive back to back winning seasons. This match up with the Bills might let them get to 8 wins. There aren’t many teams that would be a better matchup for a team struggling for another win than the Bills. Falcons 28-20

John: The Falcons get to face the #3 QB of the Bills on the road. I think that should mean an easy win for a team that probably would be a playoff team had they not been bit by the injury bug. I think it's a comfortable win for them too. Falcons 24-10

Kansas City at Cincinnati 1:00 PM
James: Cincinnati is foaming at the mouth to lock up the AFC North title, especially after losing a heartbreaker last week. They’ll handle the Chiefs easily. Cincinnati 28 – Kansas City 12

Matt: A loss to the Chargers is in no way indicative of a slump for the Bengals. They should have no problem getting back on the road to the playoffs and locking up #3 in the AFC this week with a win at home against the Chiefs. The Bengals are a team playing loaded with emotion right now, and there is some cause for concern going in to the playoffs where less than their best football won’t carry them beyond round one. Bengals 28-13

John: You see the Chiefs give up nearly 300 rushing yards to an average RB at home last week? This week on the road against a Pro Bowl RB like Cedric Benson is going to be a disaster for the Chiefs. Cincy's playing for the #3 seed, so they'll have come out of it with a convincing victory. Bengals 30-13

Oakland at Cleveland 1:00 PM
James: I’ll take the home team, especially if Jerome Harrison can do even half of what he did last week. Oakland’s run defense is awful. Cleveland 30 – Oakland 21

Matt: The Raiders have four wins over playoff teams and contenders this year and may play a key role in deciding the seeding in the AFC next week. This week they play the Browns who have already started making offseason changes. The Raiders have been doing that since week three. Raiders 20-12

John: Picking a tie is stupid, so I'll go with the coin toss. Heads it is. Browns 23-17

Seattle at Green Bay 1:00 PM
James: Seattle is atrocious, especially on the road. They don’t stand a prayer against a Green Bay team looking to lock up their playoff berth. Green Bay 35 – Seattle 10

Matt: The Seahawks on the road against a jacked up and embarrassed Packer team? I fully expect the Packers to take the Seahawks apart on each and every play this week. Packers 40-18

John: One of my worst preseason picks this year was picking the Seahawks as the NFC West division champs. I knew they were hurting, but I didn't realize they'd be THIS bad. The Packers, my NFC Super Bowl pick (not a bad choice at this point), are going to destroy them here. Packers 37-13

Houston at Miami 1:00 PM
James: I don’t see either of these teams making the playoffs because they are equally inconsistent—hence, their 7-7 records. I’ll take Houston here because they should simply overpower the Dolphins, but honestly, this is a coin flip if ever I’ve seen one. Houston 28 – Miami 24

Matt: This game is huge for both teams. The Texans and Dolphins are going to step onto the field as possible playoff contenders, but only one team is going to walk away with hope remaining for the post season. Some people are billing this as a playoff game for both teams, and in a manner of speaking, they would be right. With the glut of teams in the hunt for the two wildcard slots in the AFC, the team that wins this game could win next week and still not make the playoffs. I’m thinking that the Texans get the upset win here. The Dolphins have not faired very well against teams with a strong passing attack, and the Texans can’t get it done on the ground. Because of the weakness of the running game, Matt Schaub has quietly made his way to #2 on the passing rankings. Miami should be able to keep this close, but I just don’t think they can manage to get the job done here. Texans 28-24

John: Tough game. They're both erratic teams, which is why they're 7-7. Home field doesn't seem to matter to either of them and neither one has a trend that really sticks out in terms of giving them an advantage. What do you roll with: The Texans with their pass first offense or the Dolphins with their Wildcat based attack? I just hope it's an entertaining game. I'm going with the Texans for two reasons: 1) I picked them to make the playoffs before the year and 2) I picked too many home teams this week. What? You expected some kind of deep analysis? Are you insane? This is in the NFL. Don't overthink it. Go with your gut. And in this holiday season when our guts are full of too much food you need to trust it more than ever. Texans 31-28

Jacksonville at New England 1:00 PM
James: Jacksonville does not win on the road. Easy choice here. New England 31 – Jacksonville 13

Matt: With as poorly as the Patriots have played on the road this season combined with the manner in which the Jaguars have been inconsistent all year, I would find this to be a tough pick at Jacksonville. After last week, Jacksonville no longer is in control of their playoff aspirations, but can keep their place at the top of the “in the hunt” pack with a win here. Even with a loss here, they still have a chance at the post season if either the Broncos or Ravens lose. With both of the above mentioned facing tough road games this week, that scenario could play out and the playoff circus could survive mostly intact going into the final week. The Patriots need to focus on scoring opponents and trying to win their way into the second seed, earning a bye week and a home game or two in the playoffs. New England is dangerous every week, but this is not the same caliber of team that they have fielded several times in the past several years. Patriots 34-28

John: I hate New England so much. It goes back nearly 8 years now when they beat my Rams in the Super Bowl, but it's moved on to this year. Tom Brady killed a first place fantasy team for me with his terrible performance last week. Not even 150 yards at home to the Bills? Ridiculous. I lost by 6. If I started Flacco I would have won easily. So yeah, fuck you Patriots. I will be even more pissed about it when Brady throws for 350 with 3 TDs this week. I know it's coming and I will still hate it. With that said, I like the Jags covering the points here. Patriots 27-23

Tampa Bay at New Orleans 1:00 PM
James: New Orleans was finally exposed last week a little bit, but there is no way in hell they lose to the Bucs here. Saints win and wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. New Orleans 31 – Tampa Bay 24

Matt: The Saints lost their first game of the season last week. What better way to get back on the winning side of things than to play a team like the Bucs. The Saints were able to avoid having to play many strong teams this year on their way to an almost unbeaten record, meanwhile the Bucs are hoping for another Rams win or two to shore up their hopes to be first in line come draft day. Saints 32-12

John: Hey Tampa, have fun travelling to face the best offense in the NFL a week after they played like crap last week. Good luck. Saints 51-10

Carolina at NY Giants 1:00 PM
James: New York is hanging by a thread in the playoff race, but they aren’t going to make it in, regardless. Carolina will be able to keep up, I believe, just because the Giants’ defense is so porous; but in the end, New York will prevail. New York 27 – Carolina 21

Matt: The Giants are in another win or miss the post season game. For some reason, they seem to thrive under these conditions. The Panthers will be without their starting QB for the rest of the season, and will likely not have their starting RB on the field either. They have managed to turn what could have been a terrible season into one that can be viewed as an off year. Matt Moore is going to get some valuable experience as he should be the starter for these last two games now that Delhomme is out for the year on IR. Giants 24-17

John: One of my best preseason predictions was picking each of these two teams to miss the playoffs. I remember getting heat for it at the time considering they were 1-2 in the NFC last year. I just wasn't that impressed with either of them and it looks like I'll be right although the Giants are still alive. I have no idea what to expect in this game. The Panthers looked amazing against the Vikes. Can they do that on the road? I'm not sure. I'll go with the Giants because Eli Manning's playing really well and I think they can slow down the Panthers running game enough to get the win. Giants 23-13

Baltimore at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM
James: This is always a fun matchup just because these two teams despise each other so much. It’s going to lose a bit of its luster, though, because each team is so mediocre and old on defense. Although in hindsight, maybe it means this will be a shootout. I’ll take Baltimore because they can create more turnovers than Pittsburgh can. Baltimore 34 – Pittsburgh 24

Matt: There are four teams in the AFC that are not in the playoff picture. The Steelers have lost to three of them. I should be happy that they didn’t have to play the Bills. The Ravens can afford a loss here as long as they can avoid the upset next week against the Raiders, but of course these bitter divisional rivals will always play a tough hard hitting, close game. The Steelers and Ravens could come into week 16 with two wins each and still battle like the playoffs were on the line. Last week, I picked the Steelers for no reason other than I just couldn’t accept the turn that this season had taken. Now I have to at least consider the possibility that they make the playoffs. I detailed the scenario on the forums on Sunday. Step one is a win this week. The Steelers have been at their best fighting for their lives in the past, and I as a fan have to believe in more of the same. Steelers 30-28

John: Game of the week. I love when these teams play because it's such a hard hitting game. The problem is that unlike last year's three classics, the defenses are not nearly as good this year. The star safeties, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, are both out while the offenses have become passing teams first. Instead of the low scoring games we've come to expect, I feel like there will be a lot of points. I also think Baltimore's the better team, so I'm rolling with them. That's probably a good thing for you Steeler fans out there. Ravens 27-24

St. Louis at Arizona 4:05 PM
James: Arizona has already wrapped up the division, but even if they rest starters, they should have no problems manhandling the one-win wonders from Missouri. Arizona 27 – St. Louis 14

Matt: The Cardinals have finally managed to clinch their division thanks to another loss by the 49ers. The Rams will clinch the #1 draft pick this week thanks to another loss by the Rams. Cardinals 28-12

John: My team has won six games in three years. Six fucking games! I say it every week because it boggles my mind. Every September I start the year with such false hope because I forget how bad the team is in games like this. I'm glad I suffer from that annual memory loss. Cardinals 41-7

Detroit at San Francisco 4:05 PM
James: Meaningless game for both parties, but the 49ers are obviously the better team. They’ll win big here over the hapless Lions. San Francisco 34 – Detroit 10

Matt: Too little too late for the 49ers here as they get a Christmas weekend win gift wrapped and delivered to Candlestick park in the form of a Detroit Lions visit. 49ers 17-7

John: Lions on the road? No thanks. Niners 28-10

NY Jets at Indianapolis 4:15 PM
James: The only way the Jets stand any chance at all of an upset here is if Peyton Manning and the starters play well less than a half, and Mark Sanchez suddenly becomes Joe Montana. I’m not banking on either happening, personally. Indianapolis 31 – New York 20

Matt: The Colts have been in this position before, they have rested the starters before, and they have lost their momentum and gotten eliminated early in the playoffs before. The only the Jets have a shot here is if the Colts make that same error in judgment again and don’t play their starting guys for the entirety of the game. The Colts aren’t giving any indication as to what they plan to do at this time. I can’t figure out how to bet this one. Colts 21-18

John: I'm not picking the Jets on the road here. Indy says that 16-0 doesn't matter, but I doubt that. They're going to destroy a fading Jets team here. Colts 34-13

Denver at Philadelphia 4:15 PM
James: Denver is too inconsistent to win on the road against maybe the hottest team in the NFC. Philadelphia 35 – Denver 20

Matt: The Eagles are in the playoffs. Thanks to a bit of a Vikings meltdown, they now have a shot at a bye week. The Eagles have most of their offensive weapons back on the field and with the chance to get a week off in January on the line right now, I don’t see how Denver is going to be able to stop them. The Broncos have been a streak team all season long, I’m thinking that that trend continues with another loss this week. A win here would give the Broncos a sweep of the NFC East teams that don’t suck this season. Eagles 32-20

John: The loss to the Raiders has to be demoralizing to the Broncos. Meanwhile, the Eagles are in their annual late season surge. They're playing their best ball of the year. Gotta roll with the homers. Eagles 27-13

Dallas at Washington 8:20 PM
James: Dallas got their biggest win in probably fourteen years last week, but they aren’t out of the woods yet. They need to win out to get a playoff spot. I don’t think they will have much trouble this week against the Redskins, who have obviously quit on “head coach”-in-payroll-only Jim Zorn. Dallas 38 – Washington 16

Matt: The Redskins have pulled out some surprising wins this season, and they held serve against the Cowboys earlier this year on the road. There is no rational reason to pick them in this game and yet I feel compelled to. Is it the December Cowboys thing? As much as I feel I should pick the Redskins here, I just can’t argue with the performance of Dallas last week against the Saints in the Dome. Cowboys 28-24

John: Enough of the Redskins in prime time! I'm so tired of this team. I avoid them on Sundays during the year as much as I can, but I can't avoid them when they're the only game on. What's sad is that next year they'll be on in prime time just as much because the media loves this team. I'll pick the Cowboys here because they're in the playoff push and they're simply the better team. I like the Skins to cover because the history of this series says that they have close games. Cowboys 23-20

Minnesota at Chicago 8:30 PM (Mon)
James: Minnesota’s clubhouse just personifies “soap opera” right now, but they won’t lose here. Chicago somehow actually manages to look worse every week. Minnesota 41 – Chicago 14

Matt: The Vikings need to play better than they did last week if they hope to maintain their position at #2 in the NFC. The Bears might not be as dangerous as it was thought they would be this season, but they can beat this Vikings team. Farve has been known for having a poor end of the season for the past few years, and if he won’t rely more on AP, he could find himself once again watching the championship games from home as he contemplates his annual retirement. Vikings 24-18

John: A lot of people are writing off the Vikings for getting destroyed by the Panthers and Cards in recent weeks. I'm not about to write them off. I think this is big for them, though, because they need to win this one convincingly in order to convince me that they can make the Super Bowl. The Bears COULD raise their game here in prime time, but I don't think they're good enough. The Favre/Peterson combo will be too much for an average Bears defense to handle. Plus, I really don't like Jay Cutler this year. Vikings 31-14

JC's Money Picks
Every week I'll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 2-2 last week. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always.

Season: 36-27-1 (.571)

BENGALS -13½ over the Chiefs. I like the Bengals to win comfortably.
FALCONS -9 over the Bills. This is against Buffalo more than anything. I like Atlanta with Ryan starting.
COLTS -5½ over the Jets. Not enough points. They won't let it be close.
Steelers/Ravens over 42½. I feel like this will be high scoring.

Thanks for reading. We'll see you next week for week seventeen. Also, in case you're wondering we will continue doing the picks all the way through to the Super Bowl.

Enjoy the games.

Contact James at xenomaster_17@yahoo.com
Contact Matt at Kane_matthews@hotmail.com
Contact John at oratoryjohn@gmail.com




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