SideLion Report Week 16 Picks
By Matt Urben
Can the Lions do the unthinkable by going to Dallas and Winning?
It’s Saturday, and you know what that means – NFL Football! Well for the rest of the league anyway, the Detroit Lions play on ESPN’s Monday Night Football this week. As you know, the Lions Playoff chances hang in the balance of some other teams including the Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Seattle Seahawks. Detroit, meanwhile, gets a chance at redemption for their 2014 Playoff loss to Dallas. So, as you sit in your Aunt’s basement or drive to parent’s house today, keep your eyes on these games!
Al Stahl (8-8)
The Lions are missing some crucial pieces that might be able to put them over the top in this matchup, but without them it’s an uphill climb. Theo Riddick and Travis Swanson are both likely to miss this one and that will hurt the offense. You know what else will affect Detroit’s offense? Dallas’ offense. The Cowboys are averaging over 32 minutes of possession per game this season: second best in the league.
If the Lions can’t stop the Cowboys run game, they have ZERO chance to win this game. I don’t think the Detroit front seven has it in them. Maybe for a quarter, maybe for a half. But Zeke Elliott will get his and the Lions will need a W at Ford Field to make the playoffs.
Tampa Bay-27, New Orleans-24.
OK, here’s the deal. Tampa Bay is actually good. They’ve beaten Atlanta, Kansas City, and Seattle, three teams that are basically locks for the playoffs. But they’ve also gotten whooped by Atlanta at home, Denver at home, at Arizona, and against the Rams at home. Maybe those are indicators of a young team learning how to play together blah blah blah teamwork and so on. Maybe the team is just inconsistent (or at least was early on). All I know is that I wouldn’t count on the Bucs losing any more games this year.
If the Saints had any semblance of a defense, they’d be leading the NFC South. In five of their eight losses, they gave up over 20 points. In five of their eight losses, the offense scored over 20 points (over 30 in 2 of them. So if you put one team that is good, if occasionally inconsistent, against another team that has offensive firepower but can stop opposing offenses about as well as they can stop the ravages of time, it adds up to a Buccaneers win and the Lions’ playoff hopes come down to week 17.
-Follow Al @LethalSax.
Brandon Finley (11-3)
Detroit vs Dallas This game plays out differently pending the Thursday night result. If New York loses we may see Dallas choose to rest Zeke considering they have a 2015 1,000 yard rusher sitting at fourth string in Darren McFadden. Nonetheless, winning the battle in the trenches is the key here for Detroit. They have played well on defense, but offensively the run game is non-existent. While it’s a must win for Detroit, I don’t see a situation where they head to Week 17 with 10 wins unless Dak just had an awful day.
Miami vs Buffalo Matt Moore was electrifying last week with a four touchdown performance, the kind of performance Miami needs this week and next week if they look to steal the second wildcard spot. If they can focus in and stop Shady McCoy early and let Wake and Suh pin their ears pack and go get Tyrod, it could end up a long day for Buffalo fans.
-Follow Brandon @Finley_BD
Matt Urben (7-9)
Logic tells me this is a game the Cowboys should win. I just have a feeling that the desperation level from Detroit, and recent Pro bowl snubs (especially quarterback Matthew Stafford) will motivate them to get up for this game. The past three times these two teams have played each other, the games have been extremely close. Detroit still has a bad taste from the controversial pass interference flag that was picked up in the 2014 playoffs. I like the Lions to win a low-scoring game
Green Bay-27, Minnesota-20.
As much as I want to pick against Green Bay, I just can’t in good conscience lie to you readers. The Vikings will make this game much more interesting than many will predict. At 7-7, they are only a game back of the Packers, but with their Playoff hopes all but dead, I think they let Green Bay pull away in the fourth after playing them tough the first three quarters. If they were to lose, and the Lions beat Dallas (as I predicted) than the Lions would clinch the NFC North before their week 17 game against the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is on a mission however, and I don’t see Sam Bradford outdueling him twice in the same year.
Ty Finch (3-11)
There are not many scenarios that I see where the Lions win this game. Ezekiel Elliot is leading the league in rushing yards by a comfortable margin behind the best offensive line in the league. In Dak Prescott’s last game against a solid Tampa Bay defense, he went 32/36, completing short and medium routes with precision (sound familiar?). Darius Slay is likely out, and Dez Bryant, still looking for a breakout game, could feast on a smaller corner like Nevin Lawson. Ezekiel Ansah picked up his first sack of the year last game, but now faces one of the league’s best left tackles in Tyron Smith.
The Lion’s main hope is, as always, Matthew Stafford. The Cowboy’s defense ranks 20th overall in defensive DVOA, 22nd in pass defense, and 6th in run defense. That sets up for another game where the Lions do not receive much help from their rushing attack, and Stafford must rescue them in the 4th quarter. The key factor in the passing game could be Eric Ebron. The fans have been waiting for a breakout game from the former first round pick for a while, and Dallas is 30th in the league in covering tight ends. That is worse than the Lions. We’ll see if Ebron decides to show up.
Redskins 21 Bears 21
The Year of the Tie lives on. Long live the tie. In an effort to make 2016 even more confounding, Matt Barkley continues his good quarterback play against the Redskins, but only enough to draw even, prompting the Bears to consider him to be their starter for 2017. Kirk Cousins will complete an epic comeback to knot the game up, but only because he threw a pick-6 earlier in the 3rd quarter, leaving the Washington front office perplexed as to what contract to give him. And Jordan Howard runs for over 100 yards.
– Follow Ty @Finchty
Jack Ozark (8-6)
I HAVE FAITH. The Lions are coming off a loss and the Cowboys are coming off a win and recently clinching the NFC East title. So basically what I see happening are the Lions coming into this game overlooked. I do think Zeke Elliot is going to have a great game, but not because he thrashes the Lions all day, but because he is going to break off some stupid long run that makes every Lions fan cringe. Other than that, I think this is the day where he goes colder than normal. I also see Nevin Lawson having a huge day as he bodies up Dez Bryant, forcing Dez into another one of his one to two catch days that he seems to have every few weeks. For being such a dominant guy, he gets iced out more than even Calvin used to.
On Offense I think Detroit finally abandons the run and goes straight into throwing it as much as possible, and uses the run only as an auxiliary. It hasn’t worked in years for them and against the Cowboys, Matt Stafford always brings his A+ game. So I see Stafford’s biggest game this season coming up, the general public noticing that he’s an MVP candidate, and he leaves big blue victorious yet again
New England Patriots-42, New York Jets-7.
Roger Goodell has been looking to get at the Patriots again after they have come out and dominated as usual. So expect him to suspend the entire team after they destroy the New York Jets. I really feel for the Jets. Okay, actually I feel for Brandon Marshall because he’s too much of a baller to be stuck in a situation like that one. He loved Fitzpatrick last year, but now I doubt he likes just about anybody on that sorry team. And nobody makes a team look more sorry than Tom Brady.
I see the Patriots getting close to a 50 piece this week. Bryce Petty is going to get a quick touchdown and the Jets are going to think they have a shot. Then Belichick is going to rip the sleeves off, force feed LeGarrette Blount and have Brady throwing touchdowns to players you’ve never heard of but are better than any guy your team has. If a family Christmas party is getting too boring, throw this game on and have some laughs at the expense of the Jets.
– Follow Jack @J_zark
Next: Behind Enemy Lines: Dallas Cowboys Edition
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