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NFL Week 16 picks: Dolphins-Bengals, top games, big upsets and all the rest!; plus FIU, FAU go bowling today, our most recent columns & more

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21. Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida sweeps state high-school football titles, NFL Week 15 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald  NFL Week 15 QB rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

FafiFIU, FAU go bowling today: South Florida is repped in two of today's six bowl games. At 3:30 FAU (10-3) stays home in the Boca Raton Bowl vs. 10-2 SMU, an 8 1/2-point favorite. Owls will be interim-coached, with Lane Kiffin off to Ole Miss. At 5:30, 6-6 FIU faces 7-5 Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl in a stadium miserably named the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., a near pick-'em game that finds Butch Davis' Panthers 1-point 'dogs.

PicksDOLPHINS-BENGALS, GAME OF WEEK, BIG UPSETS AND REST OF OUR NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a mostly solid 29th year of NFL picks thus far in the Miami Herald. Our season has tailed off a bit lately, especially against the spread the past two weeks, but we’re still running solid at .664 overall and comfortably plus-.500 ATS. Last week we were 9-7 straight-up and a wobbly 6-9-1 vs. the line. Called the Cowboys’ mini-upset over Rams and had the Falcons with points at Niners, but that was about it for the highlight reel. (The tie was Seattle’s 6-point push). Santa, all I want for Christmas is 13-3 against the spread this week. Too much to ask? C’mon, I’ve been a good boy! Time to finish strong. Let's go! For all of our Week 16 picks, including Bengals at Dolphins, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and all the rest, please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 16 Gems.

Our most recent other work: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football, Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Additional select recent columns: Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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Twitter @gregcote