Week 16, and the playoff picture is becoming more clearer with only three weeks to go in the regular season. Taking a look at who is on top, in the AFC, Buffalo owns the #1 seed which would earn them a bye. Kansas City is currently in the #2 seed having clinched a playoff berth. #3 is Cincinnati with the #4 seed being Tennessee. Currently holding the three wildcard slots are Baltimore, the Chargers and Miami. Right now, New England and the Jets are on the outside looking in, with Jacksonville still in contention for the AFC South title. Las Vegas, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis are still in the hunt.
In the NFC, Philadelphia is in the #1 seed, followed by Minnesota and San Francisco. All three teams clinched playoff berths. Tampa Bay is in a four-way fight with New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta for that #4 spot and a home playoff game. Dallas has clinched the #5 wildcard spot, the Giants are currently in the #6 seed, with Washington holding on at #7. Teams on the bubble are Seattle and Detroit at 7-7 and Green Bay at 6-8.
Anything can happen with three weeks to go in the regular season, so fasten your seat belt for a wild ride into the new year.
Last Week’s Results
Against the Spread: 6-5-5
Season to Date
Against the Spread: 99-81-38
Thursday, December 22
Jacksonville at NY Jets
Line: NY Jets by 1
A big win by the Jags over Dallas on a last second pick-6 by Rashawn Jenkins, 40-34 in Overtime was the final. The Jags were down 27-10 midway thru the 3rd quarter, when Trevor Lawrence led the team by throwing 4 TD’s on 318 passing yards. Riley Patterson’s 48-yard FG with time running out in regulation led to overtime and the win for the Jags. They keep their slim chances for the AFC South title alive as they head to the Meadowlands for a matchup against the Jets. It was 4th and 1 for Detroit, and Gang Green anticipated a rushing play, but they were badly fooled as the Lions scored the game winning TD, 20-17. Mike White was not given clearance by doctors to play. That gave Zack Wilson the start, 317 passing yards, 2 TD’s and pick on the day. He’ll get another start and a chance to get Gang Green back in the playoff hunt. They need to be perfect against a Jags team that’s beginning to play well of late. Look for a close fight to the finish.
Smooth’s Pick: NY Jets (26-21)
Saturday, December 24 (Christmas Eve)
Atlanta at Baltimore
Line: Ravens by 7½
Both teams are coming off losses. The dirty birds fall to New Orleans, 21-18. Tyler Allgeier with 17 carries for 139 yards and a TD, Cordarelle Patterson with a score in the losing effort. They still stay a game behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South race. As for the Ravens, Jk Dobbins rushed for 125 yards, but couldn’t’ find the end zone. They fall to Cleveland, 13-3 and damaged their chances to win the AFC North. The key in this game will be whether Lamar Jackson can play. He was not at practice due to injury. Vegas odds are on Jackson getting the start, and unless they can get him in their to jump start their stalled offense, this game will be a hard-fought battle. Still, I think the Ravens can pull it out…just barely.
Smooth’s Pick: Baltimore (17-12)
Buffalo at Chicago
Line: Bills by 9
This is one of five games that is looking at sub-freezing temperatures on game day. -9 is the forecast in Windy City. But it shouldn’t affect either team, as they’re used to playing in the elements. The Bills got a 25-yard FG from Tyler Bass with :02 seconds left in regulation to seal a hard-fought win over Miami, 32-29. QB Josh Allen with 4 TD’s on 301 passing yards. Allen also rushed for 77 yards including one for 44 yards. The Bears fall to Philadelphia, 25-20. Justin Fields, goes over 1,000 rushing yards for the season. He also threw for 2 TD’s in the loss. Even though the Bills have won their last three games, they haven’t covered the spread. However, with a weaker Bears secondary, their losing streak against the spread should end.
Smooth’s Pick: Buffalo (33-19)
Cincinnati at New England
Line: Bengals by 3½
Cincy was down 17-0 going into the half, but Joe Burrow and company went on a 34-point run, and also forced four turnovers, on route to a 34-23 win over Tampa Bay. Joe Burrow with 4 TD passes in the win. Tre Flowers and Germain Pratt with INT’s over Tom Brady. They head to Foxborough, where it was a crazy end to the Patriots/Raiders game. Tied at 24 and with no time left on the clock, Rhamondre Stevenson lateraled the ball to Jakobi Meyers, Meyers then attempted a second lateral, but it was picked off by Chandler Jones, who took it 48 yards for the walk-off TD, 30-24 Las Vegas wins it. You had to see it to believe it, folks. Stevenson with a wasted effort, 19 carries for 172 yards and a score. Even worse, they knocked themselves out of the final wildcard spot with three games to go. No time to cry about it. With the Bengals running on all cylinders as of late, it will take a massive effort by the Pats to win this Saturday.
Smooth’s Pick: Cincinnati (24-19)
Detroit at Carolina
Line: Lions by 3
Since starting the season 1-6, the Lions have gone 6-1 to pull to a .500 record and very much in the playoff hunt. The gutsy call by HC Dan Campbell to run a pass on 4th and 1 was the difference maker in the win over the Jets. That was a 51-yard reception from Jared Goff to Brock Wright with 1:52 to go in regulation. They head to Charlotte to take on the Panthers, who ruined their chances to tie Tampa Bay in the NFC South. They would fall to Pittsburgh, 24-16. Not a good look for the offense, who couldn’t get past a stingy Steelers defense in the 4th quarter, settling for three Eddy Pineiro FG’s. Only 21 total yards rushing on the day for Carolina. If they think they’re going to get a break against the Lions defense, they got another thing coming. Look for the Lions to continue their impressive run.
Smooth’s Pick: Detroit (26-17)
Houston at Tennessee
Line: Titans by 5
Even though the Texans are 1-12-1 on the year, they’ve still been able to play hard in just about every game they’ve been in. They’ve also taken some of the best teams to the limit. They did it again in their loss to Kansas City. They were actually up 21-16 going into the 4th quarter, but their defense couldn’t hold Patrick Mahomes at bay. They would fall to the Chiefs, 30-24. Davis Mills was back at QB for the Texans, three TD’s scored in the loss. They look to play spoiler in an AFC South matchup in Nashville against the Titans. Ryan Tannehill with a TD run late to tie the game with the Chargers at 14, but with :08 seconds in regulation, a Cameron Dicker FG wins it for the Bolts, 17-14. Derrick Henry with 104 yards rushing puts him over 1,300 yards for the year, he also scored his 12 TD of the season in the loss. A win keeps the Titans in the driver’s seat. A loss, and a Jags win, and we got ourselves a crapshoot. However, look for Henry to slow things down and secure the win for the Titans.
Smooth’s Pick: Tennessee (20-13)
NY Giants at Minnesota
Line: Vikings by 3
An impressive night for rookie edge rusher Kavyon Thibodeaux. Five tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble that led to him scoring a TD, as the G-Men beat Washington the second time around, 20-12. Thibodeaux was also given NFC Defensive Player of the Week Honors. Saquon Barkley with a TD run, as he goes over a 100 total yards on the game. Big Blue also broke a 4-game winless streak and take their playoff chances to Minneapolis, where the Vikings spotted Indianapolis 33 points before they pulled off the biggest comeback in NFL history. They win it in overtime, 39-36. Another big day for Justin Jefferson with 123 yards and a TD, that puts him over 1,600 yards and a chance for 2,000 with three games remaining. The young secondary of Big Blue will be exposed all day, so their best chance to win will be ball control. This was one of my locks a few months earlier, but the way the Vikings have been playing of late, a win is not a sure thing. Look for a closer than expected matchup.
Smooth’s Pick: Minnesota (25-23)
New Orleans at Cleveland
Line: Browns by 3
Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill threw for TD passes, as the Saints got a big win over their rival Atlanta. New Orleans also got to rookie QB Desmond Ridder four times for sacks, as they keep pace with Tampa Bay for the top spot in the division. The Saints travel north to Cleveland, where Deshaun Watson got his first win as Browns QB in their win over division rival, Baltimore. 161 yards passing and a TD for Watson. Myles Garrett with 1½ sacks now puts him at 13½ for the year. With the weather being a major factor, look for this game to be a low scoring affair, with the edge going to the Browns.
Smooth’s Pick: Cleveland (13-10)
Seattle at Kansas City
Line: Chiefs by 9½
The Seahawks ran into a eager rookie QB and got hammered at home against San Francisco, falling 21-13. Geno Smith with 238 yards passing and a TD. Their playoff hopes took another dive, as they fall to 7-7 and sunk their chances for the division. Now, they must fight for that final wildcard spot, and must do it against a heavily favored KC team, who were taken to the limit against Houston. Not a good day for the bettors if you had them winning by 14½ points. Patrick Mahomes did score three times, two for passing TD’s and one rushing TD. If KC can get their run game going, this would be the time to do it, as Seattle’s run defense has been torched for 201.6 rushing yards in 5 games. Add that to their passing attack, and you could see the bitter end of an unlikely Seahawks playoff run.
This is my lock!
Smooth’s Pick: Kansas City (31-20)
Washington at San Francisco
Line: Niners by 7
The Commanders seemed to think they were robbed on the final drive of their game against the Giants. WR Terry McLaurin was called for not being on the line of scrimmage and pass interference wasn’t called on 4th and goal. It didn’t matter, as the game was lost on Taylor Heinicke’s fumble on the Giants 1 yard line earlier. A lost night for Jahan Dobson, who caught 12 catches for 102 yards and a TD in the loss. They head to Santa Clara to take on the Niners, who continue to win under rookie QB Brock Purdy against Seattle. Christian McCaffrey also continues to pay dividends for San Francisco, with 138 total yards and 3 TD’s on the night. The win, and the Seattle loss clinched the division, and another victory will keep them at pace with Philadelphia for the #1 overall seed. Washington controls their own destiny and a loss would be devastating for their playoff chances. I like the Niners to continue their trek toward the top seed.
Smooth’s Pick: San Francisco (24-17)
Philadelphia at Dallas
Line: Cowboys by 5
The win against Chicago ended with some devastating news, as QB Jalen Hurts suffered a shoulder injury and is questionable for this Saturday’s game with the Cowboys. Hurts rushed for 3 TD’s in the victory. He also threw for 315 and had 2 INT’s on the day. Gardner Minshew would get the start if he doesn’t get the okay. As for Dallas, Dak Prescott continues to have issues turning the ball over, as was the case last weekend against Jacksonville. The game ending pick-6 was one of two on the day for Prescott, and he currently has 11 this season. No doubt, the loss of Jalen Hurts is bad for the Eagles, but Minshew is a solid back up, as was the case when he was in Jacksonville. But I give the slight edge to the Eagles based on their defense. They can certainly rattle Dak Prescott all day. Still, this will be an outstanding showcase for Christmas Eve.
This is my upset special!
Smooth’s Pick: Philadelphia (27-24)
Las Vegas at Pittsburgh
Line: Steelers by 3
This weekend is the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, the play that began the Steelers dynasty during the 70’s. Both teams meet again, but the setting is different. Both teams are two games out of the wild card and need help badly. For the Raiders, they had their own immaculate finish against New England last weekend. Derek Carr with three TD passes in the win. Pittsburgh went on the road and got a big win over Carolina. Mitch Trubisky stayed out of trouble, and scored on a 1-yard rushing TD to win it for the Steelers. This game could determine where Trubisky will end up next season. As for the Silver and Black, they’ll need to play mistake-free and keep the score close.
Smooth’s Pick: Pittsburgh (21-19)
Sunday, December 25 (Christmas Day)
Green Bay at Miami
Line: Dolphins by 4
Aaron Rodgers threw for 229 yards passing and a TD to Aaron Jones, as the Packers beat the Rams, 24-12. AJ Dillon also rushed for two TD in the win. They head to South Beach to take on the Fish, who benefited from a clear environment in Buffalo and kept the game close, until late in the game, when the snow and wind began to fall. It was just a matter of time until the elements gave the Bills the home field advantage and the win. Tua Tagovailoa with 234 yards passing and 2 TD, Raheem Mostert with 136 yards rushing, Jaylen Waddle with 3 catches for 114 yards, one was a 67-yards for a score. With the division still in reach, the Fish needs to step up. They have the advantage based on home field and the Pack’s inconsistency.
Smooth’s Pick: Miami (30-17)
Denver at LA Rams
Line: Broncos by 2½
Both teams were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, so this will simply be a game that determines who has a job next season. Brett Rypien led the Broncos to their first win since October, beating Arizona, 24-15. Rypien with 197 yards passing and a TD. Latavius Murray with 130 yards rushing and a TD in the win. They head to LA to take on the Rams, where Baker Mayfield’s magic ran out in Lambeau Field on Monday night, only 111 yards passing, but he did throw a TD in the loss. With the Rams being injury riddled, look for the Broncos to steal a win on the road.
Smooth’s Pick: Denver (19-16)
Tampa Bay at Arizona
Line: Bucs by 6½
The Bucs were cruising along in the first half in their game against Cincinnati, and if you would have turned off the channel under the assumption they would have won, you would have been mistaken. Turnovers were the death of them, four allowed by the Bucs offense, as they collapsed over the Bengals. The good news is that they’re still on top of the AFC South, but they can no longer afford to lose any more games. They head to Glendale to take on the Cardinals, where Kliff Kingsbury is a name to watch for on Black Monday at the end of the season. He could get the ax after Arizona was eliminated in their loss to Denver. Injuries played a big part of the Cards failure this season. Three INT’s between Colt McCoy and Trace McSorley. James Conner with a late TD in the loss. With McSorley getting the start, look for Brady and company to take full advantage of a banged and bruised Cards team.
Smooth’s Pick: Tampa Bay (24-12)
Monday, December 26
LA Chargers at Indianapolis
Line: Bolts by 4
Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley each had rushing TD’s as the Bolts squeaked by Tennessee to put themselves in the 2nd wildcard spot at 8-6. Justin Herbert with 313 yards passing, but also threw two picks in the win. The Bolts head to Indianapolis, where the Colts were humiliated after blowing a 33-point lead to Minnesota. To make matters worse, RB Jonathan Taylor left the game on the opening drive after a hard tackle. On Monday, the team put him on season ending IR. The loss didn’t help Jeff Saturday’s chances of becoming the permanent head coach, but a strong in the next three games could at least give him some clout. Look for both teams to fight it out, on Boxing Day.
Smooth’s Pick: LA Chargers (22-18)
And that’s gonna do it for Smooth NFL Football Picks for week 16. Week 17 picks premieres next Thursday at 830am eastern time, with repeat broadcast up to 30 minutes before gametime on Sunday. And don’t forget to tune into our College Football Playoff picks, next Wednesday at 830am. We’ll give our analysis on who will win between #1 Georgia and #4 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and #2 Michigan and #3 TCU in the Peach Bowl. Our College Playoff picks airs repeat broadcasts right up to 30 minutes before the first game on Saturday, December 31st. Subscribe on Apple, Amazon Music, Google, IHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcast, or read our picks on our blog at smoothjazzandmore.com.
We want to close out this broadcast by remembering a key figure from that Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty in the 1970’s. Franco Harris, who caught the Immaculate Reception 50 years ago, which led to the game winning TD, and began the Steelers reign throughout the decade, died on Wednesday at the age of 72. Harris played in Pittsburgh for 12 years, making the Pro Bowl 9-times and won four Super Bowl championships with the legendary team that featured many stars that ended up in Canton. Harris ended his career in Seattle in 1984, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
We take this opportunity to remember Franco Harris and give our condolences to his friends and family.