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Week 16 NFL matchups, game times, and picks

With three weeks left in the regular season, NFL Week 16 has plenty of important story lines

NFL: AUG 21 Preseason - Bills at Bears Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Saturday games

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) at Baltimore Ravens (9-5), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

For the second season in a row, Lamar Jackson’s injury has cost the Ravens the division. That might not be fair to put the entirety of the team’s success on the shoulders of one player, but it’s clear that the Ravens just aren’t the same team when Jackson isn’t in the lineup. But they get an early Christmas present when they face the Falcons. Rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder looks like a project, with all the necessary tools to become a good player. But 13-of-26 and 97 yards won’t cut it in the NFL at this point of the year.

The Ravens are fighting for their playoff lives. Anything can happen over the last two weeks of the season. They win the game, but the Falcons beat the spread.

Detroit Lions (7-7) at Carolina Panthers (5-9), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

Look out for the team from Motown! One thing’s for sure, no one wants to play the Lions in the playoffs. They have won five of their last six games, and are in the hunt for the playoffs with three games left. They don’t play any team with a winning record, and can realistically shake the NFC playoff picture up if they win out. The Panthers are tied for second in the worst division in football. But outside of leapfrogging Tampa Bay, it’s unlikely that they make the playoffs.

Detroit will keep on truckin’ and make the No. 7 seed in the NFC a realistic expectation more than a goal.

Buffalo Bills (11-3) at Chicago Bears (3-11), 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS

Does bad weather just follow the Bills everywhere? I know there’s a storm all across the country, but has a team been impacted by weather as much as the Bills this season? This game is going to be about who can run the ball best. Wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour make it difficult for even Josh Allen to play Winter Soldier and throw in those conditions. But I do expect it to be the Bills. They have been finding ways to win games all year when conditions aren’t perfect, and I don’t expect that to change now. The Bears haven’t given Justin Fields enough this year to see him be as great as he can be. We see the flash plays he makes, but the supporting cast just isn’t strong enough to help him win games.

No trap game here. James Cook and Devin Singletary go off. Bills by a billion, and they cover the spread.

New Orleans Saints (5-9) at Cleveland Browns (6-8), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

This is not the game I was expecting when the schedule was released earlier this year. I expected the Saints to be one of the top teams in the NFC, and the Browns to be competing for the AFC North. Injuries and suspensions have really hit these two teams hard. But the Saints still have somewhat of a chance to make the playoffs in the worst division in football. The Browns are trying to get Deshaun Watson enough reps to get him back in game shape and knock off the rust, so that they have next season to look forward to. But offensively, neither team excites me this week. This will be a defensive battle, with the winner producing the best run game.

I am going with the home team to cover the spread and win this one. Browns will win.

Seattle Seahawks (7-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

Emotions are running high for me the final three weeks of the season. Everything in me wants to write that Geno Smith is going to do the unthinkable and go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes, making it more likely that the Bills will take the No. 1 seed into the playoffs. But I just can’t honestly say that. I know the Chiefs escaped Houston with an overtime win, but those things happen. But what I don’t see happening is the Chiefs dropping this game to the Seahawks. Mahomes is the MVP favorite with three games left, and can not afford to lose to anyone, let alone to the Seahawks at this point of the season.

Chiefs cover the spread and win at home.

New York Giants (8-5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (11-3), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

Brian Daboll is proving people wrong, one win at a time. His forte was supposed to be offense, but last week it was all defense that helped the Giants beat Washington. They will need a repeat performance when they try to stop Kirk Cousins from getting the ball to Justin Jefferson. Jefferson leads the league in receiving yards with 1,623, and is regarded as one of the top three receivers in football. In my opinion, he should be considered for MVP this year, along with Tyreek Hill. But we understand the MVP is typically a quarterback award now.

Daboll won’t have enough to hang with the best receiver in football. He’ll keep it close and beat the spread, but the Vikings will win like they have all season.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-4) at New England Patriots (7-7), 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS

In my heart, I need the Patriots to win this game and give Bills Mafia an early Christmas present. The Bills play the Bengals next week on Monday Night Football, and it could very possibly be for the top seed in the conference. A loss to the Patriots here, along with a Bills win, would make next week’s matchup a lot less stressful for Bills fans. But Joe Burrow is playing lights out, and that team found its stride in recents weeks. It’s going to be a tough task for the Patriots to shut down Ja’Marr Chase and company, but it’s a task I believe Bill Belichick will have them ready for. Rhamondre Stevenson has been amazing all season, and I don’t expect that to change here.

The Patriots get the upset at home and do the Bills a favor.

Houston Texans (1-12-1) at Tennessee Titans (7-7), 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS

The Texans are a tough team, even though their record has them at the bottom of the league. Last week they forced Mahomes and the Chiefs to overtime, and almost had the upset of the year. They’ll try to do so again this week against a team that will be without its starting QB. Ryan Tannehill is likely out for the remainder of the season, according to multiple reports around the league. This opens the way for rookie quarterback Malik Willis to have another shot at getting meaningful reps before trying to win the starting job next season.

I still think Derrick Henry is too much for the Texans to handle. The Titans handle business and try to keep a hold on the division until they meet the Jaguars in Week 18. They win and cover the spread.

Washington Commanders (7-6-1) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4), 4:05 p.m. EST, CBS

The Commanders are a fun team to watch. But they don’t have anything on the 49ers. Christian McCaffrey was the perfect addition to the Niners’ offense, and the defense is the best in the league by far. I really don’t have much to say about this one.

The 49ers will win by double digits.

Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4), 4:25 p.m. EST, FOX

Is Jalen Hurts a real MVP candidate? Or is it the talent on the team and the system? We are about to find out. The Eagles are going to be without Hurts this weekend after he suffered a shoulder injury last week. Dallas ended up losing to the Jaguars, and are looking to rebound. Dak Prescott is one of the better players in the league, but doesn’t really get the recognition he deserves. Since his return from injury, the Cowboys have had one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league. He most certainly doesn’t lose games for them. I actually think that even with a healthy Jalen Hurts, the Cowboys are the better team.

I am picking the Cowboys to win and show the world that they are the team that should represent the NFC once it’s time to travel to Glendale.

Las Vegas Raiders (6-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8), 8:15 p.m. EST, NFL Network

The Raiders have been the most confusing team in the league to me. They have the league’s leading rusher, and one of the top receivers in football. They score points and play good defense. Yet here we are, where they are 6-8 and looking for excuses for Derek Carr not making the playoffs. He’s not a bad quarterback, but he just isn’t the guy to take the team to the next level, even with the talent around him. The Steelers have been playing tough trying to make sure they don’t deliver Mike Tomlin’s first losing season as a head coach. But I think that will happen this week.

Josh Jacobs will continue his dominance and help control the clock. The Raiders will win the time-of-possession battle and upset the Steelers on the road.

Sunday games

Green Bay Packers (6-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-6), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

The Dolphins are spiraling, and I love it. They’ve lost their last three games, and they’re falling further down the conference rankings, currently sitting in the last Wild Card spot for the AFC. They need a win in the worst way, but they face a Packers team that has won their last two games. Chemistry between Aaron Rodgers and Christian Watson has developed as the game has slowed down for the rookie wideout. The Dolphins have struggled against prolific passing attacks this season. While not many would classify the Packers as prolific this year, Rodgers has shown that he can turn it on when he wants to.

Miami is going to be playing desperate football, which will lead to big mistakes. The Packers will get the upset and turn the AFC playoff picture upside down.

Denver Broncos (4-10) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10), 4:35 p.m. EST, CBS

Baker Mayfield won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in his first game with the Rams, but struggled to get anything going last week against the Packers. I haven’t been sold on him as a leader or as the top overall pick in the same draft class as Allen and Jackson. Mayfield is now on his third team, and will likely be on his fourth this offseason. Russell Wilson finally seemed to be finding some type of rhythm with his team, after returning following a concussion he suffered against the Chiefs. It was refreshing to see Jerry Jeudy finally play up to his potential, I’d like to see more of that.

Wilson is back, and will lead the Broncos to a victory and build some excitement for next season. He has to win the locker room back, and the easiest way to do that is by winning games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) at Arizona Cardinals (4-10), 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC

We all know how I feel about the Cardinals this season. I love them, but hate the way they make me feel. There has been no excuse for the poor execution and level of play that they’ve put on the field. Kyler Murray went down for the remainder of the year, and probably most of next season. But the Cardinals’ season was over long before Murray went down with the ACL tear. Offensively, they have good pieces that should be able to make things happen. Defensively, you have the feeling that Budda Baker is trapped in a multiverse where his talents are going to waste. Tom Brady is still near the top of the league in most passing categories. Believe it or not, father time is not the problem in Tampa Bay.

I am taking the Bucs to beat Trace McSorely and the Cardinals. Even when Murray was healthy, they found ways to lose games. This game will be no exception.