Since the Lions season is in the shitter and will not end in playoffs, I have decided to do a preview of games with playoff implications along with the Lions game shortened preview. Let’s take a look at some big games around the league.
Washington (7-7) at Philadelphia (6-8) 8:25 PM Saturday December 26
Since the NFC East is so awful, this is actually an important game. The Redskins have a one game lead in the division over New York and Philadelphia. Kirk Cousins has been on fire recently and has produced 69.7% completion 22 TDs and 11 interceptions on the season. Cousins has notched a 97.2 QB rating. RGWho? The Redskins run game is poor at 3.7 YPC with Matt Jones and Alfred Morris. Jones has lost 4 fumbles. Jordan Reed is a legit threat at TE with 778 yards and 9 TDs. Jackson is a big time playmaker with 488 yards and 4 TDs after missing a lot of the season. Pierre Garcon is a solid WR too with 648 yards and 4 TDs. The Eagles don’t have much of a defense allowing 25.9 PPG.
Bradford has a poor 83.5 QB rating and the Eagles run the ball at only 3.9 YPC. Ryan Matthews does have 5.3 YPC and provides them some life. Jordan Matthews has 839 yards and 5 TDs as the Eagles top threat. Washington is average in defense allowing 23.7 PPG (16th). Washington allows 4.9 YPC rushing (31st) which could mean a big running day for Murray and Matthews. Washington allows a below average 96.2 QB rating in the air.
This game could be an entertaining shoot out on Saturday Night. There are big divisional stakes in this game.
New England (12-2) at New York Jets (9-5) 1 PM CBS
This is a huge game in the AFC. The Jets are battling the Steelers and Chiefs for the 5th and 6th wild card spots. The Patriots are trying to clinch home field advantage for the playoffs. Patriots have Tom Brady with a 103 QB rating. The Patriots best backs of Dion Lewis and LeGarette Blount are injured. Steven Jackson joins the RB group for New England. Gronkowski (1,072 yards and 11 TDs) is unstoppable and Amendola (631 yards and 3 TDs) is a solid slot WR filling in for Edelman. Brandon Lafell is a decent WR back from injury too. The Patriots have enough fire power for Tom Brady but the Jets have a strong defense and pass rush. The Jets allow 19.4 PPG (9th) with 35 sacks on the year. The Jets give up 3.8 YPC on the ground (5th best in league). Brady may have some trouble with Todd Bowles’ defense for the Jets.
The Jets are getting a good season out of Ryan Fitzpatrick (89.6 QB rating with 26 TDs and 11 ints). Ivory is a tough running back with 4.1 YPC and 7 TDs. Brandon Marshall has 1,261 yards and 11 TDs and Decker has 930 yards and 10 TDs. Bilal Powell is a new receiving threat at RB for the Jets. New England has a top 10 defense for the millionth year in a row (19.2 PPG for 6th). New England allows 4 YPC which gives the Jets a chance to run the ball in this game. New England is a top 10 pass defense team (83.3 rating) despite many no name players in the secondary and a good pass rush.
Cleveland (3-11) at Kansas City (9-5) 1 PM CBS
The Chiefs are red hot and have won 8 games in a row with some great defense and a revived Alex Smith (96.9 rating) teamed with Jeremy Maclin (985 yards and 6 TDS) and Travis Kelce (822 yards and 4 TDs). The Chiefs give up only 18.4 PPG (3rd) in league. They should kill the Browns. I only mention this game because the Chiefs are in the wild card playoff race with Pittsburgh and the Jets.
Pittsburgh (9-5) at Baltimore (4-10) 1 PM CBS
The Steelers offense is excellent and loaded with weapons. The Steelers are 11th in PPG defense. This game is huge for the wild card race and the Steelers should win. Baltimore beat Pittsburgh earlier this year. However, the Ravens lost many people due to injury since then including Joe Flacco. Ryan Mallett could start for the Ravens in this game. Expect the Steelers to win by double digits.
Houston (7-7) at Tennessee (3-11) 1 PM CBS
The Texans won in Indianapolis for the first time ever last week. They control their destiny in the AFC South division over the 6-8 Colts. The Texans should beat the Titans without Marcus Mariota (knee). However, Zach Mettenberger is a decent backup for the Titans. The Texans have QB injury problems with Brian Hoyer (concussion). If Hoyer can’t play, it will be TJ Yates playing against for Houston. DeAndre Hopkins produced 1,315 yards and 10 TDs this year for the Texans. They should win this game and keep control but away division games are always close games.
San Francisco (4-10) at Detroit (5-9) 1 PM FOX
This game is meaningless other than draft position but I love the Lions so we preview it anyway. The Lions have improved tremendously in the second half of the season on offense and defense. Stafford is on fire (14 TDs and 2 interceptions in the last 6 games) and has raised his QB rating to 93.7. The Lions have limited turnovers for the most part (4 in 6 games) and it is a big reason they are 4-2 since the bye.
The 49ers are a mess despite some decent play from backup Blaine Gabbert. The 49ers struggle on run defense and pass defense. The Lions should have another big offensive day at Ford Field.
The Lions defense has been strong with the exception of a Hail Mary and big day from Todd Gurley. The 49ers have Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith but not enough run game fire power especially with Hyde out with injury. The Lions secondary may be missing Glover Quin (concussion) which may help Gabbert. However, the play of Slay, Diggs, Lawson, Ansah and Abdul Quddus should be enough to hold the 49ers in check.
Detroit wins big unless they regress and turn it over 3 times.
Carolina (14-0) at Atlanta (7-7) 1 PM FOX
Carolina is undefeated after the last second field goal to beat the Giants. They beat Atlanta 38-0 in the first meeting this year. Carolina should win easily but the Falcons are at home and fighting for a miracle playoff finish (Seattle/Vikings tied at 9-7 too). Carolina remains undefeated at 15-0.
St. Louis (6-8) at Seattle (9-5) 4:25 PM FOX
The Rams have won 2 games in a row with good defense (12th PPG) despite Case Keenum starting for an ineffective Nick Foles. Todd Gurley (4.9 YPC) is back on track and the Rams beat Seattle in the first week of the season. Seattle is red hot with Russell Wilson (top QB rating in league at 111), defense (2nd in PPG) and Doug Baldwin (905 yards and 13 TDS) playing really well. Seattle will clinch a wildcard spot with a win and clinch a spot for the Vikings (9-5) too.
Green Bay (10-4) at Arizona (12-2) 4:25 PM FOX National Game
BP will cover the matchup for this game. The Packers try to clinch the NFC North division with a win and Vikings loss. The Packers try to keep their first round bye hopes alive with a win too. The Cardinals will clinch a first round bye with a win. We will see how the Cardinals’ defense plays after losing Tyrann Mathieu (ACL) in this game.
The Packers offense struggled but won on the road at Oakland. Green Bay is 5th in defensive PPG and the Cardinals are 6th in defensive PPG. However, Aaron Rodgers (95.2 rating) and Carson Palmer (106 rating) are excellent QBs and both could get the run game going. The Cardinals have major weapons in Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown. This game should be a close battle and could be a shootout or defensive game really. This may be a divisional playoff game preview too.
New York Giants (6-8) at Minnesota (9-5) 8:25 PM NBC
The Vikings have played well the last two weeks after a blow-out loss to Seattle. They lost a close game to the Cardinals due to 3 fumbles but killed the Bears. The Vikings can clinch a wild card spot and try to create a Week 17 Division Championship game in Lambeau if the Vikings win. They clinch a wild card spot too if Seattle wins earlier in the day.
The Giants are still alive in the NFC East and must win this game to try and catch the Redskins. Beckham (1,396 yards and 13 TDs) will play in this game and the Vikings have defensive injuries (Barr, Harrison Smith). The Giants score 26.6 PPG (6th) in league which is a good amount and should challenge Minnesota. Eli Manning has 32 TDs and 11 ints with 63.7% completion in the second year of the Ben McAdoo offense (former Packer QB coach).
Peterson is a beast (4.6 YPC) and Bridgewater has played well the last two weeks (5 TDs and 0 ints). The Giants allow a below average 4.2 YPC. Peterson, if healthy (ankle), should have a big game. The Giants give up 25.6 PPG (23rd) and have some secondary issues. The Vikings despite only scoring 21.1 PPG (21st) could have a nice offensive day against the Giants.
This should be a great prime time game. However, the Vikings tend to lose in primetime and the Giants sneak into the playoffs every four years and make some noise (2007, 2011).
Cincinnati (11-3) at Denver (10-4) 8:25 PM Monday December 28th ESPN
This is a huge game for AFC playoff position and the AFC West division. The Broncos lead to the Chiefs is only down to one game and their playoff life is questionable if they lose the last two games (home against San Diego in Week 17). The Bengals look to clinch the division and a first round bye. The Bengals also will try to catch the Patriots for home field advantage.
Backup Brock Osweiler should keep playing over the injured Peyton Manning (foot). Backup AJ McCarron will play for the injured Andy Dalton. Both teams stop the run well and are below average in running the ball.
The Bengals are 1st in the league in least points allowed and the Broncos are 4th. This should be a defensive game with two backup QBs playing. AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Owen Daniels should make it interesting facing two good secondaries. There is plenty of firepower as receiving weapons for both teams.
DE Carlos Dunlap (10.5 sacks) and DT Geno Atkins (10 sacks) and DE Michael Johnson (5 sacks) can rush the passer for the Bengals. Denver leads the league with 47 sacks led by Von Miller (10 sacks) and DeMarcus Ware (6.5 sacks). Both offensive lines better bring their A games on Monday. The Bengals have the least pressured QBs in the league with great protection.
This should be a great game. Monday Night football was due for a great game.
This should be a great group of games in Week 16. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.