Tread lightly with viewing this weekend
A whole lot of us NFL fans probably won’t win any popularity contests this weekend if we dig in and insist on watching — or at least keeping up with — the games this week, Week 16.
Late this afternoon and through the night is shot with a pair of games — including the Packers and Vikings — but you can probably get away with that. I’m not up on that many family traditions taking place on Christmas Eve Eve.
Probably more important to Christmas traditionalists will be your diverted attention all afternoon and into the evening on Christmas Eve and from late afternoon until bedtime on Christmas Day.
I won’t even venture into college football bowl games or NBA Christmas tripleheaders.
You may want to think through your viewing strategies for maximum effect, whether that means foregoing some time slots, being extra nice when the games aren’t on or making sure the presents are particularly special this holiday.
Or just be prepared to sleep by yourself, be written out of the will or look at the disappointed faces on the faces of your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.
Personally, I’m going to curl up with the Armchair Quarterback Barcalounger and tune out the rest of the world with a couple days off.
Aaah the life!
Now onto the picks:
Today, 4:30 p.m.
Indianapolis at Baltimore — If this game was played at the end of the weekend, Baltimore might not have anything to play for. Now, though, they’re still alive, albeit barely, for the AFC playoffs. Ravens, 31-20.
Today, 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Green Bay — Without Aaron Rodgers — which sure seems like the smart way to go with no playoffs in the picture — Minnesota’s defense can pick apart the Packers. Vikings, 27-16.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Carolina — Somebody with a lot to lose is going to choke, but I don’t have any special premonitions of who that will be. So I’m taking every team that has a lot to play for. Panthers, 33-23.
Cleveland at Chicago — Both these teams may feel more pressure than any involved with playoff implications. If you’re Cleveland, this is the second-to-last chance to avoid 0-16, while if you’re Chicago, you don’t want to be the team tagged with the Browns’ “W.” Based on Cleveland’s propensity to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory, I’ll take the Bears, 17-15.
Detroit at Cincinnati — Detroit’s playoff hopes should end this weekend, but not before this game is played. Lions, 29-23.
Miami at Kansas City — Both teams have shown recent life, but it’s KC who is playing for its division. Chiefs, 26-23.
Buffalo at New England — Will the barring of Tom Brady’s trainer from New England’s facilities split their lockerroom? I would think if it did, this would’ve been handled a lot less ham-fisted. Patriots, 34-24.
Atlanta at New Orleans — While the Saints’ defense is taking some big hits, I like New Orleans as long as they have their running back tandem of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Saints, 31-27.
Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets — The Chargers are yet another team in the middle of divisional and wild-card races. Chargers, 24-17.
Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee — From what I fathom, the Rams could end up anywhere from the No. 2 seed in the NFC to out of the playoffs. Ultimate motivation. Rams, 33-24.
Denver at Washington — Though the Broncos can’t be trusted outside Denver, I just feel squeamish hitching my wagon to the Redskins, too. Broncos, 23-19.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Jacksonville at San Francisco — Even at the beginning of this season, let alone a year ago, I would’ve penciled this game in as the sweepstakes for the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Now Jax is a dark horse to overtake New England at the top of the AFC, while the Patriots’ backup quarterback has yet to lose in San Fran. Jaguars, 23-16.
New York Giants at Arizona — Are the Giants ready for their once-a-month rise from the ashes? Naw, that’s what next week is for. Cardinals, 30-20.
Seattle at Dallas — Like the Broncos, I never like Seattle away from home. And with Ezekiel Elliott back, the Cowboys think they have a chance. I don’t agree, but I’ll still take the Cowboys, 29-21.
Monday, 4:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Houston — Fight for your chance at the No. 1 seed in the AFC, Pittsburgh! Steelers, 34-19.
Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Oakland at Philadelphia — Even if Philly doesn’t have anything to play for, I like them vs. the Ra-a-a-y-ders. Eagles, 35-26.
Last week — 12-4, 75 percent. Season — 142-82, 63 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.