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The inputs to the 10,001 simulations of each upcoming game are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position.
Game of the Week: #2 Carolina 22 @ #4 New York Giants 21
There a lot of great games this weekend - just about all of them feature pretty evenly matched teams - and there are others on this list that may have more impact on who gets into the playoffs, but this may go the furthest in determining who wins in the playoffs and ultimately represents the NFC in the Super Bowl. (A similar game is going on in the AFC, yet we just featured back-to-back Steelers' games in this section and Albert Haynesworth's injury makes the contest a lot less enticing.) Carolina had an easy schedule early, helping the Panthers to gain confidence in its offense. Now the team has scored 28 points or more in five straight games, is tied for the league lead in rushing (4.8 ypc) and seventh in the NFL in passing (7.61 ypa). The Giants present the best all-around defense that Carolina has faced all year, so hitting 28 may be difficult, but it also isn't necessary. New York offense has clearly struggled over the last couple of weeks with Plaxico Burress out and Brandon Jacobs banged up. All of the sudden, this "next man in" type team appears to be running out of capable men. We have Jacobs playing, but splitting carries with "Wind" (Derrick Ward) and "Fire" (Ahmad Bradshaw) even more than usual. The Panthers' rush defense is the team's lone weakness - and it's not really that bad (4.1 ypc - 18th in NFL). If Jacobs is at 100%, he could have a big day and aid in a victory. If he isn't, it's likely Carolina's game to win. 10,001 simulations say the latter happens 59.3% of the time, with a razor-thin 22-21 average score.
Click on the Boxscores below to see detailed team and player stat projections for every game.
Week 16 Scores for Every NFL Game
|Matchup||Home Win%||Avg Score||Atlanta @ Minnesota||67||18-26||Boxscore||Green Bay @ Chicago||66.1||18-25||Boxscore||Baltimore @ Dallas||59.2||15-20||Boxscore||Buffalo @ Denver||56.1||23-27||Boxscore||Arizona @ New England||51.9||21-24||Boxscore||Cincinnati @ Cleveland||47||14-15||Boxscore||San Diego @ Tampa Bay||41.1||23-22||Boxscore||Carolina @ New York Giants||40.7||22-21||Boxscore||Philadelphia @ Washington||31.6||20-16||Boxscore||Indianapolis @ Jacksonville||28||21-16||Boxscore||Pittsburgh @ Tennessee||27.8||17-12||Boxscore||Miami @ Kansas City||24||27-20||Boxscore||New York Jets @ Seattle||23.1||24-17||Boxscore||San Francisco @ St. Louis||22.4||30-21||Boxscore||New Orleans @ Detroit||19.5||32-22||Boxscore||Houston @ Oakland||19.4||30-20||Boxscore|
Paul Bessire is the Senior Quantitative Analyst and Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!