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The Reuters global sports blog

NFL Week 16 picks

December 26, 2009

Well the Lineman hopes everyone is having a good holiday and would like to add to all the good cheer with a winning Week 16.

Happy Holidays and may all your picks be winning ones.

Record: 47-43. Last week 3-3. Pick of the Week: 8-7

PICK OF THE WEEK
Dallas Cowboys (9-5) at Washington Redskins (4-10) (Line Cowboys minus 6 1/2)
The Dallas Cowboys finally put an end to talk of a December swoon — for one week at least — after rolling into the Big Easy and taking down the unbeaten Saints last Sunday. After three tough contests against the Giants, Chargers and Saints, the Cowboys get a doormat for Christmas and it could be the perfect gift.

With the Giants and Packers also making moves and the NFC East crown still within reach, the Cowboys will have to keep their foot on the gas against the Deadskins, who were demolished 45-12 by G-Men in a Monday Night Massacre.

Cowboys against Redskins remains one of the NFL’s nastiest rivalries and Washington has won three of last four at home over the Cowboys. The Redskins could not provide disgruntled fans a better Christmas present than atoning for their Monday Night stinker by denting Cowboy playoff hopes.

But Christmas and a short week make a bounce back by the Redskins unlikely. This game should at least provide Skins fans a chance to say “goodbye” to coach Jim Zorn, who will finish the holidays dusting off his resume.

They managed to take care of that Health Care thing in Washington this week but doubtful they can fix the Redskins as well.

Take the Cowboys and give up the 6 1/2.

Carolina Panthers (6-8) at the New York Giants 8-6) (Line Giants minus 6 1/2)
Both New York and Carolina come into Sunday’s clash riding the momentum from impressive wins, the G-Men laying a Monday Night beating on the Redskins and the Panthers mauling Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.

But the Giants are the only team playing for something this week and get the Panthers at home for what is a must win contest against the Cats.

Giants defence has not played up to expectations but the New York offence is one of the NFL’s best, Eli Manning looked like older brother Peyton shredding the Redskins defence for nearly 300 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Manning has a new fleet of young gifted receivers but will need production from running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Carolina’s pass defence is among the best and with the possibility of bad weather in the Meadowlands, the G-Men may have to get it done on the ground.

Panthers QB Jake Delhomme is out with a broken finger, putting the burden on running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. The Panthers have been 6-2 against the spread the last eight games but the Giants need a big win.

Giant problems this week for the Panthers. Take the Giants and give up the 6 1/2.
 
Seattle Seahawks (5-9) at Green Bay Packers (9-5) (Line Packers minus 13 1/2)
A late December visit to the Frozen Tundra is not exactly on the top of any team’s Christmas wish list but the Seahawks get a cross-country trip for a date with the seething Packers, who are still stinging from a heart-breaking loss to the Steelers.

Locked in a wildcard race with the Giants and Cowboys, the Packers cannot afford any slip-ups against the Seahawks, who displayed little heart a week ago when they were hammered at home by the Buccaneers.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who has thrown for nearly 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns (only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have more TD strikes) should add to those numbers against a leaky Seattle secondary that ranks among the NFL’s worst.

The spotlight will be on the Packers defence that could not stop Ben Roethlisberger and a Steelers attack that racked up more than 500 yards in total offence. The Seahawks, however, do not have the weapons to pose a similar threat and have won just once on the road this season.

Lambeau Field is tough to play any time of the year and in December can be down right hostile.
Take the Packers and give up the 13 1/2.
 
Kansas City Chiefs (3-11) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) (Line Bengals minus 13 1/2)
After two tough road losses and dealing with the death of wide receiver Chris Henry, the Bengals return home with a chance to lock up the AFC North title.

It is a big number for the Bengals to cover, considering their penchant for dramatic late finishes and having only once beaten an opponent by more than 10 points.

But this will be an emotional home-coming for the Bengals, who will look to light it up against a Chiefs defence that is second worst in the NFL. Bengals running back Larry Johnson, who had an ugly split with the Chiefs earlier this season, would like nothing better than pile up some serious yardage against his former-team while Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco look in sync.

Bengals continue to ride an emotional rollercoaster continues with big win.
Take the Bengals surrender the 13 1/2.

Tampa  Bay Buccaneers (2-12) at New Orleans Saints (13-1) (Line Saints minus 14 1/2)
New Orleans’ perfect season ended last week and now the focus on the postseason begins.

The lure of perfect season had begun to weigh heavily on the Saints the last few weeks, as they eked out wins over Washington and Atlanta before falling to Dallas.

Now free of that burden, the Saints must regain the swagger and the Buccaneers provide the perfect tonic for Drew Brees and company. The Saints’ top-ranked offense should be on the march against a Tampa defence that ranks near the bottom of the NFL, just ahead of the Rams, Chiefs and Lions.

Tampa Bay impressed with an away win over the Seahawks last week but rookie QB Josh Freeman has tossed 14 interceptions in just eight games, something that will not go unnoticed by Saints ball-hawking secondary led by Darren Sharper.

The Bucs have had a few bright moments this season but Sunday will not be one of them. The Saints on the march towards the playoffs.
Take the Saints and give up the 14 1/2.

Detroit Lions (2-12) at San Francisco 49ers (6-8) (Line 49ers minus 11 1/2)
A meaningless game between two teams looking ahead to next season. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for the Lions, who went all last season without a victory and have played hard this year despite a devastating run of injuries, including quarterback of the future Matthew Stafford, who has seen his rookie campaign end with knee and shoulder injuries.

Who starts at QB this weekend for the Lions this week? Who knows? The choices; Drew Stanton or Daunte Culpepper, who was benched last week.

San Francisco coach Mike Singletary has indicated that Alex Smith is his quarterback of the future (for now) and wide out Michael Crabtree is showing signs of becoming a reliable go-to guy.

But it’s 49ers bruising running back Frank Gore who will test the NFL’s worst defence. San Fran usually plays tough at home and Lions have gone 19 road games without a win. Make that 20.
Take the 49ers and give up the 11 1/2 points.

PHOTO: Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is sacked by New York Giants Jonathan Goff during the second quarter of their NFL football game in Landover, Maryland, December 21, 2009. REUTERS/Molly Riley

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