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NFL picks 2019, Week 16: The games that matter most are hardest for our experts to call

Can Kirk Cousins finally shake his “Monday Night Football” curse? Our experts weigh in on that and every other Week 16 matchup

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Eight teams have clinched a spot in the NFL playoffs, and three more have a chance to join the field in Week 16.

The Texans only need a win over the Buccaneers to claim the AFC South, and the Cowboys can secure the NFC East by beating the Eagles. The Vikings can’t clinch the NFC North with a win against the Packers, but it would guarantee them a postseason berth.

Our experts are mostly siding with the Texans and Cowboys to lock up their division crowns, although neither game is unanimous.

Minnesota’s matchup with Green Bay is a little more split.

The Packers won the first meeting, 21-16. The Vikings turned the ball over four times and Kirk Cousins completed just 43.8 percent of his passes. But that was way back in Week 2. The Vikings stumbled out to a 2-2 start to the year before finding their way and winning eight of their next 10. Cousins has also played much better since and currently has a career high in passer rating (111.1) and completion percentage (70.5).

This time, the game will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where the Vikings are undefeated so far in 2019. However, you can’t forget about CousinsMonday Night Football curse. In eight tries, he’s lost every time he’s played on a Monday. No other quarterback in NFL history has done that.

Evidently our experts believe he’ll finally snap that streak of misfortune. Or a majority of them do, at least. There are three who think the Packers will complete the season sweep, with seven picking the Vikings to even the series.

Even though that’s the most divided the panel is on any game on the Week 16 docket, there’s some disagreement on other games with big implications.

The AFC East, and the top of the draft order, could be decided this week

Eight out of 10 experts expect the Patriots to win the AFC East for about the 187th straight year. They just have to hold off the Bills this weekend. In their first meeting in Week 4, New England picked off Josh Allen three times and won 16-10.

The Patriots don’t look as formidable as they did in the first two months of the season, though. They started December with two losses before getting back on track against the hapless Bengals. The Bills have won double-digit games for the first time in 20 years and are already guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. It’s just hard to convince most of our panel that the Bills will finally dethrone the Patriots..

The pillow fights between Washington and the Giants, as well as the Dolphins and Bengals, are also an 8-2 split. While those games have zero playoff implications, both will be crucial in sorting out the top of the draft order. The majority is taking Miami and Washington to win — something you haven’t heard often in 2019.

Meet the Good Dog of Week 16: Georgia

Georgia Born, aka The Peach, is a rescue who lives in Springfield, Ohio, with her parents, six furry siblings, and two 11-year-old humans.

Georgia Born wearing a red and black plaid onesie

Her dad is a lifelong Cleveland fan and her mom is smart enough not to get emotionally invested, especially in the Browns. Georgia spends most of her time trying to get as close to her mom as she can, including draping herself in mom’s hair while she lays on her shoulder.

Her strategy picking games was pretty simple. She had to go with the Browns this week in order to maintain her Dawg Pound member status and then mostly teams with her favorite former Buckeyes.

Week 16 picks

Here are all our picks for the week with the caveat that we can still change our minds by Friday. Our guest picker this week is Cyril Penn, an editor from our Raiders blog, Silver and Black Pride.

Week 16 picks

Games James Brady Christian D'Andrea Sarah Hardy Morgan Moriarty Geoff Schwartz Adam Stites Stephen White Cyril Penn Georgia the Good Dog Fooch
Games James Brady Christian D'Andrea Sarah Hardy Morgan Moriarty Geoff Schwartz Adam Stites Stephen White Cyril Penn Georgia the Good Dog Fooch
HOU vs. TB HOU HOU HOU HOU TB HOU TB HOU HOU HOU
BUF vs. NE BUF NE NE NE NE NE BUF NE NE NE
LAR vs. SF SF SF SF SF SF SF SF SF SF SF
JAX vs. ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL
BAL vs. CLE BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL CLE BAL
NO vs. TEN NO NO NO NO NO NO TEN NO NO TEN
CAR vs. IND IND IND IND IND IND IND IND IND CAR IND
CIN vs. MIA MIA MIA MIA MIA MIA CIN MIA MIA CIN MIA
PIT vs. NYJ NYJ PIT PIT PIT PIT NYJ PIT PIT PIT PIT
NYG vs. WAS WAS WAS WAS NYG WAS NYG WAS WAS WAS WAS
DET vs. DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN
OAK vs. LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC OAK LAC LAC LAC LAC OAK
DAL vs. PHI DAL PHI DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL PHI
ARI vs. SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA
KC vs. CHI KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC
GB vs. MIN MIN GB MIN GB GB MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN
Season record 141-83 150-74 133-91 141-83 134-90 128-96 132-92 141-83 124-100 131-93