There are only two more weeks for NFL teams to make their mark on the 2016 regular season. Last week a head coach got fired and a starting quarterback got shown the bench. More of the same could happen if a certain AFC East head coach does not produce a win.
Furthermore, the Chicago Bears playing for nothing, gave the Green Bay Packers a run for the money last week. This squad could prove to be a troublesome opponent hosting Washington in Week 16.
Lastly, a familiar face might just make a surprise appearance. We have the details on that story and much more discussed in our 10 bold predictions for NFL Week 16.
1. Miami Dolphins help save Rex Ryan’s job
Rex Ryan’s job could depend on his Bills nailing a win this week. It is that time of the season when losing teams are canning their head coaches. Both the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars just booted Jeff Fisher and Gus Bradley respectively.
Ryan is once again on the hot seat with his team resting at 7-7 on the season. The Bills have regressed and have won only three games since Week 7. Now, Buffalo has the tall task of dealing with and hosting the the nine-win Miami Dolphins.
The last time the two teams played was back in Week 7 with Buffalo losing by just three points. The Bills at least have the advantage of a 4-1 home record against Miami since 2011. Also a plus, the Bills’ passing defense has given up only 15 touchdowns compared to the 24 Miami has yielded.
Both team’s run defenses rank within the bottom five. So, LeSean McCoy is the ace-in-the-hole here. Miami’s rush defense has allowed a generous average of 4.8 yards per carry and 132.5 rushing yards per game.
We are predicting the Bills win by at least one score and Ryan won’t find a pink slip on his desk post-game.
2. Tom Savage will be a top-five quarterback
The Houston Texans finally benched Brock Osweiler after another dumpster fire of a performance. Backup Tom Savage entered the game last week mid-second quarter and helped the Texans pull ahead to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He passed 260 yards and turned his primary focus on getting DeAndre Hopkins involved in the game. What a concept. Hopkins finished the day with eight catches and 87 yards. Now, Nuke could help Savage achieve top-five quarterback numbers against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 23 minutes of game time, DeAndre Hopkins got 15 targets from Tom Savage. So, yeah, he might get some work.
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) December 21, 2016
The Bengals pass defense has given up 23 passing touchdowns and 245 passing yards on average per game. Quarterbacks are completing an average of 63 percent of their passes against Cincinnati. Taking into account the success Savage had against the Jaguars fourth-ranked pass defense, he should light it up.
Daily fantasy football players may want to consider this little tip.
3. Sam Bradford has monster day against Green Bay
This might sound quite preposterous considering the Minnesota Vikings lost to Indianapolis Colts by four touchdowns last week. It was quite unbearable to watch. Nevertheless, the Vikings are still in the hunt for the playoffs. They now have a chance to turn up the heat on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau field.
In looking at Bradford’s past performance, he did complete 32-of-42 passes for a total of 291 yards, which wasn’t too shabby. Unfortunately, Bradford failed to throw a touchdown and turned the ball over twice. This week, Bradford will have a chance continue putting up solid passing numbers and should be able to score. Green Bay’s defense has given up 27 passing touchdowns, the third-highest number in the NFL.
It is also allowing quarterbacks to complete 64.6 percent of their passes for an average of 258.8 yards per contest.
The Vikings’ defense could once again rain on Rodgers’ parade. It already happened when the Packers lost to Minnesota by the score of 17-14 back in Week 2. It is bold, but Bradford could have a major outing and tilt things in favor of Minnesota come Saturday.
4. Matt Barkley will outperform Kirk Cousins in surprise win
The Chicago Bears are simply playing the role of spoiler over the final two games of the season. Week 16 brings a deflated Kirk Cousins and Co. to play in Chicago with Washington in must-win mode.
Cousins came up short when Washington lost to the Carolina Panthers last week. He passed for 315 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
On the other hand, Barkley threw for 362 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he clouded his efforts with three pesky interceptions. But considering Barkley tallied more yards and scores than Cousins, who’s to say he cannot do the same when the two teams go head-to-head?
Washington’s defense has managed only eight interceptions on the year. It even failed to pick off Cam Newton last Monday. And, it is ceding 260 passing yards on average compared to Chicago’s 219.9.
Barkley might just be set up for the better performance. And in reality, the Bears could easily pull off a win considering they lost to Green Bay by only three points last Sunday.
5. Chargers allow Browns their first win
There is not one quarterback likely more eager than Philip Rivers to sweep this season under the rug and hide under the covers for a long time. The five-win Chargers are an absolute mess. Worse, is Rivers actually admitted the Chargers felt like the road team after falling at home to the Oakland Raiders last week.
— Dave Palet (@DavePalet) December 19, 2016
Rivers is correct. Qualcomm Stadium was dominated by Raiders fans with not too many folks wearing blue and gold to be seen. In Week 16, the Chargers are “officially” on the road to take on the winless Cleveland Browns. Boldly, or perhaps not so much, the lifeless Chargers might just give up a win to Cleveland. It would be the perfect Christmas gift for the Browns and a unsurprisingly lackluster result for San Diego.
The team’s fans might make all of the difference here. Cleveland’s fans show up no matter what. And, Chargers fans clearly have better things to do. Realistically, why would any of them pay to leave their Southern California weather to trek out to Cleveland to watch this snooze fest?
Without much fan support, we see the Chargers departing this game sad and defeated once again.
6. Saints remind fans the Buccaneers can be bad
The New Orleans Saints (6-8) have to qualify as one of the most inconsistent scoring teams all season. Drew Brees can throw for four touchdowns in one week then follow up with two scoreless games in a row.
Whereas, the second-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) have stepped up their game by leaps and bounds. A fine example was when the Buccaneers recently beat the Saints, 16-11. The Bucs’ defense picked Brees off three times while holding the quarterback without a score.
In Week 16, the Buccaneers have everything on the line. They currently sit in playoff position in the NFC. But the Saints are also in the picture. Unfortunately for the Bucs, the Saints typically play their best ball at home which is where this matchup takes place.
Brees and his team are coming off of a 48-41 win over Arizona. Jameis Winston’s clan just lost to the Dallas Cowboys. We see the Saints putting up a lights-out performance and leaving the Bucs in the dark at the end of 60 minutes.
7. David Johnson leaves behind 175 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle
The Seahawks are hardly a team that can be run on. They are giving up just 95.1 rushing yards at a pace of 3.5 yards per attempt on average this year. But this stat is about to be upset by the young David Johnson when the Seahawks play host to the Cardinals in Week 16.
Johnson is averaging 81.2 rushing yards and an amazing 57.1 receiving yards per game. Furthermore, he has found the end zone 17 times. These numbers might not suggest Johnson will hit his average against an elite Seahawks defense.
However, Johnson might just be able to pull this off. The last time the Cardinals and the Seahawks met up was in that 6-6 overtime tie back in Week 7. Even though that score was about as ugly as it could get, Johnson still had a fabulous evening. He tallied up 171 total yards on 41 touches.
Considering Johnson’s personal luck against the Seahawks, he might just hit our prediction.
8. Ravens bottle-up Le’Veon Bell, even the AFC North
Speaking of running backs going off, Bell might be hard-pressed to accomplish this task in Week 16. Bell squares off against a Ravens defense that held him to a season-low 32 rushing yards in Week 9. Fortunately, he was able to save a little face by adding 38 receiving yards.
Playing at the level he has over his last five games, however, it is hard to imagine Bell posting a clunker. From Weeks 11-15, Bell has averaged an astounding 142.6 rushing yards per game as well as a total of five touchdowns. He also added 241 receiving yards in that same stretch.
The Ravens are still as stingy as ever against he run and have surrendered just seven rushing scores. They’ve also given up on average just 82.1 yards at a pace of 3.5 yards per tote. Expectations should be tempered for Bell, who will likely be held to no more than 75 total yards and zero scores. In turn, this might just flip the tables on the first-place Steelers and even up the AFC North heading into Week 17.
9. Broncos receivers combine for 300 yards, foil the Chiefs
The down-and-out Denver Broncos are going to have to find success through the air if they want to keep up in Kansas City in Week 16. Their chances of seeing the playoffs are slowly diminishing, and Trevor Siemian and his receivers need to step up.
Fortunately, the Chiefs defense is yielding 262 receiving yards per game. The duo of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas is the perfect one to surpass this stat and go for 300.
Sanders and Thomas are the ninth and 10th-most targeted receivers in the league respectively. Plus, Siemian has completed 60-of-91 passes (65.6 percent) over his past two games. There is a recipe for success to be found somewhere here.
The Chiefs shockingly just fell to the Tennessee Titans last week. If the stars align properly for the Broncos, they might just hand the Chiefs a second upset in a row.
10. Tony Romo will make an appearance
After the holiday and football hangovers finally subside, the Dallas Cowboys host the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. The task very much at hand here is for the Cowboys to better their playoff status while keeping their rookie stars healthy.
The first-place Lions have a lot on the line as well with their NFC North competition breathing down their neck. But in typical fashion, they tend to wait until the fourth quarter to launch their game into overdrive.
By then it might be too late. Quarterback Dak Prescott should easily thrash a Lions pass defense that has allowed a 72.8 percent completion rate and 25 touchdowns on the season. And we all know Ezekiel Elliott is practically unstoppable.
After the damage has been done by Dallas’ offense by mid-fourth quarter, the Cowboys’ brass could easily send Romo in to finish. Heck, if Dallas has the No. 1 seed wrapped up by then, Romo could see even more action.