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NFL matchups: Week 16

Published: Saturday, Dec. 24 2011 12:22 a.m. MST

New York Jets' Sione Pouha reacts after tackling Kansas City Chiefs' Jackie Battle for a safety during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets defeated the Chiefs 37-10. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Associated Press

Giants at Jets, Saturday, 11 a.m., FOX

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Every New York football fan had all kinds of thoughts, hopes, and dreams when the 2011 NFL schedule came out, especially when you scrolled down to Week 16 and read: Dec. 24, Giants at Jets, 1 p.m. Unlike previous meetings in seasons past, this game has playoff implications for both teams. The Jets, who were absolutely smoked by Philly last week, aren't the best bounce-back team. Gang Green is 1-5 against the spread (ATS) in their last six games following a loss. Meanwhile, the Giants are good in tight games with a 11-4-1 ATS mark in their last 16 games as an underdog of 3 points or less. I believe Big Blue is playing for coach Tom Coughlin's future. The Giants just want to end the talk of another "Coughlin Collapse," and show Jets' coach Rex Ryan, who the "better team" really is. The G-Men win it outright, 23-19.

THE PICK: Giants

CHARGERS (7-7) AT LIONS (9-5) (2:05 p.m.)

The skinny: If it's December, the Chargers must be trying to sprint down the stretch again. They've won three straight, which has been their MO in Philip Rivers' tenure at QB.

They were 3-1 down the stretch last season, won their last 11 in '09, their last four in '08, their last six in '07 and their last 10 in '06. They may have waited too long this time around, however, since they need plenty of others to lose to sneak in the postseason.

The difference will be: If the Lions can get to Rivers and prevent him from keeping his December roll — he's 23-2 as a starter in December games in his career. Rivers has pressed at times this season, but has not thrown an interception in his last four games after being in the league lead a month ago.

The Lions know how to hang in, however. They have won four games this season after trailing by 13 or more points, that's an NFL record.

The call: Lions 31-28

BRONCOS (8-6) AT BILLS (5-9) (11 a.m.)

The Broncos can clinch their first division title since 2005 with a win and a Raiders loss in Kansas City. A Denver loss would put an awful lot of things up in the air for a team that has rallied from its 1-4 start to get in the postseason race.

The call: Broncos 24-16

CARDINALS (7-7) AT BENGALS (8-6) (11 a.m.)

In a different year, the Cardinals would be a nice story, having won six of their past seven games. But they won't catch the 49ers in their division and need buckets of help to get a wild-card spot.

With six rushing yards in this one, Cardinals RB Beanie Wells will be the first player in franchise history to have a 1,000-yard rushing season to go with 10 rushing TDs. The Bengals need plenty of help to stay in the wild card.

The call: Bengals 20-14

RAIDERS (8-6) AT CHIEFS (7-7) (11 a.m.)

If the Raiders win and get a sliver of help from the Broncos, Oakland still can win its first division title since 2002. They also have won the last four times they've played in Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs will have to show a little composure, coming off a win over the previously undefeated Packers on Sunday.

The call: Raiders 24-23

49ERS (10-3) AT SEAHAWKS (7-7) (2:15 p.m.)

This has some potential to be trouble for the 49ers. They've clinched the division title, are coming off a Monday night win over Pittsburgh and are on the road.

But the Niners lead the league in fewest points allowed on defense as well as turnover margin (plus-25) — two very good indicators of playoff worthiness.

The call: 49ers 13-10

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