We have another massive week of NFL action and our free NFL picks have sorted through the best five games of the weekend for you!
The NFL season is winding down, and playoff races are heating up. This week 16 slate includes a few old rivalries and some major storylines as teams look to make a late-season playoff push.
Our NFL picks help find who that might be and provide you with our best bets from five of Week 16’s games.
Saturday, December 25th
Cleveland Browns @ Green Bay Packers – 4:30pm ET
The Browns will be looking to bounce back from a devastating last second loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. While the Green Bay Packers will be looking to move one step closer to clinching the NFC’s top overall seed with a victory, and virtually put a sword into the Browns playoff hopes in the process.
The Green Bay Packers continue their pursuit for the number one seed in the NFC, as they host a Cleveland Browns team that’s hanging on by a sliver to sneak into the AFC Wild Card picture. Cleveland fell to the Oakland Raiders 14-16 on Monday, but they were without quarterback Baker Mayfield, receiver Jarvis Landry, and more due to COVID. I lily those two will be back on Christmas Day to give the Browns a necessary boost in the final weeks of the season.
Meanwhile, the Packers are flying high. They’ll look to further cement their shot at being the one-seed, and having pro bowl defensive lineman Kenny Clark back will definitely help. Aaron Rodgers has maybe had a turbulent year off the field, but you’d never guess that based on his recent performances in-game. Over his last four games, Rodgers has thrown 13 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He’ll look to keep those MVP-worthy stats coming against a Browns team that’s decent against the pass, but should in no way frustrate Rodgers at home. I’ll go with the Packers.
Michael’s NFL Pick: Green Bay Packers -7.5 (-105)
The Browns lost in a close game to the Raiders without Baker Mayfield and other key players. However, the Browns now face the top team in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have been on a roll lately with 3 straight wins, including wins against the Rams and Ravens who are 2 of the toughest teams in the league. The Browns will be getting Baker back this week as well as many of their other important players from injury so the offense should be able to muster up more than 14 points like they did last week. This will be even more important as they face the Packers who have scored 30 or more points in their last 4 straight games. The Browns are still right in the AFC Wildcard race as 10 AFC teams sit on 7 or 8 wins including the Browns. All of these teams have the possibility of taking one of those 2 wild card spots.
Business in Green Bay 🛫 pic.twitter.com/wCEaZ1mYQr
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 24, 2021
The Packers on the other hand have a clear lead over the rest of the NFC and have locked in a playoff appearance. Aaron Rodgers has been playing phenomenal football with 30 touchdowns and 4 interceptions this season and 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in the last 4 games. Rodgers will have a significant challenge against the Browns and their formidable defense. The Browns have shut down offenses allowing 22 points or less in their past 4 games. This will be a case of good offense vs good defense and the winner will be determined by the play of Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense.
Mike’s NFL Pick: Cleveland Browns (+265)
The Cleveland Browns lost a heartbreaker on Monday night to the Las Vegas Raiders, which severely damaged their playoff hopes. While they are not quite in a win-or-go-home situation, this game against the Green Bay Packers has serious implications on the Browns’ postseason fate. A win would allow them to still control their own destiny, but a loss would leave them on the outside looking in needing some help to make a second straight playoff appearance. Thankfully for them, they should get most of their players back that missed out in last week’s loss to Las Vegas.
The Green Bay Packers are currently the top team in the NFC, as the season heads into the last three weeks. They have already won the NFC North division as well. Led by the potential Most Valuable Player award winner, Aaron Rodgers, the Packers seemingly have their sights set on a date in the super bowl to win their second ring in the last 12 years. But first, they will be looking to lock down the number one seed and earn an all-important bye week to start the playoffs. Last week they beat a very competitive Baltimore Ravens team that was without star QB Lamar Jackson, now they will be looking for a second straight win over an AFC North team. As for the result of this one, I expect the Packers to pick up the win at home on Christmas Day, and nearly put an end to the Cleveland Browns playoff hopes this season.
Tony’s NFL Pick: Green Bay Packers (-330)
Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals – 8:15 pm ET
Two of the league’s top teams will battle it out in sunny Arizona in a huge Christmas Day matchup in this one. The Indianapolis Colts are 8-6 and right in the middle of the pack in a crowded AFC, while the Cardinals will be looking to keep pace for the top seed in the NFC in this one as they currently sit at 10-4 on the year.
Just a couple of weeks ago the Arizona Cardinals were soaring, not only leading the NFC West but the NFC Conference, as the number one seed. But in recent weeks they’ve had some rough performances, suffering back-to-back losses including a shocking 30-12 defeat to the lowly Detroit Lions. At 10-4, the number one seed is definitely still in play, and if they want to truly move past their embarrassing defeat last Sunday, a win against an 8-6 Indianapolis Colts team would be a great way to start.
Indianapolis have been one of the many AFC teams that have been unpredictable throughout the season. But as of late they’ve been one of the league’s hottest teams, going 5-1 in their last six, with their only loss being by a touchdown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This has been thanks in large part to their likely all-pro running back Jonathan Taylor, who has over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground this season. Taylor looks to keep his MVP-caliber season alive, but he’ll have to do it without All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson and two other offensive linemen as they go up against an Arizona rush defense that’s just below the league average in rush yards per game. Still, if there’s time for the Cardinals defense to step up, it would be a game where the Colts offensive line is a bit hobbled. I think Arizona will bounce back after a tough loss last week, and edge past a very good Colts team
Michael’s NFL Pick: Arizona Cardinals (-126)
The Colts come off a strong win against the Patriots and look to build steam against the Cardinals. The Colts have been on a roll with the running game taking the lead. Despite just 5 completed passes on 12 attempts, the Colts still beat the Patriots. Jonathan Taylor has been the key reason for this and has been the league’s best back behind the Colts’ strong offensive line. Taylor had 170 yards and 1 touchdown which included the game-clinching touchdown run where Taylor ran 67 yards to seal the deal. The Colts are the team to beat in the AFC and look similar to the Titans last year which got carried on Derrick Henry’s shoulders.
The Cardinals are the complete opposite. After a fast season start, the Cardinals have looked average lately and this was highlighted by a loss to the 1-11-1 Detroit Lions. The Cardinals have been inconsistent and look horrible against the Lions mustering just 12 points. The Cardinals’ defense hasn’t looked the same since JJ Watt got injured and has allowed 30 points in 2 straight games. The Cardinals will need to stop the Colts running game and force Wentz to throw the ball. Too bad the Cardinals haven’t been great at stopping the run lately.
Mike’s NFL Pick: Indianapolis Colts (+108)
This game is likely to be the best game of the week out of the five games featured in this article. As the Indianapolis Colts head to Arizona to play the Cardinals as both teams are looking to lock down playoff spots this weekend. The Indianapolis Colts are much more in need of a victory than Arizona, especially with the Tennessee Titans victory on Thursday night. As the Colts are 8-6 in a very pack and competitive AFC wild card and AFC South division race. While the Cardinals are 10-3, and have even more breathing room after the 49ers took the loss on Thursday night. With a win Indianapolis keeps their division title hopes alive, with a loss Tennessee will clinch the AFC South and leave the Colts in a terrible position for an AFC Wild Card spot.
As for the Arizona Cardinals they still have their sights set on the number one seed. However those hopes are slipping away with each passing week, and they also took a huge blow after they were upset by the Detroit Lions last weekend. With a victory they would put themselves in a great position to climb higher in the standings as a huge matchup with the Dallas Cowboys is set for week 17 of the season. It would also allow them to remain in first place of the NFC West as they are neck and neck with the Los Angeles Rams at 10-4. As for the result of this game, I have the Arizona Cardinals picking up the victory at home against the Indianapolis Colts on Christmas Day.
Tony’s NFL Pick: Arizona Cardinals (-126)
Sunday, December 26th
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals -1pm ET
This AFC North contest is going to go a long way in determining the division winner and potentially one of the wildcard spots for the conference. As the 8-6 Cincinnati Bengals welcome the 8-6 Baltimore Ravens to Paul Brown Stadium with first place in the division on the line.
The Baltimore Ravens have slipped to second place, after three consecutive losses—all by three points or less. They’ll have a chance to put those rough couple of games behind them as they face the team that’s currently sitting in front of them in the AFC North: the Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore might still be without former MVP Lamar Jackson, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Last week, Tyler Huntley filled in just fine as he had four total touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers (two throwing, two rushing). Huntley missed Friday’s practice with an illness, but the team has him listed as questionable, with the expectation to play on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Bengals edged out a pesky Denver Broncos team on Sunday, after they had lost their previous two games to the L.A. Chargers and San Francisco 49ers. While the win wasn’t their prettiest, it was enough for them to jump the Baltimore Ravens in the standings. They’ll depend heavily on young quarterback Joe Burrow, to improve their lead over the Ravens, as Baltimore has been the best team at stopping the run this season. He’ll have the home crowd to help him, but with how good the Ravens are upfront, he’s going to have a lot of weight on his shoulders. That being said, the Bengals run game is not very far behind the Ravens, so a lot of pressure will be on Huntley as well. Ultimately I’ll pick the team that has the home-field advantage and the better quarterback behind center.
Michael’s NFL Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (-198)
The Ravens are coming off a tight loss against the Packers where they lost by just 1 point despite the absence of Lamar Jackson. Tyler Huntley looked great on the field with a 215 yard and 73 rushing yard performance which was paired with 4 touchdowns thrown or run in by Huntley. Huntley adopted his inner Lamar and nearly pulled off the win. The Ravens are looking dangerous and the return of Lamar will be key for this team. The Ravens defense did look suspect after now losing all of their marquee cornerbacks. The Passing attack will need to step up but more importantly, the Ravens need to work out how to stop Joe Mixon.
🗣 See you in The Jungle ➡ https://t.co/FCJlzkEYHb
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 24, 2021
The Bengals are tied at 8-6 with the Ravens and need a win here to keep their 1st place in the AFC North. After picking up back-to-back losses, the Bengals have bounced back with a good win against the formidable Broncos defense. Burrow did his job and led a balanced Bengals attack which minimized mistakes. The Bengals will need to take advantage of the air attack in this game to beat the Ravens. I think the Bengals are positioned to win this game as they will face a rusty Lamar and will be able to take advantage of injuries in the Ravens secondary to put up big points.
Mike’s NFL Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (-198)
The Baltimore Ravens will likely be without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the second straight week, but backup quarterback Tyler Huntley has proven he can hold his own with his last 2 performances against Cleveland and Green Bay. The Ravens will need a victory in this one as they have already lost to the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season and can feel their division lead slipping away with each passing week. They are currently tied with the Bengals but are losing the tiebreaker due to the previously mentioned loss. With a loss in this one, the Ravens would likely need some help to make their way back into the AFC playoff picture.
The Cincinnati Bengals are the most surprising team of 2021 in not only my opinion but most people’s opinions. Nobody, not even Bengals fans could’ve expected Cincinnati to be in first place of a very competitive AFC North division with only three weeks to go in the season. Joe Burrow is a likely winner of the National Football League’s Comeback Player Of The Year award winner as he is putting together a great season, barely 12 months removed from a devastating knee injury that cut his rookie year short. As for the result of this game I have the Cincinnati Bengals completing the sweep of the Ravens this season with a win.
Tony’s NFL Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (-198)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs – 4:25 pm ET
The Steelers are hoping to score another upset win this weekend to further extend their playoff hopes into next weekend’s primetime clash against their rivals the Cleveland Browns. While the Kansas City Chiefs are hoping to lock up the AFC West division with a victory at home this weekend in this big game.
Despite some last-minute controversy, the Pittsburgh Steelers won a gritty game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, keeping their playoff hopes alive. As a team, the Steelers don’t have stats on either side of the ball that will blow your mind, but they’ve still found ways to win. While Ben Roethlisberger didn’t do much to impress against the Titans, he looked like his old self in his previous two games, throwing 5 touchdowns and over 500 yards between those games. If he can continue to play like that, and the team can get consistent performances from rookie running back Najee Harris, they might just be able to sneak into the playoffs.
But if the Steelers thought their game against the Titans was a battle, they’re about to enter a whole other storm this weekend as they face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Kansas City has definitely been far from perfect this season, but they’ve still been able to power themselves to a 10-4 victory. They’ve knocked off all three of their division rivals in consecutive weeks, including a big 34-28 victory against the L.A. Chargers, where they constantly answered the Chargers scoring in the fourth quarter and eventually in overtime to take the win. Patrick Mahomes showed the league why he still might be its best quarterback as he threw for over 400 yards with 3 touchdowns. This week, the Chiefs might be smart to take a more ground-based attack as the Steelers struggle heavily against the run. While the Steelers are starting to streak, I think Kansas City will provide a roadblock as opposed to another opportunity. I’ll go with the Chiefs to cover.
Michael’s NFL Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -8.5 (-106)
Despite the controversy, the Steelers beat the Titans with a 16 point 2nd half. However, this was more a result of poor play by the Titans than a strong Steelers performance. Granted the Steelers’ defense looked great causing 4 turnovers which sealed the win for them. The Steelers did somewhat struggle in the run game allowing over 100 rushing yards from Foreman. The Steelers are within striking distance of the top of the AFC North but they face a trending Chiefs team that is the number 1 seed in the AFC. I wouldn’t have too much confidence if I was a Steelers fan that they could produce another defensive masterclass as they face Mahomes and co… The Steelers will need the offense to step up and make plays to keep up with Mahomes. This isn’t likely as the Steelers have scored over 30 just once this season.
The Chiefs look more like their former selves with a strong passing attack to outscore the Chargers. Mahomes looked good with 410 yards in the air, feeding Kelce and Hill who had 191 yards and 148 yards receiving respectively. This should scare the AFC as the Chief’s warm-up before the playoffs start. I think this game is an easy Chiefs win. I’m taking the line here because the Steelers will be out of their depth here.
Mike’s NFL Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -8.5 (-106)
The Pittsburgh Steelers picked a huge season-saving win over the Tennessee Titans last weekend, now they will need to get another one against another top team in the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Pittsburgh comes into this game with a record of 7-6-1 on the year and will likely need to win every game the rest of the year if they want to find themselves in the playoffs at the season’s end. However it will be no easy task as they play a hot Chiefs team, then the Browns, then finish the year with the Ravens. It has been an up and down season for the Steelers so you never really know what to expect every time they step on the field.
The Kansas City Chiefs had a slow start to the 2021 season but have since caught fire and put themselves into a position to clinch the AFC West with a win on Sunday afternoon. Kansas City is currently on a seven-game winning streak coming into this one and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon as they could realistically finish the rest of the way out with victories. As for the result of this game, I expect them to pick up the win over the Steelers effectively ending Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes this season.
Tony’s NFL Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -8.5 (-106)
Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders 4:25pm ET
Both the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders have continued to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture. Denver lost a gritty game last week to the Cincinnati Bengals, as they couldn’t generate any offense despite holding a solid Bengals offense to just 15 points. A big part of the poor offense was due to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffering a nasty head injury in-game. The team turned to Drew Lock to take over, along with stealthy running back combo Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. While he didn’t play terribly, Lock isn’t exactly a playmaker, so much like the Bengals, expect the Raiders to turn a lot of focus toward the run game.
Meanwhile, the Raiders got a gritty win themselves, as they outlasted a Baker Mayfield-less Cleveland Browns team on Monday. Now, they get a chance to get consecutive wins and go above .500, and they hope to generate momentum either through David Carr on offense or Maxx Crosby on defense. The Raiders will try to ride their home crowd to victory, but they also just barely beat a Nick Mullens-led Browns team. Based on the Broncos’ always dependable defense and the Raiders’ tough defensive line going up against a mediocre Drew Lock, I’ll go with the under here.
Michael’s NFL Pick: Under 41 (-115)
The Raiders and Broncos both sit on 7-7 and are right in the midst of the 10 team battle for the final 2 playoff spots. The Raiders won in a close game against the Browns but they were facing a backup quarterback. The Raiders aren’t looking like a contender as they’ve lost 3 of their last 5, including a 48-9 loss to the Chiefs. The Raiders will need consistency on offense as the former strong suit of the team is now letting them down. The Raiders have scored more than 15 points just once in the last 5 games. This is bad considering they face one of the league’s best defenses in the Denver Broncos.
Nothing like a rivalry game.
All the ways to tune in 📺📻
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) December 23, 2021
The Broncos have allowed just 17.4 points per game this season and are one of the best defensive teams in the league. The quarterback play has really let them down but the defense has really allowed them to stay in games. Against the Raiders I think the defense does the job and holds them off. The question is whether or not the Broncos can score enough to beat the Raiders. I think the Broncos can pull off a tight win here.
Mike’s NFL Pick: Denver Broncos (-112)
This Huge AFC West contest has major playoff implications for both teams involved. As the Denver Broncos take on the Las Vegas Raiders in a huge game that will go a long way in smoothing out the AFC Wild Card race for several teams as we head into the last few weeks of the season. The Denver Broncos come into this game with a record of 7-7, and off of a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. They will likely be without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater after his horrific injury last weekend. They will need a win to keep their season alive in this one. Denver has been an up and down team all season, so they could either show up hot or cold against the Raiders this weekend. Earlier in the year Denver lost the first match up to Vegas so we will see this time around if they made any adjustments.
The Las Vegas Raiders picked up a hard fought comeback, season saving win over the Cleveland Browns last Monday night after the game was delayed due to COVID issues within the Browns organization. Now they will need another one this week against the Denver Broncos at home. It has been a crazy year for the Raiders as a fast start was quickly put out by losses, controversy and injuries. But they will have to put all of that aside and likely win out if they want to find themselves in the playoffs this season. As for the result of this game, I look for the Raiders to do exactly that as I expect them to pick up another last second win with yet another Daniel Carlson game winning Field Goal.
Tony’s NFL Pick: Las Vegas Raiders (-104)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.