Happy Holidays to everyone, except for my brother, who almost burnt down our house 31 years ago. That might be a weird way to start things off this week, but I've been having flashbacks to that incident and I think it's due to the fact that the Vikings are playing on Christmas this year (In case you forgot or just didn't know, there's a CHRISTMAS game on Friday in New Orleans).
Since you're probably now wondering what the Vikings playing on Christmas has to do with anything, I guess that means it's story time. The first time the NFL ever played a regular season game on Christmas came back in 1989 when the Vikings hosted the Bengals. Let's watch a preview of the game.
Not only was it played on Monday night, but it was the 256th and final game of the NFL season and it was the ultimate scenario: The winning team would make the playoffs and the losing team would be done for the year.
At the time, my dad (Jim Breech) was the kicker for the Bengals, which means he was going to have to miss Christmas to play in the game and when you have six kids, Christmas is the one holiday you probably don't want to miss. As if having sad kids at home wasn't bad enough, my dad also had another thing to deal with going into that game and that was the fact that 15% of our house was burnt to a crisp just a few days before the game.
In what might do down as the worst timing ever, my brother -- who was four at the time -- found some matches, lit some of them, dropped them on the carpet and then POOF, part of the upper-floor of our house was in flames. Due to the fire and the game, we celebrated Christmas on a different day that year and let's just say, that was the year I found out a few things I didn't need to know about Santa.
Despite dealing with all that, my dad still was perfect in the game, hitting 3 of 3 extra points in a 29-21 loss. I'm not sure what the moral of the story is here, but I think it's that if you see someone on the Vikings or Saints struggling on the field this week, just keep in mind that maybe their mind is somewhere else because their kid accidentally burnt their house own.
In somewhat related news, the brother who burnt down my house just beat my dad in the fantasy semifinals this week. He's always ruining my dad's Christmas. However, the Bengals saved his Christmas because nothing brings him more joy than watching them beat the Steelers.
Speaking of Christmas, I hope my holiday isn't ruined with bad picks.
Before we get to the 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 the biggest games of Week 16, which is arguably better than a gift. It's short and sweet and you can listen to it below.
Alright, let's do this and let's hope my picks are as hot as the fire that burnt down my house.
NFL Week 16 Picks
Indianapolis (10-4) at Pittsburgh (11-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
I'm not sure what's on Mike Tomlin's Christmas list, but I'm guessing that he'd really like Santa to deliver him someone who can either throw or catch a football, because right now, the Steelers don't have either of those. Through 15 weeks, the Steelers currently lead the NFL in dropped passes, which is definitely an issue for a team that has thrown more passes than anyone else in the NFL this year. Not helping with the pass dropping situation is the fact that Ben Roethlisberger seems to be getting worse by the week.
After watching the Steelers lose to the Bengals on Monday, I'm starting to feel like their best offensive strategy going forward is probably just to not have an offense at all. I have no idea how that would work, but Mike Tomlin is smart, he'll figure it out.
For whatever reason, the Steelers receivers don't seem to be on the same page as Roethlisberger right now, which is like not being on the same page as your doctor while he's performing open-heart surgery on you. It's not good for anyone involved.
I'd say the Steelers should run the ball more, but that's not really an option for a team that has the second-fewest rushing yards in the NFL this year. With the Steelers offense struggling against EVEN THE BENGALS, I don't really feel like this is going to be the week where they fix things and that's because they're going up against a Colts defense that has been one of the best in the NFL this year and the Steelers have to play them on a short week.
Of course, I don't think the Colts are going to be able to do much offensively against a Steelers defense that has given up the second-fewest points in the NFL this season. I mean, we have two quarterbacks over the age of 38 who might be the two least mobile athletes on the planet going head-to-head here. I don't think either guy is going to have a great game, but if there's one difference between the two, it's that Philip Rivers can throw the ball more than five yards downfield right now. I feel like being able to throw the ball more than five yards downfield is definitely an advantage.
The pick: Colts 23-20 over Steelers
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Philadelphia (4-9-1) at Dallas (5-9)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
The last time these two teams played came back in Week 8 and if you don't remember because you've already erased that game from your memory, I don't blame you. Although the Eagles won that game 23-9, that was the first week where I kind of thought to myself that maybe they should think about benching Carson Wentz and that's mostly because he got outplayed by someone named Ben DiNucci. And no, that's not a name I made up off the top of my head, that's the actual name of the Cowboys starter from that game, which I'm guessing is something that only Cowboys fans remember. DiNiucci is basically Chet the reindeer from "The Santa Clause 2," he was helpful on one night ever and then disappeared from history.
If the Eagles would have just benched Wentz after that game, Jalen Hurts would have been their starting quarterback for the past seven weeks and they probably would have already clinched the division. Instead, they started Hurts too late, and now, there's a good chance they're going to be eliminated from the division race on Sunday. If Washington beats Carolina or if the Cowboys win, then Philly is officially eliminated from playoff contention.
The one thing I will say about the Cowboys is that they were my preseason pick to win the division and I've decided to ride that train until it crashes, which means I have to pick them to win here. To be honest, I'm kind of hoping the train crashes this week. I mean, I don't think I realized how much anxiety being on the Cowboys bandwagon can cause you. Jalen Hurts has been playing out of his mind, but if I've noticed one thing about rookie quarterbacks, it's that they eventually come back down to earth after a hot start and nothing would be a bigger rookie reality check than losing to your biggest rival.
The pick: Cowboys 30-27 over Eagles
L.A. Rams (9-5) at Seattle (10-4)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
If I was the coach of the Rams, I'd probably forfeit this game, because I wouldn't want to show my face in public for at least four weeks after losing to the Jets, but apparently Sean McVay doesn't think like me, so this game will be played as scheduled.
Although the Rams' loss was ugly, the Seahawks can't really make fun of them, because they also lost a humiliating game just three weeks ago when the Giants beat them 17-12. Through 15 weeks, those have been the two of the three biggest point spread upsets of the season. I think what I'm trying to say here is that the Rams and Seahawks might be the two most unpredictable teams in football, which means something predictable is probably going to happen on Sunday because that's what would be unpredictable. and the only predictable thing about this series is that the Rams almost always win.
In the past six games between these teams, the Rams have gone 5-1 and they would be 6-0 if Greg Zuerlein had been able to hit a 44-yard field goal with 15 seconds left to play when these two teams met in Week 5 last season. The Rams can't beat an 0-13 team like the Jets, but they seem to have no problem with the Seahawks. It makes no sense... or does it?
There seems to be two reasons why the Rams always win. First, they beat up Russell Wilson. If you gave me the choice of being hit by a car or being chased by Aaron Donald for three straight hours, I might actually take the car. In their past six games against Wilson, the Rams have sacked him an average of 4.2 times per game, and that includes back in Week 10 when the Rams sacked him six times during a 23-16 win. By the time the fourth quarter rolls around in Rams-Seahawks games, Wilson looks like a guy who just ran a marathon while getting punched in the face the entire way.
The other reason the Rams have had so much success against the Seahawks is because Pete Carroll doesn't seem to have any idea how to slow down McVay's offense. Somehow, McVay always seems to be one step ahead of him. Maybe it's because he's half his age, I don't know. In the past six games between these two teams, the Rams have averaged 31.8 points per game. Although the Seahawks defense has looked good over the past four weeks, let me just remind you who they've played: Three NFC East teams and the Jets.
Speaking of the Jets, I think the Rams are going to be angry after their embarrassing loss, which is bad news for the Seahawks, because they can't even beat the Rams when they're not angry.
The pick: Rams 27-24 over Seahawks
Tennessee (10-4) at Green Bay (11-3)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Whenever I see that Green Bay is playing a home game in December, the first thing I do before making a pick is Google the weather. Sometimes, I also Bing the weather, and once in awhile, I even use Ask Jeeves, but I feel like this Google thing is going to catch on, so I use that. Anyway, if I'm reading this forecast right, it's supposed to be around 25-degrees at kickoff. Normally, I'd say that's an advantage for the Packers because of they're playing on the "Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field," but I'll be honest, I think this might actually be an advantage for the Titans.
I once got hit by a snowball in 20-degree weather and when it happened I thought I had shattered every bone in my face. It does not feel good to get hit when you're cold and getting hit with anything, even snowballs, hurts.
Even Buddy the Elf knows they hurt.
Now, instead of a snowball, imagine getting hit by a plow truck, which is basically what everyone on the Packers defense is going to feel like they're being hit by every time they try to tackle Derrick Henry. Not helping things for the Packers here is the fact that they're giving up 4.5 yards per carry on the ground this season. When you're surrendering 4.5 yards per carry and the guy you're facing is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, that seems like a problem.
The fact that Henry might have a big game is important because if he's running well, that's good news for the Titans, because it means THEIR DEFENSE ISN'T ON THE FIELD. If you haven't gotten a chance to watch the Titans defense this year, let me just tell you that they have the worst pass rush in football. I know what you're thinking, "John, that can't be right, the Bengals have to be worse, or the Jets or even the Jaguars?"
The answers there are no, no and no. The Titans have 14 sacks this year, which is the lowest number in the NFL, which means there's a good chance that Aaron Rodgers is going to be able to sit back and pick them apart. Of course, that's what I thought in Week 15 when the Packers played the Panthers and somehow, Carolina managed to sack Rodgers five times even though they the fifth-fewest sacks in the league going into the game.
I think the human plow truck is going to have a huge game and that huge game is going to keep Rodgers off the field.
The pick: Titans 37-34 over Packers
Lock of the Week that's not actually a lock
Chicago (7-7) at Jacksonville (1-13)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
After the Jets upset the Rams on Sunday, that put Jacksonville in the driver's seat to earn the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which is good news for the the Jaguars, because that means they're likely going to win the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.
As long as the Jaguars don't do anything stupid like win a game over the next two weeks, then the pick will be theirs. I can only imagine the conversations that are going on in the Jaguars front office right now after having Trevor Lawrence fall in their lap. Doug Marrone might be the first coach in NFL history who will get fired if he tries to win anymore games. If I'm Jags owner Shad Khan, I'm making it very clear that I don't even want either of these two final games to be close, I don't want a seven-point game in the fourth quarter, I want to get blown out 40-14 like the Jags did on Sunday.
As for the Bears, I kind of realized something over the weekend and it's that Mitchell Trubisky apparently isn't as washed up as we all thought he was. After he got benched for Nick Foles back in Week 3, I thought for sure we'd never see him start another game for the Bears, but then Foles somehow got worse every time he stepped on the field, and now, here we are with Trubisky back under center for the Bears.
Trubisky has been playing some of the best football of his career over the past three weeks and now he gets to play a Jaguars team that has no incentive to win. You do the math. I'm picking the Bears here, but let's be honest, it will be a true Christmas miracle if my "Lock of the Week" actually hits against the spread. After the Bengals pulled off the second-biggest upset of the NFL season with a win over the Steelers, the Lock is now 6-3 straight-up and 0-9 against the spread over the past nine weeks. I'll be honest guys, I'm at the point where I'm fading myself.
The pick: Bears 30-16 over Jaguars
Lock of the week record: 13-4 straight up, 6-11 against the spread
NFL Week 16 picks: All the rest
Saints 31-24 over Vikings (Christmas)
Buccaneers 27-17 over Lions (Saturday)
Cardinals 31-23 over 49ers (Saturday)
Dolphins 20-17 over Raiders (Saturday)
Chiefs 38-27 over Falcons
Browns 30-20 over Jets
Panthers 22-19 over Washington
Ravens 34-23 over Giants
Texans 19-16 over Bengals
Chargers 30-23 over Broncos
Bills 24-17 over Patriots (Monday)
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Bears would upset the Vikings in Minnesota, and guess what happened? The Bears upset the Vikings in Minnesota. Now, did I know that Mitchell Trubisky was going have a huge game and keep the Bears in the playoff race by engineering the upset? Of course I did. As we all know about Trubisky, he's basically a crossbreed of Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson. I mean, that's basically what the stat below means, right?
After first 48 career starts:— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) December 21, 2020
-Aaron Rodgers 28-20
-Deshaun Watson 28-20
-Mitch Trubisky 28-20
If Trubisky's agent is smart, he'll print out that tweet and use ONLY that information when negotiating the quarterback's next contract.
Worst pick: Before Monday's game, I had only missed three picks in Week 15 and all three of those picks had one thing in common: The teams I whiffed on are all located in the Pacific Time Zone, which clearly means that time zone is trying to tell me something.
I picked the Rams to win last week. They lost.
I picked the Raiders to win last week. They lost.
I picked the 49ers to win last week. They lost.
I think what I'm trying to say here is that I think it's time for America to go to one time zone. If that had been the case, I would have gone 15-1 with my picks. As for the Monday night game, my family consists of all Bengals fans and they told me to bet all my Christmas money on the Bengals to win and I didn't listen. This is why you should always listen to your family.
Finally, if you're still reading, you might be wondering which teams I've done well picking this year and here's the answer:
Team I'm 13-1 picking this year (Straight up): Chiefs
Teams I'm 12-2 picking this year: Jaguars, Packers, Ravens, Jets
Longest winning streak: Jaguars (11 straight games correct)
Longest losing streak: Rams and 49ers (Two straight games incorrect)
Also, the NFC West is my new least favorite division, because I'm 6-8 picking three of the four teams in that division this season (Rams, 49ers, Cardinals), which is tied for my worst record picking any team. I'm also 6-8 picking the Cowboys and Falcons, which kind of makes sense, because the Falcons used to play in the NFC West and the Cowboys are the western most team in their division.
Straight up in Week 15: 12-4
SU overall: 146-75-1
Against the spread in Week 15: 5-8-3
ATS overall: 102-114-6