NFL matchups: Week 16

Published: Friday, Dec. 23 2011 11:00 p.m. MST

BROWNS (4-10) AT RAVENS (10-4)(11 a.m.)

This isn't the best situation for the low-scoring Browns since the Ravens are coming off a crushing loss to the Chargers last weekend. The Ravens have scored 37, 30 and 31 points in games following their previous losses this season.

The call: Ravens 33-13

BUCCANEERS (4-10) AT PANTHERS (5-9)(11 a.m.)

Panthers QB Cam Newton has scored 30 TDs this season — 17 passing, 13 rushing — the most by a rookie QB in league history. He also needs just 18 passing yards to set the record for rookie QBs as well — Peyton Manning set the record in 1998.

The call: Panthers 27-21

DOLPHINS (5-9) AT PATRIOTS (11-3) (11 a.m.)

The Patriots, at least from the looks of them in Denver last Sunday, have their playoff swerve on. They've won seven of their past nine against the Dolphins and they know how to close the deal — they are 42-7 in December games in Bill Belichick's tenure.

The call: Patriots 35-20

RAMS (2-12) AT STEELERS (10-4) (11 a.m.)

Playing on a bad ankle this past Monday, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had four turnovers — three interceptions, one fumble — but he's still on pace for his second career 4,000-yard season. The Steelers are 6-1 at home this season.

The call: Steelers 30-9

JAGUARS (4-10) AT TITANS (7-7) (11 a.m.)

A lot will depend on how the Titans regain their balance after a horrific loss to the Colts in Indianapolis last Sunday. The Titans don't finish that well on offense — they're 24th in scoring at just 19.9 points per game.

The call: Titans 19-17

VIKINGS (2-12) AT REDSKINS (5-9) (11 a.m.)

Of all the things that have gone wrong for the Redskins, Mike Shanahan may have at least found a running back in Roy Helu. Helu is the first rookie back in franchise history to rush for at least 100 yards in three consecutive games and he leads all rookies in the NFC with 47 receptions.

Redskins 28-23

EAGLES (6-8) AT COWBOYS (8-6) (2:25 p.m.)

The Eagles aren't going to the playoffs, but if they can put all their frustration, dysfunction and spotty play in the rearview mirror for at least one game, they could deal the Cowboys a painful loss. In his past three home starts against the Eagles, Cowboys QB Tony Romo is 3-0, with seven TD passes.

The call: Cowboys 31-30


BEARS (7-7) AT PACKERS (13-1) (6:20 p.m.)

A little old-school rivalry to close out Christmas Day. The Packers, coming off their first loss of the season, will have to avoid the multi-week letdown that has affected some teams that have lost an undefeated season late in the year.

That first loss often leads to another — see the 1998 Broncos. The Packers' offensive line is a bigger concern, however, because QB Aaron Rodgers is beginning to take far more punishment than Green Bay would like him to take.

He's been sacked seven times in the past two games.

The call: Packers 30-20


FALCONS (9-5) AT SAINTS (11-3)(6:30 p.m.)

The Saints have won five of the last six between these division rivals, and New Orleans head coach Sean Payton is 9-2 against Atlanta. The Saints have won six games in a row, having scored at least 26 points in five of the wins and at least 31 in three of them.

The Falcons have won seven of the past nine and could use an upset here to keep themselves in good position in the NFC wild-card race. The Falcons are 6-4 in NFC games and a loss here certainly will sting.

Brees needs just a combined 305 yards passing in his last two games to break Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage mark (5,084 in 1984). Brees also has won his past six Monday night games and has a passer rating of 124.1 in those game.

The call: Saints 33-21

Last week: 6-9 (.400)

For the season: 143-65 (.688)

NFL rankings

1. Packers: 16-0 is gone, but the champs are still the league's best team.

2. Saints: QB Drew Brees is tearing it up, nearing 5,000 yards for the season.

3. Patriots: Now have the inside track for the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

4. 49ers: Bounced back from a bad loss to the Cards by taking down the Steelers.

5. Ravens: Got shelled by the Chargers last week to put a dent in hopes for the top seed.

6. Steelers: Loss to the Niners prevented them from taking the AFC North lead.

7. Falcons: They face the Saints this week in a battle for NFC playoff position.

8. Lions: Comeback kids must beat either Chargers or Packers to clinch wild card.

9. Broncos: Team Tebow must bounce back from loss to Patriots to win AFC West.

10. Texans: They're in the playoffs, but injuries have this team fading fast.

—Layton Shumway

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