NFL picks, predictions for Week 16: Cowboys edge Eagles; Bengals beat Patriots; Lions, Jaguars on cusp of playoffs

The NFL playoff picture remains complicated heading into Week 16, and five 7-7 teams are in the spotlight looking for help on Christmas week. 


The Jets sit ninth in the AFC standings ahead of Thursday’s prime-time matchup against the Jaguars. Will Zach Wilson or Mike White get the start? That’s a development worth watching. 


Four 7-7 teams play in the 1 p.m window on Saturday. 


Detroit has emerged as a comeback story after winning five of their last six games under second-year coach Dan Campbell. The Lions have a must-win game on the road against Carolina. Tennessee is in the midst of a losing streak, and Ryan Tannehill is battling through an ankle injury. There is no margin for error against the Texans. 


New England is on to Cincinnati after a loss to Las Vegas on Jakobi Meyers’ ill-fated lateral, and they face a Bengals’ team looking to stay in the mix for home-field advantage in the AFC. Seattle’s playoff path also has become tougher, and it will not get easier at Kansas City. 


With that in mind, a look at our track record heading into Week 16: 


Record: 138-84-2, .618


Here are our straight-up picks for Week 16:


POWER RANKINGS: Lions, Giants, Chargers boost playoff outlooks; Cowboys, Patriots, Jets fade


NFL picks, predictions for Week 16

  • Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-1)


Thursday, 8:15 p.m., Prime Video 

This should be an entertaining game considering the improvement on both sides. The Jets won a 26-21 thriller last season, but the Jaguars have won four of their last six games. Trevor Lawrence has 14 TDs and one interception in that stretch. Stay with the hot quarterback.  


Pick: Jaguars 27, Jets 24


Result: Jaguars 19, Jets 3

  • Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens (-7) 


Saturday, 1 p.m., FOX


The Ravens desperately need Lamar Jackson back, and we’ll pick this game as though he returns in a must-win situation if Baltimore wants to win the AFC North. The Ravens averaged 110 passing yards the last two weeks without Jackson. Baltimore bounces back, and the defense harasses Desmond Ridder in his second start. 


Pick: Ravens 24, Falcons 20 

  • Detroit Lions (-3) at Carolina Panthers


Saturday, 1 p.m., FOX


The Lions have emerged as this season’s Cinderella story after winning five of their last six games. The victory against the Jets last week was one Detroit would have coughed up in the past. Carolina is 4-3 at home and still in the NFC South race despite a 5-9 record. Detroit is 5-0 when it allows less than 100 yards rushing, and that’s happened the last three weeks. 


Pick: Lions 27, Panthers 17

  • Buffalo Bills (-9) at Chicago Bears 


Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS


The Bills are heavy favorites at home against the Bears. Chicago quarterback Justin Fields will make a few plays, but the trouble spot in the defense – which hasn’t produced a turnover in the Bears’ last four home losses. That will not work against Josh Allen – who will keep Buffalo in the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Bills are 1-4 ATS in their last five games when favored by more than seven points. 


Pick: Bills 30, Bears 20

  • New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns (-3)


Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS


The Saints have not fared well against AFC North teams this season – and former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will get one more shot at Cleveland. The Browns are 2-1 since Deshaun Watson returned from suspension, and the defense has allowed just 13.3 points per game in that stretch. Cleveland inches one step closer to .500. 


Pick: Browns 26, Saints 20

  • Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) 


Saturday, 1 p.m., FOX


The Seahawks have lost three of four games since the bye week, and the defense has allowed 28.5 points per game in that stretch. That’s not a recipe for success against Kansas City, which escaped Houston with a victory. Kansas City is happy to be back at home after a three-game road stint – and they keep pace in the race for home-field advantage in the AFC. The Chiefs are just 4-10 ATS this year with just one cover at home. 


Pick: Chiefs 34, Seahawks 26

  • New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) 


Saturday, 1 p.m., FOX


The Giants are still in the NFC Wild card mix, and they need a win on the road here to keep pace in that race. New York is 3-2 S/U on the road this season. Minnesota, however, is 7-1 S/U at home. Kirk Cousins has 15 TDs and just four interceptions in those games. The Vikings keep winning close ones. 


Pick: Vikings 28, Giants 24

  • Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at New England Patriots


Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS


The Bengals are in top form with six straight victories, and the defense has allowed just 88.3 rushing yards per game in that stretch. Can New England get that going to support Mac Jones against a strong pass rush? How will the Patriots get to Joe Burrow – who has 14 TDs and just four interceptions in that winning streak? The Bengals keep rolling on the road. 


Pick: Bengals 28, Patriots 24

  • Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-7) 


Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS


The Titans need this one at home, and they need to get the offense going. Tennessee has averaged just 15.5 points per game in its last four losses, and they have five turnovers the last two weeks. Houston, which showed fight against Kansas City, has forced seven turnovers the last three weeks. Can Tennessee play a clean game? 


Pick: Titans 24, Texans 19 

  • Washington Commanders at San Francisco 49ers (-7) 


Saturday, 4:05 p.m., CBS


The 49ers had extra time off to prepare for Washington, and the offense will continue to evolve with Brock Purdy. The better story for San Francisco that has not allowed more than 275 yards in a game through a seven-game win streak. Washington better take advantage of every opportunity to have a chance. 


Pick: 49ers 28, Commanders 20 

  • Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-1.5)


Saturday, 4:25 p.m., FOX


The Cowboys have won the last four home meetings against the Eagles, and the last three have been in blowout fashion. How does Dallas bounce back after losing to Jacksonville – a game in which the Jaguars had 503 total yards. Philadelphia will face Dak Prescott instead of Cooper Rush this time – and he is 7-3 against the Eagles. With Jalen Hurts (shoulder) questionable, the Cowboys are the easier pick.


Pick: Cowboys 31, Eagles 28

  • Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2)


Saturday, 8:15 p.m., NFL Network 


Pittsburgh will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception – the legendary 13-7 victory against the Raiders. This comes one week after Las Vegas won on one of the most-incredible game-ending plays in NFL history. The Steelers have won three of their last four games, and they have given up 17 points or less in that stretch. The Steelers win another defensive battle. 


Pick: Steelers 24, Raiders 21

  • Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins (-4.5) 


Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX


The Packers are clinging to playoff hopes in the NFC, but it won’t be easy on the road at Miami. Sure, the Dolphins are on a three-game losing streak, but all of those games were on the road against potential Super Bowl contenders. Green Bay’s defense will give up too many big plays. Aaron Rodgers will lead a fourth-quarter comeback that falls just short. 


Pick: Dolphins 32, Packers 26

  • Denver Broncos (-1) at Los Angeles Rams


Sunday, 4:30 p.m., CBS/Nickelodeon


Brett Rypien vs. Baker Mayfield is a dream Christmas matchup. It has been the best season for either team, but the Broncos have been able to force three turnovers each of the last two weeks. That will be a challenge for the Rams, which are coming off a short week. That said, Denver is 1-6 S/U on the road. Mayfield leads another victory in a wild finish. 


Pick: Rams 20, Broncos 18

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4) at Arizona Cardinals 


Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC


Tampa Bay has lost three of the last four games, and they have lost their last four road games. This isn’t a layup, even against a Cardinals team that averages 15.5 points in its last four losses. Tom Brady needs to play better – and he does against Arizona in a close one. 


Pick: Buccaneers 22, Cardinals 19

  • Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) at Indianapolis Colts 

Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN


The Colts blew a 33-point lead last week, and they are back in the prime-time spotlight with interim coach Jeff Saturday. Indianapolis is 3-2 ATS under Saturday, but the two losses were at home. The Chargers are heating up with healthy receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who have averaged 170.5 receiving yards the last two weeks. 


Pick: Chargers 28, Colts 23