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Thursday, 18 December 2014

2014 NFL Week 16 Predictions: Eagles, Packers Bounce Back

Thursday, Dec. 18


Tennessee Titans (2-12) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12), 8:25 p.m.

The Titans' running game has been one of the worst in the league, so they will have to rely on third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst. Going up a deadly pass rush, the Titans' offense will most definitely struggle.

After a few rough performances, look for the Jaguars' offense to rebound. Denard Robinson especially should be able to have a good game. The Titans have the worst run defense and allowed an average of 41 points in their three games prior to Week 15.

Jacksonville Jaguars Win, 24-17


Saturday, Dec. 20


Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) @ Washington Redskins (3-11), 4:30 p.m.

The Eagles are now being questioned as a playoff team after two disappointing defeats. Their offense, however, should not miss a beat against a Redskins defense that has allowed a league-high 109.9 passer rating.

The Redskins have yet to win since their Week 8 upset over the Cowboys, and have not been within one possession of a victory since Week 12. The Eagles' defense has been praised for their playmaking ability, but the unit as a whole is simply average. The Redskins' offense should not have too much trouble moving the ball against them.

Philadelphia Eagles Win, 35-27


San Diego Chargers (8-6) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-7), 8:25 p.m.

The Chargers' offense exploded against the Ravens, coming back late to win 34-33, but the Chargers have been held to 14 points or less in four of their last six games. The 49ers have a very stout defense, despite the injuries, so the Chargers will certainly have trouble keeping drives alive.

The 49ers' offense has undoubtably been one of the worst in recent weeks. They are primed to bounce back this week, though, as the Chargers have given up plenty of scores, regardless of the opposing teams' offensive talent.

San Francicso 49ers Win, 23-20


Sunday, Dec. 21


Baltimore Ravens (9-5) @ Houston Texans (7-7), 1:00 p.m.

The Ravens have one of the league's most complete offenses, but they struggled last week, putting up just 20 points against the Jaguars. They may have some more trouble this week, as the Texans have held their last five opponents to an average of 16 points, despite facing potent offenses in Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

Both Ryan Mallett and Ryan Fitzpatrick are out for the year, so the Texans' offense will have its struggles, be it Tom Savage, Case Keenum, or Thad Lewis at helm. The Ravens have quietly held each of their last two opponents to under 14 points, rebounding from their 33-34 loss in Week 13.

Baltimore Ravens Win, 21-10


Green Bay Packers (10-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12), 1:00 p.m.

Coming off of a disappointing, 13-point performance against the Bills, the Packers' offense will look to rebound. In the past six weeks, the Buccaneers' defense has been incredibly inconsistent, and have never fared well against anyone on the same echelon as the Packers.

Despite the notable additions and players returning from injury, the Buccaneers' offense has not lived up to expectations. On the bright side, though, Doug Martin is coming off of his best game of 2014. However, the third-year back is unlikely to see extensive playing time with the Buccaneers likely to fall behind too far too quick.

Green Bay Packers Win, 34-20


Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5), 1:00 p.m.

The Steelers' defense has not been reliable this year, so look for the Chiefs to build off of their strong offensive performance against the Raiders. A receiver might actually get a touchdown this game.

Often being able to win through the air, the Steelers will initially have some trouble this week. The Chiefs have one of the league's best defense, lead by edge rushers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. The Steelers will likely lean on Le'Veon Bell, as the Chiefs have begun to struggle against the run.

Pittsburgh Steelers Win, 30-27


Cleveland Browns (7-7) @ Carolina Panthers (5-8-1), 1:00 p.m.

The Browns' offense failed to do much with Johnny Manziel leading the way, but it was not like they were great under Brian Hoyer. Manziel will face a much less tantalizing defense this week, so he should fare better.

The Panthers' offense had some trouble against the Buccaneers last week, but with Cam Newton back, they should be able to produce against the Browns. The Browns are one of the only two teams with more picks than passing touchdowns allowed, but have been atrocious against the run, so Jonathan Stewart has a chance to match his Week 14 numbers.

Carolina Panthers Win, 27-20


Detroit Lions (10-4) @ Chicago Bears (5-9), 1:00 p.m.

Just three weeks removed from their Week 13 bout in which the Lions beat the Bears 34-17, the Lions' offense has struggled a bit. They played well against the Buccaneers, but showed notable issues against the Vikings. The Bears' defense, though, has looked about as bad if not worse in recent weeks, so look for the Lions to move the ball with ease.

Scoring just 15 points against the Saints, the Bears' offense is most definitely missing Brandon Marshall. Now up against the league's top defense, they will struggle even more. The Bears were able to hold their own in the first half of their last match-up, but that will not happen this time around.

Detroit Lions Win, 30-9


Minnesota Vikings (6-8) @ Miami Dolphins (7-7), 1:00 p.m.

The Vikings' offense has shown some potential in recent weeks, but their lack of production against elite defenses is troublesome. The Dolphins' defense started the season off strong, but has gone down a bit since. The Vikings' offense, though, still does not match up favorably. Expect the rookie-led offense to struggle this week.

Since shutting out the Chargers in Week 9, the Dolphins have topped 16 points just once. They have the defense to compete, but how much they can really do on offense is questionable. The Vikings have a very potent defense that has struggled with inconsistencies, so after a few down games, look for Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the Dolphins' offense to bounce back.

Miami Dolphins Win, 20-16


Atlanta Falcons (5-9) @ New Orleans Saints (6-8), 1:00 p.m.

Proving that they can offensively keep up with anybody, assuming Julio Jones is able to play, the Falcons have one of the best aerial attacks in the league. The Saints' secondary has often struggled this year, so the Falcons should have no trouble moving the ball.

The Saints have a potent offense too, but they have been more inconsistent, with an unreliable receiving corps. The biggest difference between the two teams, though, is the running game. Mark Ingram should be able to lead the Saints against a Falcons defense that has allowed a league-high 19 rushing touchdowns.

New Orleans Saints Wins, 38-35


New England Patriots (11-3) @ New York Jets (3-11), 1:00 p.m.

Do not look for the Patriots to run the ball like they did in Indianapolis, instead, look for them to spread out the defense. The Jets' defense has allowed 29 touchdowns through the air and have recorded just five interceptions.

After a mildly impressive offensive performance against the Vikings, they took a step back against the Titans. They did win, but they scored just 16 points against a team that allowed 30+ in their three previous games. The Patriots' defense has gotten a lot better since their Week 7 match-up, so look for the Jets' offense to have early struggles.

New York Patriots Win, 30-13


New York Giants (5-9) @ St. Louis Rams (6-8), 4:05 p.m.

The Giants are winners of two straight, but they have not beaten a quality team all year, unless you count the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Texans in Week 3. This week, the Giants' offense will have trouble getting on the board, as the Rams have not allowed a touchdown since Week 12.

As opposed to their defense, the Rams' offense has not been able to get much going. Shaun Hill is not able to lead the team when down while Tre Mason cannot produce against quality defenses. The Giants, though, rank near the bottom against the run, so their offense should be able to get ahead early and retain their lead.

St. Louis Rams Win, 28-20


Indianapolis Colts (10-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-4), 4:25 p.m.

The Colts have an abundance of talent on offense, but they have had their fair shares of struggles, including an average of just 20 points against the Patriots, Jaguars, and Texans. Going up against a defense that has allowed an average of 29 points since their bye, the Colts' offense should be able to bounce back.

The Cowboys' offense showed that they were not falling back by winning their last two by a combined 27 points. The Colts' front has not been able to stop the run, so look for DeMarco Murray to have a great game, even though he is dealing with a hand injury.

Indianapolis Colts Win, 40-38


Buffalo Bills (8-6) @ Oakland Raiders (2-12), 4:25 p.m.

Coming off of four consecutive strong performances, the Bills are in good position to make a run for the playoffs. The Raiders would like to put a stop to that, but their defense could not stop the Rams or the Chiefs, so even an offense as stale as the Bills will be able to put up points.

The Raiders somehow found a way to produce against the 49ers and the Chiefs (the first time), but they just do not have enough offensive talent to do much against the Bills. If the Packers scored just 13 points, the Raiders will fare far worse.

Buffalo Bills Win, 20-6


Seattle Seahawks (10-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (11-3), 8:30 p.m.

The last time these two teams squared off, their running game did not fare too well, as Marshawn Lynch averaged just 2.6 yards per carry. However, Russell Wilson was able to lead the offense, completing over 70% of his passes and accounting for over 90% of the team's yardage. Wilson will look to do so again, but it will be hard to repeat against a Cardinals defense that has proven to be as stout as ever.

The Cardinals' offense has taken some hits, losing both the quarterback and running back that started against the Seahawks in Week 12. Yet, they have found a way to win games, beating both the Chiefs and the Rams. The Cardinals, though, do not match up favorably against the Seahawks' defense, especially with Ryan Lindley expected to lead the way.

Seattle Seahawks Win, 20-10


Monday, Dec. 22


Denver Broncos (11-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1), 8:30 p.m.

Being held under 30 points for the third time in a row, the Broncos' offense is seemingly going through a bit of a rough patch. That, though, is because they have been running the ball, as opposed to having Peyton Manning throw the ball 30+ times a game. That approach should work against the Bengals, as they have allowed an average of 4.3 yards per carry (20th) and 6.4 yards per pass attempt (4th).

The Bengals' offense bounced back big time against the Browns, putting them in prime position to win the division. There is question, though, in that they may not be able to compete with such talented teams - they face the Steelers in Week 17. The Broncos are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry (2nd) and 6.1 yards per pass attempt (1st). Andy Dalton has long been given flak for being inconsistent, and with a running game that cannot be relied on to produce against such a stout front, this may be a long game for Bengals fans.

Denver Broncos Win, 30-23


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