As we enter Week 16 of the NFL season, my overall record is still hanging above .500. After going 2-3 in Week 15, that brings me to 33-32 on the season. I’ve said over and over that until I get below .500 I’m not giving up, which means this week could be do or die. I apologize to those who have used my picks for a good portion of the season. As long as you’re not parlaying at least, you should be in decent shape. I gave the Raiders the benefit of the doubt in Kansas City and they let me down. The Packers stunned us all with their embarrassing showing in Buffalo. The Lions won, but couldn’t do it by more than a touchdown. Let’s take a look at my JB Locks for NFL Week 16.
1. Lions (10-4) @ Bears (5-9) (+9.5)
Jimmy Clausen will start over Jay Cutler for the Bears this week. He has three touchdowns and nine interceptions in his career. If the Lions don’t absolutely destroy the Bears in Chicago, they do not deserve to be playing in January. Expect a blowout in the Windy City Sunday.
2. Ravens (9-5) @ Texans (7-7) (+5.5)
Case Keenum or Thad Lewis will be starting behind center for the Texans Sunday. If the 9-5 Ravens don’t win by at least a touchdown, they should be awfully concerned. No offense to Keenum or Lewis, but they don’t stand a chance against the Ravens. Baltimore has won four of their last five, and they are third against the run in the NFL, which bodes well for them containing Arian Foster. Expect them to keep their push for the playoffs alive, cruising to a win down in Houston Sunday.
3. Chiefs (8-6) @ Steelers (9-5) (-3.5)
It’s been a strange season for the Steelers, who have a good shot at playing in January. They have not had issues playing good teams, but have struggled against bad teams. Four of their five losses this season have come against teams at .500 or below. Luckily for them, the Chiefs are over .500, which means they should win. The Steelers are 11th in the NFL against the rush, which is what the Chiefs specialize in behind Jamaal Charles. Kansas City is 30th in passing, while the Steelers rank second in the league behind Big Ben. This is a good matchup for the Steelers, especially at home. If they want to be in the playoffs, they have to take care of business in front of the Pittsburgh faithful against an inconsistent Chiefs squad. The Steelers should win this one by a touchdown.
4. Colts (10-4) @ Cowboys (10-4) (-3.5)
This might be the toughest lock of the week. Both teams are fairly even coming in. The difference could come down to one player. DeMarco Murray likely will play Sunday, but with a broken hand. That’s a tough thing to ask a running back to play with. He’s having a career year and is a big reason why the Cowboys are getting closer and closer to winning a NFC East title. You can’t just go out there with a broken left hand and be very effective. If he is, more power to him, but the likely event is that he re-injures himself or is ineffective. Let’s also be real about the Cowboys. Other than beating Seattle and Philadelphia last week, they haven’t had any other impressive wins. Their 23rd-ranked defense against the pass is not going to fair well against Andrew Luck and their first-ranked passing offense. The Colts have won four straight and should keep the win streak alive. If the Cowboys squeak this out out, it surely won’t be by more than a field goal. Expect the Colts to win this one in Dallas with Murray playing banged up.
5. Chargers (8-6) @ 49ers (7-7) (-1.5)
It’s a tad bit surprising the 49ers are even favored in this game, but they are the home team. The 49ers have easily been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this year, and a lot of it starts with the horrid play of Colin Kaepernick. After signing the big $126 million extension in the offseason, he’s been a natural disaster. All their struggles fall on their offense, which has so much talent, but has failed in so many ways. They have 23 total points in their last three games, and now they have to hear the Jim Harbaugh to Michigan distractions. Being at home won’t help them too much this week. This is an essential game for the Chargers, who are still right in the thick of things in the AFC Wild Card race. Philip Rivers is banged up, but he’s played through injury his entire career essentially. This game, which is basically a pick em’, is far too important for San Diego to lose. The game will be close, but once again Kaepernick and his slumping offense falls short as the Chargers prevail on the road.
Check out the hottest headlines in the NFL, JB Locks, Troupe Talk, and our interview with former Pro Bowl NFL running back Clinton Portis on my weekly CBS Local Sports NFL podcast 4th & Goal with JB & BT featuring myself and former Tennessee Titans tight end Ben Troupe. Portis does a couple of his alter egos and brings out a surprising Super Bowl pick. This week, I brought out my first freestyle rap in my radio career, and it is a must listen. The rap begins at the 29:40 mark of the show. Troupe tells us a never before heard story on Pacman Jones at the strip club. In JB’s Beef this week, I call out Chris Christie for his move to sit with Jerry Jones in the press box, awkward high fives in press box by old people, and Lou Williams being an absolute pimp. The show is posted every Wednesday to CBSLocalSports.com. You can follow the show on Twitter @4thandGoalJBBT.