NFL Week 16 open thread

posted at 12:31 pm on December 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

We’re down to the final two weeks, when the playoff situation should start to emerge.  So far, it’s not emerging at all in the NFC, where only Seattle has a confirmed slot in post-season play, but so far doesn’t know what it is. It’s not much better in the AFC, either; Indianapolis is the only division winner so far in the entire NFL (with a 9-5 record!), and Denver and Kansas City have clinched unknown playoff spots. One team at .500 still has a shot at winning a division, the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. It’s a crazy year.

Green Bay still has a shot at winning the NFC North, too, but they have to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau today. And they have to do it with Matt Flynn again, because doctors won’t clear Aaron Rodgers for the game. The Steelers are struggling through another poor season, but they looked like champions last week in rolling over the AFC North division leaders Cincinatti Bengals. The Steelers are mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, but that’s just theoretical; their season ends next week. They may still have some fight in them, though, and their defense is going to make Flynn’s day very difficult. Look for a Pittsburgh upset, 30-24 (4:25 pm ET, CBS).

It’s been a while since I’ve done any picks (and Jazz has done a great job in my absence), but I did go 3-3 for Week 13 and moved my season record to 41-35-1. Let’s try to focus on games that will impact the playoff picture today:

  • Vikings at Bengals (1 pm ET, Fox) - This game could decide whether Cincinatti gets into the playoffs at all, especially after their loss to Pittsburgh last week. The Bengals are unbeaten at home, though, and the closest thing the Vikes came to a win on the road was falling back into a tie with Green Bay after blowing a big lead. The big key: the Bengals run defense is 5th in the league. Bengals top the Vikes 27-17.
  • Cowboys at Barrycaders (1 pm, Fox) – This game will be most notable for Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan committing political suicide by starting Kirk Cousins over RGIII, but if Jason Garrett and Tony Romo blow another 4th-quarter lead like they did last week against Green Bay, it’s going to be career suicide for them both. Dallas has lost two in a row and lost control of their division, but they could still win it if they run the table and the Eagles blow a couple of games. This time, I’d expect Dallas to come out on top, but Romo and Garrett will make the 4th quarter … interesting. 35-31 Cowboys.
  • Saints at Panthers (1 pm, Fox) – How crazy is this season? Either of these two teams could end up with the #1 seed, or be forced into a wild-card slot. Actually, even with the 10-4 record, neither team has quite locked up a playoff spot, but they’re both likely going to be in the post-season. The Saints got to 10-4 largely on the basis of their home-field play, though, and the Panthers have won eight of their last nine — only losing to New Orleans on the road. The Panthers should hold serve at home, and may end up with the top spot, with a 33-27 win.
  • Cardinals at Seahawks (4:05 pm, Fox) – Seattle has only clinched a playoff spot, but any San Francisco loss will clinch the division for them, and a first-round playoff bye. Arizona is third in the division but still very much in the playoff hunt at 9-5. If they run the table and the 49ers blow a game (unlikely in this week’s MNF contest), the Cardinals will be in great position for a wild card. Unfortunately, they’re not a great road team, and Seattle is both a great home team (6-0) and still playing for something. Seattle 35-24 over the Cardinals.
  • Bears at Eagles (8:30 pm, NBC) – This might be the most pregnant of all the playoff-implicated games today. Both teams have to keep winning to clinch divisions, and both teams will have weak chances at wild-card spots if they don’t. Philly has a good offense and a terrible defense, while Chicago has a little more balance. Still, Philly is at home, and except for an embarrassing loss to Minnesota last week, on a bit of a roll lately. I’ll pick the Eagles at home to win it, 27-24, possibly in OT. Should be a great game.
  • Falcons at 49ers (8:30 pm, MNF) – Both Seattle and Arizona would like to see San Francisco lose, but it’s not going to happen this week. They’re playing at home against the disappointing Atlanta Falcons, whose only road win was an OT game in Buffalo.  The line has the 49ers up by 14, but let’s go a little beyond that and predict a 34-17 win for San Francisco that keeps pressure on both of their NFC West rivals and puts them in position for their showdown in Tempe against the Cardinals next week.

Meanwhile, here’s your feel-good NFL family story of the week:

A wife furious with her football-obsessed husband dropped a dime on a Staten Island gin mill — sparking a rare raid that shut down $600,000 in ­Super Bowl pools last week.

“How can the SLA allow a $1 million illegal football pool at Talk of the Town?” the angry spouse wrote the State Liquor Authority on Nov. 13.

“My husband spends all his money on these pools and not on our children.”

The SLA put a rush investigation on the anonymous complaint. Last Sunday night, two investigators barged into the neighborhood saloon’s annual Christmas party. They flashed badges and snapped photos of pool boards taped to the mirrored bar back, witnesses told The Post.

Maybe the bar should have insisted on getting notes from the wives ….

 

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Go Pack Go!

Green_Bay_Packers on December 22, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Ed, what about the Pinstripe bowl?

celtic warrior on December 22, 2013 at 12:35 PM

…no impact for the Detroit Lions on the playoff picture despite their talent…AGAIN!

KOOLAID2 on December 22, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Sorry to say the chances of my Patriots and Saints winning today appear to be nil.

1. The Saints proved conclusively last week that they simply can’t win on the road. And they then fired their longtime place kicker. At this point, they may not even make the playoffs.

2. The fact that New England has managed to make it this far is a testament to their coaching staff. But they have too many offensive pieces missing, and too many defensive pieces missing. Brady needs a taller receiver (or two!) which he’s lacking now; since he’s been forced to throw to shorter players the chances for bad passes has gone way up. At this point, they may not even make the playoffs either!

Del Dolemonte on December 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Thought it was over for the Stillers after Ravens win Monday. But no… gotta keep dragging us back with our hopes still alive.

Go Jets! (Think I just threw up a little).

LtGenRob on December 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Study says Steelers fans are saddest, second most unstable, in the NFL

Hot Gas on December 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM

“And they have to do it with Matt Flynn again, because doctors won’t clear Aaron Rodgers for the game.”

And the stupidity of NFL comes full circle. They pay these athletes ridiculous amounts that they can’t risk playing them.

lowandslow on December 22, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Steelers will win the Super Bowl.( i thought i would beat Ed saying it).

gerrym51 on December 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The Cowboys can’t lose enough games in my opinion.

New England has a great quarterback and a bunch of role players.
However Belichick is the most important.

gerrym51 on December 22, 2013 at 1:07 PM

And the Eagles Will be saluting a former cheerleader and US Army 1st Lieutenant Rachel Washburn who served 2 tours in Afghanistan.

Mazz on December 22, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Go BRONCOS!

scalleywag on December 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Rumors of a head coaching change in Minnesota – woo hoo! We need a major change.

gophergirl on December 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

It’s time to hunt some Eagles!! (The Philadelphia kind). Go Bears!!!

Bitter Clinger on December 22, 2013 at 1:23 PM

BWAHAHAHAAAAA

(Go Lions! If only for my pride)

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM

It’s time to hunt some Eagles!! (The Philadelphia kind). Go Bears!!!

Bitter Clinger on December 22, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Seconded!

Also, Go Giants! Go Steelers!

JimLennon on December 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Rumors of a head coaching change in Minnesota – woo hoo! We need a major change.

gophergirl on December 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Will gladly give you Tomlin.

msupertas on December 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Saints at Panthers. So far it’s all about Deee-fense.

TarheelBen on December 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Will gladly give you Tomlin.

msupertas on December 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM

No thanks we already had him as a coordinator. You can keep him :)

We need a coach with a little fire. That and a defense that can actually stop the opposing team.

gophergirl on December 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Rumors of a head coaching change in Minnesota – woo hoo! We need a major change.

gophergirl on December 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Jim Schwartz might soon be available. ;-)

JimLennon on December 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Jim Schwartz might soon be available. ;-)

JimLennon on December 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM

=(

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Del Dolemonte on December 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Weak sauce. They beat the Bucs, Bears, Patriots (YMMV), and Falcons. Chin up.

Christien on December 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM

=(

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 2:51 PM

(:->)

KOOLAID2 on December 22, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Del Dolemonte on December 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Weak sauce. They beat the Bucs, Bears, Patriots (YMMV), and Falcons. Chin up.

Christien on December 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I’ve been a Saints fan since 1967.

Del Dolemonte on December 22, 2013 at 4:24 PM

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Vikes will fire Leslie Frazier at the end of next week’s game.
How they can fire him and leave GM Spielman alone is beyond me.
This is the genius who signed both Josh Freeman AND Donovan McNabb.
Maybe he can talk Duante Culpepper into coming out of retirement next year.
Moron.

dverplank on December 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Carolina Panthers for the win at the end!

celt on December 22, 2013 at 5:05 PM

That should about do it for Frazier. Can Jerry Kill coach both teams LOL!

gophergirl on December 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Go Pack Go!

Green_Bay_Packers on December 22, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Now where did I put the pic of Ed in a Packers’ Super Bowl XLV cap? :-)

14-7 Pack just before the half.

Steve Eggleston on December 22, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Congrats to Peyton, who has always been a class act, as often in defeat as in victory. Next week he’ll probably break Brees’s yardage record and cement the best ever year for an NFL QB, less than two years after some said he’d never play another snap.

Good Solid B-Plus on December 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM

I’ve been a Saints fan since 1967.

Del Dolemonte on December 22, 2013 at 4:24 PM

I feel your pain. I’ve been a Saints fan only a few fewer years than you. Just nitpicking the inaccuracy of “can’t.” IMO, they didn’t want to win today. Your Pats would have gotten the first down, then tried to kill the clock. Three friggin’ run plays for a whopping 2 yards. They definitely deserved to lose.

Christien on December 22, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Am I in a separate dimension or are the Lions maybe gonna win?

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 6:35 PM

How was Ryan Clark not down by contact after the blocked field goal. Gotta give them credit for the quick TD including LeVeon Bell hurdling the defender.

Angineer on December 22, 2013 at 6:47 PM

GAHHHHHHHldernit Stafford

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 7:01 PM

GAHHHHHHHldernit Stafford

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Nope, you’ve got the right dimension.

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 7:08 PM

football
10m
Cardinals upset Seahawks 17-10 despite 4 interceptions; Panthers clinch playoff spot with 17-13 win over Saints – @nfl

canopfor on December 22, 2013 at 7:36 PM

football
28m
Report: Broncos fear linebacker Von Miller might have an ACL injury – @MileHighReport
see original on twitter.com

http://www.breakingnews.com/

canopfor on December 22, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Nope, you’ve got the right dimension.

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Ugh.

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Another field goal win against the Lions.

I’ll give the Giants props of my headache, and the win.

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 7:43 PM

of = for

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Detroit Lions
2m
Final: New York Giants 23, Detroit Lions 20 in overtime; Lions eliminated from playoff contention – @freepsports

canopfor on December 22, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Ugh.

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Losing Is Only Natural.

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Weirdly enough, if the Bears lose later today, as the odds predict, Packers could still win the division by beating them next week. Hopefully, with Aaron Rodgers.

Go Pack!

NbyNW on December 22, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Del Dolemonte on December 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM

There I was thinking the Ravens would win and the Pats won 41-7.

dogsoldier on December 22, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Also, Go Giants! Go Steelers!

JimLennon on December 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Well, that worked out pretty well! :-)

JimLennon on December 22, 2013 at 8:08 PM

canopfor on December 22, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Always a pleasure to see the 1/12 Man silenced. I hope we get treated to Richard Sherman running his mouth after this loss.

Christien on December 22, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Go eagles!

NbyNW on December 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Ugh.

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Losing Is Only Natural.

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Crying now ya big bully

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Crying now ya big bully

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Bully? Not me, I’m just another lifelong Lion sufferer.

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Go eagles!

NbyNW on December 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Fly! The Snow Game last week was such a treat. I hope y’all are loving Chip Kelly, Jeff “Mailman” Maehl, Casey Matthews, Patrick Chung, and any other former Ducks you have.

Christien on December 22, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Christien on December 22, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Sorry, not an Eagles fan. I just need da Bears to lose so Packers can still win the division!

NbyNW on December 22, 2013 at 8:39 PM

Tom Brady and the Pats think they are sooooo cool to run up the score on the Houston Texans. Well we showed HIM!! We let Peyton Manning break Brady’s record for most TD passed in a season. Yep we let Manning throw three of ‘em against us!! Take THAT, New England!

cartooner on December 22, 2013 at 8:39 PM

Bully? Not me, I’m just another lifelong Lion sufferer.

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Okay. We’re simpatico then.

Still reeling, to be honest. Such a stupid loss.

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 8:44 PM

NbyNW on December 22, 2013 at 8:39 PM

I see. Packers? No, thank you.

Christien on December 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Okay. We’re simpatico then.

Ugly on December 22, 2013 at 8:44 PM

This was the first Lions game I went to as a kid. At 10 I learned a valuable lesson. Of course I ignored the lesson and still went on to become a Lions fan.

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 9:04 PM

..Green Bay lost…Chicago is losing…way to go Detroit!…and New York was sooooooooooo tough!…Screw Up EVERY chance!…until there is no chance!……..normal!

KOOLAID2 on December 22, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Eagles are winning 33-3!

NbyNW on December 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM

The Eagles-Bears game is a textbook example of what happens when the #1 rushing offense goes up against the #32 (or is it #42?) rushing “defense”, but I don’t think the play I’m seeing qualifies as defense.

JimLennon on December 22, 2013 at 10:55 PM

Packers are still in it! Unbelievable!

NbyNW on December 22, 2013 at 11:23 PM

Flange on December 22, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Amazing footage for being 33 years old.

Ahh well, at least the Bears got eaten last night.

Ugly on December 23, 2013 at 6:13 AM

The Cardinals play in Glendale. It’s been several years since they played in Tempe. Just saying.

matthew26 on December 23, 2013 at 8:04 AM

3 8-8- teams are probably going to make the playoffs. what is the world coming to

gerrym51 on December 23, 2013 at 10:26 AM