Happy Holidays to everyone, except for my brother, who knocked me out of our fantasy football playoffs in what was easily the most painful football-related loss that anyone suffered over the weekend, well, except for the Patriots, who shot themselves in the foot with a bazooka.
Also, the Colts were on the losing end of the biggest blown lead in NFL history and the Cowboys blew a 17-point lead to the Jaguars, so maybe my fantasy loss wasn’t that bad after all. Actually, it’s a good thing I lost, because it allowed me to spend more time with Santa this week and after consulting with him, it appears that every one of you made the nice list this year, so you’re getting my Week 16 picks as a present. Sure, it’s not the best present ever, but it’s better than a getting a dried cauliflower necklace, which is definitely what I’m getting for my brother who just beat me.
I will also be buying some eggnog and tequila so I can make my world famous eggnog and tequila that I’m pretty sure I mention every Christmas. Basically, I took the two things I love to drink the most around the holidays and mixed them together.
Alright, I’m going to stop talking about eggnog and tequila so we can get to the picks.
Before we get to the Week 16 picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. If you like clicking on things then I highly suggest you also click here so you can sign up for CBSSports.com’s NFL newsletter, which I pump out four days per week. If you forgot to get someone a holiday gift, just sign them up for the newsletter. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
I also have another gift for you that’s not actually a gift, but it is a podcast of Will Brinson and I going over our early best bets for Week 16, which is arguably better than a gift. It’s short and sweet and you can listen to it below.
Alright, let’s get to the holiday version of the picks and remember, Saturday is the new Sunday this week. The main slate of games will be played on Christmas Eve and there will only be three games played on Sunday this week.
NFL Week 16 Picks
Jacksonville (6-8) at N.Y. Jets (7-7)
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET (Amazon Prime)
Featured Game | New York Jets vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
If you haven’t been watching Thursday night games this year, now is the perfect time to start. For one, this game is being streamed on Amazon Prime, which means you can do some last-minute Christmas shopping on Amazon while the game is BEING PLAYED. Also, you should watch because this game is being played between two of the most unpredictable teams in football.
On one hand, we have the Jaguars, who beat the Chargers by four touchdowns earlier this season, beat the Cowboys in Week 15, but also lost by 26 points to the Lions back on Dec. 4. On the other hand, we have a Jets team that has beaten the Bills and Dolphins this season, but has also failed to score more than 17 points in seven of their 14 games.
I have no idea which Jets team is going to show up and even if I knew, it wouldn’t help because I have no idea which Jaguars team is going to show up.
The problem with trying to predict a game between two unpredictable teams is that I’m 99% sure that something predictable is probably going to happen, because that’s what would be unpredictable, so now I have to make a predictably unpredictable prediction for this game. If you’re now confused, don’t worry, so am I. I have lost all train of thought and I no longer have any idea where I’m going with this. I need an eggnog and tequila.
For me, this game comes down to one thing and it’s the fact that we have a Florida team stuck playing in a cold-weather city in December. Last week, I explained my rule of never picking a Florida team to win a December game in a cold-weathered city and that rule paid off when the Dolphins lost to the Bills. Sure, the game was close, but the Dolphins still lost.
This week, we have a Jaguars team that hasn’t won a cold-weathered game in more than five years. In their past 10 games where the kickoff temperature was under 50 degrees, the Jags have gone 0-10 straight-up and 1-9 against the spread. I don’t trust Florida teams in cold weather, especially when they’ve lost 10 straight games in cold weather.
The kickoff temperature on Thursday is supposed to be hovering around 48 degrees with a high chance of rain. It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be rainy and in a game like that, I like to take the team with the better defense and that would be the Jets by a mile. They’ve given up the third-fewest yards in the NFL this year, the fourth-fewest points and they’ll be going up against a Jags offense that just lost its starting left tackle (Cam Robinson) for the season.
I like New York’s defense so much that I’m taking the Jets even though I have no idea who their starting QB is going to be on Thursday night. That is called blind faith and it’s the same faith I’ve had in Santa since I was two and he’s never let me down.
The pick: Jets 23-20 over Jaguars.
Cincinnati (10-4) at New England (7-7)
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Featured Game | New England Patriots vs. Cincinnati Bengals
I’m not sure what’s on Bill Belichick’s Christmas list, but I’m guessing he’ll be asking for one of those mind neuralyzers from “Men in Black” so that he can flashy-thing himself 17 times and forget everything that happened against the Raiders on Sunday. If he can’t get one of those, he might just ask someone to make him an eggnog and tequila and then drink that until he forgets what happened.
In what will surely go down as the one of the most bizarre/craziest/dumbest/improbable plays in NFL history, the Patriots literally threw the game away on the final play in Las Vegas. The only upside for Belichick is that if anyone asks him about that play this week, he can just totally ignore their question and instead respond by giving his favorite press conference answer of all-time.
The problem with the Patriots’ Week 16 loss is that I have no idea how they’re going to respond to it. For the most part, an NFL coaching staff wants its players to forget about the prior game — win or lose — a few hours after the game so they can move on to the next game, but this isn’t a game you can just forget about.
Teams don’t usually lose on multi-lateral miracle plays, well, unless that team is the Patriots. Back in 2018, the Patriots suffered an equally shocking loss when the Dolphins beat them with a 69-yard TD on a final play that’s now known as the “Miami Miracle.”
When the Patriots took the field the following week against the Steelers, they still looked totally shocked from their loss to Miami. They were favored by 2.5 points over Pittsburgh, but ended up losing 17-10.
This year, the Patriots have to rebound on a short week to play against a hungry Bengals team that can clinch a playoff berth with a win. Also, they still have Matt Patricia calling plays on offense and unless that changes between now and Saturday, I think I have to roll with the Bengals here.
After this game, the entire Patriots fan base might need a “Men in Black” Neuralyzer so they can forget that the 2022 season ever happened.
The pick: Bengals 27-20 over Patriots
N.Y. Giants (8-5-1) at Minnesota (11-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Featured Game | Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants
When I was little, I used to wonder how Santa was able to deliver presents to everyone around the world in one night, but now that I know how that’s done, I’m using all of my mental energy to try and figure out how the Vikings keep winning games.
Every week, just when I think they’re going to lose, they laugh in my face and end up winning. It’s hard to comprehend how improbable this season has been for Minnesota, so I’m just going to walk through a few of their comebacks real quick:
- In Week 3, they were losing to the Lions 24-21 with 60 seconds left to play and won.
- In Week 4, they were trailing New Orleans 22-19 with 4:30 left and won 28-25.
- In Week 5, they were trailing the Bears 22-21 with three minutes left and won 29-22.
- In Week 9, they were down 17-7 to the Commanders with 11 minutes left and they won 20-17.
- In Week 10, they beat the Bills 33-30 in a game where they were trailing 27-10 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
- In Week 15, they were trailing the Colts 33-0, before they somehow rebounded to pull off the largest comeback in NFL history.
The Vikings are bad until they need to be good and then they play good. It’s that simple, except it’s not that simple, because if it were that simple, then every team would to it. The Vikings have a total of 10 one-score wins on the season, which is tied for the most in NFL history. They also have nine comeback wins and seven fourth-quarter comeback wins, which are both tied for the second-most in NFL history.
If the Vikings have one Kryptonite though, it’s the NFC East. In 14 games this year, Minnesota is 1-2 against the NFC East and 10-1 against everyone else. In all three of the Vikings losses this year, they’ve surrendered at least 130 yards rushing, and that’s a number the Giants easily hit thanks to Saquon Barkley and the fact that New York has one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks.
The Vikings and Giants have combined for 18 one-score wins this year, so the only thing I know for sure about this game is that the winner is obviously only going to come out on top by one score.
The pick: Giants 23-20 over Vikings
Washington (7-6-1) at San Francisco (10-4)
Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Featured Game | San Francisco 49ers vs. Washington Commanders
Someone in the NFL scheduling department must really hate the Commanders — or maybe they just hate Dan Snyder — and that’s because Washington definitely got dealt an unfair hand this week.
Not only do the Commanders have to travel across the country on a short week for a Saturday game, but they’re also playing a 49ers team that will have had three extra days of rest after playing on Thursday in Week 15.
That being said, I’m not even sure the extra rest is the biggest disadvantage here, it’s the fact that the Commanders will be taking the longest non-international flight that any NFC team will have to deal with this year and they’re doing it TWO days before Christmas. I mean, have you ever been to an airport around the holidays? It’s like a combination of “Squid Game,” “The Hunger Games” and “Snakes on a Plane.”
Now, I know that Washington’s travel is chartered, but let’s be honest, anyone who spends more than five minutes in an airport around Christmas is at an automatic psychological disadvantage in anything they do for at least a month while they mentally recover from what they just experienced.
The Commanders reward for all of this is that they get to face the hottest team in football that also happens to have the NFL’s best defense. The 49ers defense has given up the fewest yards per game AND the fewest points per game this season. The defense’s only real weakness, which isn’t even really a weakness, is stopping the pass, but it’s going to be hard for the Commanders to exploit that considering they have a QB who might not have a job by the time Christmas comes around.
Taylor Heinicke will definitely be starting for Washington this week, but Ron Rivera won’t commit to him beyond that. It’s going to take a Christmas miracle for the Commanders to win this one and I’ve watched enough Christmas movies to know that those miracles only happen on 34th street. I just checked and Levi’s Stadium definitely isn’t located on 34th Street.
The pick: 49ers 24-17 over Commanders
Philadelphia (13-1) at Dallas (10-4)
Saturday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Featured Game | Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The last time these two teams met came back in Week 6 although Cowboys fans probably don’t remember much of that game because I’m guessing they’ve already repressed the memory of it. My therapist tells me that repressing memories isn’t good for you, but that advice could actually be completely made up, because when I say “therapist,” I’m actually just talking about someone who happened to be next to me in the DVD aisle at Walmart last week.
During that Week 6 game, the Eagles won 26-17, but you can’t really put too much stock in that loss for the Cowboys because they started Cooper Rush. In a twist of fate, there’s a good chance things are going to come full circle this week since it’s likely that the Eagles will be forced to start a backup QB this time.
Jalen Hurts is dealing with a shoulder sprain and if he can’t go, which is looking likely, then Philadelphia will be turning to Gardner Minshew. If you’re the Eagles, there’s no reason to risk Hurts’ health if he’s banged up. Although the NFL won’t want to hear this, this game is essentially meaningless for Philadelphia. At 13-1, the Eagles just need to win ONE of their final three games to clinch the top seed in the NFC.
If you throw Hurts out there on a short week — remember, this game is on Saturday — and he gets hurt, then you’ve just crushed your Super Bowl hopes for the season. However, if you let him rest this week and then he returns to beat the Saints on Jan. 1, the Eagles would clinch the first-round bye, which means he wouldn’t have to play again until January 21 or 22.
Since I have no idea if Hurts will actually be out there, I’m going to make two picks on this game: One if he plays and one if he doesn’t. No matter who’s at QB for the Eagles, I do think this is going to be close.
The pick: Cowboys 27-24 over Eagles (If Jalen Hurts doesn’t play)
The pick: Eagles 30-27 over Cowboys (If Jalen Hurts plays)
NFL Week 16 picks: All the rest
Bills 30-20 over Bears
Browns 19-16 over Saints
Titans 20-17 over Texans
Chiefs 31-24 over Seahawks
Lions 23-16 over Panthers
Ravens 20-16 over Falcons
Raiders 24-20 over Steelers
Dolphins 30-23 over Packers
Broncos 17-13 over Rams
Buccaneers 24-16 over Cardinals
Chargers 27-23 over Colts
Best pick: It took 15 weeks, but if finally happened! Last week, I predicted that the Lions would beat the Jets 20-17 and the Lions beat the Jets 20-17. That’s right, for the first time all season, I got a score exactly right, and I now know how people feel on “Price is Right” after winning both showcases.
Unlike Joel in the video above, I won’t be getting a free boat for my exact score prediction, but I will be getting something better, which is eggnog and tequila.
Worst pick: Last week, I picked the Ravens to beat the Browns and if you watched the game, you probably noticed that the Ravens definitely did NOT win. I’m not one to make excuses for my bad picks, but let’s be honest, this game was played on a Saturday and Saturday games shouldn’t count against your picks record. NFL football on a Saturday doesn’t make any sense. It would be like trying to switch Taco Tuesday to a Thursday. No one wants Taco Thursday. It doesn’t roll off the tongue as smoothly and the tacos wouldn’t even taste good because it’s not Tuesday.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I’m actually good at picking, here’s a quick look at my best and worst teams when it comes to picks this year.
Teams I’m 13-1 picking this year (Straight up): Chiefs.
Longest winning streak: Chiefs (11 straight games picked correctly)
Team I’ve been the worst at picking this year (Straight up): Raiders (5-9).
Longest losing streak: Titans (Three straight games picked incorrectly)
Every other team is somewhere in the middle.
Straight up in Week 15: 11-5
SU overall: 137-85-1
Against the spread in Week 15: 7-8-1
ATS overall: 107-108-9
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably out buying eggnog or tequila so he can make an eggnog and tequila