KC Joyner's Week 16 NFL pick'em selections

KC Joyner, one of the most accurate pick'em experts in the business over the past six years, details his winners for all of the Week 16 matchups.

KC Joyner

23 Dec, 2020

My Week 15 picks went 11-5, bringing my 2020 season mark to 152-71, or a 68.2 percent win rate that is tied for eighth highest among the more than 100 analysts tracked by Pickwatch.com.

 

Here are my Week 16 picks. Each section details which team is predicted to win and provides a quick summary of why that selection was made. The picks also contain a confidence value for each selection, based on a 1-10 scale with “10” being the most confident and “1” being the least confident.

 

Now on to the picks!

 

Friday, December 25

 

Minnesota at New Orleans

 

KC’s pick: Minnesota

 

Confidence level: 3

 

The Saints and the Vikings had been on winning streaks prior to Week 14, but both of these clubs have now lost two straight games. The problem in the Saints case is a struggling rushing attack that has posted back-to-back games with under 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. New Orleans has also had trouble keeping opponents ground games in check, as their 425 rushing yards allowed over the last two weeks is by far the most the Saints have given up in a two-game span this year. That is not a good trend against a Vikings offense that has racked up 145+ rush yards per game for three straight contests and has scored 27+ points in four of the past five games, so Minnesota is the selection here by a small margin.

 

Saturday, December 26

 

Tampa Bay at Detroit

 

KC’s pick: Tampa Bay

 

Confidence level: 7

 

Coming back from a 17-point halftime deficit to win was the main story for Tampa Bay in Week 15, but it’s worth noting that the Buccaneers offense posted its third highest net passing yardage total and Tampa Bay’s defense allowed its second lowest rushing yardage total in that contest. These trends show that the Bucs are back to their early season success formula. Detroit interim head coach Darrell Bevell deserves a lot of credit for getting as much as he can out of a talent-challenged club, but with the Lions having allowed 148 points over the past four games, Tampa Bay is the easy choice in this one.

 

San Francisco at Arizona

 

KC’s pick: Arizona

 

Confidence level: 6

 

The Cardinals offense had been in something of a slump while losing four out of five games from Weeks 9-13, but they’ve turned a corner over the past two contests by racking up 262 rushing yards, 654 passing yards, 48 first downs, and 59 points in that span. Arizona’s defense didn’t tally a takeaway in last week’s matchup against Philadelphia, but that platoon has posted 2+ takeaways in five of the past nine weeks. That does not bode well for a 49ers offense that just can’t protect the football, as San Francisco has tallied 16 giveaways in the past five weeks and has posted 2+ giveaways in every game since Week 4. That penchant for making mistakes pushes this matchup in the Cardinals direction by a fairly strong margin.

 

Miami at Las Vegas

 

KC’s pick: Miami

 

Confidence level: 6

 

The Raiders looked like a legitimate playoff contender when they were 6-3 in mid-November, but they have since lost four out of five. The main culprit in this collapse is an abysmal defense, as Las Vegas has allowed an average of 36 points in that span and 400+ offensive yards on eight occasions this season. Miami’s defense will put the Silver and Black to the test, as that platoon has given up fewer than 200 net passing yards in four of the past six contests and has 11 takeaways in the last five games. That last trend will likely be the Achilles’ Heel for the Raiders, as Las Vegas has posted 11 giveaways over the previous month, so Miami is the pick here.

 

Sunday, December 27

 

New York Giants at Baltimore

 

KC’s pick: Baltimore

 

Confidence level: 8

 

The Ravens looked like they were out of the AFC playoff hunt following the Wednesday afternoon Week 12 loss to Pittsburgh, but Baltimore has since run off three straight wins due in large part to rushing for 684 yards and racking up 121 points in that span. This caliber of matchup couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Giants, as Big Blue’s offense has tallied a total of 13 points over the past two weeks and hasn’t posted 20+ points in a game since Week 10. Combine those elements with Daniel Jones battling an injury and this being a home contest for Baltimore and the Ravens get this one by a wide margin.

 

Cincinnati at Houston

 

KC’s pick: Houston

 

Confidence level: 4

 

Give the Bengals a huge amount of credit for keeping up the fight following a dismal stretch and putting up 27 points against Pittsburgh despite missing their gamebreaking running back and starting a third-string quarterback against the Steelers. The Texans could use some of that moxie, as Houston been outscored 89-47 in the three games following their Thanksgiving Day win over Detroit. Those trends might seem to point in the direction of the Bengals, but it’s tough to overlook that Cincinnati has scored a single-digit point total in three of the past four games and Houston has scored 20+ points in four of the past five, so the Texans are the choice.

 

Chicago at Jacksonville

 

KC’s pick: Chicago

 

Confidence level: 7


The Bears have vaulted back to NFC Wild Card contention via a powerhouse rushing attack that has tallied 368 yards over the past two weeks. That is part of a superb stretch that has seen Chicago post 629 rushing yards over the past month. The reason that the ground game hasn’t led to more wins in that span is the Bears have allowed 27+ points and 393+ offensive yards in three of the past four contests. Chicago will get no sympathy from Jacksonville regarding poor defense, as the Jaguars have given up 1,742 offensive yards in the last four games and have allowed fewer than 27 points in only two contests all season. Add those elements to a struggling Jacksonville offense and it pushes this pick well in Chicago’s direction.

 

Atlanta at Kansas City

 

KC’s pick: Kansas City

 

Confidence level: 8

 

It’s easy to knock the Falcons for their repeated in-game collapses yet let’s accentuate the positive and note that Atlanta is now on a four-game streak of 300+ passing yards despite having Julio Jones available for only one of those contests. The problem for the Falcons is those yards aren’t turning into points, as Atlanta has tallied 17 or fewer points in three of the past five games. Converting yards into points isn’t an issue for the Chiefs, as Kansas City has posted 400+ offensive yards ten times and racked up 26+ points in all but two games. Matt Ryan and company just won’t be able to keep up with this skyrocket pace, so the Chiefs are the easy pick in this one.

 

Cleveland at New York Jets

 

KC’s pick: Cleveland

 

Confidence level: 7

 

Cleveland looked like it would need a holiday miracle to win the AFC North following a Week 14 loss to Baltimore, but as Hans Gruber famously noted in Die Hard, Christmas is the time of miracles. The Browns shut down of the Giants offense last week shows that Cleveland can win via a shootout or slugfest. That latter trait may be the route for the Browns to take, as after the Jets scored 23 points in the upset of the year over the Rams, New York has now scored 23+ points in four of the past six games. Motivation looks to be a main factor in this one, as the Jets no longer have the push to avoid a winless season and a victory by Cleveland could put them in a division deciding Week 17 matchup against Pittsburgh, so the Browns are the selection.

 

Indianapolis at Pittsburgh

 

KC’s pick: Indianapolis

 

Confidence level: 5

 

The Steelers are in the midst of what could end up as one of the all-time worst collapses in NFL history, as they now have posted three straight losses, with the third being against a Bengals squad that was starting a third-string quarterback. The Steelers problems are myriad, as they have tallied fewer than 100 rushing yards in eight of the past nine games, have posted nine giveaways in the past five contests, and racked up zero takeaways in two of the past three matchups. That last factor could be the key to the Colts success, as Indianapolis is 8-1 this season when their offense posts one or zero giveaways. Combine that with a Colts defense that has tallied two or more takeaways in four of the past five and the Steelers having posted fewer than 20 points in four straight and Indianapolis is the pick.

 

Carolina at Washington

 

KC’s pick: Washington

 

Confidence level: 1

 

Washington’s path to the NFC East title hit a bump in the road last week in a tough home loss to Seattle, but some solace can be taken by noting that the Football Team held Russell Wilson and the Seahawks highly dangerous passing game to a meager 121 net passing yards. Washington’s offense had its share of trouble in that contest by allowing four sacks and having its its first game with 2+ turnovers since Week 9, but the likely return of Alex Smith under center should solve a lot of those issues. Carolina has lost eight of its last nine games, but four of those defeats were by five or fewer points. Add it all up and this is a true toss up game, so Washington gets the pick due to home field advantage.

 

Denver at Los Angeles Chargers

 

KC’s pick: Los Angeles

 

Confidence level: 2

 

The Chargers looked like they were ready to throw in the towel on the season following their 45-0 destruction at the hands of the New England Patriots in Week 13, yet Anthony Lynn kept the Bolts together and they now have a two-game win streak that was put up against two solid opponents. Denver started the year off with a 3-4 mark, but the Broncos have now lost five of their past seven due in large part to a Swiss cheese rush defense that has allowed 670 rushing yards in the past month. The Broncos have won three straight against the Chargers, but the trends here lean more in the direction of Los Angeles.

 

Philadelphia at Dallas

 

KC’s pick: Philadelphia

 

Confidence level: 2

 

It’s tough to overstate the impact that starting Jalen Hurts has made to the Eagles offense. In the two contests he has started, Philadelphia has posted back-to-back games with 400+ offensive yards for the only time this season and they have tallied 24+ points in consecutive contests for the first time since week 6. His presence has also fired up the Eagles defense, as that platoon has posted five takeaways in that span. The Cowboys also seemed to have turned a corner, as Dallas has racked up 30+ points in three of the past five games and generated seven takeaways on defense in the last two weeks. All of those trends point to a high scoring, turnover-filled contest that could go either way, but the big play presence of Hurts is enough to land this selection in the Eagles column.

 

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle

 

KC’s pick: Seattle

 

Confidence level: 3

 

This is a de facto playoff game in many ways, as Seattle will clinch the NFC West title with a win and the Rams will land a playoff berth if they are victorious. Seattle started the season letting Russell Wilson cook with a powerhouse passing attack, but they have won four out of their last five despite throwing for fewer than 250 net passing yards in all of those contests. Los Angeles has also seen a decline in passing productivity, as the Rams have posted fewer than 200 net passing yards in three of their last four, including only 189 yards in last week’s epically embarrassing loss to the Jets. The key here is Seattle’s passing decline is part of an intended move back to Pete Carroll’s preferred power-centric attack, while the Rams are simply having consistency issues, so the Seahawks are the pick.

 

Tennessee at Green Bay

 

KC’s pick: Tennessee

 

Confidence level: 1

 

This game may be billed as Aaron Rodgers versus Ryan Tannehill, yet the reality is this matchup is a battle of heavyweight rushing attacks. Green Bay weighs in with a ground game that has posted 646 rushing yards in the past four weeks. Tennessee can more than counter this with 444 ground yards in the last two games alone and 150+ rushing yards in five of the past six contests. Rodgers may be the more talented passer, but the combination of A.J. Brown and Corey Davis can keep up with Davante Adams and whoever the Packers end up with as their second primary wide receiver. The gut instinct in this one says that Green Bay’s defense is less suited to stop Derrick Henry than the Titans are to stop Aaron Jones, so Tennessee is the selection here by the smallest of margins.

 

Monday, December 28

 

Buffalo at New England

 

KC’s pick: Buffalo

 

Confidence level: 7

 

It wasn’t very long ago that it looked like this matchup would have AFC East division clinching implications, but Buffalo’s four-game win streak and New England’s two-game losing streak means that this contest is for pride and potential playoff seeding. The Patriots defense has held opponents to fewer than 200 net passing yards in four straight games, but a lot of that is due to having allowed 644 rushing yards in that span. Buffalo’s ground game has been hit-or-miss for much of this season, but the Bills just got through posting 182 rushing yards against Denver. Buffalo has also racked up 26+ points in six straight games while New England has hit that mark only one time in the same span, so the Bills are the obvious pick in this matchup.