NFL Week 16 picks: Winless Browns shock Bears; Saints top Falcons in NFC showdown

If anyone wants to throw some money down to buy the Panthers, I'm in. Sure, $2.5 billion seems like a high potential asking price and we would be bidding against P. Diddy, but if we start a GoFundMe, I think we can raise enough money to outbid him. 

Actually, I just Googled Diddy's net worth and as it turns out, i don't think we could actually raise enough money to outbid him, which is too bad because I would probably be one of the six most popular owners in the NFL. The first thing I would do is have the other owners place me on the competition committee so that I could change the catch rule. 

The rule is so poorly written that no one could agree if Steelers tight end Jesse James actually made a legal touchdown catch Sunday. I mean, even Kim Kardashian's ex-boyfriend was baffled by the call. 

That fact that James' touchdown got overturned has caused me to rethink everything. I made a catch against some friends during a Thanksgiving game in 2001 that I no longer think should count because I didn't finish the process of making the catch. I think I'm going to admit it to them this weekend and retroactively forfeit the game. It's only fair. If the Patriots have any principles, they'll do the same. 

To fix the catch rule, I propose a very simple new rule: We let Jerry Rice decide everything. Now, I know that sounds crazy, but hang with me here for a second. Rice caught more passes then any other player in NFL history, so if he says something is a catch, then it's a catch. Also, I'm never going to argue with Jerry Rice about whether something is a catch or not because there's no way I would win that argument. 

I'm not sure if Rice would even want this job, but we would definitely make him a fair offer. Whatever Roger Goodell's salary is, we double it and give that to Rice because if Jerry Rice is working in the league office, then he needs to be the highest paid person in the league office. 

Anyway, you didn't come here to read about Jerry Rice, you came here for the Week 16 picks. If for some reason you did come here to read about Jerry Rice, I recommend his Wikipedia page. I once clicked on it and then got sucked into an internet blackhole for the next seven hours. That pretty much happens anytime I click on anyone's Wikipedia page. 

By the way, here's your weekly reminder that you can check out the picks from every CBSSports.com NFL Expert by clicking here. The reason you should click over and check out the other experts this week is because my CBSSports.com colleague Ryan Wilson went 14-2 straight up. I can't confirm this, but I'm pretty confident Wilson gets all his picks from Jerry Rice. 

Alright, it's now time for the Christmas edition of the picks, where every pick is basically like its own present. That means I got you 16 presents this year, which is 15 more than I got anyone in my family. 

NFL Week 16 Picks: Christmas Edition

Cleveland (0-14) at Chicago (4-10), 1 p.m. ET (CBS): The state of football in Cleveland is so sad right now that even Santa Claus has given up on the Browns

The good news for the Browns is that they don't need his support because they have the one guy who comes through on Christmas Eve more often than Santa: Hue Jackson. 

In what will definitely go down as my favorite NFL-related holiday stat of all-time, Jackson is actually undefeated in games played on Christmas Eve. Since December 2011, Jackson is 2-0 on Christmas Eve and 0-32 in all other games. There's no logical way to explain this, so I'm not even going to try. Santa's sleigh being pulled by nine flying reindeer makes more sense to me than Jackson's undefeated record on Christmas Eve. He's the Bill Belichick of holiday games.

You know who's not undefeated on Christmas Eve? John Fox. Since the 2011, the Bears coach is 0-2 and he's lost those games with two different teams. Of course, I would be crazy to pick the Browns based completely on the fact that one coach is better than the other on Christmas Eve, so I'm going to pick the Browns based on the fact that I actually think they have a realistic shot at winning this game. 

For one, after watching the Bears play 14 games this season, I've noticed that there's only one thing they do really well offensively: Run the ball. That's notable because the Browns defense only really does one thing well and that's stop the run. The Browns are only surrendering 3.3 yards per carry this year, which ranks first in the NFL. That's not a typo, either, the Browns are the best in the NFL at something, which seems almost impossible to believe. 

You know what else seems impossible to believe? That a guy can fly around the world and deliver presents to every kid in one night, but I've seen enough Hallmark Christmas movies to know that's true. I'm going to say the Browns win in a Christmas miracle, but if that doesn't happen, can someone please make sure these 0-16 jerseys are being handed out to all Browns' fans before the Week 17 game in Pittsburgh. 

Our buddy from Cleveland with the 0-16 jersey @s_bossmann @waldo919 #Bills #BillsMafia

A post shared by Jim (@jimmert444) on

If the Browns fall to 0-15, the NFL definitely needs to flex their Week 17 game to prime time.  What better way to spend New Year's Even than to watch the Browns complete the most disastrous season in NFL history. 

The pick: Browns 23-20 over Bears

Atlanta (9-5) at New Orleans (10-4), 1 p.m. ET (Fox): It's a good thing this game is being played in New Orleans because Falcons fans are probably going to want to suck down several drinks in the French Quarter before they start watching this one. That's mainly because alcohol is really the only way to numb the anxiety that comes with watching the Falcons every week. There's also medication you can use, but alcohol is probably the easier way to go. 

If you do make it to the French Quarter, don't invite Roger Goodell to drink with you because he's still not welcome there. 

Now, if you watched the Falcons at all this year, you've probably noticed that their games almost always go down to the wire. Including their Monday night win over the Buccaneers, the Falcons have now had 10 games decided by seven or fewer points, which is the most in the NFL. 

One of those games came two weeks ago when they beat the Saints 20-17 in a win where I was 95 percent sure Sean Payton was going to fight someone. That's the game where Payton got penalized for walking out on the field and then to add insult to injury, the NFL fined him $10,000 for improperly entering the playing field. 

Since Payton had to fork over $10,000 to the NFL last week, I think it's only fair to let him make the prediction for this game. So what do you think, Sean?

Falcons are going to choke? Falcons are going to choke. Who am I to argue?

The pick: Saints 34-31 over Falcons

Jacksonville (10-4) at San Francisco (4-10), 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS): I hope the 49ers are at least sending a fruit basket to New England for Christmas because they owe them at least that much as a thank you for the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. I mean, have you been watching the 49ers lately? Three weeks ago, they had 12 fans, the stadium was empty, California was on fire and they were in a dogfight with the Browns for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Then Jimmy happened and now everything is better. 

Since Garoppolo took over as starting quarterback, the 49ers are 3-0, they're undefeated in December and the team's mascot is now smiling for the first time in years.

Fa la la la la 🎅🏽 #49ersKidsClub Holiday Party!

A post shared by 49ers Gold Rush (@goldrush) on

He was emotionally dead before Jimmy arrived.

As for the cheerleaders, I'm guessing they're smiling because they get to cheer for the most handsome quarterback in the NFL. As a matter of fact, Garoppolo is so handsome that he shouldn't even exist. 

Will Jacksonville's defense be stunned by Jimmy's handsomeness? It's a fair question. I mean, every other opposing defense has been. Garoppolo has started five games in his career and his team has won all of them. The guy literally doesn't lose and I don't like picking against people who don't lose because then I end up losing. 

Although I love picking against the Jaguars, I've had to rethink things lately, because my standard "there's a 90 percent chance Blake Bortles is going to blow the game" logic no longer applies. Bortles has arguably the been the best quarterback in the NFL in December. 

I mean, he's nearing Garoppolo status. 

The Jaguars defense is now playing with a somewhat functional quarterback. I'm not sure I can ever pick against the Jaguars again. 

The pick: Jaguars 30-23 over 49ers

Seattle (8-6) at Dallas (8-6), 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox): If you're wondering what Ezekiel Elliott was up to during his six-game suspension, he apparently spent the entire time in Mexico getting buff at a five-star resort just outside of Cabo. He now looks like a battering ram.  

ezekiel-elliott-beach-standing.png
Ezekiel Elliott now looks like a battering ram.  NBC

By the way, the most amazing part of this picture isn't that Zeke is ripped, it's that a 22-year-old male went to Mexico for six weeks without gaining 30 pounds. I once spent four days in Mexico and I'm pretty sure I gained 19 pounds on that trip. I mean, it's impossible not to gain weight: The food is cheap, there's tequila everywhere and random people hand you churros on every corner. 

There's a reason Mexico is the bender capital of the world. You can have twice the fun of Vegas for half the price. You want a four-night bender? Go to Mexico. Six-week bender? Definitely Mexico. You don't really want to do a bender, but you like churros? Go to Mexico. 

After re-reading these last two paragraphs, I have to say, I definitely blew it by not asking the Mexican Tourism Board to sponsor this pick. 

Now, I have no idea if they have TVs in Mexico, but if they do, Elliott was probably pretty excited if he was watching the Seahawks play Sunday. In their 42-7 loss to the Rams, the Seahawks somehow forgot how to tackle. Watching Todd Gurley run over the Seahawks' defense was like watching the song "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" re-enacted in person, and there's no reason to think that Elliott won't be able to do the same thing this week. 

The one thing that does concern me is that Elliott hasn't played in six weeks, which means he might not be in football shape. However, he did spend most of his Cabo trip running on a beach and I've seen "Rocky III" enough times to know that if you train on a beach for six weeks, there's no way you're losing. 

ezekiel-elliott-beach-run.png
Ezekiel Elliott's life is basically a 'Rocky' movie.  NBC

After training on a beach, Rocky Balboa beat Clubber Lang in three rounds, so obviously I'll take the Cowboys by three. 

The pick: Cowboys 30-27 over Seahawks

NFL Week 16 picks: All the rest

Ravens 24-16 over Colts

Vikings 24-17 over Packers

Lions 22-16 over Bengals

Rams 38-20 over Titans

Chiefs 30-13 over Dolphins

Patriots 31-17 over Bills

Chargers 19-16 over Jets

Redskins 19-13 over Broncos

Panthers 27-16 over Buccaneers

Giants 20-17 over Cardinals

Steelers 31-20 over Texans

Eagles 26-16 over Raiders

Last Week

Best pick: In my Week 15 picks, I predicted that the Cowboys would beat the Raiders in Oakland and then the Cowboys went out and beat the Raiders in Oakland. Now, did I know that the referee in the game was going to throw the rulebook out the window and measure a key fourth down with an index card?

Of course I did. As soon as I saw that Gene Steratore was officiating, I knew the game was going to be on the fast track to crazy town. If you don't remember Steratore, he's the guy who overturned Dez Bryant's catch against the Packers back in January 2015 and I'm guessing he kind of felt like he still owed the Cowboys one because the first down that Dallas got courtesy of the index card definitely didn't look like a first down. 

The next time something like this happens, I say we just let Jerry Rice decide whether it's a first down or not. He'll need something to do when he's not reviewing catches. 

Worst pick: The Colts have been so bad this year that I wasn't even going to watch last week's game against Denver, but then I heard their was going to be a pregame wedding and I was hooked. For the record, I did pick the Colts to beat the Broncos, but I have to say, the most surprising thing here isn't that I got the pick wrong, it's that giant blue horses are allowed to officiate weddings in Indiana. 

I think we can all agree that if a mascot offers to officiate your wedding, you don't turn that down. If I could pick any mascot to officiate my future wedding, I would pretty much pick anyone except for Steely McBeam. That guy looks like he would drink all the alcohol at your open bar, accidentally knock three people unconscious with his beam and then start a drunken fight with the maid of honor. He might have actually done two out of three of those things after the Patriots game.

Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I'm actually good (or bad) at picking, here's a quick look. 

Teams I'm 13-1 picking this year: Browns

Teams I'm 5-9 picking this year: Jaguars, Broncos, Rams

Every other team is somewhere in the middle.

Note: Fortunately for all of us, I'm not 0-14, 1-13 or 2-12 or 3-11 or 4-10 picking any team this year

Picks Record

Straight up in Week 15: 12-4

SU overall: 140-84

Against the spread in Week 15: 6-7-3

ATS overall: 107-107-10

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. 


You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he's not doing one of those things, he's probably calling all his friends to see if they want to chip in on buying the Panthers. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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