By Peter King
December 23, 2010
NFL Week 16
Thursday, Dec. 23
8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Carolina Panthers (2-12) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)
This is not the game when Troy Polamalu is needed. This is the game when the Steelers have to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright, and not get anyone else hurt.
Saturday, Dec. 25
7:30 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Dallas Cowboys (5-9) at Arizona Cardinals (4-10)
I still have no idea why we need a Christmas night game. This game mean little, other than to Jason Garrett's 2011 coaching future. As long as we're on that topic, Garrett improves his record to 5-2 with a win in the desert, and it's hard for me to imagine Jerry Jones not bringing him back in 2011 ... unless he still has a Jeff Fisher jones.
Sunday, Dec. 26
1 p.m. ET (Fox) Detroit Lions (4-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-7)
Under-reported Stat of the Week: Detroit has its first two-game winning streak against teams above .500 since 2000. Over-Speculated Speculation of the Week: Tony Sparano's in some trouble. He'll be in ever more of it if the Dolphins lose their ninth of their last 10 at home.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) New York Jets (10-4) at Chicago Bears (10-4)
Part of me wants to pick the team with more motivation, but I'm not sure which team that is. Are the Bears more motivated to get the No. 2 seed and have a week off before hosting a Jan. 15-16 game? Or are the Jets more motivated because this is a win-and-you're-in game? I'm picking the better cold-weather quarterback. (And you thought this spot was reserved for the 643rd lame Rex Ryan joke of the week. Silly you.)
1 p.m. ET (Fox) San Francisco 49ers">49ers (5-9) at St. Louis Rams (6-8)
The Niners are 0-7 against teams with winning records, and they'll be making their 73rd quarterback change this weekend in St. Louis. I can't say a lot of great things about the Rams, either, but there's something absolutely preposterous about a 5-9 team being solidly in play for a playoff berth. I think that's why I'm going with the Rams.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) New England Patriots (12-2) at Buffalo Bills (4-10)
Funny, but the Bills have to live in the Lake Effect Snow Belt, and the Patriots are better suited to play in it. Come to think of it, the Patriots are better suited to play in cold weather than the '67 Packers.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Baltimore Ravens (10-4) at Cleveland Browns (5-9)
Uh-oh, Brownies. Ray Rice is healthy. Peyton Hillis is hobbled with a bum knee.
1 p.m. ET (Fox) Washington Redskins (5-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)
One more reason why Donovan McNabb won't be a Redskin in 2011 -- aside from, you know, the fact that he's the No. 3 quarterback for the last two weeks of the season: His existing contract calls for him to make $16.3 million if he's on the roster for the first game of the season. That includes a $10 million roster bonus due after the first game of the season. So follow Rex Grossman very closely in the next two games, 'Skins fans. You're going to get to see a lot of him, barring a job action, in 2011.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Tennessee Titans (6-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
We are watching one of the great runs by a tailback in recent years. Todd Haley is conserving the thinnish Jamaal Charles and getting the absolutely max out of him. Last eight games: 122 carries, 814 yards, 6.7 yards per rush. Amazing that I'm seriously considering giving a man second on his team in carries (Thomas Jones 212 carries, Charles 203) my all-pro vote at running back.
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (5-9) at Denver Broncos (3-11)
Ever see 800 yards of passing in a game before? You might here. I say Eric Studesville's ready to take the reins off Tim Tebow in his second start, and first at home. Tebow, by the way, is fueled by all of you who think he won't make it. "There are always going to be those naysayers and there are always going to be those people that don't want me to succeed or don't think I can succeed and I am going to take that and use it as motivation," he said the other day. "I always have and I think I always will. I am a very self-motivated person, but that just adds fuel to the fire for me and honestly, I am going to use it as motivation because I think it will help me to try to do even better."
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) Inianapolis Colts (8-6) at Oakland Raiders (7-7)
Give the ball to Donald Brown early and often, Peyton. You've got to keep Darren McFadden off the field.
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS) San Diego Chargers (8-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-11)
Philip Rivers isn't going to make it easy for the Chiefs to win the AFC West, not with games against the Bengals and the Broncos on the schedule. He's got eight quarters of strafing to do down the stretch. But the problem with that, obviously, is there's another competent team in the division, and the Chargers will end up paying dearly for their first seven games of the season.
4:15 p.m. ET (Fox) New York Giants (9-5) at Green Bay Packers (8-6)
I didn't give Matt Flynn enough credit for his play in New England Sunday night. My mistake. I might even pick the Pack to win this quasi-playoff game Sunday if Flynn were playing instead of Aaron Rodgers. As I write this, it appears Rodgers will play after missing a game and a half due to concussion. If Flynn can lead the Packers to a 41-minute time of possession against the best team in football, and if the Pack can outgain New England by 120 yards, I like their chances to be disruptive against the Giants, particularly if defensive tackle B.J. Raji plays plays like a man possessed for the second straight week.
4:15 p.m. ET (Fox) Seattle Seahawks (6-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6)
Just what the stunningly-in-contention Seahawks needed on Christmas weekend: a 5.5-hour flight to the opposite end of the country and a game against a team much better at almost everything right now. Including quarterbacking. Give me Josh Freeman over Matt Hasselbeck (eight turnovers in his last three games), and give me the Bucs' backs over Seattle's. In a big way.
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) Minnesota Vikings (5-9) at Phildelphoa Eagles (10-4)
Get your deep Vick material ready, SNF producer Fred Gaudelli. You'll need it by the middle of the second quarter.
Monday, Dec. 27
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Atlanta Falcons (12-2)
Love this game. I see it being a keepaway job by the Falcons, for a couple of reasons. Atlanta, in the first meeting of the teams this season (Falcons, 27-24, on Sept. 27) ran for 202 yards. And last week in Baltimore, the Ravens strafed New Orleans for 208 rushing yards. In other words, if you've got Michael Turner and Jason Snelling in your fantasy league playoffs this weekend, be very happy.

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