Week 16 Preview: All For Nothing or All For Something
This is a funny week in the NFL. A week where teams like the Giants, Steelers, and Bengals are fighting with all their might to make the playoffs. It is also a week of teams to fight for absolutely nothing at all (see: Chargers v. Jets, Bills v. Dolphins, and Raiders v. Panthers). The medley of minimal effort and playing like it’s your last day on earth creates an interesting montage of football action. Which games are worth your time? Let’s take a look.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
In Week 9, it looked like the Bengals were history. They’ve won five of their last six and find themselves in the hunt. Of course, this is possible due to the fact that the Steelers and Ravens have been doing their best to crash and burn. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on what happens) the Bengals also play both of their competitors in the last two weeks. If they can do something they haven’t done in any of their last nine games against these divisional foes (win), they’ll find themselves in control of the AFC North. For Pittsburgh, it’s back-to-back losses. Coming off a heartbreaker against Dallas in overtime, the Steelers will look to defend their turf and keep their noses in the playoff picture. They have an extremely banged up secondary, Cortez Allen missed last week, while Keenan Lewis, and DeMarcus Van Dyke left the game against Dallas injured. The Steelers held A.J. Green to just one catch in their first meeting, a challenge they’ll try to repeat with a limited secondary.
New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars
This game has the same odds of being close as Red Dawn does of winning an Oscar. A 15.5-point spread is not enough for this game, and that’s a gigantic spread. The Pats are pissed, hungry, and like to score points. This contest won’t be close, but it could change the outcome of your fantasy football championship. Non-Pats fans should tune in to the first quarter if you like well-oiled offenses. After that it will probably be over.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
I’m extremely impressed by what Pete Carroll has done in his time in the NFL. I did not expect him to win at the NFL level. Alas, the Seahawks, after a shaky middle of the season, have roared back to the spotlight. They’ve scored 108 points in their last two weeks, which is striking. Not so much for beating the crap out of the Bills, because they’re really sloppy on defense, but putting up 58 on the Cardinals who have the 4th best pass defense in the league. This offense now has a true test as the 49ers come to town. The battle between the 49ers defense and Seahawks offense is worth the watch alone. Then, you have a Seahawks defense that ranks 3rd against the pass and 10th against the run, facing off against Colin Kaepernick, making this a complete football game. No team this season has been able to go to Seattle and win a game. If the 49ers can do just that, they’ll leave champions of the NFC West.
New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens
Last Sunday for this Giants fan (but I think I speak for the majority of fans) was like watching an episode of Real Housewives of New York City. You turned it on, and 5 minutes in the voice in your head just started repeating: “this is not real life, turn it off, TURN IT OFF”. Neither team enters this contest with any momentum. If the Giants win their last two games, they’re guaranteed a wild card spot at worst (a position they’re quite comfortable with). The Ravens will seem to be without wideout Torrey Smith, who left with a concussion last Sunday. They are banged up on defense as well, with LB Jameel McClain out for the season and Ray Lewis still not back. Eli Manning will look to capitalize on these missing pieces, but something is missing. I’ve watched all 60 minutes of every game this season, and he doesn’t seem to have his form from even the early season. I’ve seen him over/under throw more receivers in the last three weeks than maybe all of last year. He needs to get his accuracy under control, and his timing down with his receivers, in order to come away with a win this week.