This week in: The NFL – Week 16 2012

Redskins rookie QB, Kirk Cousins, was impressive in his first start in place of the injured RG3
Redskins rookie QB, Kirk Cousins, was impressive in his first start in place of the injured RG3

With two weeks left in the NFL regular season, the only division that still appears to be up for grabs is the NFC East, in which the Redskins, Cowboys and Giants are all tied with records of 8-6.  Washington moved to that mark with an impressive 38-21 victory in Cleveland, despite the absence of their star rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III – his replacement, fellow first-year player, Kirk Cousins, ensured that they extended their winning streak to five games.  That success brought the Redskins into a tie with the Giants, who were blanked in Atlanta, 34-0 by the Falcons; and Dallas, who outlasted the Steelers in overtime, 27-24, to win their third consecutive fixture.

The only other division that has not officially been clinched as yet is the NFC West, but San Francisco’s impressive 41-34 defeat of the Patriots – recovering from allowing a 28 point lead to slip away in 14 second half minutes – means that the Seahawks are highly unlikely to be able to overhaul them.  However, Seattle are likely to take one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC, as they moved to 9-5 with a 50-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto, with their rookie QB Russell Wilson rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for another.  Also in that division, Arizona ended their 9 game losing streak by heaping more misery on the Detroit Lions, prevailing 38-10; and the Rams were defeated at home by the Vikings, who themselves are back into playoff contention.  Minnesota are now tied with the Bears at 8-6, as Chicago lost to the Packers for the second time this season, a game which saw Green Bay benefit from several officiating decisions, but ultimately claim the NFC North with a 21-13 win.

New England’s loss to the 49ers allowed the Broncos and the Texans to move another step closer to first-round byes in the AFC, after their victories over the Ravens and Colts respectively.  Baltimore did clinch a playoff place with the Steelers loss to the Cowboys, but they are only a game ahead of the Bengals in the AFC North after Cincinnati’s Thursday night 34-13 success over the Eagles.  In the other fixtures, Miami won the battle of Florida with Jacksonville, 24-3; the Saints ended the Buccaneers playoff ambitions with a 41-0 victory in New Orleans; Carolina beat the Chargers, 31-7 in San Diego; five field goals from Sebastian Janikowski ensured the Raiders overcame the Chiefs, 15-0; and the Jets lost on Monday night, 14-10 to the Titans.

In the Week 16 games with playoff implications, the Cowboys host the Saints; the Redskins are in Philadelphia; Baltimore have a home fixture against the Giants; Chicago travel to Arizona; Seattle will try to maintain their perfect home record for the year against the 49ers; Houston plays Minnesota; the Colts are in Kansas City; and the Bengals and Steelers face off in Pittsburgh.  Elsewhere, the Falcons can clinch the number 1 seed in the NFC with a win in Detroit; Green Bay plays their final home game of the regular season against the Titans; Buffalo play the Dolphins in Miami; the Patriots will be further north in Florida to take on Jacksonville; the Jets host the Chargers; the Buccaneers and Rams meet in Tampa Bay; Cleveland face the Broncos in Denver; and Carolina have a home encounter with the Raiders.

Predictions

Last week, 8-8; Season, 116-107

Home teams in bold

Falcons -3.5 over Lions

Saints +3.5 over Cowboys

Packers -12.5 over Titans

Colts -6.5 over Chiefs

Bills +4.5 over Dolphins

Jets -2.5 over Chargers

Redskins -4.5 over Eagles

Bengals +4.5 over Steelers

Buccaneers -3.5 over Rams

Raiders +8.5 over Panthers

Patriots -14.5 over Jaguars

Texans -7.5 over Vikings

Browns +13.5 over Broncos

Bears -5.5 over Cardinals

Ravens +2.5 over Giants

Seahawks +1.5 over 49ers

 

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