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NFL picks 2018, Week 16: Can the Chargers take control of the AFC?

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Can’t miss picks for every game this week.

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

There are 16 games this week, duh. But there are only a few of those games that truly matter for shaping the playoffs. So, let’s focus on those.

Two games that are intrinsically tied together are the Ravens-Chargers and Chiefs-Seahawks. That is the last actually “tough” game left on the schedule for both of those teams. Right now, the Chiefs have the tiebreaker that gives them the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Chargers can’t do any better than the fifth seed unless they can get a leg up on the Chiefs with their record. (And the Chiefs also have a game on the Chargers in their division and conference records, two tiebreaking mechanisms for playoff standings).

If you put much faith in our panel’s predictions, then things are looking good for the Chargers. Six of eight panelists are picking them to beat the Ravens this week. San Diego’s Los Angeles’ defense has been really strong, so the biggest question I have is whether or not they can stop the Ravens’ souped-up running game with quarterback Lamar Jackson.

It’s a split for the Chiefs, four to four. They have a tough road game against the Seahawks. One silver lining for Kansas City fans here might be that while the Seahawks have only lost twice at home this season, those losses were to the Rams and, yes, the Chargers — two teams very much resembling KC.

Woah. There’s no NFC East game in primetime this week. It’s a Festivus miracle! However, the networks’ favorite division does have a weird playoff race, thanks mostly to the Cowboys’ collapse against the Colts last week (or the Jaguars’ incompetence against Josh Johnson and Washington, take your picks).

The Cowboys are at home against the Buccaneers. If they win, they clinch the division and a playoff spot. Our panel likes their chances, unanimous for the Cowboys, except for that damn coin.

If the Cowboys fail to sink the Bucs, they need Washington AND Philadelphia to lose this week to clinch the division title. Our panel overwhelmingly sees Washington losing to the Titans on Saturday, so there’s one. The Eagles are at home against the Texans, and that one’s harder to pin down for a pick. It’s an even split. The Texans are the better team, but the Eagles are suddenly resurgent, coming off a big win over the Rams, with Nick Foles and a little bit of that same spicy defense we saw on their Super Bowl run last year.

Another big game on the list is the Steelers at Saints. Only one of our panelists is picking the Steelers to win in New Orleans. If the Saints win that game, they will clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

If our panel’s picks prove true, the Patriots will beat the Bills and lock down the AFC East for a 10th straight season, not bad for a dynasty in its twilight.

OK, here are this week’s picks. The computer picks come to us via OddsShark. The coin is a quarter from 2007 that gets flipped every Tuesday morning, heads for the home team. Panelists are allowed to make changes for up to two of their picks by Friday to account for injuries, etc.

NFL picks Week 16

Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Coin flip OddsShark computer
Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Coin flip OddsShark computer
WAS vs TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN WAS TEN
BAL vs LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC BAL LAC BAL LAC
CIN vs CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE
TB vs DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL TB DAL
MIN vs DET MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN
NYG vs IND IND IND IND IND IND IND NYG IND
JAX vs MIA MIA MIA MIA JAX MIA MIA MIA MIA
BUF vs NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE
GB vs NYJ NYJ GB NYJ GB GB NYJ NYJ GB
HOU vs PHI HOU PHI HOU HOU HOU PHI PHI PHI
ATL vs CAR ATL CAR ATL ATL CAR CAR ATL CAR
LAR vs AZ LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR AZ LAR
CHI vs SF CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI SF CHI
PIT vs NO NO NO NO NO NO PIT NO NO
KC vs SEA SEA KC SEA KC SEA KC KC SEA
DEN vs OAK OAK DEN OAK OAK DEN DEN DEN OAK
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