Week 15 was wild in the NFL and there were surprises all over. It was another great week of football. The playoffs are just two weeks away and there is still much to be decided. Before getting into week 16, to everyone who celebrates Christmas, merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then happy holidays.
Four teams have officially clinched playoff spots: The Patriots, Raiders, Cowboys, and Seahawks. Pittsburgh clinches a division title with a win against the Ravens this week. Kansas City can clinch one of two ways:(1) a win and they are in, or (2) a loss by the Ravens. Houston can clinch the division with a win and a Titans loss. The last team in the AFC with a chance to clinch a playoff birth is the Dolphins. They have three scenarios: (1) a win and a loss by Denver, and the other two scenarios involve a Dolphins tie so let’s not dig too deep into a tie since the chances of a tie are unlikely.
In the NFC the Giants have the most scenarios to clinch, with five. The Giants can clinch if (1) they win or tie, (2) a loss or tie from Detroit, (3) a loss or a tie from Green Bay, (4) a loss or a tie from Tampa Bay, and lastly (5) a loss by Atlanta. The Lions can clinch the division by winning and a loss by the Packers. Detroit also clinches a playoff birth with losses by both the Redskins and Buccaneers along with a Falcons win.
The Falcons can win the AFC South with a win and a loss by the Bucs. They can also clinch a playoff spot by just winning or a loss by both the Redskins and Packers. Green Bay has one scenario in which they can clinch and that scenario is a win plus a loss by Washington and Tampa Bay and Atlanta would have to win as well. The last team with a chance to clinch is the Buccaneers. For the Bucs to clinch they would need a win and a loss by the Packers, Lions and Redskins.
Last Week: 12-4
New York (G) (10-4) 27 @ Philadelphia (5-9) 24: New York has a Super Bowl contending team yet again and Eli Manning still doesn’t get the respect that most top quarterbacks get. He is having a great season with 3,491 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions in 14 games. Divisional games are always tough no matter what the records are. This will be a close one. Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard will both have big games and the Giants stay alive for the NFC East crown.
Christmas Eve Morning
Minnesota (7-7) 16 @ Green Bay (8-6) 20: This game has major playoff implications. The Packers are hot and still in a position to win the division. Minnesota has no shot at winning the division but can still sneak in the backdoor with a wildcard birth. These two teams met in week two in the first ever game in the Vikings new stadium in which the Vikings won 17-14. In Lambeau, the Packers will have the edge and the Vikings will be all but dead in the water.
Miami (9-5) 24 @ Buffalo (7-7) 27: Matt Moore looked amazing against the Jets, but so has everyone else this season. Buffalo is holding onto slim chances for the playoffs. The Dolphins won the first matchup of these teams 28-25. Buffalo is more desperate and Miami still doesn’t feel like a legit playoff team yet. Bills return the favor in Buffalo and win by three.
New York (J) (4-10) 17 @ New England (12-2) 37: Tom Brady is going to have at least four touchdowns in this game and the Jets will have no chance. Brady and the Patriots are looking to make sure the path to the Super Bowl runs through New England as usual. One more win will get them closer to that this week.
Tennessee (8-6) 27 @ Jacksonville (2-12) 23: Marcus Mariota and the Titans got a huge road win last week to prove their legitimacy and in my mind became the favorites in the AFC South. The Titans need to win a road game against an underwhelming divisional opponent. Sometimes these games are the hardest to win. Jacksonville will be well prepared and scare Tennessee, but it will be just a scare and nothing more.
San Diego (5-9) 24 @ Cleveland (0-14) 25: The Browns will not be the second team to go 0-16. Traveling across country from comfortable San Diego to cold and frigid Cleveland will be a difficult task. The Chargers will be the one team incapable of beating the Browns. Cleveland has had enough go wrong and 0-16 won’t be added to that list of laughable failure.
Washington (7-6-1) 27 @ Chicago (3-11) 31: Matt Barkley has been playing great and the Bears have been competitive in their recent games. If it wasn’t for one deep pass to Jordy Nelson they might have upset the Packers. The Redskins have been faltering lately and it is because they are not a real playoff team, The Bears have been playing so hard it has to result in a win at some point. It hasn’t been a great year for Bears fans, but they will get a Christmas win.
Atlanta (9-5) 24 @ Carolina (6-8) 27: Atlanta has a chance to propel themselves to the playoffs with a win, but the Falcons are running into Cam and the Panthers. There is still a small chance the Panthers make the playoffs, which means they will do anything they can to win. Cam won’t let the Falcons win in his house.
Christmas Eve Afternoon
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Indianapolis (7-7) 31 @ Oakland (11-3) 38: If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have never believed the performance the Colts put on last week. Their defense played as if they were the best of all time, which is uncharacteristic of the Colts. Two of the Raiders three losses are to the Chiefs and usually only struggle against teams with great defenses. The Colts performance on defense last week was one of a kind and it won’t happen again.
Tampa Bay (8-6) 27 @ New Orleans (6-8) 24: The Bucs need a win and a loss from the Falcons to get one step closer to winning the division. Winning at the Super Dome is no easy task, but the Bucs are more than capable. If Tampa wants to make the playoffs they will win this game. The Saints won’t be able to spoil the Bucs hopes.
Arizona (5-8-1) 13 @ Seattle (9-4-1) 16: These two teams played to a tie in their first matchup. That will not happen again. The Seahawks have secured the division and are just preparing to be ready for the playoffs. This may be another defensive battle, but the 12th man in Seattle will give the Seahawks the edge in this NFC West showdown.
San Fransisco (1-13) 20 @ Los Angeles (4-10) 24: In what could be considered the most boring game of the week, the Rams get a chance to avenge an early season loss. The 49ers beat the Rams 28-0 week one and haven’t won since. The 49ers rush defense ranks dead last in the NFL, giving up 176.3 rush yards a game. Todd Gurley should have his biggest game of the year to give the Rams their fifth win of the year.
Christmas Eve Night Game
( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )
Cincinnati (5-8-1) 24 @ Houston (8-6) 21: Tom Savage went from unknown backup to most of the world to Texan superstar. Brock Osweiler was signed for $72 million with $37 million guaranteed this offseason. He was benched in favor of Savage, who came in and dominated. Tom Savage has since been named the starter and looks to help the Texans forge on towards a divisional title. Cincinnati will be ready for Savage and this game will end in an upset.
Baltimore (8-6) 16 @ Pittsburgh (9-5) 19: This is the biggest game of the week in terms of division races. The winner of this game will end up becoming the AFC North division champions. The Ravens won the last matchup 21-14 on November 6th. The Steelers are on a five game winning streak and playing well. These two teams play great games and this will be no different. The Steelers get the three point edge at home to win the AFC North.
(Rob Carr/Getty Images )
Denver (8-6) 14 @ Kansas City (10-4) 17: The Chiefs are coming off a tough home loss to the Titans last week. Denver ran into mighty Tom Brady and New England. The Broncos will be fighting for their playoff lives this week, but Arrowhead is a tough place to play. Kansas City knows a win puts them in the playoffs and they will get the job done.
Detroit (9-5) 24 @ Dallas (12-2) 28: Monday Night football will be going out with a bang this season as the Lions travel to Jerry World. The Lions are looking to secure a playoff spot, but are running into the best team in the NFL. As usual, the Cowboys will run the ball down the Lions throats. If Detroit finds a way to stop Zeke, then Dak will light them up through the air. It is a lose lose for the Lions and they will lose.
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