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Week 16 NFL Picks, Aiding And A'Betting: Saints-Falcons, Giants-Packers, Jets-Bears

It's Week 16, and the NFC South takes center stage with a wildly hyped Monday night game between the Saints and Falcons. Before that, though, is a landscape only a gambler could love - so get your bets in and pay off those Christmas credit cards.

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The NFL's Week 16 landscape looks almost as bad as my recent picks. Sixteen games will be spread out over a long holiday weekend, but only three feature opposing teams with winning records. Of course, the best is truly saved for last, with New Orleans coming to Atlanta - and as we all know, a win clinches home-field throughout the playoffs for the Falcons. And personally, I'd love some quality Chris Redman - and even John Parker Wilson - action to close out the regular season. As for last week's 5-11 record against the spread, I now see the mixture of vodka and gambling isn't the smoothest move. So this week, stone-cold sober, which obviously means I have to finish these picks by 10 a.m.

The picks:

Carolina @ Pittsburgh (-14). Woo-boy, this one probably looked sexier to the NFL Network a few months back. Well hometown fans, want to sweat just a little bit? Carolina gets the Thursday game, and then a long 10-day break before facing Atlanta. The Falcons, on the other hand, play Monday night and see the Panthers with less than a week's preparation. Now I'm not saying the good guys shouldn't still win that game - but anything can happen in our NFL. Let's just get this thing done against the Saints, OK? PICK: Carolina

Dallas (-7) @ Arizona. Soon after deciding to spend the holidays at my sister's Phoenix casa, I discovered the only Christmas Day game would be played 20 minutes away. And why spend the day huddled with family when we could be mowing through tailgate beers in 73-degree weather? Originally I worried about being able to afford tickets, what with Dallas fighting for home-field advantage and the Cardinals wrapping up the NFC West, but let's just say those fears have been quashed. Twenty bucks should get me a ticket, two beers and a date to the game. I'll be the guy in the Falcons jersey yelling expletives at Keith Brooking. PICK: Dallas

New England (-8) @ Buffalo. The Patriots can clinch home-field throughout the playoffs with a win here, so it should be a full-steam attack in the upstate frigidity. (Buffalo's Sunday forecast is a high of 21 and snowy. Sucks to be in Arizona.) PICK: New England

NY Jets @ Chicago (-1). I think it's funny to "not take the Bears seriously" only because it's driving Chicago fans bugnut insane. So let's keep this going: I mean, we all know, obviously, the Bears only beat the Vikings because Favre was hurt and replaced by Joe Webb. Oh, you're the man Chicago, beating up on a rookie QB who'd taken a few meaningless snaps his entire career. WAY TO GO, TOUGH GUYS. I look forward to the glorious day we can bet against the Bears in the playoffs, and I mean that even if they get matched up with St. Louis or Seattle in Soldier Field. Every single one of their wins has been complete luck. (Heh-heh, that was fun.) PICK: NY Jets (LIKE DUH!)

Baltimore (-3 1/2) @ Cleveland. The Ravens have publicly declared their intent to focus on Browns RB Peyton Hillis, which means two things: 1) it'll be up to Colt McCoy against the Ravens D, and 2) I'll be starting LeGarrette Blount over Hillis in my fantasy championship game. And because the playoffs hinge on a win here, I can't see Baltimore letting Cleveland hang around. PICK: Baltimore

Tennessee @ Kansas City (-4 1/2). My favorite NFL subplot of the week (only because I refuse to acknowledge the phrases "Rex Ryan" and "foot fetish"): last Wednesday, a Nashville talk radio show got a call from "Woody," a passionate hater of Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher. Well, to anyone with a set of ears, "Woody" was obviously Randy Moss venting his petulant frustration. Of course, the Titans have denied it was him, but come on - it oh-so-definitely was. And as much as I think Moss is correct (Fisher has sucked this year), does any team take a shot on him next year? Dude might be done. PICK: Kansas City

San Francisco @ St. Louis (-2 1/2). HOLY DAMN HELL SHOOTFIRE, there are playoff implications here. As ridiculous as it sounds, the 5-9 49ers almost control their own destiny: if they win the last two games (@St. Louis, vs. Arizona), they simply have to hope for Seattle to drop one of its remaining two (@Tampa Bay, vs. St. Louis). As you can see, this is very possible. St. Louis, on the other hand, is definitely in with a win here and one vs. Seattle, so there won't be any backups on the field for this game (unless you count San Fran's QB corps, which consists entirely of back-ups). This is all best left ignored. PICK: St. Louis

Detroit @ Miami (-3 1/2). In a season full of ridiculous numbers, there might be none crazier than Miami's home-road split. They are almost unbeatable away from Dolphins Stadium, going 6-1. However, in front of Miami faithful, they've landed with a mirror-image of 1-6. It looks like the Lions will win a second-straight road game for the first time since 1783. PICK: Detroit

Washington @ Jacksonville (-7). The obligatory playoff scenario: none, apparently. Even though the Jags remain in contention for the AFC West crown, a win over the NFC's Redskins basically does nothing for them. Win-or-lose, they really just have to beat Houston next week and have the Colts lose to the Titans on the same day. And now I've gone and confused myself, cross-eyed and the like. PICK: Washington

San Diego (-7 1/2) @ Cincinnati. Cincinnati is way out, San Diego has hope. Sometimes it's just that damn easy. PICK: San Diego

Houston (-3) @ Denver. Houston has a quarterback, Denver has Tim Tebow. Sometimes it's just that damn easy. PICK: Houston

Indianapolis (-3) @ Oakland. The Colts have to win the AFC South to make the playoffs (no possibility of a wildcard), so a win here keeps destiny in-house. And as much as I like this Raiders incarnation, I'm not willing to bet against Peyton Manning with his back  to the wall. (Side-note: Twitter users should really follow Colts owner Jim Irsay. Breaking news, Pearl Jam lyrics, contests and occasional hilarity mixed into one.)  PICK: Indianapolis 

NY Giants @ Green Bay (-2 1/2). News out of Packers camp: Aaron Rodgers is back. News out of Giants camp: to rebound from last week's Philly's disaster, there was a players-only meeting led by a fiery Eli Manning. And honestly, I picture a "fiery Eli Manning" as that angry "World of Warcraft" kid. Advantage: Pack. PICK: Green Bay

Seattle @ Tampa Bay (-6). Again, an abomination of a game that somehow has playoff implications for both teams. Examining this match-up any further is against my religion. PICK: Tampa Bay

Minnesota @ Philadelphia (-14). Lost in Philly's amazing fourth quarter win against the Giants was how inept they looked for the first 75% of that game. New York did a lot of things right that good coaches can feed on. PICK: Minnesota

New Orleans @ Atlanta (-2 1/2). Typically, I move the Falcons game to the top of the list, but this one seems to deserve a "best for last" placement. It truly is the premiere game of the weekend, and the aura has only intensified with Twitter wars this week - especially from Roddy White (he made some questionable comments that somehow overshadowed his GUARANTEE OF A WIN). As Roddy likes to say, "Ridiculous." But also ridiculously awesome, in my Saints-hating opinion. My favorite comments, though, have come from John Abraham, who has relished replying to foul-mouthed Saints fans. Let's make this plain, Who Dat Nation: PRETTY PLEASE piss off John Abraham some more. LOVELY. (And yes, I'll be watching from a g-d Phoenix sports bar. Life ain't right sometime). PICK: Atlanta

Last week: 5-11-0
Overall: 118-99-7 (thank God for the early season cushion)

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.