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NFL Week 16 picks: Patriots ban Brady’s personal trainer, NFC playoff madness

Leave your personal trainers at home. We’ve got no room for them this holiday season.

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NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Week 16 and the proverbial poop has hit the fan.

The race for a spot in the NFC playoff picture is nearing its final turn, the AFC playoff race is infinitely less exciting and dude, Tom Brady isn’t allowed to bring his personal trainer on flights with him anymore. I feel like this is a bigger deal than people are making it out to be.

Whatever. Let’s get to the picks:

COLTS +13.5 over Ravens

Let’s be real, folks. At this point in the season, with the lack of success I’ve had, I’m throwing darts. But don’t get it confused, I throw darts better than the best of ‘em.

Of the Colts eleven losses this season, only five of them were by more than 14 points—twice to the Jaguars, the Titans, the Rams, and the Seahawks. I don’t think the Ravens are better than any of those teams. Sure, the Ravens are playing for their playoff lives, but this one isn’t going to have a lot of scoring—Vegas has the over/under set at 41. The forecast for the game is bizarre for a December football game in Baltimore, 62 degrees and lots of rain right around gametime.

PACKERS +9 over Vikings

The home underdog is a powerful force, especially when this underdog is a division rival with nothing to play for but the role of spoiler. The Packers are better off with Brett Hundley anyways. Aaron Rodgers is washed. Three interceptions against the North Carolina Panthers? Get real, big kid.

LIONS -3.5 over Bengals

Home underdogs are pretty overrated at this point in the season. No real reason to read into anything like “playing spoiler” or “playing to make plays, not mistakes.”

Cincinnati is going to be cold, around 38 degrees at kickoff, but Detroit practiced outside this week, so they’re good to go.

BUCCANEERS +10 over Panthers

Partly because we’re all Bucs fans at this point, but also because I still don’t think the Panthers are all that good of a football team. Their defense is good, not great, and their offense is just above average. The fact that they’re 10-4 is a mystery to me.

Thomas Davis had his two-game suspension reduced to just one game because the NFL’s short-mindedness and frivolous nature when it comes to handing out suspensions is entirely laughable and a complete sham. But the Panthers will be down one of their key, veteran players on defense nonetheless—Davis is the 26th ranked linebacker on Pro Football Focus.

BROWNS +6.5 over Bears

Nothing would make me happier than to see the Bears give the Browns their first victory of the season. Well, one thing would make me happier: I really need a new backpack for Christmas. The one I’ve had has a small hole in near one of the zippers and it’s getting bigger by the day. Great backpack though, it’s lasted me eight and a half years. Swiss Gear makes one helluva backpack.

CHIEFS -10.5 over Dolphins

If you wanted to sum up the Dolphins season in one sequence of events, last week would work perfectly. The Dolphins bring the game within one touchdown and a two-point conversion away from tying things up with the Buffalo Bills and keeping their playoff hopes alive. They need to recover an onside kick because they don’t have enough timeouts and there’s too little time. And they make it happen! Oh man, the Dolphins are in business and things are looking like they might make it happ... Jay Cutler throws an interception to where only Tre’Davious White could catch it on the very first play from scrimmage. Game over.

BILLS +11.5 over Patriots

Speaking of the Bills, they’re my new AFC team. I’ve adopted them. They haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, they managed to make it to four straight Super Bowl games and lose every single one of them. This is the perfect team for me to root for at this point in my life.

They even have a head coach who not-so-secretly isn’t very good in Sean McDermott. How in the Buffalo Blue Hell do you bench Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman when you’re in the midst of making a run at the playoffs? Remember when I talked about a new backpack being the one thing that could make me happier than seeing the Bears lose to the Browns on Sunday? Seeing Peterman throw five interceptions, more than Taylor had thrown all season, made me really freaking happy.

SAINTS -6 over Falcons

I’m extremely here for this revenge game for Sean Payton and the Saints. The over/under for this one is 52.5, but I’m willing to bet the Saints hit the over on their own under the roof of the OG Mercedes-Benz sponsored Superdome.

CHARGERS -6.5 over Jets

After seeing their playoff hopes be put on life support last week against the Chiefs, the Chargers are in full-on “we can only control what we can control” mode when it comes to thinking about the playoffs. The first step is beating a Bryce Petty-led Jets team which means that first step should be fairly simple.

RAMS -6.5 over Titans

Remember when the Titans were the darling of so many national pundits at the start of the season? Talk about a team that no one knows almost anything about, the Titans were that team on the cusp of greatness. Marcus Mariota suffered a nasty leg injury at the end of last season, but he, like Derek Carr, were going to make the leap this season. They were officially about to become the next big things in the league. Well, Mariota has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season, and the Titans have had, by far, the most bizarre path to a winning record at this point this season—losing games to the Cardinals, 49ers, and Dolphins.

Meanwhile, the Rams have officially become the most fun team to watch in the NFL since Carson Wentz got injured, and they absolutely crushed the Seahawks last week at the Clink in a way I’ve never seen the ‘Hawks lose since Pete Carroll took over as head coach.

WASHINGTON -3 over Broncos

This might be the least interesting game of the week, so here’s the story of the least interesting gift I’ve ever received.

I had to have been 11 or 12, and the only thing that mattered at this point in my life was getting all of the new EA Sports titles each year at Christmas. Every Christmas Eve, my family would head over to my dad’s parents house and we’d exchange gifts. My uncle, who I barely had any type of relationship with, got me a gift. I was surprised, grateful, but super skeptical of what would be inside.

I ripped off the wrapping paper and immediately recognized the box. That dreaded box every child will open at some point during this holiday season: the clothes box. Dude got me a sweater with a T-Rex on it. I was so unimpressed I didn’t even know how to fake being appreciative about it. Like, the amount of thought that went into that gift was zilch. If anyone could have recovered the security footage of him going into the Kmart he purchased it from to see him literally wrangle the first thing he saw off of a hanger, that would have been an interesting gift.

49ERS +4.5 over Jaguars


CARDINALS -3 over Giants

I’ve got nothing.

COWBOYS -4.5 over Seahawks

Back when the Seahawks suffered the loss of Kam Chancellor before their Week 11 matchup with the Falcons, which came right on the heels of losing Richard Sherman for the season due to a torn Achilles, I thought the Seahawks had too tough a hill to climb to make it to the playoffs. This game is absolutely crucial to the Seahawks playoff chances and after seeing what Todd Gurley did to this Seattle rush defense last week, I can only imagine what the new-and-improved Ezekiel Elliott will do in his comeback from suspension.

STEELERS -9 over Texans

I’ll never forgive whatever force it was that ended Deshaun Watson’s rookie season and left us with the pile of garbage the Houston Texans are now.

RAIDERS +9 over Eagles

This one I picked by the slimmest of margins. I’m talking like a folded notecard-sized margin.

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