NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Normally I'd encase my picks in this week's insider notebook. But with the holiday and, frankly, the time it took to produce Thursday's piece on how the Rams have been constructing their team, you'll get the picks solo here.

I have followed up consecutive 11-win weeks with two straight 12-win weeks after going 12-4 in Week 15. My yearlong record on straight-up picks is now up to 150-72-1.

To the picks!

Dolphins at Raiders

Saturday, 8:15 p.m., NFL Network

Latest Odds: Las Vegas Raiders +2

Hard to believe that the only thing standing between Vegas and a five-game losing streak is Gregg Williams' zero blitz but here we are. I don't think the Raiders are as bad as they've played recently, and I was encouraged by the play of Marcus Mariota. The Raiders desperately need their defense to step up, and I think that small percent-chance of them making the playoffs gives them enough of a boost in the upset.

The pick: Raiders

Colts at Steelers

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

Latest Odds: Pittsburgh Steelers PK

Pittsburgh let me down last week. That was supposed to be the get-right game for the Steelers. They did their best to establish a run game against the Bengals and halfway got there, but I fear whatever steps they took last week won't show up against DeForest Buckner this week. Philip Rivers, meanwhile, is playing some fantastic ball in this scheme.

The pick: Colts

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Broncos at Chargers

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

Latest Odds: Los Angeles Chargers -2.5

Do I believe in the Chargers? No. Do I believe less in Drew Lock? Yes. Lock had his one good December game already against Carolina. Denver topped the Chargers earlier this year, but that was back when they had no clue how to win close games. You'll recall L.A. went into the fourth quarter up 24-10 and ended the game with Lock dancing on them. Justin Herbert for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The pick: Chargers

Panthers at Football Team

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

Latest Odds: Washington Commanders +1

I'm picking this game believing it'll be Dwayne Haskins under center for WFT. Typically that would mean the other team will win. But I think the Panthers understand the value of being in the top five of the 2021 NFL Draft. Owner David Tepper knows a thing or two about analytics, and he knows if his team wants the QB of the future in the draft, it'd be better to not win this game. Washington could wrap up the NFC East before Week 17.

The pick: Football Team

The rest

Saints over Vikings
Buccaneers over Lions
Cardinals over 49ers
Jets over Browns
Texans over Bengals
Ravens over Giants
Bears over Jaguars
Chiefs over Falcons
Eagles over Cowboys
Seahawks over Rams
Packers over Titans
Bills over Patriots