Insiders predict: NFL week 16 winners

December 19, 2019
Quinn Harris // Getty Images

Insiders predict: NFL week 16 winners

After Week 15, we now know eight of the 12 teams who will be participating in playoff football. In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens have locked up division titles, while the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills have at least secured playoff spots. In the NFC, only the New Orleans Saints have clinched their division, but the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks have all cemented postseason berths.

Five teams are battling for two remaining spots in the AFC, while only four teams remain alive for the two spots in the NFC. Barring something miraculous, the Rams are done and the Vikings are in, so the only NFC questions are the East division winner and the #5–6 order of Minnesota and San Francisco. There’s a bit more uncertainty in the AFC, but the Houston Texans have the inside track for the South and the Steelers control their postseason destiny despite a loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

While we know most of the teams who will be playing in January, seeding is still anyone’s guess. Only two weeks left in the NFL regular season—here are a few games to keep an eye on.

Bills @ Patriots: Buffalo still has a shot at the AFC East crown, but they’ll need a win in Foxborough. A victory for the Pats means they’ll win the division for the 16th time in 17 seasons.

Rams @ 49ers: For the Rams to stay alive, they need a victory in San Francisco (and some help). The Niners are currently sitting in the fifth seed but will earn the #1 seed in the NFC if they win their last two games of the season.

Cowboys @ Eagles: A game that serves a bit like the NFC East title game. A Dallas victory clinches the division for the Cowboys, while a Philly victory (and a Week 17 win over the New York Giants) locks up the East for the Eagles.

Packers @ Vikings: Green Bay wins the NFC North with a victory and a season sweep of the Vikings. A division title is still possible for the Vikings, but a loss means they’ll be on the road as long as they’re in the playoffs (if they make the playoffs at all).

Methodology: Insiders predicts are based on the team that is favored to win, which is based on consensus betting odds and spread on MSN.com as of Dec. 18, 2019. Team stats were gathered from NFL.com. Check out the live odds at MSN.com.

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Bob Levey // Getty Images

Houston Texans (9-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7)

- Gametime: Saturday, Dec. 21, 1 p.m. EST

The Texans took a major step toward winning the AFC South by beating the Titans 24-21 in Week 15. With the victory, they separated themselves by a full game atop the division, improving to 9-5 while sinking Tennessee to 8-6. If they could secure the division crown, it would be the fourth time under coach Bill O’Brien.

While they still have the Titans on the schedule again come Week 17, Tennessee first has the Saints, meaning that the Texans can stamp their postseason berth by taking care of business against the Buccaneers or if Tennessee falls to New Orleans.

First, the Texans need to slow down a Buccaneers offense that is more than capable of putting up big numbers. Jameis Winston threw for 458 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-17 win in Detroit last Sunday, with three of those touchdowns going to Breshad Perriman, who stepped up in the absence of Mike Evans who was nursing a hamstring injury.

Wideout Chris Godwin also suffered a hamstring injury, and is questionable this week, meaning a prolific Tampa Bay receiving corps could be depleted come Saturday afternoon.

With the NFC loaded, and one of the wild card spots already claimed by whichever team finishes second in the NFC West between the Seahawks and the 49ers, the Buccaneers are eliminated from playoff contention and merely aiming to make their 2019 season look more respectable with a winning record.

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Tim Warner // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Houston Texans

- Favored to win: Houston Texans
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -175

- Houston Texans team stats:
- Offense: 375.9 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 245.0 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing offense: 130.9 ypg (#7)
- Defense: 379.4 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 266.1 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing defense: 113.3 ypg (#19)

- Tampa Bay Buccaneers team stats:
- Offense: 400.1 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 308.8 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing offense: 91.4 ypg (#27)
- Defense: 350.1 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 276.8 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing defense: 73.3 ypg (#1)

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Brett Carlsen // Getty Images

Buffalo Bills (10-4) @ New England Patriots (11-3)

- Gametime: Saturday, Dec. 21, 4:30 p.m. EST

Both of these teams have clinched a playoff berth, but the AFC East is very much still hanging in the balance and the Bills would need to pull off a road upset of the Patriots to have a chance at unseating the champions. The Patriots would lock up the division title with a victory, and would run their streak of finishing first in the AFC East to 11 straight seasons.

As for the Bills, they have not won the division since 1995 but made the postseason in 2017. Buffalo’s defense has proven tough throughout the majority of this season and was a big reason why they were victorious in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, intercepting quarterback Devlin Hodges four times and ending the Steelers’ three-game win streak.

The Patriots ended a two-game losing skid by beating the lowly Bengals 34-13 thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Tom Brady and a 64-yard interception returned for a touchdown by star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Even with 34 points on the board, question marks remain in terms of the Patriots' ability to produce against stout defenses. This game will be an opportunity to answer such questions, and getting to do so on their home turf should help.

In the first meeting between these two rivals, the Patriots eked out a 16-10 win in Buffalo. This time, at home, they’re favored by just six as this game figures to be another close, likely low-scoring, affair.

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Bobby Ellis // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New England Patriots

- Favored to win: New England Patriots
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -293

- Buffalo Bills team stats:
- Offense: 336.1 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 201.2 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing offense: 134.9 ypg (#5)
- Defense: 291.9 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 190.5 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing defense: 101.4 ypg (#10)

- New England Patriots team stats:
- Offense: 349.9 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 248.1 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing offense: 101.8 ypg (#19)
- Defense: 268.4 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 170.3 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing defense: 98.1 ypg (#7)

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea // Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams (8-6) @ San Francisco 49ers (11-3)

- Gametime: Saturday, Dec. 21, 8:15 p.m. EST

The Rams’ chances of the final NFC wild card spot took a major blow on Sunday afternoon when they were crushed by the Cowboys 44-21. They sit two games back of the Vikings, and would need Minnesota to lose its remaining two games while they win out. Seeing as they are on the road to face the 49ers—fresh off an upset loss to the Falcons and locked in a tight race with the Seahawks for the NFC West title—the Rams may be eliminated this weekend, putting an end to their conference championship defense.

San Francisco must not have seen the Falcons coming. A competitive game ended in extremely dramatic fashion, with Matt Ryan connecting with top wideout Julio Jones for a five-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with two seconds remaining that was ruled a score after a replay review.

While they clinched the playoffs, the 49ers are currently sitting as a wild card in the NFC, as they are tied with the Seahawks at 11-3, but Seattle still holds the tiebreaker. Of course, the 49ers have a chance to handle their own business, with a Week 17 showdown with the Seahawks remaining on the schedule. But, they can’t look too far ahead and forget that the Rams would love to play spoiler this weekend.

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

Insiders predict: San Francisco 49ers

- Favored to win: San Francisco 49ers
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -278

- Los Angeles Rams team stats:
- Offense: 369.9 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 276.1 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing offense: 93.9 ypg (#24)
- Defense: 336.2 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 220.6 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing defense: 115.6 ypg (#23)

- San Francisco 49ers team stats:
- Offense: 383.2 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 236.2 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing offense: 147.0 ypg (#2)
- Defense: 269.0 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 154.4 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing defense: 114.6 ypg (#21)

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Julio Aguilar // Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9) @ Atlanta Falcons (5-9)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. EST

Both of these teams are playing for pride, but both are coming off road upset victories. For the Jaguars, it was a 20-16 comeback win over the Raiders in which they shut Oakland out in the second half and quarterback Gardner Minshew II threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to Chris Conley.

Atlanta’s upset of the 49ers was even more impressive, and contained a crazy finish in which a touchdown from Matt Ryan to Austin Hooper was overturned and ruled incomplete, followed by a five-yard pass to Julio Jones that was ruled short and then overturned. All of that capped off a 10-play, 70-yard drive orchestrated by Ryan that took 1:46 and left two seconds remaining in the game.

After an abysmal start to the 2019 season, the Falcons are now 4-2 in their last six and making a case to salvage the job of head coach Dan Quinn.

The last six games for the Jaguars haven’t gone quite so well. While they beat the Raiders on Sunday, that ended a five-game losing skid which saw them fall right out of contention in the AFC South and eliminated from playoff contention.

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Atlanta Falcons

- Favored to win: Atlanta Falcons
- Spread: -7
- Odds: -319

- Jacksonville Jaguars team stats:
- Offense: 344.8 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 235.8 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing offense: 109.0 ypg (#15)
- Defense: 372.4 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 232.3 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing defense: 140.1 ypg (#29)

- Atlanta Falcons team stats:
- Offense: 370.3 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 288.9 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing offense: 81.4 ypg (#30)
- Defense: 362.6 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 253.7 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing defense: 108.9 ypg (#16)

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Todd Olszewsk // Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens (12-2) @ Cleveland Browns (6-8)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. EST

The Ravens, the NFL’s hottest team and winners of 10 straight, have a chance to lock up home-field advantage in the AFC with a win at the Cleveland Browns. They are operating on additional rest, having beaten the Jets 42-21 on Thursday Night Football in Week 15 behind five touchdown passes from quarterback and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, who added 86 rushing yards on eight carries to his impressive performance.

The Browns come into this game on the heels of a 38-24 loss in Arizona. They had trouble stopping the run, allowing Kenyan Drake to rush for 137 yards and four touchdowns. Cleveland running back Nick Chubb is still the NFL’s rushing leader after he racked up 127 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s loss, and he will likely be the focal point for the Ravens defense, which ranks as the league’s fifth-best rushing defense, allowing 96.1 yards per game. The last time these two teams met, in Week 4, Chubb got the better of the Ravens with 165 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-25 win in Baltimore. That is also the last time the Ravens lost a game.

With Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield still plagued by turnover issues, the Ravens blossoming into the NFL’s best team, and Jackson the front-runner for MVP, it’s hard to see an upset with home-field advantage at stake. Clearly, oddsmakers in Las Vegas would agree, pegging them as 10-point road favorites, even though they are familiar division foes.

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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Baltimore Ravens

- Favored to win: Baltimore Ravens
- Spread: -10
- Odds: -479

- Baltimore Ravens team stats:
- Offense: 409.7 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 207.6 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing offense: 202.1 ypg (#1)
- Defense: 314.3 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 218.1 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing defense: 96.1 ypg (#5)

- Cleveland Browns team stats:
- Offense: 350.1 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 223.6 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing offense: 126.4 ypg (#10)
- Defense: 353.1 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 217.9 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing defense: 135.2 ypg (#27)

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Wesley Hitt // Getty Images

New Orleans Saints (11-3) @ Tennessee Titans (8-6)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. EST

Monday night’s 34-7 win over the Colts is one that Drew Brees will never forget. With a near-perfect performance, he made NFL history twice, setting a single game record for completion percentage with 96.7 and, more notably, breaking Peyton Manning’s record for career touchdown passes by throwing four, surpassing both Tom Brady and Manning on the same night to bring his career total to an all-time best 541. The victory propelled New Orleans to an 11-3 record, which is even with the Seahawks, Packers, and 49ers, but the Saints are currently the third seed in the NFC, as both Seattle and Green Bay hold the tiebreaker.

The Titans are still in the hunt in the AFC, but their chances of winning the AFC South took a hit when they lost to the Texans 24-21 in Week 15. They do still have a game remaining against Houston in Week 17, but would need to upset the Saints this week for that game to have a chance of deciding the division. Tennessee also has an eye on the Steelers, whose three-game winning streak came to an end last weekend, bringing their record to 8-6. Pittsburgh currently holds the tiebreaker over the Titans for the final wild card spot in the AFC by virtue of a better win percentage in conference games.

All this is to say that there is plenty riding on the line for the Titans this weekend, who brought their season back to life with a four-game winning streak fueled by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which was finally broken by the Texans last week.

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Jonathan Bachman // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New Orleans Saints

- Favored to win: New Orleans Saints
- Spread: -2.5
- Odds: -140

- New Orleans Saints team stats:
- Offense: 373.3 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 264.6 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing offense: 108.6 ypg (#16)
- Defense: 328.8 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 238.0 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing defense: 90.8 ypg (#4)

- Tennessee Titans team stats:
- Offense: 352.9 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 222.3 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing offense: 130.6 ypg (#8)
- Defense: 362.4 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 258.1 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing defense: 104.4 ypg (#13)

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Streeter Lecka // Getty Images

Carolina Panthers (5-9) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-8)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. EST

When Kyle Allen took over for the injured Cam Newton at quarterback for the Panthers, it appeared as though he was capable of keeping them in contention. He won his first four starts, and was efficient, avoiding interceptions and helping them to a 5-3 record at the midway point of the season. Now, Carolina has lost its last six games, fired head coach Ron Rivera, and Allen has thrown 11 interceptions to eight touchdowns during the losing skid.

That’s why interim coach Perry Fewell is reportedly ready to go to his third option at quarterback, opting to start third-round pick Will Grier when they travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts.

Indianapolis has its own issues, having been eliminated from playoff contention and coming off a 34-7 loss to the Saints on Monday night which saw New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees set two records (single-game completion percentage, career TD passes).

The Colts have lost four in a row, though with Grier having never played in a regular-season game, Indianapolis still has the edge in this game between two teams whose seasons once looked promising behind backup quarterbacks.

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Jonathan Bachman // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Indianapolis Colts

- Favored to win: Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -303

- Carolina Panthers team stats:
- Offense: 346.7 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 225.9 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing offense: 120.8 ypg (#13)
- Defense: 377.8 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 237.6 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing defense: 140.2 ypg (#30)

- Indianapolis Colts team stats:
- Offense: 331.4 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 204.2 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing offense: 127.1 ypg (#9)
- Defense: 350.7 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 249.8 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing defense: 100.9 ypg (#9)

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John Grieshop // Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals (1-13) @ Miami Dolphins (3-11)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. EST

When the Dolphins lost their first seven games of the season, they and the Bengals seemed destined to be the top contenders for the NFL’s worst record and top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Then, Miami won two straight, while Cincinnati lost its first 11 before finally coming out victorious against the Jets. As the only team in the NFL with less than three wins, the Bengals seem like a lock for the first pick. As wild as it is to say, their 1-13 record may be a bit deceiving, though. Seven of their losses have come in one-score games, and while they have lost their last 12 road games as a franchise, they are 8-4 against the spread in those games.

For Miami, just two of their losses this season were by a single score, and those were against Washington, who is 3-11, and the 5-9 New York Jets. Despite this game between bottom dwellers in Miami, the Bengals are a slight favorite (-111). This is indicative of the more competitive football that the Bengals have been playing as of late and their ability to cover the spread when playing on the road.

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Justin K. Aller // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Cincinnati Bengals

- Favored to win: Cincinnati Bengals
- Spread: PK
- Odds: -111

- Cincinnati Bengals team stats:
- Offense: 312.7 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 221.4 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing offense: 91.4 ypg (#27)
- Defense: 391.7 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 233.7 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing defense: 158.0 ypg (#32)

- Miami Dolphins team stats:
- Offense: 290.6 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 219.4 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing offense: 71.2 ypg (#32)
- Defense: 398.7 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 257.9 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing defense: 140.9 ypg (#31)

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6) @ New York Jets (5-9)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. EST

Despite their 17-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers control their own destiny to lock down a playoff spot. Currently sitting at 8-6, the Steelers hold a tiebreaker over the Tennessee Titans (who also lost last week). All Pittsburgh needs to do is win the next two weeks, and the team on its third quarterback of the season is in. Speaking of, Steelers rookie QB Devlin “Duck” Hodges was horrendous last week, tossing four interceptions. Hodges, who is starting over an underperforming Mason Rudolph after legend Ben Roethlisberger went down earlier this season, gets the nod to start this must-win against the New York Jets.

The Jets are eliminated from playoff contention, but have looked a bit better later in the season. That was not evident in their Thursday night game against the Baltimore Ravens where they were routed 42-21. Prior to the loss, the Jets had been 4-1 over their previous five.

One other notable storyline is Jets running back Le’Veon Bell facing his former team. Bell took a year off of football in 2018 after a contract dispute with Pittsburgh and is now with New York. He will likely be playing with a chip on his shoulder as the Jets look to play spoiler.

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Justin K. Aller // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Pittsburgh Steelers

- Favored to win: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -175

- Pittsburgh Steelers team stats:
- Offense: 285.7 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 194.2 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing offense: 91.5 ypg (#26)
- Defense: 307.4 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 204.1 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing defense: 103.2 ypg (#11)

- New York Jets team stats:
- Offense: 274.1 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 196.6 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing offense: 77.6 ypg (#31)
- Defense: 328.6 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 239.9 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing defense: 88.8 ypg (#2)

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Al Bello // Getty Images

New York Giants (3-11) @ Washington Redskins (3-11)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. EST

The NFC East has been far and away the least impressive division in all of football. They have no team currently over .500 as the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles both sit at 7-7, and all the way at the bottom are the New York Giants and Washington Redskins who trail only the Cincinnati Bengals for the worst record in the entire league.

If it was Giants legend Eli Manning’s last game, he can ride off into the sunset on a positive note: a 36-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He finished with two touchdowns and 283 yards (and also three interceptions). Manning, who was benched in favor of rookie QB Daniel Jones earlier this season, has a 117-117 career record, but is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, which gives him some Hall of Fame credence. Whether Manning retires in 2020 or continues to play, 2019 will likely be the end of a long era in New York. For the remainder of this season, the veteran’s play is contingent on Jones’ high ankle sprain.

Washington strung together two consecutive victories after falling to 1-9, which is the highlight of an otherwise horrendous season, but has dropped two in a row since. Last week the Redskins led deep into the fourth quarter against a desperate Eagles team, but in the final minute Eagles QB Carson Wentz connected with receiver Greg Ward Jr. for a score, and then a fumble returned for a touchdown as time expired pushed the game to 37-27 (and an Eagles cover at -6.5).

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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Washington Redskins

- Favored to win: Washington Redskins
- Spread: -2.5
- Odds: -137

- New York Giants team stats:
- Offense: 319.1 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 222.1 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing offense: 96.9 ypg (#22)
- Defense: 376.9 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 261.8 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing defense: 115.1 ypg (#22)

- Washington Redskins team stats:
- Offense: 269.5 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 168.4 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing offense: 101.1 ypg (#20)
- Defense: 363.8 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 227.4 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing defense: 136.4 ypg (#28)

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Doug Pensinger // Getty Images

Detroit Lions (3-10-1) @ Denver Broncos (5-9)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 4:05 p.m. EST

While it might not seem like the Denver Broncos have much to play for, especially after a 23-3 Week 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs guarantees the team will finish with a losing record for the third straight year, they are building something with rookie quarterback Drew Lock and a young core. Lock won his first two games as a starter, including an impressive 38-24 victory over the Houston Texans where he threw three touchdowns in the first half; but he was humbled last week with an 18-of-40 passing performance. Don’t expect the Broncos to fold as they work to build Lock’s confidence and help him prepare for 2020.

After seven consecutive losses it appears the Lions have packed it in this season. Third-string quarterback David Blough has thrown five interceptions and only three touchdowns in his three starts this season after Jeff Driskel, who had been filling in for long-time starter Matthew Stafford, went on injured reserve. Statistically, Stafford was having the best passing season in Lions franchise history before his injury. He remains active on the 53-man roster, but the Lions would be incurring more risk than reward by starting him even if healthy enough to play.

The Lions would select fifth in the 2020 NFL Draft if the season ended today. The Broncos would select 11th.

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Tim Warner // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Denver Broncos

- Favored to win: Denver Broncos
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -313

- Detroit Lions team stats:
- Offense: 360.9 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 262.2 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing offense: 98.7 ypg (#21)
- Defense: 401.9 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 288.6 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing defense: 113.2 ypg (#18)

- Denver Broncos team stats:
- Offense: 299.4 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 196.4 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing offense: 103.0 ypg (#18)
- Defense: 337.4 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 223.9 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing defense: 113.6 ypg (#20)

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Thearon W. Henderson // Getty Images

Oakland Raiders (6-8) @ Los Angeles Chargers (5-9)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 4:05 p.m. EST

The Oakland Raiders are holding only a sliver of playoff hope after a deflating 20-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the final regular-season game in Oakland. It was a heartbreaking end to an era—the team will relocate to Las Vegas in 2020—and a less-than-polite sendoff by fans who showered the team with boos and the Coliseum field with trash. The Raiders were sitting in a favorable playoff position at 6-4, but dropped four straight and will need something even more divine than a miracle to end up in the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Chargers were trounced 39-10 last week by the Minnesota Vikings. The Chargers held a 10-9 lead before relinquishing 30 unanswered points. Philip Rivers threw three interceptions in the game, bringing his season total to 18, which lands him behind only Jameis Winston for the most in the NFL. The Chargers had seven turnovers in the contest. Yes, you read that correctly: seven.

The Chargers have already been eliminated from the postseason but can get revenge on a Raiders team that beat them 26-24 earlier this season. Unless you have fantasy football championship game implications, there isn’t a big reason to tune in for this AFC West battle.

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Harry How // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Los Angeles Chargers

- Favored to win: Los Angeles Chargers
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -293

- Oakland Raiders team stats:
- Offense: 355.4 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 234.2 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing offense: 121.2 ypg (#12)
- Defense: 368.2 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 262.4 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing defense: 105.8 ypg (#14)

- Los Angeles Chargers team stats:
- Offense: 373.5 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 278.8 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing offense: 94.7 ypg (#23)
- Defense: 307.6 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 197.4 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing defense: 110.3 ypg (#17)

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Tom Pennington // Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys (7-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 4:25 p.m. EST

Maybe the most important game of Week 16—a matchup to take control of the NFC East, which is the only viable path to the postseason for both: The Dallas Cowboys win the division with a season sweep and victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly cannot officially clinch the division with a victory, but the team will be in the driver's seat. needing only a victory over the New York Giants in its final regular-season game.

Dallas was able to halt its three-game losing streak in a 44-21 bashing of the Los Angeles Rams. The Cowboys helped themselves remain in first place in the NFC East, but also helped the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and San Francisco 49ers clinch playoff berths by taking down the Rams. The Eagles have strung together back-to-back wins after emerging from a three-game losing streak of their own. Their 37-27 victory over the Washington Redskins helps set up the most crucial game for both the Eagles and the Cowboys this season.

Dallas exasperated the Eagles in a 37-10 beatdown when the two squads played back in October. Can the Eagles exact their revenge and stay alive, or will it be a Cowboys division crown for the second straight season? Oddsmakers like Dallas as a road favorite.

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Tom Pennington // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Dallas Cowboys

- Favored to win: Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: -2.5
- Odds: -129

- Dallas Cowboys team stats:
- Offense: 434.0 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 300.0 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing offense: 134.0 ypg (#6)
- Defense: 323.6 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 220.0 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing defense: 103.6 ypg (#12)

- Philadelphia Eagles team stats:
- Offense: 352.9 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 231.5 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing offense: 121.4 ypg (#11)
- Defense: 329.2 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 238.8 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing defense: 90.4 ypg (#3)

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Norm Hall // Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals (4-9-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (11-3)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 4:25 p.m. EST

And just like that, the Seattle Seahawks are once again the top seed in the NFC. By virtue of beating the Carolina Panthers 30-24 Week 15, the San Francisco 49ers losing in the last seconds to the Atlanta Falcons, and a head-to-head tiebreaker, Seattle controls its own destiny in the conference.

The Seahawks got back on track after a 28-12 loss in Los Angeles to the Rams. In the Week 15 victory over the Panthers, quarterback Russell Wilson tossed two scores and running back Chris Carson added two more on the ground. The Arizona Cardinals ended a six-game skid with a 38-24 victory over the Browns.

This is the second game in the season series for these NFC West foes—the Seahawks bested the Cardinals 27-10 back in September. What Seattle cannot afford to do is look ahead to the Week 17 battle with the 49ers that will likely decide the division and top seed in the NFC.

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Jacob Kupferman // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Seattle Seahawks

- Favored to win: Seattle Seahawks
- Spread: -9.5
- Odds: -417

- Arizona Cardinals team stats:
- Offense: 333.0 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 214.0 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing offense: 119.0 ypg (#14)
- Defense: 413.1 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 290.4 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing defense: 122.7 ypg (#25)

- Seattle Seahawks team stats:
- Offense: 387.1 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 245.4 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing offense: 141.7 ypg (#3)
- Defense: 378.3 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 271.0 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing defense: 107.3 ypg (#15)

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Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) @ Chicago Bears (7-7)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 22, 8:20 p.m. EST

The Kansas City Chiefs have clinched the AFC West but are still in the running for a first-round bye in the conference. The Chicago Bears are officially eliminated from playoff contention after their Week 15 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Chicago head coach Matt Nagy is a disciple of Kansas City head coach Andy Reid, having served under him in Philadelphia before following him to K.C. first as the quarterbacks coach then as offensive coordinator. Nagy became the Bears head coach last season and will now square off against his mentor for the first time in the regular season. Additionally, the Bears passed on Patrick Mahomes in 2017 in favor or Mitchell Trubisky, and we all know how that turned out. Mahomes was MVP of the league in 2018, while it’s still unsure if Trubisky is the Bears QB of the future.

The Chiefs destroyed the Denver Broncos last week 23-3 to win their fourth straight. They will almost certainly need to win their remaining two games to receive a first-round bye, and will need a little help, too.

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Maddie Meyer // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Kansas City Chiefs

- Favored to win: Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: -6
- Odds: -247

- Kansas City Chiefs team stats:
- Offense: 384.4 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 291.4 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing offense: 92.9 ypg (#25)
- Defense: 356.7 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 225.1 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing defense: 131.6 ypg (#26)

- Chicago Bears team stats:
- Offense: 298.4 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 212.8 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing offense: 85.6 ypg (#29)
- Defense: 324.0 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 227.4 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing defense: 96.6 ypg (#6)

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Quinn Harris // Getty Images

Green Bay Packers (11-3) @ Minnesota Vikings (10-4)

- Gametime: Monday, Dec. 23, 8:15 p.m. EST

The Monday Night Football finale is certainly one to watch. The Green Bay Packers will look to sweep the season series and capture the NFC North crown for the first time since 2017. The Vikings can still earn the division title, but it will require winning their remaining two games while the Packers lose their remaining two.

The Packers have been winning ugly all season, but they control their own destiny for a bye in the NFC. Sunday’s 21-13 victory wasn’t pretty, but it was their third straight. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 203 yards and a touchdown, and running back Aaron Jones was responsible for the additional two scores. His 17 total touchdowns is only one shy of Christian McCaffrey's NFL lead.

The Vikings scored 30 unanswered points after falling behind 10-9 to the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter, going on to win in a 39-10 blowout. The team forced an improbable seven turnovers.

These teams met Week 2—Green Bay jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead, and wouldn’t score again, but still held on for a 21-16 victory. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was lackluster completing only 14 of 32 passes and throwing two interceptions. Dalvin Cook had a monster day for Minnesota in the loss, rushing for 154 yards and a touchdown, but he left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury and may not be able to go this time around against the division rivals.

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Harry How // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Minnesota Vikings

- Favored to win: Minnesota Vikings
- Spread: -5.5
- Odds: -246

- Green Bay Packers team stats:
- Offense: 336.6 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 230.1 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing offense: 106.5 ypg (#17)
- Defense: 371.3 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 250.4 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing defense: 120.9 ypg (#24)

- Minnesota Vikings team stats:
- Offense: 372.6 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 236.8 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing offense: 135.9 ypg (#4)
- Defense: 338.9 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 239.9 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing defense: 99.0 ypg (#8)

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