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Week 16 preview

SUNDAY, DEC. 22, 2013

Dolphins at Bills

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Miami (8-6, 4-3 away), Buffalo (5-9, 3-4 home)

Line: MIA by 2 1/2; O/U: 43

Synopsis: Miami still strongly in playoff hunt as it seeks its fourth victory in a row and faces Buffalo, which is minus its top QB (Thad Lewis replaces injured EJ Manuel) and No. 1 receiver (Stevie Johnson because of the death of his mother).

Pick: Dolphins 20-13

Saints at Panthers

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: New Orleans (10-4, 3-4 away), Carolina (10-4, 6-1 home)

Line: CAR by 3; O/U: 45 1/2

Synopsis: Showdown in the NFC South. If Saints win they gain division title and No. 2 NFC playoff seed. The same situation exists for Panthers if they win and prevail next week at Atlanta. New Orleans won earlier matchup at home, but struggles on the road.

Line: Panthers 24-20

Cowboys at Redskins

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Dallas (7-7, 2-5 away), Washington (3-11, 2-5 home)

Line: DAL by 3; O/U: 53 1/2

Synopsis: Dallas gets in the playoffs if it wins its last two, but its defense is horrendous (NFL-worst 427.3 yards per game allowed). Because Washington (No. 9 offense) can move the ball even with backup QB Kirk Cousins, Redskins can break six-game slide.

Pick: Redskins 33-30

Bucs at Rams

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Tampa Bay (4-10, 1-5 away), St. Louis (6-8, 4-3 home)

Line: StL by 4 1/2; O/U: 42 1/2

Synopsis: Both teams have had their struggles, but St. Louis comes off big win at home over New Orleans and its improving defense faces the league’s worst offense (283.7 yards a game).

Pick: Rams 26-17

Browns at Jets

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Cleveland (4-10, 1-5 away), New York (6-8, 5-2 home)

Line: NYJ by 2; O/U: 41 1/2

Synopsis: Both teams are slogging along. NYJ will try to send Cleveland to sixth loss in a row. Jets rely on ground game, but Browns are No. 9 vs. run. Cleveland has given up an average of 33.0 points in its five-game slide. The weather (66 degrees, slight chance of rain) is better than matchup.

Pick: Jets 23-17

Colts at Chiefs

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Indianapolis (9-5, 4-3 away), Kansas City (11-3, 5-2 home)

Line: K.C. by 7; O/U: 46 1/2

Synopsis: Possible playoff preview has suddenly potent K.C. (41.8-point average in its last four outings) facing a foe that is 3-3 in its last six and has sputtered since a midseason injury to receiver Reggie Wayne that finished his year.

Pick: Chiefs 30-24

Vikings at Bengals

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Minnesota (4-9-1, 0-6-1 away), Cincinnati (9-5, 6-0 home)

Line: CIN by 8; O/U: 47 1/2

Synopsis: Cincinnati still controls its postseason fate despite a clunker last week in Pittsburgh, and QB Andy Dalton gets to work against the league’s No. 29 pass defense. Minnesota expects to have RB Adrian Peterson back from the foot injury that kept him sidelined last week. CIN has league’s No. 5 run defense.

Pick: Bengals 27-23

Broncos at Texans

Kickoff: 10 a.m. (CBS)

Records: Denver (11-3, 1-5 away), Houston (2-12, 4-3 home)

Line: DEN by 10; O/U: 52 1/2

Synopsis: Denver, still on track for top seed in AFC playoffs despite loss last week to San Diego, now faces a foe that has lost 12 in a row and goes back to QB Matt Schaub, benched at midseason. HOU has the NFL’s No. 2 pass defense. DEN minus key WR Wes Welker (concussion).

Pick: Broncos 27-20

Titans at Jaguars

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Tennessee (5-9, 1-5 away), Jacksonville (4-10, 1-6 home)

Line: TEN by 5 1/2; O/U: 44 1/2

Synopsis: Teams out of playoff contention meet and the only real selling point might be what could be the final home game for Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew. He’s in the last year of his contract, but has a hamstring injury and it probably won’t be known until game time if he’ll play.

Pick: Jagaurs 23-17

Giants at Lions

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.

Records: New York (5-9, 2-5 away), Detroit (7-7, 4-3 home)

Line: DET by 10; O/U: 48 1/2

Synopsis: N.Y. has lost three of four and managed just 181 yards last week in shutout loss to Seattle, which could be just the formula underachieving Detroit needs to keep its playoff hopes alive. The Lions are third in the league in passing.

Pick: Lions 30-17

Raiders at Chargers

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m.

Records: Oakland (4-10, 1-6 away), San Diego (7-7, 3-3 home)

Line: SD by 10; O/U: 50 1/2

Synopsis: Inconsistent S.D. is just as capable of a clunker as a dominating performance here to follow its upset win in Denver, but gets a foe that has lost four in a row and given up an average of 41.3 points in its last three. Chargers QB Philip Rivers, having a solid year, faces the No. 23 pass defense.

Pick: Chargers 30-23

Steelers at Packers

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m.

Records: Pittsburgh (6-8, 2-5 away), Green Bay (7-6-1, 4-2-1 home)

Line: GB by 2 1/2; O/U: 44 1/2

Synopsis: With QB Aaron Rodgers not yet ready to return from a broken collarbone, Matt Flynn gets the call again after engineering a big rally to beat Dallas last week. But Pittsburgh’s “D” (No. 11) is much better than Dallas’ and gets back DE Brett Keisel from a foot ailment to help slow Pack RB Eddie Lacy.

Pick: Steelers 24-20

Patriots at Ravens

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m. (CBS)

Records: New England (10-4, 3-4 away), Baltimore (8-6, 6-1 home)

Line: BAL by 2; O/U: 44 1/2

Synopsis: Ravens QB Joe Flacco plans to wear a brace on his left knee, which was injured last week, as he operates vs. the NFL’s No. 24 defense. Baltimore has won four in a row at home, and New England isn’t the same minus injured TE Rob Gronkowski (right knee), whose season is done.

Pick: Ravens 24-23

Bears at Eagles

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (NBC)

Records: Chicago (8-6, 3-4 away), Philadelphia (8-6, 3-4 home)

Line: PHI by 3; O/U: 56 1/2

Synopsis: Philly tries to bounce back after upset loss in Minnesota and unleashes NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy on the league’s worst run defense, which allows 152.4 yards per game. But Philly let Matt Cassel throw for 382 yards last week.

Pick: Eagles 34-27

Falcons at 49ers

Monday: 5:40 p.m. (ESPN)

Records: Atlanta (4-10, 1-6 away), San Francisco (10-4, 5-2 home)

Line: SF by 14; O/U: 45 1/2

Synopsis: What could be the final game in Candlestick Park, where the 49ers have played since 1971, San Francisco will try to augment its playoff posturing against a foe that has been playing hard despite not being a playoff contender. Atlanta’s “D” has 11 turnovers in the last three outings (two wins).

Pick: 49ers 27-17


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