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Fade Material: NFL Week 16 Predictions

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) celebrates a thirs quarter touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during their Sunday Night NFL football game in San Diego, California December 18, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

It was a bounce back week for ol’ A.Stalter. After producing a 0-4 with my predictions in Week 13, I rebounded with a solid 3-1 last Sunday as the Redskins, Saints and Patriots all covered. My lone loser was the J.E.T.S., who forgot they had the late game in Philadelphia and never showed up.

My season record against the spread is now 27-30-2. With just two weeks remaining, my only goal is to get above .500 and save what’s left of my dignity.

Happy Holidays to you and yours! Be safe out there and spend time with the people you love…

Buccaneers @ Panthers, 1:00PM ET
This is a divisional game and divisional games should be close. But the Bucs have clearly shut it down for the season and are just looking to get through these next two weeks as quickly as possible. I have my reservations about laying nine points on a Carolina team that doesn’t play defense but Tampa Bay’s offense is completely inept. The Panthers are still playing with a sense of pride too and just scored on a “fumblerooski” last week forgodsakes. They’ll do anything for a victory these days! The favorite is 7-1 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these two teams while the Bucs are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 trips to Carolina.
THE PICK: PANTHERS –9

Vikings @ Redskins, 1:00PM ET
I love the Skins as a 7-point underdog but I equally hate them as a 7-point favorite, and it doesn’t matter who they’re playing. Washington shouldn’t be overlooking anyone but I have a sinking suspicion that it’ll overlook a hapless Minnesota team today. The Skins are 2-8-1 against the spread in their last 11 games as a favorite and 0-7 ATS in their last seven games as a home underdog. This game will be closer than people think.
THE PICK: VIKINGS +7

Chargers @ Lions, 4:05PM ET
Detroit has a chance to accomplish something today that it hasn’t done since 1999: Clinch a playoff berth. But the Lions have a serious matchup problem on their hands as their banged up secondary tries to slow down Norv Turner’s vertical passing game (even without Vincent Jackson, who may miss the game with a groin injury). In his last three games Philip Rivers has seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s a stark contrast from his previous 11 games when he threw 17 interceptions and looked like a quarterback playing with zero confidence. Some people don’t want to buy into San Diego’s late-season surge but I’ll bite. I think the Bolts pick up a huge road victory today and stay in the AFC West hunt.
THE PICK: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS +1

Eagles @ Cowboys, 4:15PM ET
In theory, this game could become meaningless if the Giants beat the Jets at 1:00PM ET. If that happens, then the Eagles would be eliminated from playoff contention and the Cowboys would be unable to clinch the NFC East (they’d have to wait until next week when they play the Giants in New York). That said, try telling Philadelphia and Dallas that this game doesn’t mean anything. Dallas is 1-4 against the spread in its last five games as a favorite and 1-4 ATS in its last five games overall. The ‘Boys are also 1-5 ATS in their last six games versus the NFC and 0-4 ATS in their last four division games. I like the Eagles to beat a Dallas team that usually chokes when everyone expects it to step up.
THE PICK: EAGLES +1

Check out the most current NFL Betting Lines.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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2011 NFL Week 16 Primer

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett smiles on the sideline while playing against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 2, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

MARQUE MATCHUP: Falcons vs. Saints, 8:30PM ET, Monday
From Giants-Jets to Chargers-Lions, there is no shortage of solid matchups on the Week 16 schedule. But it doesn’t get any bigger than Atlanta-New Orleans on Monday night. With a victory, the Saints will clinch the NFC South and keep themselves in contention for the No. 2 seed in the conference playoff picture. With a victory, the Falcons would clinch a playoff berth and remain in contention with the Saints for the NFC South crown. But for Atlanta, this game means much more than clinching a spot in the postseason. If they lose, they could accomplish the same thing next week at home against the hapless Buccaneers. No, a victory over the Saints in New Orleans would prove that the Falcons have the pieces in place to take down one of the elite teams in the conference. A win would also go a long way in instilling confidence in a Falcons team that has been inconsistent all season. Beat the seemingly unbeatable Saints on their home turf and the sky is the limit when it comes to the playoffs. Lose and have doubts remain about whether or not you can beat any of the top teams in the NFC. With cornerbacks Brent Grimes (knee) and Kelvin Hayden (toe) expected to return this Monday, the Falcons should be at full-strength defensively. And given how good Matt Ryan has looked running Atlanta’s no-huddle attack recently, the Falcons certainly have the weapons to pull off the upset in New Orleans. But whether or not they can do it is another question, especially considering the Saints are averaging nearly 40 points a game at home this season.

THE POTENITAL (NOTEWORTHY) UPSET: Eagles over Cowboys, 1:00PM ET, Saturday
Three weeks ago the Cowboys had a golden opportunity to take a two-game lead over the Giants in the NFC East and they went out and lost to the Cardinals in overtime. The following week, they blew their one-game lead over the Giants when they lost to New York at home, 37-34. My point is that the Cowboys have been in these positions before, when they’ve had chances to improve their standing in the division only to choke the opportunity away. They now have a one-game lead over the Giants again after New York inexcusably lost to the Redskins at home (a game in which I highlighted in this section last week). Now Dallas has a chance to either hold onto its one-game lead or win the division outright with a victory and a New York loss to the Jets. But something tells me Jason Garrett’s squad could choke on applesauce again. Philadelphia has been the most inconsistent team in the league this year but Andy Reid’s team is certainly capable of going into Dallas and knocking off the Cowboys in grand fashion. And if the Giants beat the Jets earlier in the day, the ‘Boys are even more likely to succumb to the pressure.

THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: GREEN BAY PACKERS (vs. Bears, 8:20PM ET, Sunday)
It doesn’t get any easier for the Packers to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC. All they have to do is beat the rudderless Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Christmas night and then they can rest their starters for two weeks if they choose to. Of course, they just lost to a rudderless Kansas City team a week ago so it’ll be interesting to see how Green Bay responds on Sunday. The Bears have looked completely inept offensively since Jay Cutler and Matt Forte went down with injuries (and justifiably so), but their defense has be known to keep Green Bay’s offense in check. Just last year, the Bears held the Packers to 10 points in Green Bay on a cold January afternoon at Lambeau and if Josh McCown can somehow revive Chicago’s dead offense, the Bears could pull off the upset. (Hey, crazier things have happened.) That said, this is a game the Pack should win. Again, it doesn’t get any easier for them to clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference.

PUT UP OR SHUT UP: DETROIT LIONS (vs. Chargers, 4:15PM ET, Saturday)
It’s been over a decade since the Lions made an appearance in the playoffs and it’s been nearly two decades since they won a postseason game. But they have a chance this Saturday to do something they haven’t done since 1999: Play past Week 17. All they have to do is beat the suddenly surging San Diego Chargers at Ford Field. Granted, even if the Lions lose they can still win next week and clinch a playoff spot. But next week they play at Green Bay and there’s no telling what the Packers will do in terms of resting starters. Thus, it’s best if Detroit handles its own business this weekend by knocking off San Diego, but it won’t be easy. Over the past three weeks the Bolts have played like everyone expected them to at the start of the year. Suddenly Philip Rivers has stopped turning the ball over, Ryan Mathews is running like a man possessed, and the defense has been lights out. Not that they would but if the Lions think the Chargers are going to waltz into Ford Field and lie down, than Detroit has another thing coming. Keep in mind that the Lions’ secondary is still banged up, which obviously plays into the hands of Norv Turner and his vertical passing attack. It’ll be interesting to see if Jim Schwartz’s squad can rise to the challenge and play with a little composure for once. If not, the Lions will put a ton of pressure on themselves to beat the Packers next week and end their horrific playoff drought.

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