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Week 16 picks include Jets-Giants, Chargers-Lions, Saints-Falcons


NFL Week 16
 
Last week: 9-7 (.563); Season: 146-78 (.652)
 
Thursday, Dec. 22
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)Houston Texans (10-4) at Indianapolis Colts (1-13)
T.J. Yates follows an uneven performance with a winning one. With 3.5 wins in 4.5 games (he preserved the victory at Jacksonville with 33 minutes of relief for Matt Leinart), and his teammates seeing they can win relying on him to make plays rather than having to play with him as a handicap, all of a sudden a Wild Card game (if necessary) against the Jets or Bengals in Houston seems quite winnable.
 
Saturday, Dec. 24
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Miami Dolphins (5-9) at New England Patriots (11-3)
I feel safe in saying this will be the last Bill Belichick-Todd Bowles head-coaching duel in AFC East history ... and that it will be three hours of video Bowles will want to keep for his golden years. "Kids," he'll tell his grandchildren, pulling out a dusty DVD, "did I ever tell you about the time grandpa coached against one of the greatest of all-time, and we came within a field goal inside the two-minute warning of beating him?"
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) at Tennessee Titans (7-7)
The Titans still have a playoff pulse, and good for Mike Munchak for getting this team to play well, and for losing only one game embarrassingly (Indy, last weekend). Never thought Tennessee would be 8-7 this year, and rooting against the Jets and Bengals so they'd have a realistic shot at the playoffs next week.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)New York Giants (7-7) at New York Jets (8-6)
I don't like either team right now. The Jets' defense has collapsed. The Giants are more reliant on Eli Manning to win than the Packers are on Aaron Rodgers, and when Manning is short on his throws, as he was against Washington, the G-men collapse. I'd like the Jets a lot more if Santonio Holmes took a maturity pill before the game.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) at Carolina Panthers (5-9)
"You know what I love about Cam?" owner Jerry Richardson of the Panthers told me the other day about Cam Newton. "He hates to lose. He really hates to lose. That's something I really like to see in our team leaders." It's taken Newton about five months to become one of the main ones on this team.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Cleveland Browns (4-10) at Baltimore Ravens (10-4)
The Ravens are 7-0 against Cleveland in the Harbaugh Era. Which leads me to this: An emailer to my column this week said he was souring on John Harbaugh for not maximizing the talent on his roster. I'm sure most of you would agree with me on this point: Lots of cities would kill for a 42-20 regular-season record in four seasons, and a 2011 series sweep over the big, bad Steelers.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)Arizona Cardinals (7-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
NFL Quiz: What tackle has the most sacks of any defender in the NFL over the last five seasons, including playoff games? Darnell Dockett, with 31.5. Amazing, really, that Dockett (and his mates this season) haven't been more celebrated as they've made this long-shot playoff run.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)Minnesota Vikings (2-12) at Washington Redskins (5-9)
The only drama here is whether Jared Allen can get three sacks against the household-name-only-in-his-own-household Willie Smith, the Redskins' backup left tackle playing because of the suspension of Trent Williams. If he can have a multiple-sack outing, Allen will enter Week 17 against Chicago and its suspect offensive front with a chance to break Michael Strahan's single-season sack record. He needs 5.5 in the last two weeks.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Denver Broncos (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9)
This makes no sense, other than I believe in Christmas miracles for the city of Buffalo, I feel Ryan Fitzpatrick is better than he's shown in the last two months ... and I'd love to see the Broncos and Chiefs have a brawl to the death in Week 17 for the AFC West's playoff berth.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)St. Louis Rams (2-12) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)
Sitting Ben Roethlisberger is likely. A week too late, if you ask me.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Oakland Raiders (7-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-8)
It's all about Romeo. Who doesn't love Romeo right now in Kansas City? What defensive wrinkles art thou considering to screweth up Carson Palmer, Romeo? One piece of advice you hardly need, from very far away: Get Tamba Hali on an island as much as possible, Romeo, so he can pulverize Palmer.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)San Diego Chargers (7-7) at Detroit Lions (9-5)
Matthew Stafford became the second-youngest quarterback ever last week to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season. Philip Rivers in his last three games: 75-percent accuracy, seven touchdowns, no picks. I love this game, because there's going to be 800 passing yards, and there's something on the line for both teams, and Rivers and Stafford won't face each other again until 2015. Enjoy it. I plan to.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX)Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
Great game. Game of the weekend. And if I'm right -- Philly over Dallas, Jets over Giants -- the Eagles will have a very solid playoff shot in Week 17. In this game, I trust Michael Vick to make more plays than Tony Romo, and that's saying something because of how well Romo's playing.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX)San Francisco 49ers (11-3) at Seattle Seahawks (7-7)
I like the 49ers a lot, and think they have a heck of a shot to confound the offense-lovers in January and win one or two playoff games. I like Seattle a little more in this game because I tend to like the desperate team late in the season. And because you 49er fans get SOOOOOO angry when I pick against your team. It's such a cute trait.
 
Sunday, Dec. 25
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)Chicago Bears (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-1)
All of Chicagoland exhaled Wednesday and said to the TV/radio/internet outlets reporting that Caleb Hanie was being benched: "About time!" I actually have a little bit of faith in Josh McCown, and he'll make it a game if the Bears' rush can take advantage of the Green Bay backups on the line. Julius Peppers-Marshall Newhouse. That's big. I trust Aaron Rodgers to throw as quick as he ever has. It'd be a good idea if Jermichael Finley would take a couple aspirin for his bad case of the drops lately.
 
Monday, Dec. 26
 
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at New Orleans Saints (11-3)
Love this rivalry, and one very interesting piece of it will make most of us stay awake late Monday to see history: Drew Brees needs 305 passing yards to break Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 yards in one year ... and this is Brees' 15th game.
 
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