The NFL season does not slow down as the holiday season approaches.
This week NFL players and coaches are continuing to study film, trying to find weaknesses in whomever they are playing this week. Some teams are getting ready for the playoffs, others are trying to make the playoffs, and others are already preparing for the offseason.
Here are the key games to keep an eye on this week while you sip your eggnog and enjoy your gifts.
Saturday, December 26
Redskins (7-7) @ Eagles (6-8) – 8:25 pm – NFL Network
Last meeting: Redskins beat the Eagles 23-20 in week 4
Playoff scenario – Redskins: Whoever wins the NFC East will be the NFC’s #4 seed in the playoffs. A win Saturday night clinches the NFC East for Washington.
Playoff scenario – Eagles: The Eagles can still win the NFC East. If they win this game and their week 17 game against the Giants, they will win the NFC East. However, they can also make the playoffs if they beat Washington, the Giants lose to the Vikings on Sunday, and the Redskins lose to the Cowboys next week. No matter what, they need to win this game against Washington in order to stay alive for the playoffs.
Sunday, December 27
Patriots (12-2) @ Jets (9-5) – 1:00 – CBS
Last meeting: The Patriots beat the Jets 30-23 in week 7.
Playoff Scenario – Patriots: The Patriots currently have the #1 seed in the AFC and have already clinched a first-round bye. If they win on Sunday they will officially claim the #1 seed.
Playoff scenario – Jets: Even though the Jets have won four in a row, the Steelers overtook them for the #6 seed due to tiebreaker situations. To make the playoffs, the Jets need to win their last two games and count on either Kansas City or Pittsburgh to lose one of their two remaining games. The Jets face the Bills in week 17. The Steelers face the Ravens and the Browns. The Chiefs face the Browns and the Raiders.
Panthers (14-0) @ Falcons (7-7) – 1:00 – FOX
Last meeting: The Panthers beat the Falcons 38-0 in week 13.
Playoff Scenario – Panthers: Carolina has already clinched a first-round bye and will clinch the #1 seed with a win on Sunday.
Playoff Scenario – Falcons: Atlanta is currently in the hunt for a wild card spot in the NFC. The Falcons can clinch a playoff birth if they win their last two games and the Seahawks AND Vikings lose their last two games. The Falcons host the Saints week 17.
Packers (10-4) @ Cardinals (12-2) – 4:25 – FOX
Playoff scenario – Packers: Green Bay currently has the #3 seed in the NFC. If they win out and Arizona loses week 17 to Seattle, the Packers will clinch the #2 seed.
Playoff scenario – Cardinals: Arizona has clinched the NFC West and currently has the #2 seed in the NFC. They will clinch the #2 seed if they win this game.
Monday, December 28
Bengals (11-3) @ Broncos (10-4) – 8:25 pm – ESPN
Playoff Scenario – Bengals: The Bengals currently have the #2 seed in the AFC. They are also currently in first place in the AFC north with the Steelers (9-5) on their tails. If they win on Sunday OR Pittsburgh loses, they will clinch the division. They can also clinch a first-round bye if they win this game.
Playoff scenario – Broncos: Denver is currently the #3 seed in the AFC. They are in first place in the AFC West and can win the division if they win and Kansas City loses. They will clinch a playoff birth if they win and either the Jets or Steelers lose.
The following games are not as big, but still have playoff implications for some of the teams involved.
Steelers (9-5) @ Ravens (4-10, ELIMINATED) – 1:00 – CBS
Last meeting: The Ravens beat the Steelers week 4 in overtime, 23-20.
Playoff scenario – Steelers: Pittsburgh currently has the #6 seed in the AFC. If they win out and Cincinnati loses their last two games, Pittsburgh will win the AFC North. If the Steelers win and the Jets lose this week, the Steelers will clinch a playoff birth.
Colts (6-8) @ Dolphins (5-9, ELIMINATED) – 1:00 – FOX
Playoff scenario – Colts: The Colts are currently in 2nd place in the AFC South. They can win the division and clinch a playoff birth if they need to win out and count on the Texans to lose one of their final two games. The Colts play the Titans in week 17. The Texans play the Titans this week and play the Jaguars next week.
Texans (7-7) @ Titans (3-11 – ELIMINATED) – 1:00 – CBS
Last meeting: The Texans beat the Titans 20-6 in week 8.
Playoff scenario – Texans: Houston is currently in the lead in the AFC South. If they win their final two games, they win the division and make the playoffs. If they go 1-1, they better hope that the Colts go 0-2, because if the Colts go 1-1 the situation gets crazy. You can read more about it here:
Browns (3-11 – ELIMINATED) @ Chiefs (9-5) – 1:00 – CBS
Playoff scenario – Chiefs: The Chiefs still have a chance to win the AFC South, but they need to win at least one of their games and count on Denver to lose at least one of their two games. If the Chiefs win and either the Steelers or Jets lose, Kansas City clinches a playoff birth.
Rams (6-8 – ELIMINATED) @ Seahawks (9-5) – 4:25 – FOX
Last meeting: The Rams defeated the Seahawks 34-31 in week 1.
Playoff scenario – Seahawks: Seattle clinched a playoff birth and currently has the #5 seed in the NFC. They’ll be a wild card team no matter what.
Giants (6-8) @ Vikings (9-5) – 8:25 – NBC
Playoff scenario – Giants: The Giants need to win their final two games and get all sorts of help from the Redskins and Eagles to make the playoffs.
Playoff scenario – Vikings: The Vikings are a game behind the Packers in the NFC North and currently have the #6 seed in the NFC. The Vikings play the Packers at Green Bay in week 17. They can still win the division if they win out and Green Bay loses both of their remaining games. They can clinch a playoff birth just by beating the Giants on Sunday night.
Completely meaningless games:
Bears (5-9) @ Buccaneers (6-8) – 1:00 – FOX
49ers (4-10) @ Lions (5-9) – 1:00 – FOX
Cowboys (4-10) @ Bills (6-8) – 1:00 – FOX
Jaguars (5-9) @ Saints (5-9) – 4:05 – CBS
Thursday, December 24
Chargers (4-10) @ Raiders (6-8) – 8:25 pm – NFL Network
Last meeting: The Raiders beat the Chargers 37-29 in week 7.
What are your predictions for this week’s games? Leave a comment below with your picks!
Enjoy the games this weekend. Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!