NFL Picks Week 16: Trusting Better Judgement

Wesley Hitt

Week 16 offers many playoff-like scenarios around the league and none are more crucial than the battle for the NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints find themselves in a position that seemed almost incomprehensible not very long ago. A couple of bad losses paired with a Carolina Panthers team that just can't lose, has made this week's game a virtual winner-take-all scenario. Only two weeks ago, the Saints dismantled the Panthers in the Superdome, but now the scene shifts to Charlotte, where the Panthers are overwhelming favorites to hammer the Saints and snatch the NFC South title.

The Saints have been far less Superman away from the dome, and much more Clark Kent. Honestly, Carolina should be the favorites here, all of the numbers and statistics support this. Carolina should win this game by a nearly identical score as the Saints won by just two weeks ago, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least. The Saints are 3-4 at Bank of America Stadium since 2006, so it's clear this will be an intense atmosphere.

When making these picks, as I've had the honor of doing for CSC this season, I've taken the approach of trusting better judgement when a matchup is too close too call at first glance. There is only one instance where I blatantly ignored better judgment this season and I remembered that you've really got to be as honest with yourself about your own team as you are with all of the others. New England? So close, but they should've finished stronger. The Jets? I still don't know how they lost that damn one. St. Louis? I honestly figured the Saints could escape the trap with a victory, but sometimes there are franchises out there that just have your number. No, it's none of those, it's the Seattle game. My head and heart told me that the Saints were looking squarely at a loss in the Emerald City, but I ignored better judgement, and I was disingenuous with myself and our community of readers.

Now comes the biggest, most pivotal game of the 2013 New Orleans Saints season, and I will trust better judgement here.

Last week I went 12-4, Season record 141-83

I told you so: Steelers over Bengals!

What do I know: Saints over Rams?

WEEK 16

Sunday, December 22nd - Early Games

Dolphins(8-6) at Bills(5-9)

Miami needs this one for their playoff hopes, and they'll get it, but it won't be easy.

Pick: Dolphins

***

Vikings(4-9-1) at Bengals(9-5)

Cincy gets the home win as they hear Baltimore's footsteps getting closer.

Pick: Bengals

***

Broncos(11-3) at Texans(2-12)

Denver adds more kerosene to Houston's dumpster fire of a season.

Pick: Broncos

***

Titans (5-9) at Jaguars(4-10)

Jacksonville goes for the season sweep against Tennessee, and they'll get it.

Pick: Jaguars

***

Colts(9-5) at Chiefs(11-3)

Indy is in for a long day in the Kansas City snow.

Pick: Chiefs

***

Cowboys(7-7) at Redskins(3-11)

As atrocious as the Dallas defense is, the offense will find a way to pick up a desperately needed win.

Pick: Cowboys

***

Browns(4-10) at Jets(6-8)

For three straight weeks, Cleveland has been oh-so-close to victory, they get one here.

Pick: Browns

***

Buccaneers(4-10) at Rams(6-8)

Tampa will rout St. Louis by double digits.

Pick: Buccaneers

***

Saints(10-4) at Panthers(10-4) - NFC South Championship Game (de-facto)

With everything on the line, I put my trust in a core group that has experience in truly big moments. I put my trust in a group that shows its best when stakes are the highest. I trust the perennial favorite who gets to play the role of the underdog for a change. I've seen the Saints get written off and prematurely buried a quite a few times before.

I'm trusting better judgement here, I trust these Saints, 17-14.

Pick: Saints

***

Sunday, December 22nd - Late Games

Cardinals(9-5) at Seahawks(12-2)

Arizona absolutely needs this one, they just won't be able to get it though.

Pick: Seahawks

***

Giants(5-9) at Lions(7-7)

Detroit will pull out a close home victory over Eli's Giants.

Pick: Lions

***

Patriots(10-4) at Ravens(8-6) - Game of the Week

Baltimore's defensive effort at home should be enough to frustrate Brady in this one.

Pick: Ravens

***

Raiders(4-10) at Chargers(7-7)

San Diego should beat Oakland by two scores.

Pick: Chargers

***

Steelers(6-8) at Packers(7-6-1)

Even with Flynn, Green Bay will pick up a big win to set up a monster game next week in the Windy City.

Pick: Packers

***

Sunday Night Football

Bears(8-6) at Eagles(8-6)

Chicago will pick up a big win in what should be a playoff-like atmosphere.

Pick: Bears

***

Monday, December 23rd - Monday Night Football

Falcons(4-10) at 49ers(10-4)

The first mistake Atlanta will make is getting off the plane. San Francisco will demolish the Falcons along with Candlestick Park.

Pick: 49ers

***

This is it, the big one. This is how I see Week 16 playing out, now tell us what you think. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below. Break out the bats, boys. It's playoff time.

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