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NFL Week 16: Previews, predictions

This season we've asked Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones and readers to forecast the NFL results. To make your picks, go to

49ers at Lions, 1

Line/OU: Lions by 10; 43 Niners have won nine straight and 14 of 15 in series. San Francisco's Blaine Gabbert set career highs with 30 completions and 50 attempts last week vs. Cincinnati. Anquan Boldin is one reception from becoming 13th player in NFL history with 1,000 career catches. LB NaVorro Bowman tied with the Colts' D'Qwell Jackson (formerly Seminole High) for league-high 136 tackles. Lions' Matthew Stafford set franchise record by completing 88 percent of passes in Monday night win at New Orleans. Calvin Johnson has been limited to one reception in consecutive games for first time in career. DE Ezekiel Ansah has 13½ sacks, trailing only Raiders LB Khalil Mack in league.

JONES: Lions 19, 49ers 14 READERS: Lions 100 percent

Colts at Dolphins, 1

Line/OU: Dolphins by 2½; 44 Colts are making first visit to Miami since 2009. Colts rank next to last at 4.9 yards per play, and their defense is allowing 4.8 yards per rush, second worst in NFL. Adam Vinatieri needs one field goal to join Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson as only players in league history with 500 career field goals, and nine points to extend his league record of 100-point seasons to 18. Dolphins are being outgained by 75 yards per game, second worst in league. Jarvis Landry needs three catches to become first Miami player with 100 receptions in a season. Long snapper John Denney is expected to play in 175th consecutive game, extending his franchise record.

JONES: Dolphins 16, Colts 10 READERS: Dolphins 55.2 percent

Cowboys at Bills, 1

Line/OU: Bills by 6½; 42 A loss assures Cowboys their worst finish since going 5-11 in 2002. QB Kellen Moore is set to make first career start after taking over for Matt Cassel last week. Dez Bryant has TD catch in 14 straight games vs. AFC opponents, the league's longest interconference streak since 1970. He is out today (foot, ankle). TE Jason Witten has reception in 117 consecutive games, tied with Hall of Fame WR Michael Irvin for longest in team history. The Bills have been eliminated from playoff contention for 16th straight season, the league's longest active drought and tied with the 1936-51 Lions for eighth longest in league history. Buffalo's 20 sacks are fewest through 14 games since team had 19 in 2007.

JONES: Bills 20, Cowboys 10 READERS: Bills 89.7 percent

Browns at Chiefs, 1

Line/OU: Chiefs by 11; 42 Cleveland needs 220 yards passing for 4,000 for season. Johnny Manziel is expected to start for a third straight game. Cleveland ran for season-best 230 yards two weeks ago vs. San Francisco. Gary Barnidge is tied with Ozzie Newsome for most TD receptions among Browns tight ends with nine. Kansas City's defense is second to Carolina with 20 interceptions. Teams are tied for league lead with four TD returns. QB Alex Smith has 28 wins in first three seasons with Chiefs, most in franchise history. Cairo Santos has made four field goals of 50 yards or more this season, tied with Nick Lowery (1980) for most in Chiefs history. LB Tamba Hali needs one sack to pass former DE Neil Smith (861/2) for second in franchise history.

JONES: Chiefs 27, Browns 10 READERS: Chiefs 100 percent

Patriots at Jets, 1

Line/OU: Patriots by 3; 45½ The Patriots are second team in NFL history with at least 12 regular-season wins in six consecutive seasons (2010-15), joining Indianapolis, which had seven straight (2003-09). They clinched a first-round playoff bye for NFL-record sixth straight season. They lead league with 11 byes since current NFL playoff format instituted in 1990. With a win, they clinch No. 1 seed and homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs. Tom Brady is 22-6 vs. Jets, including 1-1 in playoffs, as starter, with 42 TDs, 13 INTs and 6,894 yards. Jets' Brandon Marshall is tied with Al Toon for most catches in single season in team history, 93. Marshall and Eric Decker have combined for 165 catches, 2,191 yards receiving and 21 TDs (most combined in team history). They rank first among NFL receiver tandems in receptions, second in yards and tied for first in TDs. Ryan Fitzpatrick has 26 TD passes, three shy of Vinny Testaverde's team record set in 1998.

JONES: Patriots 28, Jets 21 READERS: Patriots 62.1 percent

Texans at Titans, 1

Line/OU: Texans by 3½; 40½ Texans can win AFC South with victory and Colts loss at Miami being easiest scenario. Brandon Weeden threw for 105 yards with one TD in his Texans debut last week and will make first start for Houston. DE J.J. Watt needs 1½ sacks to join the late Reggie White as the only players with 15 or more sacks in three of first five seasons. Titans' Zach Mettenberger will make his ninth start; he threw for 242 yards with two TDs coming off bench last week for injured rookie Marcus Mariota. Titans rookie Dorial Green-Beckham had six receptions for team-high 113 yards at New England last week. Delanie Walker leads team with career-high 935 yards receiving and needs 65 yards to become first Tennessee tight end with 1,000-yard season.

JONES: Texans 17, Titans 9 READERS: Texans 89.7 percent

Panthers at Falcons, 1

Line/OU: Panthers by 6½; 47 Carolina has clinched South Division and first-round bye, and with a win they clinch homefield throughout the NFC playoffs. The Panthers had NFL-best 10 players, including QB Cam Newton, selected for the Pro Bowl. LB Thomas Davis is the only player in the league with at least five sacks (51/2) and three INTs (3). Falcons' Devonta Freeman is tied for league lead among running backs with 12 TDs (10 rushing, two receiving). The former FSU standout's 10 rushing TDs lead NFL. Julio Jones leads league with 118 catches and leads NFC with 1,544 yards receiving. Roddy White is one of nine active players with 800 career receptions. Patrick DiMarco is top-rated fullback in league by Pro Football Focus.

JONES: Panthers 30, Falcons 10 READERS: Panthers 82.8 percent

Steelers at Ravens, 1

Line/OU: Steelers by 10; 47 Since the beginning of the 2008 season, Pittsburgh and Baltimore rank 1-2 in fewest points allowed. Steelers' Antonio Brown has 50 career catches against Baltimore — most among active receivers in regular season — but has only one TD against Ravens. Former Ravens star Jacoby Jones returns to Baltimore for second time this season. He was with San Diego earlier. Steelers seek their 11th straight win in December. Ben Roethlisberger leads league with six games of 350 yards passing. This is first time since 2008 that Ravens have faced Steelers without QB Joe Flacco (knee); Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen or Ryan Mallett will start. Clausen has started past two games, throwing for 555 yards, two TDs and three INTs as Schaub healed a chest injury suffered nearly three weeks ago. Baltimore must win one of its final two games to avoid tying worst record in franchise history (1996).

JONES: Steelers 31, Ravens 15 READERS: Steelers 100 percent

Jaguars at Saints, 4

Line/OU: Saints by 3; 51½ Jaguars' Blake Bortles has a club record 31 passing TDs. T.J. Yeldon ranks third among league rookies with 740 yards rushing. Allen Robinson (1,141) is first Jaguar with 1,000 yards receiving in a season since Jimmy Smith in 2005. The Saints guaranteed consecutive losing seasons for first time since Sean Payton became coach in 2006. They are 3-4 at home this season. Saints WR Brandin Cooks has seven TDs in past seven games. DE Cameron Jordan has 17 sacks in his past 22 home games. He has eight sacks, forced fumble and fumble recovery in past nine.

JONES: Jaguars 20, Saints 17 READERS: Saints 58.6 percent

Rams at Seahawks, 4:25

Line/OU: Seahawks by 12; 40½ The Rams haven't won in Seattle since 2004. St. Louis' Todd Gurley is third in the league with 1,023 yards rushing despite missing first two games of season. Gurley is one of three Rams to rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie, joining Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Jerome Bettis. WR Tavon Austin is the first player since Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965 with five TD receptions, four rushing TDs and punt return TD in same season. The Seahawks clinch No. 5 seed in NFC playoffs with a victory and a Vikings loss. Russell Wilson is the first in NFL history with three or more TDs passing and zero interceptions in five straight games. WR Doug Baldwin is the third player in league history with two or more TD catches in four straight games. Baldwin has 10 TDs in past four games, tied for most in four-game span.

JONES: Seahawks 30, Rams 16 READERS: Seahawks 100 percent

Packers at Cardinals, 4:25

Line/OU: Cardinals by 4½; 50½ This matchup is the second-oldest in the NFL, dating to 1921, when the Cardinals played in Racine, Ill. Green Bay LB Julius Peppers has 14 sacks in his past 18 games. K Mason Crosby broke a franchise record with his ninth 100-point season. Aaron Rodgers needs one TD pass for fifth 30-TD season. CB Sam Shields out for second straight game with concussion. Cardinals have scored a franchise-record 445 points, and their 52 TDs are one shy of franchise mark, set in 1948. Arizona's eight straight wins are two short of franchise record, also in 1948. Arizona is only team with more TDs (52) than punts (51). Seventeen Cardinals have scored TDs, most in NFL. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is 25-4 in his last 29 starts. Larry Fitzgerald needs five catches to top his career single-season best of 103 set in 2005, his second year in league.

JONES: Cardinals 28, Packers 27 READERS: Cardinals 82.8 percent

Giants at Vikings, 8:30

Line/OU: Vikings by 6; 44½ The Giants have been eliminated from wild-card contention but are mathematically alive in NFC East race. Giants star WR Odell Beckham has been suspended for game by NFL for "multiple violations of safety-related playing rules" last week stemming from tussles with Panthers CB Josh Norman. Giants' Eli Manning has set a career high with 32 TD passes. Vikings are 3-18 in night games since 2009, with their only wins coming against Green Bay (2009, Monday), at Philadelphia (2010, Tuesday) and against Washington (2013, Thursday). Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater posted career-best 154.4 passer rating last week against Bears, third highest by any QB this season. Vikings' Adrian Peterson, the team's lone Pro Bowl selection, has 9-yard lead on the Bucs' Doug Martin for NFL rushing title.

JONES: Vikings 23. Giants 20 READERS: Vikings 79.3 percent

Bengals at Broncos, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Broncos by 3½; 39½ Bengals FS Reggie Nelson (Florida) has eight interceptions, tied for league lead and double his previous career high. In first NFL start last week, AJ McCarron completed 15 of 21 for 192 yards and one TD for 115.6 rating in win over 49ers. Gary Kubiak needs one win to tie Red Miller (1977) as only head coaches with 12 wins in first season with Broncos. Brandon McManus has missed a kick in four consecutive games: three field goals and one PAT. WR Emmanuel Sanders is coming off a career-high 181-yard game at Pittsburgh that included a TD. LB Von Miller has six sacks in his past six games. Brock Osweiler makes his sixth straight start in place of Peyton Manning (foot), who's 8-1 against Cincinnati. Osweiler threw career-high three TD passes last week and ran for score, all in first half. He's first QB in NFL to do that since Manning in 2013.

JONES: Broncos 16, Bengals 13 READERS: Bengals 51.7 percent

Game text from Times wires.

NFL Week 16: Previews, predictions 12/26/15 [Last modified: Saturday, December 26, 2015 7:58pm]
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