Gregg Rosenthal went 11-5 on his predictions for Week 15 of the 2020 NFL season, bringing his total record to 141-81-1. How will he fare in Week 16? His picks are below.
Friday, Dec. 25
New Orleans Saints 27, Minnesota Vikings 21
4:30 p.m. ET (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon) | Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)
We are likely hitting the last few games of Drew Brees’ career, a reality that has everyone around this Saints team tense coming off a two-game losing streak. Last week’s version of Brees wasn’t better than Taysom Hill, but the rust may come off against a pass rush-poor Vikings team. More importantly for this Christmas Day revenge game, Kirk Cousins’ roller-coaster season looks primed to crash against a strong Saints front.
Saturday, Dec. 26
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34, Detroit Lions 23
1 p.m. ET (NFL Network) | Ford Field (Detroit)
The Lions’ defense isn’t just bad; it’s been decimated by injuries. The Bucs’ offense isn’t just streaky; it’s “score 31 points with Tom Brady throwing for 320 yards in a half after being shut out for 30 minutes” streaky. An avalanche of Bucs points will arrive sometime Saturday afternoon, whether it’s early or late.
Arizona Cardinals 26, San Francisco 49ers 19
4:30 p.m. ET (Amazon) | State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
The Cardinals are arguably coming off their most impressive two-game stretch of the season. Meanwhile, Raheem Mostert is back out of the 49ers’ lineup. Nick Mullens might need Tommy John surgery, with C.J. Beathard returning at quarterback. George Kittle oddly appears likely to return, but Richard Sherman is hurt again. This entire 49ers season has been an injury report, and this is a matchup they struggled with back in Week 1, when they were somewhat healthy. Scratch that: Their injury report was a mess back then, too.
Miami Dolphins 27, Las Vegas Raiders 17
8:15 p.m. ET (NFL Network) | Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
Maybe it will be the Dolphins’ special teams unit making a big play. Maybe it will be the Dolphins’ expanding run game exposing a blown assignment by the Raiders. Maybe it will be Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota making a killer mistake. Somehow, some way, these Dolphins always find a way to win against mediocre teams in ways that seem unrepeatable if they didn’t repeat them every week.
Sunday, Dec. 27
Cleveland Browns 30, New York Jets 17
1 p.m. ET (CBS) | MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
Can a 1-13 team have a letdown game? With the Jets having little else to play for besides the antipathy of their fans, the Browns should have few problems moving the ball. Sam Darnold theoretically also has a plus matchup, but he remains a quarterback in Year 3 who doesn’t do much well, even when he’s well protected.
Baltimore Ravens 30, New York Giants 20
1 p.m. ET (FOX) | M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
I’m not ready to fully yell “THE RAVENS ARE BACK!” because their defense has burgeoning issues and they are still missing their best blockers, but New York doesn’t look like the team to expose those flaws. For all the deserved love the Giants’ defense has received this season, they have fallen victim to two creative, diverse running games in the last two weeks. The Ravens will make it three straight.
Houston Texans 28, Cincinnati Bengals 23
1 p.m. ET (FOX) | NRG Stadium (Houston)
It’s hard to overstate how well Deshaun Watson has played this season and how poor virtually every other component of the Texans operation remains. That’s why I can’t quite trust Houston winning easily on Sunday.
Chicago Bears 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
1 p.m. ET (CBS) | TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone says that Gardner Minshew and Mike Glennon are suddenly competing for snaps in practice again, which is either obfuscation or deserves condemnation. Much of Mitchell Trubisky and David Montgomery’s recent surge can be tied to the incredibly soft stretch of defenses they’ve faced, a stretch that continues in Jacksonville.
Kansas City Chiefs 34, Atlanta Falcons 20
1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
The Chiefs haven’t posted a two-score win since they stomped the Jets in Week 8. The Falcons have been competitive in every Raheem Morris-coached game this season. These streaks are long overdue to end.
Indianapolis Colts 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 21
1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Heinz Field (Pittsburgh)
Two of the best defenses in football vs. short passes against these two veteran quarterbacks could result in a lot of short drives. The Colts have a superior running game, superior play-caller and better matchups when DeForest Buckner and friends face the struggling Steelers offensive line.
Carolina Panthers 23, Washington Football Team 21
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) | FedExField (Landover, Md.)
I may regret picking a Panthers team that finds ways to lose games over a Washington team that has punched above its weight all season, but early-week practice reports indicate Dwayne Haskins will remain the quarterback over still-limited Alex Smith, with Antonio Gibson’s status up in the air. It wouldn’t feel right if this dreadful NFC East were decided before Week 17.
Los Angeles Chargers 34, Denver Broncos 31
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) | SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
Drew Lock does too much. Justin Herbert is not allowed to do enough in the Chargers’ run-run-pass offense. This is weirdly the toughest game to pick all week, but it doesn’t seem right for these Broncos, -18 in turnover differential, to sweep any team this season.
Los Angeles Rams 20, Seattle Seahawks 17
4:25 p.m. ET (FOX) | Lumen Field (Seattle)
Sean McVay is 5-2 against Pete Carroll. The Rams’ offense usually knows how to attack Carroll’s defense, while Russell Wilson had one of his worst days all year against Brandon Staley’s attack in Week 10. In a Rams season where they rarely look like the same team two weeks in a row, this matchup sets up well for a bounce-back game and control of the NFC West.
Philadelphia Eagles 28, Dallas Cowboys 24
4:25 p.m. ET (FOX) | AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
The Eagles’ path to the playoffs is not that complicated. Win both games, hope Washington loses this week and hope the Giants don’t finish 2-0. That’s realistic! Jalen Hurts is a better passer this early in his career than anyone expected, and the Cowboys’ last two wins came from a fluky +7 turnover margin. Look for the Eagles’ defensive line to mercifully end the Cowboys’ season.
Green Bay Packers 33, Tennessee Titans 31
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) | Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)
The Packers are 1-2 against teams currently with winning records, which is a weirdly small sample size. The Titans are 3-3 in such games and often part of the biggest NFL game of the week. In a matchup that is likely to include a ton of points and MVP moments for Aaron Rodgers, I like the Packers’ pass rushers and physical cornerbacks to make a few more plays than the inert Titans defense.
Monday, Dec. 28
Buffalo Bills 33, New England Patriots 20
8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
The Bills still have plenty to play for with the No. 2 seed in the AFC available, not to mention another benchmark, prime-time game for Josh Allen. Bill Belichick has been Allen’s kryptonite throughout his career, with the Patriots holding Allen to 154 yards with a pick and a fumble back in Week 8. (Allen has three TDs, six INTs and just over a 50% completion rate against the Patriots in his career.) The Bills are a much different team and Allen is a much different quarterback these days, with Monday night likely to provide the latest proof.
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