NFL Week 16: Important games
As the end of the regular season approaches, it’s time to look at important games of the NFL week 16. Most of these will impact playoff positioning and seeding, while some will set the order for the top of April’s draft.
Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Saturday December 21, 1 PM ET, NFL Network
Tampa was eliminated from playoff contention last week, so this game is about Houston. They are currently in as the 4 seed in the AFC after beating Tennessee last week. They hold a 1 game lead over the Titans in the division and will play them again next week. A win here goes a long way toward clinching the division.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots- Saturday December 21, 4:30 PM ET NFL Network
Top 2 teams in the AFC East. New England has had another good year, and Buffalo has had a somewhat surprisingly good season. The Patriots beat the Bills in Buffalo in Week 4 16-10, so Buffalo will be looking for revenge. Both teams have stellar defenses. Although they still have Tom Brady, New England’s offense has struggled. Yes, Brady is Brady, but this game comes down to which offense can steal more plays. Expect a game very similar to their previous match-up.
LA Rams @ San Francisco 49ers- Saturday December 21, 8:15 PM ET NFL Network
The Rams still have slight playoff hopes but need a lot of help. Those would completely disappear with a loss. San Francisco is currently a wild card team after losing to Atlanta last week and division rival Seattle earlier this season. They will play the Seahawks next week in a game that will likely decide the division and the top seed in the conference, but a win would be nice to keep pace and bounce back from a bad week.
New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans- Sunday December 22, 1 PM ET FOX
Not many would have had this as a game with playoff implications earlier this year. You knew the Saints would be good, but you weren’t sure what you would get out of Tennessee. The Titans come in 1 game behind Houston for the division lead. Replacing Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehill has helped their offense a lot. Rookie receiver AJ Brown has been having big games, and Derrick Henry looks great. We al, know what New Orleans has. I think Tennessee hangs around for a bit, but ultimately, the Saints are too complete of a team to lose this one. The Titans just aren’t quite there yet.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins- Sunday December 22, 1 PM ET CBS
This one is obviously for draft position. The Bengals will likely have the first overall pick in April regardless of what happens in this game. Miami has been inconsistent all season, showing growing pains under Brian Flores. A win likely drops them a couple spots and possibly out of the top 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ NY Jets- Sunday December 22, 1 PM ET CBS
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin deserves coach of the year consideration for what his team has done this year. After losing star running back Le’Veon Bell and star receiver Antonio Brown in the off-season and QB Ben Roethlisberger to a season ending injury, Pittsburgh is right in the thick of the playoff hunt. Oh, and they’ve also been doing it with an undrafted rookie playing quarterback. It’s also a Bell reunion, but the only team with anything to gain from this game this season is Pittsburgh.
NY Giants @ Washington Redskins- Sunday December 22, 1 PM ET FOX
Divisional game that impacts draft position. These teams currently sit 2nd and 3rd in the draft order. Loser locks up last place in the NFC East and a likely top 3 pick. Winner falls down in the draft order. It’s also a big game for the progress of each team’s rookie QB.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles- Sunday December 22, 4:25 PM ET FOX
This one decides the NFC East. Both teams (and their division for that matter) have struggled this season, but Dallas came out and destroyed the Rams last week. Dak Prescott is reportedly dealing with an AC joint injury but is not on the injury report for this game. He should be able to have a big game against a bad Philly pass defense. I expect big games from the Eagles’ offense, too. Dallas has struggled against the run most of the year and doesn’t have a great secondary, which should be good news for Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, and Miles Sanders. I think it’ll be a high scoring game.
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks- Sunday December 22, 4:25 PM ET FOX
This one is all about Seattle. Russell Wilson has had a spectacular season, and the defense has seemingly found itself. There are times it looks like the Super Bowl defenses of a few years ago. They are currently the top team in the NFC and have a showdown looming with San Francisco next week. That game will likely determine the top seed in the conference, so it’s important Seattle doesn’t get caught looking ahead. We will also see how they deal with losing a receiver.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings- Monday December 23, 8:15 PM ET ESPN
This one likely decides the NFC North. Green Bay beat Minnesota in a close game in Week 2. However, Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins has been on a roll since Week 5, and the Vikings are undefeated at home this season. The Packers have a good offense, but their defense has cooled off after a hot start. Expect the typically close game with these two.
You can find the complete schedule for week 16 here.