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Dec. 24, 2016

NFL Week 16 Predictions

by Ellie Williams, Features Editor, Nate Bodner, Sports Editor, Ryan Handel, Opinions Editor and Benjamin Yokoyama, Online Sports Editor
Two weeks left in the NFL season means teams will be clinching divisions and playoff berths left and right. Some teams may do so without stepping foot on the field, like the Cowboys did on Thursday. After the Giants lost to the Eagles, the Cowboys officially clinched the NFC East, which means that the Redskins will have to win out and get some help to scrape into the playoffs. They face the Bears this week in chilly Chicago. The Ravens are currently one game behind the Steelers and in a three-way tie for the second wild card spot. If they can beat the Steelers this week it still is not a guarantee they make the playoffs. In addition to the Cowboys, the Seahawks, Raiders and Patriots have all clinched a playoff spot.

Standings:
Ellie: 138-84
Nate: 135-87
Ryan: 134-88
Ben: 131-91

Giants at Eagles
Ben: Giants
Nate: Giants
Ryan: Giants
Ellie: Giants

Ben says: The Eagles have to be heartbroken after last week's two-point debacle.
Nate says: The Eagles seem to be falling apart, and the Giants defense has been very good recently.
Ryan says: The Giants are plowing into the playoffs, crushing every team in their path.
Ellie says: The Eagles lost their momentum a while ago.

Falcons at Panthers
Ben: Falcons
Nate: Panthers
Ryan: Panthers
Ellie: Panthers

Ben says: The Panthers are just destroyed, and on a very short week they'll be even more sluggish. Their win against the Redskins was not a result of their good play, and the Falcons are fighting for a playoffs berth.
Nate says: The Panthers defense has improved a lot since the last time these two teams met, and Cam Newton and the rest of the Panthers offense will come out of the gate swinging.
Ryan says: The Panthers seem to have finally found their groove, although it's a bit too late.
Ellie says: The Falcons beat the Panthers in October, one team has gotten a lot better, the other hasnít.

Dolphins at Bills
Ben: Dolphins
Nate: Bills
Ryan: Bills
Ellie: Dolphins

Ben says: Matt Moore is competent enough to make the Dolphins good, and the Bills will have to re-learn football after a game against the Browns.
Nate says: Matt Moore has only one NFL start in more than two years, and heíll have trouble all day against the stingy Bills defense
Ryan says: Rex Ryanís teams are known for playing spoiler.
Ellie says: The Dolphins have a shot at playoffs, and theyíll be playing with all theyíve got.

Redskins at Bears
Ben: Redskins
Nate: Redskins
Ryan: Redskins
Ellie: Redskins

Ben says: On a short week after a terrible Monday night game, the Bears might give the Redskins a bit more than they bargained for. But the high-powered offense led by Kirk Cousins should be able to pull out a victory.
Nate says: The Bears defense is no match for the Redskins high powered offense.
Ryan says: The Bears have been playing better lately but can't seem to close out games.
Ellie says: The Bears only recently figured out what theyíre doing, so the Redskins will dominate with Cousins bouncing back from an off week.

Jets at Patriots
Ben: Patriots
Nate: Patriots
Ryan: Patriots
Ellie: Patriots

Ben says: The Jets looked horrendous last week on Thursday, while the Patriots handily beat the Broncos.
Nate says: The Jets pass defense has been atrocious, and Tom Brady has been incredibly hard to beat. This could be a long day for New York.
Ryan says: If there's such thing as a guarantee in the NFL, this is it.
Ellie says: Tom Brady wonít disappoint.

Chargers at Browns
Ben: Chargers
Nate: Chargers
Ryan: Chargers
Ellie: Chargers

Ben says: I'm giving in. The Browns are done for this year.
Nate says: At this point, you know why.
Ryan says: Expect the Browns to go down swinging to avoid a winless year, but they don't have the talent to take down the Chargers.
Ellie says: Wow, could they really close out the season without a win?

Titans at Jaguars
Ben: Titans
Nate: Titans
Ryan: Titans
Ellie: Titans

Ben says: The Titans pulled out a win against the high-flying Chiefs, while the Jaguars almost won their third game before blowing their lead and giving up ten points in the last quarter.
Nate says: The Titans offense has been great this season with DeMarco Murray dominating from the backfield, and the Jaguars offense...has been terrible.
Ryan says: The Titans look like an AFC playoff threat, while the Jaguars are a mess after firing Gus Bradley.
Ellie says: The Titans should easily beat the Jaguars who just lost their head coach.

Vikings at Packers
Ben: Packers
Nate: Packers
Ryan: Packers
Ellie: Packers

Ben says: I'm not sure what happened to the Vikings last week, but I think Blair could have beaten them the way they looked.
Nate says: The Packers are on a roll recently, hitting their stride at just the right time so they donít miss out on playoffs. Meanwhile, the Vikings have fallen from bad to worse to ensure that they donít make the playoffs.
Ryan says: The Sam Bradford trade is looking worse and worse by the minute.
Ellie says: The Vikings lost their stride and the strong Packers offense will stomp all over them.

Colts at Raiders
Ben: Raiders
Nate: Raiders
Ryan: Raiders
Ellie: Raiders

Ben says: Despite a demeaning win over the Vikings by Andrew Luck and Colts, the Raiders are used to grinding out big wins.
Nate says: The Raiders offense will not be stopped.
Ryan says: Future NFL MVP Derek Carr leads his team towards a first round bye by winning this matchup against the Coltsí weak defense.
Ellie says: The Raiders offense led by Derek carr, Michael Crabtree, and Amari Cooper will put the Raiders ahead in a close game against the Colts.

Buccaneers at Saints
Ben: Buccaneers
Nate: Buccaneers
Ryan: Buccaneers
Ellie: Buccaneers

Ben says: I believe in Drew Brees, but I don't think he can put up another 48-point game.
Nate says: itís a must win game for the Bucs, and they will deliver, against a maddeningly inconsistent Saints team.
Ryan says: The Saints just gave up 41 points to the sloppy Cardinals. The Bucs will push them aside easily.
Ellie says: The Bucs are going to be fighting their hardest to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

49ers at Rams
Ben: 49ers
Nate: Rams
Ryan: 49ers
Ellie: 49ers

Ben says: I just don't see the Rams winning another game this season without a real head coach. Even against the lowly 49ers.
Nate says: There is talent in Los Angeles, and maybe with a new coach, the Rams will be able to use it right, and grind out a win.
Ryan says: The 49ers have lost to the Bears and the Jets in recent weeks, but the Rams might just be bad enough for San Francisco to get a W.
Ellie says: The Rams have lost 9 of their 10 last games, and San Franciscoís offense is slightly less terrible.

Cardinals at Seahawks
Ben: Seahawks
Nate: Seahawks
Ryan: Seahawks
Ellie: Seahawks

Ben says: The Cardinals pride themselves on their defense but really blew it last week against Drew Brees. Now they'll meet another quarterback who can handle pressure from a defense.
Nate says: The Cardinals defense has really dropped the ball in the last two weeks, allowing Brandin Cooks of the Saints to score two long touchdowns to help seal a win last week. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin have enough skill to torch Arizona this week.
Ryan says: The Cardinals have not played like a Bruce Arians coached team lately, and don't stand a chance against Seattle.
Ellie says:The Cardinals have lost their groove and been struggling the last few weeks, The Seahawks will take advantage of this.

Bengals at Texans
Ben: Bengals
Nate: Bengals
Ryan: Bengals
Ellie: Bengals

Ben says: Even with Tom Savage quarterbacking the Texans instead of the awful Brock Osweiler, the Bengals have this game after a close game with Pittsburgh.
Nate says: I do not believe in Tom Savage's ability to help an offense that has been garbage all year.
Ryan says: The Bengals have quietly regained form in the past few weeks.
Ellie says: AJ Green will return and inspire a win against a Texans team with a new starting QB.

Ravens at Steelers
Ben: Steelers
Nate: Steelers
Ryan: Ravens
Ellie: Steelers

Ben says: I just can't pick against an offense like that.
Nate says: Ben, Brown and Bell are just tearing teams apart. The Ravens donít have the offensive weapons to keep up.
Ryan says: This is a huge rivalry game between two solid teams, so anything could happen.
Ellie says: I want to pick Baltimore, but the Steelers are on a roll and I donít think the Ravens can stop them.

Broncos at Chiefs
Ben: Chiefs
Nate: Chiefs
Ryan: Chiefs
Ellie: Chiefs

Ben says: The Chiefs defense could not stop the two-headed running game of the Titans, but thankfully the Broncos barely have an offense.
Nate says: The Chiefs defense will keep Trevor Siemian very far from the end zone Sunday night.
Ryan says: Even if the Broncos pull things together and play well, they're still not tough enough to take down the Chiefs.
Ellie says: The Chiefs need this win to earn a spot in the AFC playoffs, and they have the defense to shut down the Broncos.

Lions at Cowboys
Ben: Cowboys
Nate: Cowboys
Ryan: Cowboys
Ellie: Cowboys

Ben says: First place and home field advantage through the playoffs will soon belong to Dallas.
Nate says: The Lions have been a come-from-behind team all season, but with the Cowboys strategy of dominating possession, a Lions will be a tall order for Matt Stafford.
Ryan says: The Cowboys will pound the rock with Elliott to punish the Lions defense.í
Ellie says: Dak Prescott cannot be stopped.



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