Gerry Dulac's NFL Forecast: Week 16
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Last week: 10-6 (.625)
Season record: 146-78 (.651)
San Diego Chargers (11-3) at Tennessee Titans (7-7), 8:20 p.m.
The skinny: The Chargers have won nine in a row and can secure a first-round playoff bye with a victory. After an 0-6 start, the Titans are 7-1 and one of the teams in the hunt for a wild-card playoff spot with the Steelers.
Prediction: Chargers, 24-23
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Steelers (7-7), 1 p.m.
The skinny: The defense once known as the Steel Curtain and Blitzburgh has a new nickname -- EZ Pass. No stopping or slowing down in these lanes, either. And the Ravens have scored 79 points in their past two victories.
Prediction: Ravens, 27-26
Buffalo Bills (5-9) at Atlanta Falcons (7-7), 1 p.m.
The skinny: After a fast start, the Falcons have taken themselves from playoff contention, even with last week's victory on the road against the Jets. Too bad the Falcons don't play all their games at home, where they are 5-2.
Prediction: Falcons, 24-13
Kansas City Chiefs (3-11) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-5), 1 p.m.
The skinny: Like the Steelers, the Bengals have already lost to the Oakland Raiders. You don't suppose they would do the unthinkable and lose to the Chiefs in the same season? Now who would go and do that?
Prediction: Bengals, 31-10
Oakland Raiders (5-9) at Cleveland Browns (3-11), 1 p.m.
The skinny: How 'bout them Raiders? Of their five victories, four are against the Eagles, Bengals, Steelers and Broncos. If you think that's surprising, consider that the Browns, who also beat the Steelers, have won two in a row.
Prediction: Browns, 24-20
Seattle Seahawks (5-9) at Green Bay Packers (9-5), 1 p.m.
The skinny: The Seahawks and Packers have two things in common: Each has been coached by Mike Holmgren and each has lost this season to Tampa Bay. Until Sunday at Heinz Field, that was the Packers' last loss.
Prediction: Packers, 34-9
Houston Texans (7-7) at Miami Dolphins (7-7), 1 p.m.
The skinny: One way or another, one of these teams will be eliminated from playoff consideration today. It would be better for the Steelers if the Dolphins eliminated the Texans, who have won two in a row.
Prediction: Dolphins, 27-24
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7) at New England Patriots (9-5), 1 p.m.
The skinny: Not sure which is struggling more -- the Patriots offense or the Patriots defense. Neither, of course, is struggling as much as the Jaguars, who have lost two in a row and look like a snowball going downhill.
Prediction: Patriots, 31-23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) at New Orleans Saints (13-1), 1 p.m.
The skinny: It's not surprising the Saints finally lost, not after the number of close calls they had endured. What would really be surprising is if they didn't clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed, which they can do by beating the Bucs.
Prediction: Saints, 31-13
Carolina Panthers (6-8) at New York Giants (8-6), 1 p.m.
The skinny: Which was more impressive: The Giants putting up 45 points at Washington, their most on the road in 55 years; or the Panthers holding the Vikings to seven points? These teams met at this time last year, too. And . . .
Prediction: Giants, 34-28
St. Louis Rams (1-13) at Arizona Cardinals (9-5), 4:05 p.m.
The skinny: In back-to-back weeks, the Cardinals get to play the two worst teams in the NFL -- the Lions and Rams. Talk about trying to keep a team that has already clinched the division title interested in playing?
Prediction: Cardinals, 24-13
Detroit Lions (2-12) at San Francisco 49ers (6-8), 4:05 p.m.
The skinny: The Lions, who lead the league in most points allowed (437), have allowed an average of 34.6 points in their past five games. That should help re-establish some confidence for the 49ers offense.
Prediction: 49ers, 34-20
New York Jets (7-7) at Indianapolis Colts (14-0), 4:15 p.m.
The skinny: The Jets are like all those other wild-card hopeful teams -- they keep backing up to the Steelers. They might keep it in reverse against the Colts, who have the look of a team determined to go 16-0.
Prediction: Colts, 24-17
Denver Broncos (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-4), 4:15 p.m.
The skinny: After losing in Oakland, the Broncos can help the Steelers even more by losing to the Eagles, who have won five in a row. All this is going to do is make those KC, Oakland and Cleveland losses seem even worse.
Prediction: Eagles, 34-21
Dallas Cowboys (9-5) at Washington Redskins (4-10), 8:20 p.m.
The skinny: There go the Cowboys, duping everyone again into thinking they are a playoff team after beating the Saints. Don't worry, the Redskins, who lost, 7-6, to them last month, will bring everyone back to reality.
Prediction: Redskins, 13-10
Minnesota Vikings (11-3) at Chicago Bears (5-9), 8:30 p.m.
The skinny: So the coach and the 40-year-old quarterback had a little sideline spat, eh? All because the coach was trying to protect his QB from a ferocious pass rush? Guess you can figure out what the Bears are gonna do.
Prediction: Vikings, 23-16
First Published December 24, 2009 12:08 pm