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By: Kevin Cottrell Jr. @SportsVentz

Just a Thought… Season to Remember…It’s the time of year when kids countdown the days to Christmas and the adults countdown for other reasons. The anticipation of catching Santa Claus dropping off sweet gifts is at times better than a kid meeting their sports idol. Athletes experience the same feeling. NBA players are counting down to the big day for marquee match ups and NFL teams are fighting for playoff positioning. Whether you’re a kid or a big kid this is simply the most wonderful time of the year. That is until we experienced the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings last week. The victims represented our future. They too were just days away from rushing to open gifts from under their tree, then turning on the television to watch their favorite basketball player take to the hardwood. So while we’re all blessed and thankful to have the opportunity to give during the holiday season, it’s only right we all give a little to those families trying to cope with this unthinkable tragedy. While this time of year is known for gift exchanges, bowl games and marquee NBA/NFL match ups, it’s ultimately all about the children. So as we prepare cookies and milk and stock our stockings, find in your hearts to hang another one for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary. 

NFL WEEK 16 PREDICTIONS: Week 15 didn’t have too many last second finishes but we did find out a few things. Peyton Manning & Co is HOT, Adrian Peterson can’t be stopped! The NFC East is crazy as usual, the rookie QB class is unreal and the Niners have a player in QB Colin Kaepernick! That’s all in the past, last see what week 16 has in store!


(6-8) SAINTS @ COWBOYS (8-6):  The Saints may be the most explosive 6-8 team in the L scoring 27.8 ppg. But their defense may be a big reason for their 8 losses yielding 27.1 ppg. For the Cowboys they tend to face the same issues with their defense allowing more than the team typically scores, luckily for them their record is a mirror image of the Saints. The two teams face off with opposing agendas. The Saints will attempt to salvage their forgettable season by finishing 8-8 while Dallas has their sights on winning the division. The Saints have won their last 3 trips to Big D so this will be a confident bunch. Brees is not only confident but leads the league in TDs and Passing yards which makes this quick strike offense very dangerous. Nevertheless, the Cowboys are motivated, it’s simple they win out and they win the division. I’m not so sure that scenario will play out but one thing that is for sure, this game will be high scoring. Both defenses are on notice but in the end the ‘Boys need this more than the Saints. Prediction: COWBOYS by 3

(8-6) BENGALS @ STEELERS (7-7): If you think the NFC East is full of crazy scenarios the AFC North can definitely compete with the madness. A few weeks ago the Ravens were running away with the division at 9-2 but a 3-game losing streak has left the door open for the Bengals and Steelers. That’s the good news. Bad news the Bengals can’t seem to defeat the Steelers, something they’ll try to overcome this Sunday. Cincy lost their last 5 against the Steelers mainly because Pittsburgh D has made life difficult for QB Andy Dalton. With the Steelers black shirts getting healthy and returning to form expect more of a chess match for the young QB and the Steelers D. As for the Steelers O, Big Ben moved the ball at will in Dallas last week but they had trouble with ball security. I expect for Coach Tomlin to handle those woes with a tough week at practice. This game will resemble many of the tough AFC North match ups. Low scoring and hard-hitting with the game coming down to a kick. Many are ready to write off the Steelers, I’m just not one of them. Prediction: STEELERS by 3

(8-6) VIKINGS @ TEXANS (12-2): Vikings RB Adrian Peterson’s remarkable return to the top of the list of NFL rushers may prove to be both a gift and a curse. At 8-6, Minnesota currently holds the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC, needing wins at Houston (then home vs Packers) to end their three year playoff drought. However, Peterson’s pursuit of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record may make their chances of winning both games tough. The Texans have the fifth ranked rushing defense and needs a win to secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Minnesota will eventually need to put the ball in the hands of Christian Ponder to win these games and I’m not so sure he’ll be able to answer the bell. The Vikes are where they are solely because of the play of Peterson. Minnesota struggles on the road at 2-5 and they’re headed to Houston where they boast a 6-1 home record. Peterson needs 294 rushing yards to pass Dickerson. While AP may get 100+ yards closer this Sunday, it may come in a losing effort. Look for the Texans to pick apart the Vikes defense scoring at a rate that will be tough for Minnesota to keep up with. Congrats to Texans nation, the road to the Super Bowl will go through H-Town. Prediction: TEXANS by 10

(8-6) GIANTS @ RAVENS (9-5): Separated by just one game in the win column, these two teams have two totally different stories. While they’ve both struggled of late, the Ravens have clinched a playoff spot, while the Giants need to win out to at least secure a wild card spot. However, both teams still have their sights on winning their perspective divisions. Both teams have been hit by the injury bug, but it seems as if the Giants will get healthier with the return of running back Ahmad Bradshaw and CB Prince Amukamara. As for the Ravens, they’re still without the heart of their defense, Ray Lewis and they lost speedy wideout Torrey Smith to a concussion last Sunday. Luckily for the Ravens, Baltimore is a tough place for opposing teams to get a W, unless your name is Peyton Manning. Could the same be said about Peyton’s baby brother? Coming off an embarrassing 34-0 loss in Atlanta, the GMen will take their talents down I-95 looking to get back to their winning ways. The Ravens defense seems to be a shell of themselves, and Flacco has struggled to put points on the board. Look for this game to be low scoring. Both teams will look to establish the run early and often, making life easier for the QBs. But with injuries in the Ravens secondary, I expect for Victor Cruz and Company to have a platform to give Salsa lessons. The Ravens are already in the postseason and the Giants will be looking to join them. Prediction: GIANTS by 4

(8-6) REDSKINS @ EAGLES (4-10): The ‘Skins may be the hottest team in the NFC having won their last 5, but what makes their situation so unique is that the wins have come on the shoulders of two rookie QBs. Rookie of the Year Candidate, RGIII, missed last week’s win over the Browns with a knee injury but has returned to practice this week. The ‘Skins have yet to make a decision on who will start but the outcome hasn’t been effected either way. For the Eagles, they’ll continue to play QB Nick Foles even though Mike Vick seems to be healthy. The Eagles may be playing for pride but with just 4-wins they may be playing more for a draft pick at this point. One thing that can’t be overlooked is the fact that this is a division game and possibly the last home game for Coach Andy Reid. These two teams are obviously familiar with one another so both sides will be fired up. With the NFC East resting in the hands of the ‘Skins I expect for them to play inspired football. The Eagles have struggled against the run all season, which is something Washington thrives at doing. Rookie RB Alfred Morris has rushed for over 1300 yards and looks to gain even more in Philly. This game will be played closer than many think, but with uncertainty at QB for the ‘Skins the Eagles defense won’t know who to prepare for.  Prediction: REDSKINS by 6


(10-3-1) 49ERS @ SEAHAWKS (9-5): With a win, the 49ers will clinch their second consecutive division title. Sounds easy, but they’ll have to do so by winning in Seattle, something no other team has done this season. The Niners pulled off the unthinkable slowing down Tom Brady last Sunday night, this weekend they’ll face a more dynamic QB in Russell Wilson. Wilson, has clearly been the key to the Seahawks success with his pinpoint accuracy and ability to make plays with his feet. These two teams are built similar with good running games, dual threat QBs and hard-hitting defenses. This is a FLEX game for NBC and come Sunday night we’ll all know why. As I stated before it’s tough for a road team to win at Qwest Field, but that said no one or no team is perfect. This game will be worth the wait on Sunday night so strap up because this game will involve hits that make you wear a mouthpiece from the comfort of your home.  Prediction: 49ERS by 7


FALCONS over Lions
PACKERS over Titans
COLTS over Chiefs
DOLPHINS over Bills
CHARGERS over Jets
PANTHERS over Raiders
PATRIOTS over Jaguars
BRONCOS over Browns
BEARS over Cardinals


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