Week 16 NFL Previews & Predictions:
December 19, 2013 in NFL Observations
Time is running out. With two weeks to go in the NFL regular season, it’s time for teams to make their final playoff push. Through the first 15 weeks, only four postseason berths have been clinched – Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Seattle. With two weeks left, there are still 19 teams in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. Only one division – AFC South (Indianapolis) – has been clinched. The remaining seven divisions are still to be decided.
In the AFC, Denver can clinch the AFC West, a first-round bye and home-field advantage this week. New England can clinch a playoff berth, the AFC East division and a first-round bye. Cincinnati can clinch a playoff berth and the AFC North title. And Baltimore and Miami can secure playoff berths.
In the NFC, Seattle can clinch the NFC West, a first-round bye and home-field advantage this week. New Orleans can clinch a playoff berth, the NFC South division and a first-round bye. Chicago and Philadelphia can each win its division. And Carolina and San Francisco can secure playoff berths.
There will be 15 games on Sunday and Week 16 will conclude on Monday night in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons (ESPN, 8:40 PM ET). The game also marks the final regular-season contest at Candlestick Park.
One thing is for sure, if teams are going to win right now, they had better be able to put points on the board and they had better be mentally tough in close games. On Sunday, NFL teams combined to score 763 points, the most scored in a single day in NFL history. The previous high was 759 points on January 1, 2012. Teams have combined to score 10,632 points this season, the most ever through Week 15 (10,236 in 2012). The Browns, Eagles, Titans, Raiders and Cowboys each scored at least 30 points last Sunday and none of those teams won. That was the first weekend in NFL history on which five (or more) teams scored 30 or more points and lost.
Teams have also combined to score 1,190 TDs, the most at this point in NFL history (1,136 in 2012). Of the 1,190 touchdowns, 722 have been TD passes, the most through the first 15 weeks of any season. The previous high was 663 in 2010.
Close games have also been a big storyline in 2013. Through Week 15, there have been 110 games decided by seven points or fewer, the second-most through the first 15 weeks of a season in NFL history (113 in 2002).
Dolphins @ Bills:
The Bills and Dolphins are both coming off wins last week with the Dolphins needing to win again this week to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Dolphins are tied with the Ravens for the sixth & final playoff spot but Baltimore holds the tiebreaker with win over the Fins in Week 5. Baltimore plays New England this week, which the Dolphins beat in dramatic fashion LW, intercepting Tom Brady in the end zone to finish off a 24-20 win. Playing in South Florida and traveling to the cold doesn’t seem to be effecting Miami. The Dolphins beat the Jets & Steelers recently and finish the stretch in Buffalo, where they will be looking to avenge an earlier season 23-21 home loss. The Bills defense forced 5 turnovers enroute to the win. Ryan Tannehill tossed 3 TD’s (2 to Gibson) but threw 2 INT’s. The Dolphins own the all-time series record 56-38-1 and dropped their last contest at Orchard Park last November. In that game, the Bills kicked 3 FG’s and scored on a 79-yard punt return by Leodis McKelvin. EJ Manuel was out for the Bills win earlier this year and he will also miss Sunday’s contest, as Thaddeus Lewis will get the nod. Lewis went 21 of 32 for 202 yards with an INT and no TDs while getting sacked four times at Miami. While the Dolphins offensive line has improved, they face a Bills defense that leads the NFL with 49 sacks this season. While the Dolphins have answered the bell in wins at Pittsburgh and at home vs. N.E, I’ll take the Bills in the blistering cold of Buffalo, as their defense wreaks havoc on a still below average Miami offensive line. With no pressure and letting it all hang out, Buffalo wins 21-17.
Vikings @ Bengals:
The Cincinnati Bengals still lead the AFC North, but what was once a three-game advantage is down to one. Cincy will try to stay a step ahead of surging Baltimore when it plays host to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. During their loss to the Steelers on Sunday night, the Bengals played like a team going nowhere fast. They now find themselves with no room for error. If both the Ravens and Bengals win this week, their final week 17 showdown will be for the division title. The never say die Vikings are coming off an improbable win over the Eagles at home. Improbable in that their two top running backs were out with injuries and they still put up 48 points on an Eagles defense that’s played well lately. In place of Adrian Peterson & Toby Gerhart was Matt Asiata and Asiata did not disappoint. With only three career-rushing attempts to his credit, Asiata carried the ball 30 times for only 51 yards, but he scored three rushing touchdowns to help Minnesota defeat the Eagles. Asiata became the first player since Daunte Culpepper to run for at least three touchdowns, with fewer than five lifetime carries. QB Matt Cassell has played well lately, as he threw for a team season-best 382 yards in the win. Cassell also nearly led the Vikes in a near upset of the Ravens in Baltimore the week before and he will not roll over in Cincy. Speaking of QB, the Bengals will go as far as Andy Dalton can take them. He was unable to overcome the 24-0 lead Pittsburgh surged to last Sun. night, falling 30-20. In his last 4 starts, he’s thrown 9 TD’s & just 3 INT’s, which is a step in the right direction heading towards January. Miscues, bad play calling and solid play from the opposition has cost the Bengals lately. Every indication says the Bengals should win this game easily but nothing comes easy in the NFL, especially this time of the year. The Bengals are one of four teams that are undefeated at home this year. The home team has won 10 of the 11 matchups between the two teams, including the last 4 games. I like Cincy to remain unbeaten in the jungle heading into next week with a closer than expected game vs. Minnesota but I don’t think they finish the season undefeated at home. More on that next week but this week, it’s Bengals 27 Vikings 24
Colts @ Chiefs:
Last week vs. Oakland the Chiefs scored 56 points, despite running only 51 plays from scrimmage. They were the first team since the 2004 Colts with more points than plays in a game. Led by Jamaal Charles, who scored five touchdowns, four on receptions and one on a rush, the Chiefs cruised to a 56-31 win over the Raiders. Charles became the first running back in NFL history with four touchdown catches in one game and no other player in NFL history — regardless of his position — had four touchdown catches and a TD run in one game. Alex Smith was 17 for 20 (.850) with five touchdown passes and no interceptions, becoming only the fifth different player in NFL history to complete at least 85 percent of his passes in a game, while throwing at least five TD passes and no interceptions. Drew Brees did so twice (for the Chargers in 2004 and Saints in 2011), while Tom Brady (2009 Patriots), Lynn Dickey (1981 Packers) and Frank Ryan (1964 Browns) each had one game of that kind. The Colts have not played well lately but managed to get the equivalent of a bye week as they defeated the 2-win Houston Texans 25-3 last week. Indy has managed to post a 3-3 record over their last six with losses to the Rams, Cardinals & Bengals by a combined score of 120-47. Because of that, Andrew Luck and the playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts are touchdown underdogs at Kansas City on Sunday. With both teams having secured a playoff spot, this is a potential first round playoff matchup. Its possible KC may have to travel to play the AFC South winning Colts. That is why I like the Chiefs to flex a little playoff style muscle at home in this one. Look for the KC defense to play a physical game as the offense rides the back of whom else, Jamal Charles. Do not be surprised if the Colts 27th ranked rush defense allows 200 plus rushing yards during a KC route. Chiefs 30 Colts 17
Buccaneers @ Rams:
Under Jeff Fisher in the past two seasons the Rams have defeated the Cardinals (3 X), Colts, Bears, Saints (this season), Redskins (last season), Seattle & San Francisco (both last season), yet are just 13-16-1 during that span. The Bucs are coming off a stinging 33-14 home loss to the 49ers and have enter the near end of the season with many-many questions. Experts and pundits believe HC Greg Schiano is a lame duck HC. Many are also wondering if rookie QB Mike Glennon has done enough to at least earn the right to start next season as the teams starter or will TB elect to draft one of the several franchise QB’s that are available in this year’s draft. The next two weeks will prove a lot for both teams. The Rams may also be one of a possible 10 teams in the mix for 5 potential franchise signal callers in Mays draft. Analysts believe the Rams are simply a good QB away from being the next best thing in an already unbelievably tough NFC West. I think this should actually be a high scoring entertaining game but at home coming off a big win over New Orleans, St. Louis has momentum and is shooting for an 8-8 finish to the season. Rams 33 Buccaneers 27
Browns @ Jets:
The Jets and Browns combined to score 51 points last week but both managed to lose anyway. The Jets fell 30-20 to Carolina while Cleveland suffered a 38-31 loss to Chicago. Jets HC Rex Ryan’s name has surfaced a lot this week as a head coach on the hot seat, which considering many had NY pegged to finish with no more than 2 or 3 wins, seems odd, as he his team currently has 6. Cleveland is in a catch 22, as they hold two picks inthe first round of thisyear’s draft and with 4 wins, own the No. 6 pick overall and wherever the Colts draft following the Trent Richardson trade earlier this year. I would be surprised if Cleveland selected anything other than a QB with their first pick and may even trade up to do so if they must. Losing to the 10-loss Browns at home this late in the season would kick the fire Rex Ryan talk into high gear, and justifiably so. Nevertheless, everybody that plays for Rex loves him and I expect the Jets to go to war for him on Sunday. Jets 24 Browns 20
Cowboys @ Redskins:
The Redskins committed seven turnovers but came within a successful two-point conversion of overcoming those miscues to beat the Falcons on the road. Starting in place of a “Shut Down” RG3, QB Kirk Cousins two-point pass attempt fell incomplete with 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, as Washington fell 27-26. The loss dropped the record of NFL teams with at least seven giveaways in a game over the past 26 seasons (1988 to present) to 1-56. The Titans earned that lone victory in 2000, as they defeated the Browns, 24-10, despite turning the ball over seven times. The Cowboys are officially a mess. Their horrible defense allowed the Packers to overcome a 23-point deficit in the third quarter and defeated the Cowboys, 37-36. Matt Flynn led the comeback by throwing four touchdown passes, two in the third quarter and two in the fourth quarter. QB Tony Romo continues to falter in games that matter most and when it matters most during those games. He tossed two interceptions in the final 3 minutes, the first one giving Green Bay a chance for the go-ahead score with the Cowboys in position to run out the clock with a 36-31 lead. This pass attempt came as Dallas RB DeMarco Murray was averaging 7.4 YPC during the contest. Romo has now thrown the most 4th-quarter interceptions this season when the score is within five points. He also joins Jets QB Geno Smith, as the only quarterbacks to throw multiple 4th-quarter interceptions in the same game when the score is within five points this season. In addition, this was the seventh time Romo has thrown a pick in the 4th quarter or overtime with his team tied or leading by one possession. That is nearly twice as many as any other QB since 2006 (when Romo became the starter in Dallas). Not to pile on but this was also the first time in franchise history the Cowboys have lost a game in which they led by 20 or more points at the half. Entering Sunday, they had been 42-0. The Cowboys have overcome a lot of tough losses during the past few seasons and are still in the driver’s seat, as long as they win—- but it’s December and these games matter so that’s not likely going to happen, as Romo is 13-19 in December. I look for Kirk Cousins to throw 2 TD’s and Alfred Morris to rush for 2 more, as the Skins give their fans a well-deserved Christmas present against their bitter rivals. Redskins 34 Cowboys 24
Cardinals @ Seahawks:
The Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot and the Cardinals find themselves in the thick of the postseason race. Arizona head coach Bruce Arians– who was the 2012 AP NFL Coach of the Year with Indianapolis – has guided the Cardinals to nine wins in his first season as the helm. In franchise history, only Norm Barryin 1925 had more wins in his first season as the team’s head coach. Last week, Arizona won 37-34 in overtime at Tennessee. Cardinal’s cornerback Antoine Cason had an interception-return touchdown and set up Jay Feely’s 41-yard game-winning field goal with an interception in overtime. Offensively, rookie running back Andrea Ellington had 87 receiving yards and 71 rushing yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Ollie Mattson(October 26, 1952) as the only rookies in team history with at least 80 receiving yards and 70 rushing yards in a game. With a win – or a San Francisco loss – Seattle will lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Last week, the Seahawks recorded five interceptions in a 23-0 shutout win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, the home of Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell each had two interceptions with safety Earl Thomas contributing one. Quarterback Russell Wilson – who has never lost at home (14-0) – notched his 23rd win, the most in the Super Bowl era by a starting quarterback in his first two seasons. While I like what the Cardinals are doing and where they are heading, the Seahawks may have learned a lesson not to take any game lightly when the Buccaneers nearly beat them at home earlier this season. Carson Palmer will need to have a career day to win this game, I don’t expect that to happen and despite the solid play of the Cardinals this season, and with much on the line for Seattle, I don’t expect this one to be close. Seahawks 31 Cardinals 13.
Titans @ Jaguars
The Titans & Jaguars are heading in the opposite direction. Tennessee has dropped 5 of their previous 6 games while the Jaguars, while coming off a loss last week to the Bills, Jacksonville had won 3 in a row. The Jaguars allowed 198 rushing yards in their loss to the Bills, so Chris Johnson could have a good day for those that own him in the Fantasy Football Championship round. While Johnson only had 40 yards rushing last week, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 402 yards vs. a good Arizona defense, as they scored 34 points in defeat. I like the Jags to rebound at home this week in a get your Christmas shopping done game. Jaguars 27 Titans 24
Broncos @ Texans:
The visiting Broncos can possibly clinch a division title and the No. 1 seed in the conference when they try to extend the Houston Texans' team-worst losing streak Sunday. The Broncos' will need to start to try to fix a defense that ranks 23rd with 371.5 yards allowed per contest. Denver yielded its first 100-yard rusher of the season when Ryan Mathews gained 127 last week.
The Chargers earned 103 of their 177 rushing yards on first down, went 6 of 12 on third and kept the ball for 38:49 — the longest by a Denver opponent this season. The Texans 12-game losing streak is the league's longest since the Colts started 0-13 in 2011. Houston ranks fourth in the NFL with 304.2 yards allowed per game but 25th with 26.8 points given up. The Texans allowed 20 first-half points last Sunday in a 25-3 road loss to Indianapolis, a team that scored 24 combined in the first two quarters of its previous six contests. QB Case Keenum won't play due to a sprained rightthumb, with Matt Schaub getting the start for an offense that's been held without TD four times this season. The last time the beleaguered veteran played, taking over late in a game against Oakland on Nov. 17 when Keenum was struggling, the home crowd booed Schaub so loudly when he entered the game that the offense was forced to use a silent count. Simply put, the Broncos will dominate this game from start to finish and the boos could twice as bad. Broncos 41 Texans 17.
Giants @ Lions:
WOW—-Following Monday’s 18-16 mind boggling loss to the Ravens at home, in which Baltimore did not score a TD, HC Jim Schwartz is likely coaching for his job. A stunning 61-yard field goal dealt the Detroit’s playoff hopes a major blow and left them needing a good deal of help to make the postseason. The Lions (7-7) came into Monday's home game against Baltimore in control in the NFC North, but they dropped to third place with the loss. Detroit had been tied with Chicago atop the division and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, but it trails the Bears and Green Bay after its fourth loss in five games. Detroit now needs to win out and have Chicago and the Packers each lose at least once over the final two weeks to make the playoffs. The Giants gained 181 yards, their second-lowest total of the season, as the four-game winning streak that had moved them into playoff contention became an increasingly distant memory. While New York won't be playing for a postseason berth the last two weeks, there's something of a sense of urgency around the team regarding Eli Manning, as two more poor performances could add to the growing concern surrounding the franchise quarterback. Manning has an NFL-high 25 interceptions and his 69.7 rating is the lowest of his career. Somebody has to win this game and while the Lions look like the easy pick, nothing is ever easy when it comes to the Lions organization. In fact, they looked like the easy pick LW as well. I do think Detroit rebounds to stay alive with a convincing win over a Giants team that is becoming increasingly agitated with each other. After Manning tossed 5 INT’s (a career-high) and passed for just 156 yards hints of discord between the offense and defense seemed to emerge after the Giants were guaranteed their first losing season since 2004. Safety Antrel Rolle and tight end Brandon Myers appeared to take verbal shots at the opposite unit. At least the Lions are losing in harmony and because of that should win this one in easy fashion. Lions 33 Giants 10
Patriots @ Ravens:
In a rematch of the previous 2 AFC Championship games, the Patriots and Ravens will meet for the 4th time in the last two seasons, with Baltimore winning 2 of the last 3 games. The Patriots are in control for the division and a first-round bye. With a win – or a Miami loss – on Sunday, the Patriots will clinch the AFC East. A win and losses by Cincinnati and Indianapolis will secure a first-round bye for New England. Quarterback Tom Brady has led the Patriots to 10 division titles, the most of any starting quarterback in NFL history. With a win, Brady (146 wins) will also tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (147) for the fourth-most wins in NFL history by a starting quarterback. Baltimore has won four games in a row and is now in control of its destiny in the AFC North. On Monday night, Justin Tucker kicked six field goals in the Ravens’ 18-16 win at Detroit. Tucker sealed the victory with a career-long 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining. That marked the third-longest come-from-behind game-winning field goal in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history. The Ravens seem to have a grip on what ails Tom Brady. Brady is 5-3 in his seven games against the Ravens, not a bad record. Nevertheless, his personal statistics are among the poorest against any of the 31 teams he's faced in his 13-year career. His 58.6 completion percentage and 74.1 passer rating are the lowest against any opponent. The Ravens are the only team he's thrown more interceptions against (10) than touchdowns (8). They have sacked him 16 times, one of five teams averaging more than two a game and with no Gronk, this may be hard for even Tommy Terrific to pull off on Sunday. There is just something to be said about how the Baltimore Ravens play Tom Brady. Against most teams, Mr. Bundchen plays like one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Against the Ravens, he gets outplayed by Joe Flacco— and he will again in Baltimore on Sunday. Ravens 24 Patriots 20.
Steelers @ Packers:
Led by QB Matt Flynn in back-to-back come-from-behind victories, the Green Bay Packers are in control of their postseason chances. Whether they'll have Aaron Rodgers back to help continue that push remains unclear. Rodgers has missed six straight games with a fractured left collarbone. For now, he's still officially "limited" in practice, taking some snaps with the first team while Flynn prepares to start. Since averaging 15.5 points while going winless in four games after losing Rodgers, the Packers (7-6-1) have found an offensive rhythm with Flynn in their last two. He's gone 50 of 71 for 557 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions while rallying Green Bay to back-to-back victories. The Packers trailed visiting Atlanta by 11 at halftime before pulling out a 22-21 win Dec. 8, then stormed back from a 26-3 halftime deficit to stun Dallas 37-36 win last week. Flynn led the team to five straight touchdown drives to open the second half as Green Bay matched the greatest comeback victory in its 93-year history. Pittsburgh needs more than Jimmy Stewart to leap from a bridge for a Christmas miracle to make the playoffs. The Steelers must win out against the Packers and Browns, and have Miami, New York, San Diego and Baltimore finish with 8-8 records for the tiebreakers to work in its favor. Injuries plague the once mighty Steelers defense and they must rely on Ben Roethlisberger if it’s going to happen. In his only regular-season meeting with Green Bay, Roethlisberger threw for a team-record 503 yards and three scores — including one on the final play — in a 37-36 victory over the visiting Packers on Dec. 20, 2009. Green Bay's Eddie Lacy will try to find some holes in a Pittsburgh defense that's allowed fewer than 75 yards rushing in three of the last four games. The Steelers, however, will be without linebacker LaMarr Woodley for the rest of the season because of a strained right calf.If Rodgers plays, it is the Pack all day and they will eventually win, even with Flynn at QB, it just may not be as easy. I like the Pack to win a close one on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Packers 27 Steelers 24.
Raiders @ Chargers:
Three weeks after snapping a three-game losing streak with a 41-38 victory at Kansas City, San Diego pulled off another big road upset with a 27-20 win over conference-leading Denver last Thursday. With three wins in four games, the Chargers remain alive for the second and final wild-card berth in the AFC — though Miami damaged their long-shot chances with Sunday's victory over New England. The Chargers held the high-scoring Broncos to season lows in points, rushing yards (18) and total yards (295). San Diego is tied for the third-fewest points allowed in the league in December at 17.0 per game. What’s new, Chargers QB Philip Rivers is as good as any signal caller in the history of the league this time of year with a record of 32-7 in Dec & Jan regular season games. Oakland picked off Rivers three times, forced a pair of fumbles — one returned 25 yards for a touchdown and held San Diego to a season-low 36 rushing yards in the first matchup. The Raiders, however, have been bad defensively of late, surrendering a league-high 34.7 points per game over the past seven weeks and they have allowed 119.8 rushing yards a contest during their four-game losing streak and allowed Kansas City's Jamaal Charles to take short passes and run untouched on three of his five scores last week. That was part of a 195-yard receiving day that was the best for a running back in 14 years. The timing couldn’t be worse for a Raiders team getting worse to be visiting San Diego. Chargers 38 Oakland 20
Saints @ Packers:
The NFC South’s top two teams will meet for the second time in three weeks. Both teams enter the contest with 10-4 records and each is in control for the division title and a first-round bye.
The Saints defeated the Panthers 31-13 in Week 14. In that contest, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees completed 30 of 42 passes (71.4 percent) for 313 yards with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 124.4 passer rating. Brees threw two touchdowns each to wide receiver Marques Colston (nine catches for 125 yards) and tight end Jimmy Graham (six catches for 58 yards). Defensively, linebacker Junior Galette had a career-high three sacks and defensive end Cameron Jordan added two sacks. However, this game is on the road where Brees and the Saints have struggled mightily. Brees has thrown for an NFC home best 23 TDs, an NFL-best 73.2 completion percentage and a 122.5 passer rating. On the road, Brees completes just 63.4 percent for an average of 6.94 yards per attempt, nearly two fewer than at home, with an 86.3 QB rating and seven of his 10 interceptions. The Saints average 32.9 points at the Superdome and 18.4 on the road — 27th in the league.
Carolina has won nine of its past 10 games with the only loss coming at the hands of the Saints. In last week’s 30-20 win over the New York Jets, Panthers running back De Angelo Williams became the first player in franchise history with at least 80 rushing (81) and 80 receiving (87) yards in the same game. Williams had a 72-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Cam Newton, who posted a 118.9 passer rating in the contest. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and a 41-yard interception-return touchdown, his fourth INT-TD in the past two seasons, the most in the NFL and tying the longest such streak in NFL history; Charles Tillman and Teddy Bruschi also took four consecutive interceptions to the house. Many are wondering if the Panthers are ready for a game this big. At home, their defense will prove no task to be too tall and Cam Newton will continue to ride their coattails, as the Panthers take control of the NFC South with their biggest win since beating the Eagles in the 2004 NFC Championship game. I picked them in an upset two weeks ago and I’ll stick with them this Sunday as well. Panthers 27 Saints 17
Bears @ Eagles: Sunday Night Football
Chicago is in control in the NFC North. With a win and losses by both Detroit and Green Bay, the Bears will clinch the division. Chicago and Green Bay will also meet in Week 17. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler returned to the lineup in last week’s 38-31 win at Cleveland and threw three touchdown passes – one each to Earl Bennett, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Jeffery (1,265yards) and Marshall (1,185) have combined for 2,450 receiving yards, the most by teammates this season. Cutler was 11-for-12 (.917) for 151 yards and two touchdowns on third down in the game. Prior to Cutler, the last two quarterbacks to have at least that high a completion rate on third down, with two or more TDs and more than 150 yards were Aaron Rodgers against the Vikings earlier this season (10-for-10, 2 TD and 172 yards) and Brett Favre in 1998 versus the Lions (12-for-13, 2 TD, 186 yards).
The Bears also got a score on defense as cornerback Zack Bowman Returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown. Philadelphia is in control in the NFC East. With a win and a Dallas loss in Week 16, the Eagles will clinch the division. Philadelphia and Dallas will also meet in Week 17. The Eagles have the NFL’s top rushing offense (152.9 yards per game) and rank second in the league in total offense (414.0). Quarterback Nick Foles has the NFL’s best passer rating (117.0) and running back Le Sean McCoy leads the league in rushing yards (1,343) and scrimmage yards (1,850).
The Bears – Matt Forté (1,200 rushing) & Alshon Jeffery (1,265 receiving) – and Eagles – Mccoy (1,343 rushing), De Sean Jackson (1,275 receiving) – are the only two teams in the NFL with both a 1,200-yard rusher and receiver. Despite his strong showing LW, I simply have never been able to put much faith in Jay Cutler—while the Eagles struggled at home at times, I like them to rebound and do their part to advance to the playoffs in Chip Kelly’s first season as head coach. Eagles 34 Bears 24
Monday Night Football:
Falcons @ 49ers:
The Niners will have a playoff spot wrapped up well before kickoff if Arizona loses at Seattle on Sunday. That result would give the 49ers a wild-card spot and the NFC West to the Seahawks. However, if the Cardinals snap Seattle's 14-game home winning streak, San Francisco would need a win to clinch a playoff berth and still have a shot at the West title. With the first being the likely scenario, Niners fans can sit back and enjoy the nostalgia of the final game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers have played there since 1971 and will look to take advantage of a bad Atlanta football team, which has just four wins season. The 49ers have won four consecutive games overall, thanks largely to an improved offense. Colin Kaepernick has a 104.7 passer rating with seven touchdown passes and one turnover in that span after committing 12 through the first 10 games. Frank Gore has rushed for 196 yards over the past two weeks, including big runs to seal wins over Seattle and Tampa Bay. Gore recorded his seventh 1,000-yard season in last Sunday's 33-14 victory over the Buccaneers. Allowing big plays remains a problem. Atlanta, outgained 476-243 last week, has given up 59 plays of 20 yards or more to rank in the bottom half of the league. The 49ers have allowed 36, second fewest in the NFL. San Francisco had dominated Atlanta at Candlestick, going 17-2 between 1983 and 2001 when the teams met annually as members of the NFC West. Since the Falcons changed divisions, they have won all four meetings with two coming in San Francisco. No way, HC Jim Harbaugh does not have his troops fired up and ready to win big with all the former 49er greats on hand to say goodbye to the Stadium that saw 5 winning Super Bowl teams hoist the Lombardi. 49ers 38 Falcons 10
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