Minnesota Vikings (6-8) @ New Orleans Saints (10-4) @ 4:30pm (Christmas): After suffering hard losses, both teams enter this weekend on Christmas Day to work on their best-case scenario with the playoffs. For the Vikings, it’s sneaking in to the final wild card spot and avoiding elimination. For the Saints, they’re a win or Buccaneers loss away from their 4th-straight NFC South title. Drew Brees didn’t have a big game against Kansas City last week, and Michael Thomas out until the playoffs could hinder his success. Injuries continue to plague the Vikings despite healthy weapons on offense such as Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins, and Adam Theilen. With the Saints’ defense still tough-looking and a decent run defense, the Saints may be able to break a 2-game skid and crush the Vikings’ playoff hopes as they did to New Orleans in last year’s NFC Wild Card game that went to overtime.
PREDICTION: Saints win 27-24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5) @ Detroit Lions (5-9) @ 1pm (Saturday): Staying in the NFC South race for another week, Tom Brady continues to work hard at battling Father Time with another comeback win in his career over Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. They face a Lions team that has just been eliminated from the playoffs, and will look to play hard again. Ronald Jones is out, putting Leonard Fournette in as the starter. The running game for Tampa is still a big factor along with Brady’s experienced passing game, while the Lions look mixed despite beating their win total from last season after Stafford played only half the season. The Buccaneers see a victory at Ford Field and Brady giving his team a playoff appearance for the first time since 2007.
PREDICTION: Buccaneers win 34-20
San Francisco 49ers (5-9) @ Arizona Cardinals (8-6) @ 4:30pm (Saturday): The Cardinals are starting to fly again after back-to-back wins over the NFC East, including an Eagles team that appeared to start soaring again too with Jalen Hurts as the new starting QB. However, Kyler Murray managed to get the offense going despite a few turnovers at home. For the 49ers, they’re eliminated from the playoffs as Jimmy G returns from the injury for the first time since the team’s loss at Seattle. The Cardinals can clinch the playoffs if they win and Chicago loses the next day, so with a huge motivational factor to return to the playoffs since 2015, Murray is determined to sweep last year’s Super Bowl runner-up and build Larry Fitzgerald’s Hall-of-Fame resume.
PREDICTION: Cardinals win 31-23
Miami Dolphins (9-5) @ Las Vegas Raiders (7-7) @ 8:15pm (Saturday): Tua’s rookie season comes down to whether or not he can lift Miami back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They face a Raiders team whose woes in the last few weeks has put them on the brink of elimination. Dolphins are coming off a win over the Patriots and have eliminated them from the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Dolphins have no playoff scenario this week, but should the Raiders lose or the Ravens defeat the Giants, Las Vegas is out. With the Raiders’ struggles and the Dolphins’ streak, expect Tua and his defense to outmatch Derek Carr and his offense.
PREDICTION: Dolphins win 24-21
Atlanta Falcons (4-10) @ Kansas City Chiefs (13-1) @ 1pm: The Falcons have blown another lead in the 2nd half to Tom Brady despite already being eliminated from the playoffs. They head to Arrowhead to face a Chiefs team who has a lot of scenarios for the top seed in the playoffs with a simple win being one of them. The Chiefs have already given Mahomes his most wins in a season in his third year as starting QB after his last two both ended at 12-4. After getting by a Saints team that just got back Drew Brees, they should find little to no trouble getting by Matt Ryan with their offense continuing to be one of the most elite forces in the NFL.
PREDICTION: Chiefs win 34-24
Cleveland Browns (10-4) @ New York Jets (1-13) @ 1pm: The Browns continue to make a serious push for the playoffs and are almost there after defeating the Titans, barely losing to the Ravens, and winning at New York to guarantee a 10+ win season. They can actually clinch a playoff berth this week with a win and either a Colts, Dolphins, or Ravens loss. They would rather either Miami or Baltimore loses than Indy loss in order to still contend for the AFC North title, which could be flexed to Sunday Night Football if the AFC North title comes down to the final week at Cleveland. The Jets have just won their first game of the season at the Rams who are still trying to get into the playoffs. Despite the Jets’ win, they may’ve lost their chance at the #1 overall pick and may fall back to the struggling table.
PREDICTION: Browns win 31-17
Indianapolis Colts (10-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) @ 1pm: What has become surprising for this match is that the Colts, with 10 wins so far, have not yet clinched the playoffs, and the Steelers have lost three straight after going 11-0. Falling to the Burrow-less Bengals may start to put doubt in the Steelers’ playoff run with all the drops the receivers had had over the last few weeks. A win still gives Pittsburgh the AFC North title and a win and Ravens or Dolphins loss gives Indianapolis a playoff berth with Rivers still looking for his first-ever Super Bowl appearance. The Colts are still surging, but if the dropped passes aren’t fixed for Big Ben’s team yet, that and no run game can put more pressure on the defense, causing them to crack against the Colts’ offense with rookie RB Taylor and veteran WR Hilton rising up.
PREDICTION: Colts win 31-24
Chicago Bears (7-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-13) @ 1pm (Saturday): Now that they currently own the top overall pick, there’s some questions if the Jaguars will tank for Trevor. The Bears surprised the Vikings in Minnesota to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. However, if they lose and the Cardinals win, they’re out, which would be incredibly tough because of their 5-1 start to the season. The Bears have a good-looking offense as Trubisky continues to stay hot enough to keep his QB role in Chicago, while the Jaguars have seen multiple chances to win recently but have not finished the deal in either of them. The Bears see their defense stepping up and the offense overpowering the Jaguars’ slim defense.
PREDICTION: Bears win 27-20
New York Giants (5-9) @ Baltimore Ravens (9-5) @ 1pm: Both teams are trending in different directions with the Giants losing their playoff spot with each week and the Ravens inching closer back to the playoffs. The Giants need to win or hope Carolina and Dallas win to give themselves one last chance in Week 17 to win the NFC East for the first time since 2011. They most likely have to hope for Week 17 as they face a Ravens team surging back again after multiple injuries plagues them mid-season and coming off a commanding win over the Jaguars.
PREDICTION: Ravens win 31-17
Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1) @ Houston Texans (4-10) @ 1pm: The Bengals shocked a lot of people on Monday by upsetting the Steelers when Big Ben nearly engineered a comeback over Ryan Finley. Finley will no doubt start under center for the last two weeks, but will have to do it without Joe Mixon after he played only 6 games this season. They face a Texans team that was just eliminated from the playoffs and are short-handed on offense. There may eventually be questions about whether or not Watson deserves a better offense and could be traded, but for the time being, he’ll do what he can and give the Texans their 5th win of the season.
PREDICTION: Texans win 26-19
Denver Broncos (5-9) @ Los Angeles Chargers (5-9) @ 4:05pm: Justin Herbert continues to work towards Offensive Rookie of the Year each week, including an overtime victory at Vegas last Thursday with a masterful game-winning drive capped off by a QB sneak one yard out. They face the Denver Broncos, who just got eliminated following a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, who just won the AFC East for the first time since 1995. The Chargers blew a huge lead at Mile High last time, but appears set to take down Drew Lock this time with Austin Ekeler back from IR to give the offense enough of a boost to avoid a sweep to Denver.
PREDICTION: Chargers win 30-23
Carolina Panthers (4-10) @ Washington Football Team (6-8) @ 4:05pm: Washington is coming off a loss to Seattle, keeping the NFC East wide open in Week 16. However, a win and Giants loss will seal their NFC East title for the first time since 2015. They host Carolina, who could be without Christian McCaffrey again as the top overall fantasy football draft pick has had a down season with injuries hurting him hard, also eliminating Carolina from the playoffs. Revenge is in sight for Ron Rivera, but if Alex Smith does not return for Sunday, Carolina could still find a way to make Week 17 the week where the NFC East race will definitely end.
PREDICTION: Panthers win 24-17
Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-9) @ 4:25pm: A huge NFC East battle is in sight at Arlington this week. Both teams have a chance to be eliminated from the playoffs this week. With a Washington win, the loser is eliminated. The Cowboys are coming off a big win over San Francisco, making it back-to-back wins for the Cowboys. They face the Eagles in a rematch of Sunday Night Football Week 8. Andy Dalton is ready for the Eagles as much as Jalen Hurts is ready for the Cowboys. This could a very close battle that could go down to the wire, but with fans still allowed at AT&T Stadium, revenge is very possible for the Cowboys to ensure their game at the Giants Week 17 is meaningful.
PREDICTION: Cowboys win 34-31
Los Angeles Rams (9-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (10-4) @ 4:25pm: If the Rams won last week, a win this week over Seattle would secure the NFC West for them because of their head-to-head tiebreaker over Seattle. Instead, a loss for them secures the Seahawks’ first NFC West title since 2016. The Seahawks barely defeated Washington as Russell Wilson’s MVP vote chances are on the ropes. The Rams’ defense struggled early against the Jets, leading to the loss, but since they know what Wilson does, the Rams’ desperation to stave off elimination and secure a playoff berth this week could be their ally should the offense improve.
PREDICTION: Rams win 30-27
Tennessee Titans (10-4) @ Green Bay Packers (11-3) @ 8:20pm (SNF): Should this be the last SNF game of the season, it may go out with a bang. Both teams are looking forward to the playoffs as the Packers are a win and Seattle loss away from the top seed in the playoffs, while the Titans will have to wait during the day to see if Pittsburgh defeats Indianapolis in order to give the Titans a chance at the AFC South title should they win in Lambeau. The Packers are coming off a Saturday night victory over Carolina. Rodgers is still building his MVP case with each week and could give Green Bay back-to-back 13-3 seasons. Derrick Henry could be seen more as a leader than Ryan Tannehill because of Henry continuing to dominate the running game in the NFL. Weather could affect Tennessee since Green Bay is accustomed to cold weather, so watch out for the Packers to possibly win a tough battle up north.
PREDICTION: Packers win 27-23
Buffalo Bills (11-3) @ New England Patriots (6-8) @ 8:15pm (MNF): In the final MNF game of the season, the Bills are coming off a clinch of the AFC East title for the first time since 1995, proving how Josh Allen has answered the question of him being the next franchise QB for the Bills Mafia. They face a Patriots team who are coming off a loss over Miami that has eliminated them from the playoffs. The Bills won last time by facing a fumble near the redzone on Cam Newton. With a depleted-looking defense, the Patriots may struggle worse than last time and could see a losing season for the first time since 2000 while the Bills can clinch the #2 seed in the playoffs win a win and Steelers and Titans loss.
PREDICTION: Bills win 31-17