FOX Sports South walks the plank of potential embarrassment by chronicling seven bold predictions for NFL Week 16 -- traditionally the championship week of the fantasy playoffs -- an ambitious gallery that could be way off the mark come Monday night. There's no fear of failure here, though. Just educated guesses. (Photos: Ken Blaze/Joe Nicholson/Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
BOLD PREDICTION #1: Nate Washington will net 100 yards for the second consecutive week ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Washington collected season-highs with catches (six), targets (10) and yards (102) last week, the partial result of leading an injury-ravaged wideout corps. 2) Since Week 11, Washington has modestly recorded 50-plus receiving yards in all five outings (along with two TDs). 3) Never underestimate the QB-WR relationship during scout-team practices; and new Titans passer Charlie Whitehurst (replacing the injured Zach Mettenberger and Jake Locker) has likely thrown many up-tempo balls to Washington. 4) Last season, Washington twice tallied 90-plus yards in back-to-back outings. 5) For Week 16 last year, Washington caught six balls for 117 yards and one score against the Jags -- this week's foe.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY SportsJim Brown
BOLD PREDICTION #2: Robert Griffin III will notch multiple TD passes for the first time all year ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Of his four career starts against the Eagles (this week's foe), Griffin has tallied multiple TDs each time. 2) Against the Giants last week (in relief), Griffin posted his highest total-yardage tally of the season (282). 3) With Colt McCoy placed on injured reserve (neck injury) and Kirk Cousins entrenched as the Redskins' No. 3 QB, Griffin (above) shouldn't fear getting the quick hook against Philly. That confidence should never be underrated with the sometimes-fragile Griffin. 4) In their last six games, the Eagles have surrendered 12 TD passes. 5) Philly also has the NFL's 27th-ranked pass defense.
Howard Smith-USA TODAY SportsHoward Smith
The Eternal Struggle
BOLD PREDICTION #3: Johnny Manziel and the Browns won't score an offensive TD on Sunday ... CLARIFICATION: We're not saying Manziel (left) will replicate last week's awful starting debut (80 yards passing, zero TDs, two INTs); frankly, no pro QB can be that bad on consecutive Sundays. ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The once-maligned Carolina defense hasn't allowed more than 375 yards since Week 6. 2) Of the Panthers' last four outings, opposing teams have averaged a middling 19.3 PPG. 3) Since Week 10, the Browns' 1-2 QB tandem of Manziel and Brian Hoyer have combined for one TD pass and 10 interceptions. 4) Panthers LB Luke Kuechly (right -- 5th in NFL tackles) will likely wreak havoc on a battered Browns O-lin. 5) Cleveland has a nine-outing scoring average of 15.8 points per game. (Photos: Ken Blaze/Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Run To Daylight ... And The Pylon
BOLD PREDICTION #4: Falcons rookie Devonta Freeman will collect his first-ever rushing TD ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Since Week 10, the Saints (Atlanta's Sunday foe) have allowed a staggering average of 180 rushing yards -- the NFL's highest tally in that span. 2) The 5-9 Falcons -- embroiled in a must-win scenario -- may invoke an all-hands-on-deck approach on Sunday, especially if Julio Jones (hip injury) sits again. 3) New Orleans has yielded five rushing TDs in its last four games. 4) Of last year's Round 4 running backs -- a group that includes Andre Williams, Ka'Deem Carey, DeAnthony Thomas, Lorenzo Taliaferro -- Freeman (above -- 373 total yards, one receiving TD) has arguably been the least effective. But there's still time to salvage a so-so rookie campaign.
It's Gonna Happen
BOLD PREDICTION #5: The Vikings will end their yearly return-touchdown drought against the Fins ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Cornerback Marcus Sherels (above) has the NFL's most punt-return yards (266) ... among those who haven't found the end zone yet. 2) Reciever/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson (nine total TDs last year) is long overdue for a TD -- any kind of score (just one TD this season). 3) Miami has allowed two special-teams TDs this season -- including a blocked-kick return score last week against New England. 4) The offensively challenged Vikings (seven games of 16 or fewer points) need all the help possible to reach 25-plus points against the stout Dolphins.
Prelude To A Romp
BOLD PREDICTION #6: The Seahawks (minus-8 favorites in Vegas) will rout the Cardinals by 14-plus points ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The Seahawks (10-4) haven't surrendered more than 325 total yards in their last nine games. 2) Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (left) has averaged 119 total yards/1.2 TDs since Week 9. 3) Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley (right) has not registered a single TD pass in the NFL (181 attempts). 4) Arizona, which has been greatly hindered by injuries to Drew Stanton, Carson Palmer, various O-linemen and RB Andre Ellington, has averaged only 12.8 points in its last five games. 5) There's plenty at stake for Sunday's desert duel -- namely the NFC West title (likely) and homefield throughout the NFC playoffs (more likely). (Photos: Geoff Burke/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
BOLD PREDICTION #7: Colts-Cowboys will end up as the weekend's highest-scoring game ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Since Week 10, Dallas has averaged 30.2 points per game. 2) For the season, Indy has rolled for 40-plus points four times. 3) Through 14 games, Colts QB Andrew Luck (left -- 4,492 yards passing, 41 TDs) has accounted for 300 yards passing and/or three TDs 12 times. 4) Of his last five starts, Cowboys QB Tony Romo (right) has registered three or more TD passes four times. 5) Dallas RB DeMarco Murray (hand surgery this week) has a golden chance to break Emmitt Smith's franchise mark for single-season rushing yards (1,773). 6) When looking at the Week 16 slate (source: FootballLocks.com) ... only Falcons-Saints has a similar Vegas over/under in the mid-50s. (Photos: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)