Surviving Week 16
I was lucky enough to have the Falcons last week, but there was otherwise a lot of carnage as the Texans, Giants, Packers and Titans all went down, and the Cardinals barely scraped by. That said, let's take a look at this week's slate:
|Team ||Opponent ||% Picked* ||Vegas ML** ||Vegas Odds
|PANTHERS ||Buccaners ||29.50% ||350 ||78%
|TITANS ||Jaguars ||15.40% ||310 ||76%
|RAVENS ||Browns ||13.50% ||650 ||87%
|STEELERS ||Rams ||10.50% ||1225 ||92%
|REDSKINS ||Vikings ||10.30% ||270 ||73%
|Texans ||COLTS ||6.40% ||240 ||71%
|PACKERS ||Bears ||3.80% ||700 ||88%
|PATRIOTS ||Dolphins ||3.30% ||450 ||82%
|Broncos ||BILLS ||2.30% ||130 ||57%
|BENGALS ||Cardinals ||1.60% ||195 ||66%
|SAINTS ||Falcons ||1.50% ||260 ||72%
Keep in mind at this point, you've probably used most of the league's better teams, and the number of people on each one is less important than who's left for the remaining competitors in your particular pools.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
At this stage of the year, I don't have to tell you why the Steelers are a good bet to beat the Rams at home, especially with St. Louis likely starting its third-string quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger
's ankle and the short week (Monday night to Saturday) are the only mitigating factors for the Steelers. I give Pittsburgh a 92 percent chance to win this game.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens were just embarrassed in San Diego last week, but they play much better at home, and they'll almost certainly be focused coming off a bad loss. The Browns play decent defense, but offer little offensively against one of the stoutest units in the game. I give the Ravens an 88 percent chance to win this game.
3. Green Bay Packers
The Bears with Josh McCown
coming in cold are a well below average NFL team, and they travel to Green Bay who should be focused off the loss in Kansas City. That said, the Packers have major offensive line issues, and the Bears are good at getting after the quarterback. Moreover, they've faced Aaron Rodgers
a lot and typically do a decent job of defending against him. Finally, Rodgers is without his top receiver, Greg Jennings
. All that said, the Bears are a major long shot to keep pace with Green Bay. I give the Packers an 87 percent chance to win this game.
4. New England Patriots
The Dolphins typically play the Patriots tough, and this particular Miami team has been above average since the mid-point of the season. Still, the Patriots are very difficult to defend, and the Dolphins should have trouble keeping pace, especially in Foxborough. I give the Patriots an 80 percent chance to win this game.
5. New Orleans Saints
The Saints have been on a tremendous run of late and are nearly unstoppable at home. The Falcons have the pieces to score points, especially now that Roddy White
and Julio Jones
appear to be at full strength. But given how consistently explosive New Orleans is, Atlanta would have to play it's absolute best game to keep up in the Superdome. I give the Saints a 78 percent chance to win this game.
6. Houston Texans
The Texans laid an egg last week, but they've been consistently good all year. The Colts had a breakthrough game, but they've been the opposite. While the upgrade from Curtis Painter
to Dan Orlovsky
is significant, as is the downgrade from Matt Schaub
to T.J. Yates
the disparity still remains large. Moreover, Indy has lost some of the desperation factor now that they've won a game, and Houston can't but be focused coming off a bad home loss. I give the Texans a 74 percent chance to win this game.
7. Tennessee Titans
I'd much prefer to see Jake Locker
get the start, but even with Matt Hasselbeck
, the Titans' passing game is miles ahead of the Jaguars' league-worst one. Otherwise, these teams are roughly similar. Still, that's a pretty big advantage, and the game's in Tennessee. I give the Titans a 73 percent chance to win this game.
8. Carolina Panthers (my pick)
The Panthers pulled off a major upset in Houston, but this game against the Bucs makes me nervous as Carolina, too, has nothing to play for, and could easily have a letdown against a league doormat. Moreover, Tampa still has weapons on offense, and Carolina's defense is one of the worst in the league. I give the Panthers a 68 percent chance to win this game.
9. Washington Redskins
The Redskins have played much better of late, but so had Minnesota until they ran into arguably the league's best team. Adrian Peterson
's healthy again, and Christian Ponder
's got another game under his belt and is another week removed from his hip injury. The Redskins should be able to take advantage of the Vikings awful pass defense, but Rex Grossman
is always at risk to make some mistakes. I give the Redskins a 67 percent chance to win this game.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have struggled of late, in large part because their schedule got tougher while Arizona has turned its season around. At this point, these are roughly equal teams, and all Cincy has going for it is home field advantage. I give the Bengals a 62 percent chance to win this game.