Five bold NFL Week 16 predictions: Joe Burrow lights up Patriots ‘D,’ Lions stay hot on frigid holiday weekend

On Thursday Night Football, Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars kept the good times rolling by knocking of Zach Wilson and the New York Jets in a frigid, rainy game in North Jersey. 

This weekend, we’ve got a full Saturday slate of games, plus three more on Sunday. The reason for the change is the reason for the season: Sunday is, of course, Christmas, which makes Saturday Christmas Eve. We’re not necessarily handing our presents here, and it looks like the NFL might not be, either. The weather reports for almost every game look horrendous, so we might be treated to some very low-scoring affairs. 

But the weather will not keep us from making our usual bold predictions. Without further ado…

Lions keep roaring

The Lions of Detroit have won six of their last seven games. They have even won all three road games during that stretch, after beginning the season with an 0-3 record on the road. They travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Saturday, and the guess here is they stack yet another win. Carolina’s offense since Steve Wilks took over has been based around the run game, but the Lions have been increasingly tough to run on of late and the Panthers do not have much in the way of an aerial attack. It just seems unlikely that the Panthers will be able to keep up with Detroit’s high-flying offense. 

The Titans are 1-1 in Malik Willis’ two starts this season, despite the fact that Willis went just 11 of 26 for 135 yards and an interception through the air. The one win, notably, came against the Houston Texans, who also happen to be Tennessee’s opponent this week. Surprisingly to exactly zero people on the planet, Derrick Henry went absolutely berserk in that contest, rushing 32 times for 219 yards and two scores. For his career, Henry averages 114 yards and a touchdown per game against Houston, and there’s no reason not to expect him to match or exceed those totals this weekend. As long as Willis doesn’t lose the game himself, the Titans are going to win it, finally stopping their four-game losing streak.

Burrow lights up the Patriots

We almost surely know how Bill Belichick is going to scheme things up against Joe Burrow and the Bengals. When an opponent has a player as good as Ja’Marr Chase, Belichick usually breaks out his “1-Double” coverage scheme, using his No. 1 cornerback on the opponent’s No. 2 receiver (in this case, Tee Higgins) while double-teaming the No. 1 wideout (Chase) on a near-every-snap basis. That’s not going to work against the Bengals this time around, as Burrow will repeatedly target Higgins, Tyler Boyd and his running backs to put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

Cowboys exact revenge for loss as script flips for backup QBs

Earlier this season, the Cowboys went into Philadelphia with their backup quarterback and played a relatively close game, but still came out of it with a loss. A big factor in that loss was Cooper Rush throwing three interceptions, two of which led to scores. This time around, the Eagles come into Dallas with their backup quarterback, as Gardner Minshew will start in place of the injured Jalen Hurts. The bet here is that the Cowboys get the win this time, with Minshew struggling to get untracked against a Dallas defense that has been excellent for most of the season but vulnerable of late. 

Bucs finally explode on offense

In Tom Brady’s first two seasons in Tampa, the Buccaneers finished the season ranked seventh and second in total yards and third and second in points. They scored gained 400 or more total yards in 18 of 35 regular-season games, and scored 30 or more points in 18 of 35 as well. (They did both in 14 of 35 games.) This season has been markedly different. Tampa ranks just 18th in yards and 28th in points. They’ve gained 400 or more yards just twice and scored 30-plus points only once, and haven’t reached both of those marks in the same game just yet. They’re getting a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals defense at the best time. Arizona is 20th in yards allowed, dead last in points allowed, and 27th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The Cards are 29th against the run and 20th against the pass, with a particular weakness against passes over the middle (Chris Godwin) and to tight ends (Cade Otton). This is the game where the Bucs finally look like last year’s Bucs. 





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