Gerry Dulac's NFL Forecast: Week 16
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Last week: 9-7 (.562)
Season record: 137-87 (.612)
Atlanta Falcons (12-2) at Detroit Lions (4-10), 8:30 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: With one convincing shutout victory against the Giants, the Falcons dispelled any concerns they might be enduring a late-season slip. They can clinch home-field advantage with a victory against the Lions, who have been on more than just a late-season slip.
Prediction: Falcons, 31-24
Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) at Steelers (7-7), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Bengals have lost 10 of the past 12 meetings with the Steelers, including the one in October in Cincinnati. And quarterback Andy Dalton is winless again them (0-3). But, unlike the Steelers, who have lost four of their past five games, the Bengals have won five of their past six.
Prediction: Bengals, 23-21
Oakland Raiders (4-10) at Carolina Panthers (5-9), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Panthers are making a late-season surge, winning two in a row and three of the past five. The reason? In those past five, Cam Newton has 10 TDs and no interceptions. Surprising? No more than the Raiders posting a shutout victory last week.
Prediction: Panthers, 24-16
New Orleans Saints (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Saints were one of three teams to post a shutout victory last week, but they will need more of that defense against Tony Romo. The Cowboys have won five of their past six games and can secure a playoff spot with victories in their final two.
Prediction: Cowboys, 30-28
Tennessee Titans (5-9) at Green Bay Packers (10-4), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: One thing is certain: The Titans will face a much better quarterback against the Packers than they did Monday night against the Jets. Aaron Rodgers is 24-2 and has thrown 64 TDs in his last 26 home games.
Prediction: Packers, 34-10
Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at Houston Texans (12-2), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Texans remain in the hunt for the AFC's No. 1 seed, while the Vikings have surged into position for a wild-card spot. The Texans have to stop NFC rushing leader Adrian Peterson. The Vikings have to stop AFC rushing leader Arian Foster.
Prediction: Texans, 31-20
New England Patriots (10-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Patriots are probably still exhausted from trying to come back from that 31-3 deficit against the 49ers. Maybe some North Florida sun, and a leaky Jaguars defense, will help them rejuvenate.
Prediction: Patriots, 40-20
Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-12), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: With one more victory, the Colts will secure a wild-card playoff spot and become the fourth team in league history to win 10 or more games following a season with two or fewer victories. The Chiefs are the only NFL team to score less than 200 points.
Prediction: Colts, 27-12
Buffalo Bills (5-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-8), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: It has been Christmas year-round with the Bills, especially their defense. They have allowed a league-high 402 points and given up at least 45 points in four or more games this season, including last week's 50-17 loss to Seattle. Ugh.
Prediction: Dolphins, 34-23
San Diego Chargers (5-9) at New York Jets (6-8), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: Still feeling good about the Steelers' playoff chances? Well, consider that the team that hammered them just two weeks ago was soundly whupped at home last week by Carolina, 31-7. Don't forget, the Jets were harboring false playoff hopes as well.
Prediction: Jets, 15-12
Washington Redskins (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-10), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Redskins have surged to the top of the NFC East with five consecutive victories, even playing without injured Robert Griffin III. The Eagles hope RG3 stays out -- he posted the only perfect rating (158.3) by a rookie QB in history in the first meeting.
Prediction: Redskins, 23-16
St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8), 1 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Buccaneers have fallen apart, likely under the intensity applied by High School Harry himself, Greg Schiano. He will learn this is the NFL, and it stands for Not For Long if he continues to coach with that rah-rah, all-hands-on-deck approach.
Prediction: Rams, 20-19
Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Denver Broncos (11-3), 4:05 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Broncos have won a league-best nine in a row and clinched the division title for the second year in a row. What's more, Peyton Manning has never lost to the Browns (5-0). Are the Broncos the best team in the NFL? Maybe.
Prediction: Broncos, 30-13
Chicago Bears (8-6) at Arizona Cardinals (5-9), 4:25 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Bears are taking a late-season nose-dive for the second year, only this time it is with Jay Cutler. They have lost three in a row and four of their past five. The Cardinals ended their nine-game losing streak with a resounding 38-10 victory against the Lions.
Prediction: Bears, 21-15
New York Giants (8-6) at Baltimore Ravens (9-5), 4:25 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Ravens have lost three in a row and are trying to give away the AFC North title. The streak might grow against the Giants, who should be suitably honked after being shutout by the Falcons. They get in the postseason by winning their last two.
Prediction: Giants, 24-19
San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) at Seattle Seahawks (9-5), 8:20 p.m., Sunday
The Skinny: The Seahawks are the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in back-to-back games. Not only are they one of just two teams who are unbeaten at home (6-0), but among the conquered are the Packers, Patriots, Vikings and Cowboys.
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-23
First Published December 19, 2012 5:27 pm