Week 16 ...
... hope it's different than Week 15. Too much unpredictability, too many blowouts.
OK, somebody is bitter because he went 8-8 on his picks.
Don't misunderstand: A blowout is fun here and there, especially with all of the parity and close shaves permeating the league. But so many of Week 16's contests felt like dry shaves: Bucs 0, Saints 41 ... Giants 0, Falcons 34 ... Seahawks 50, Bills 17 ... Panthers 31, Chargers 7 ... Lions 10, Cardinals 38 ... and so on.
All of these odd thrashings wreaked havoc on the NFL.com Power Rankings ...
Yeah, Luke. But at least I made up for it by screwing up the picks, too. Stay consistent, stay classy.
Before you get into the games below and start formulating arguments (send 'em to @Harrison_NFL, and I'll hit you back), you might notice that I once again showed faith in the Giants turning it on. It was at precisely this time last year that New York started ballin', kick-starting a six-game win streak in Week 16 that culminated with a win in Super Bowl XLVI.
Giants-Ravens might have been the toughest call of the weekend, by the way. As for the rest ...
Elliot Harrison went 8-8 on his predictions for Week 15, giving him a 118-57-1 record since taking over this space in Week 4. How will he fare in Week 16? His picks are below, with home teams listed second:
This Saturday night matchup would seem to be what's known in the football vernacular as a "trap game" for the Atlanta Falcons. I don't see it that way. The Detroit Lions aren't doing the little things well, i.e., stuff that doesn't show up in the stats column: special teams, intangibles, etc. What's one surefire way to decipher when that's occurring with a football team? When that team loses a game 38-10 despite only allowing 196 yards to the opposition. Try reading that again. (How is that even possible?) The Falcons don't turn over the football much and they sure as heck don't give penalty freebies. Atlanta gets to 13-2 this week, everybody. #ATLvsDET
Carson Palmer will get his garbage yards, but it's hard to trust the Oakland Raiders' offense on the road against a hot Carolina Panthers club that's won three of four. The Panthers' average margin of victory in those wins is 14 points. Carolina has been hot, yes, but Cam Newton has been redonkulous. On fire. En fuego. Last five games: Thirteen total touchdowns, zero turnovers. #OAKvsCAR
This has the makings of a shootout. Yes, I know the New Orleans Saints just pitched a shutout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Get that image out of your head. Now. Tony Romo has been playing at a much higher level than Josh Freeman. Not to mention, this game is not in New Orleans. (Alright, I just mentioned that.) The Saints' pass rush is not a team strength, so they won't be able to capitalize on the Dallas Cowboys' biggest weakness: the offensive line. I do anticipate Drew Brees exposing Dallas' inside linebackers in coverage against backs and tight end Jimmy Graham. Thus, this will be a high-scoring game. #NOvsDAL
The Tennessee Titans must get a career-building game from Jake Locker; the kind of performance where he shows everyone why he went eighth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. I'm talkin' about an outing in which he makes plays with his legs and his arm. Pinpoint passing, please. As much as Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been employing the run lately, it's hard to imagine Green Bay providing the suddenly opportunistic Titans with many extra offensive possessions. Basically, Mark Sanchez doesn't live here, man. #TENvsGB
OK, to get some NFL history accounting out of the way, here's your Adrian Peterson prognostication: 128 rushing yards and a touchdown. That will leave Peterson 165 yards shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record with one game to go. Peterson will add 28 through the air, joining a host of other Minnesota Vikings pass catchers who won't surpass 50 yards receiving -- the line of demarcation for mediocrity at wideout. Vikings' drives will stall in the red zone, giving Blair Walsh opportunities, but ultimately leading to postseason dreams fading in Houston. Look for Matt Schaub to have a nice day throwing the ball, though I expect his attempts to hover around 30 (tops). #MINvsHOU
Not sure why, but I can't see Chad Henne staking the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 31-3 lead, a la Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday night. When teams like the Jags -- who have virtually no pass rush -- face an up-tempo offense like Tom Brady's New England Patriots, it usually spells doom. The no-huddle attack makes pass rushers' legs very rubbery, and these guys have trouble getting to the quarterback as is (15 sacks, dead last in the NFL). Cecil Shorts will score a touchdown on a Pats secondary that allows the most big plays in the league. Mark it down. Too bad Shorts' heroics will be three touchdowns, uh, short. #NEvsJAC
Andrew Luck versus ... Brady Quinn? We've been told it will be Quinn, not Ricky Stanzi. So, since we know it's Quinn, the final score will be 26-14, Colts -- instead of 26-7. Vick Ballard should be a quality play in fantasy, and should provide his real team with a lift, too, given that Luck leads the NFL in turnovers and the Colts don't have to be one-dimensional against a suspect Kansas City Chiefs defense. After Ballard's 105-yard effort in Houston, there's no reason he shan't get 20 carries this weekend. Shan't = oldenglishcontractionfor Chiefsrundefensesucks #INDvsKC
I thought about picking the Buffalo Bills, especially considering how they dominated the Miami Dolphins a little over a month ago on Thursday Night Football. The issue here is that Miami is still competing for a playoff berth, while most of the Bills seemed content sleepwalking through last week's 33-point loss to the Seattle Seahawks. If Miami's front seven does a better job containing C.J. Spiller than they did in the first meeting, this should be the home team's game. #BUFvsMIA
Believe it or not, Philip Rivers has only tossed one pick in the last four games. Unfortunately, he's lost three fumbles over the same span. He has 22 turnovers in 2012, and against a tough New York Jets defense in a potentially windy stadium ... I wouldn't trust Rivers. The San Diego Chargers will have no Ryan Mathews, which is to say they will have no running game -- kind of like when Mathews was healthy. San Diego is mustering just 93 yards per game on the ground ( 27th in the NFL), while averaging an awful 3.7 yards per carry. The way to exploit the Jets is by running the football. That's not happening with the Bolts in town. Greg McElroy is. #getexcited #SDvsNYJ
The Washington Redskins stay relevant in the NFC East race, or better yet, stay atop the division by beating the downtrodden Philadelphia Eagles. Redskins fans are going to hate me for picking their team, as the reverse jinx had been working well: I kept picking against the Redskins, they kept winning. On the other side of the ledger, LeSean McCoy is expected to get the start at tailback, but he'll have a reduced workload. Translated: McCoy will get two carries, down from his customary five. Seriously, Eagles fans, what kind of chance will McCoy get to carry his team to victory? Would love your thoughts on the particular matter -- @Harrison_NFL is the go-to. #WASvsPHI
Andy Dalton would have to raise his game -- specifically his pocket awareness -- to deliver a road win for this Cincinnati Bengals team, something that would put Cincy in position to play for the AFC North in Week 17. Getting BenJarvus Green-Ellis going will be huge. The Bengals were not able to accomplish this in the first meeting between these two. Cincinnati managed just 80 rushing yards as a team, putting the game on Dalton's shoulders and ultimately losing, 24-17. Meanwhile, Jonathan Dwyer stung Marvin Lewis' defense for 122 yards on 17 carries. Ditto Heath Miller, who had six catches and a touchdown. I think Miller burns the Bengals' safeties for another score, giving him nine touchdowns in what has been a career year. #CINvsPIT
Sam Bradford has an opportunity to make something of his third season in the NFL over the next two weeks and secure his status as the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback of the future. In Week 17, he gets a chance to prove his mettle against one of the best defenses in the NFL (Seattle). This week, Bradford should be able to exploit the worst secondary in the NFL, as least statistically speaking (4,517 gross yards and 27 touchdowns). Who knows what happened to Josh Freeman last Sunday in New Orleans, but he left some big plays on that field. The defense did its part by allowing 41 points. Rams win this one on the road to get back to .500. #STLvsTB
Denver Broncos fans are VERY sore at me regarding their team's placement in the NFL.com Power Rankings. My sources inform me that picking them to beat the Cleveland Browns will not assuage the "disrespect" I've shown. Well, here's respect: Jack Del Rio has done an outstanding job as Denver's defensive coordinator. The Broncos force the highest percentage of three-and-out drives in the league, the most negative plays, and are the top defense in the NFL on first down. Cleveland's best hope to beat these guys on their turf would be having Trent Richardson run 25 to 30 times for 150 yards. Unfortunately, the rookie running back hasn't averaged four yards per carry in a game in over a month. #CLEvsDEN
They are who we thought they were. The Arizona Cardinals, that is. Yes, they won 38-10 last week. But they did so with more awful offense. Arizona couldn't crack 200 total yards, yet still won big. This installment of Bears- Cardinals marks the sixth anniversary of the incredible comeback by the Headless Horsemen -- the Rex Grossman Bears -- in Arizona. It also marks the anniversary of the infamous Dennis Green postgame tirade. Legendary. First, Chicago wins this game forcing four turnovers. Second, I spoke with Coach Green (formerly of the Vikings and Cardinals) for 30 minutes the other day about his role as 49ers wide receivers coach from 1986 to 1988. What a cool guy. Go look up Jerry Rice's leap as a player from '85 to '86, and you'll learn something about Green's pedigree. I wonder what he could do with the Cardinals' Michael Floyd. #CHIvsAZ
Perhaps it's my non-East Coast bias, but my sense is that the New York Giants rebound this week on the road in Baltimore. It won't be easy. Eli Manning's inconsistency at this stage of the season is mind-boggling. There is no question the Baltimore Ravens are exposable on the back end of the defense, but if weather conditions and Manning's ineffectiveness are more than just intermittent factors, then New York is done. The running game has been hit or miss, and Ahmad Bradshaw has a knee issue. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco must play better than he did at home last week versus Denver. If he doesn't, the Ravens are done, especially with a defense that's struggled all season and currently sits at 26th in the NFL. #NYGvsBAL
Don't sit Marshawn Lynch in fantasy. He'll get you at least 80 yards rushing. He's a tough matchup for the Niners, and will probably get you a touchdown, too. But he can't tackle Colin Kaepernick. A huge key to this dogfight in the Northwest will be the ability of Seattle's front seven to keep Kaepernick in the pocket. On the other side, Russell Wilson must protect the football. This would be a horrible time for an out-of-character, three-interception mulligan from the rookie quarterback. Remember, Wilson was victimized by several key drops from Seahawks receivers when they played at Candlestick. If they catch the football, this game certainly could go to the club with the sweetest home-field advantage in pro ball. #SFvsSEA