Insiders predict: NFL week 17 winners

December 26, 2019
Manuel Velasquez // Getty Images

Insiders predict: NFL week 17 winners

While all but two playoff spots have been locked up ahead of the Week 17 action, there is still much to be determined before the 2019 regular season comes to a close. The NFC East is still yet to crown its champion, leaving the fourth seed in the NFC open for the taking.

While the Ravens have home-field advantage in the AFC, that honor in the NFC is still hanging in the balance, with the 49ers, Packers, Seahawks, and even the Saints still competing for it. Here are some of the games with the biggest playoff implications this weekend:

Packers @ Lions: Detroit may not have anything to play for, but the Packers can clinch a first-round bye beginning with a victory. Coming off a two-year playoff drought and many postseason heartbreaks since winning Super Bowl XLV, one less playoff game would be a welcomed gift for Aaron Rodgers. A win coupled with a 49ers loss would see the road to the Super Bowl go through Green Bay.

Dolphins @ Patriots: The Patriots will clinch a first-round bye with a win against the Dolphins and ensure that the only way they take to the road in the postseason is in a rematch with the Ravens in Baltimore. An unlikely Patriots loss would put the Chiefs back in play for a week off to start the playoffs.

Eagles @ Giants: The Eagles can clinch the NFC East and the fourth seed in the conference with a victory over the Giants. Doing so would eliminate the Cowboys and likely put an end to the Jason Garrett era in Dallas. Can Doug Pederson once again find his team getting hot at the right time?

Titans @ Texans: It’s a simple scenario for the Titans: win and they're in. The Texans insist they won’t rest their starters despite clinching the division, but Tennessee rested its own star, Derrick Henry, last week. He’s fresh for this weekend and seems poised to carry Tennessee to a wild-card berth.

49ers @ Seahawks: A meeting of two of the best teams in the NFL with the stakes as high as possible for a game between these playoff-bound squads. A 49ers win would mean securing home-field advantage in the NFC. A Seahawks win would mean the NFC West title, and that the 49ers’ remarkable season would still see them as a wild-card team.

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. 26, 2019. Team stats were gathered from NFL.com. Check out the live odds at MSN.com.

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Michael Owens // Getty Images

New York Jets (6-9) @ Buffalo Bills (10-5)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

The Buffalo Bills can no longer win the AFC East after their 24-17 Week 16 loss to the New England Patriots, but are locked into the top wild-card spot. They will likely play on the road for as long as they remain in the postseason unless the team earns the final AFC berth makes an improbable run to the championship game. These two division rivals met in the first week of the season—the New York Jets held a 16-0 lead before surrendering 17 unanswered points, losing 17-16.

The Bills, who exceeded expectations this season, are playoff-bound for only the second time since 1999. Their defense, ranked #3 in yards surrendered per game (300.1) and #2 in scoring per game (16.4), has been stifling, and bonafide playmakers including receiver John Brown and running back Devin Singletary have emerged from the offensive unit. Quarterback Josh Allen has improved drastically on his 2018 rookie campaign, doubling his touchdown pass total (20) this season.

But with the Bills cemented in the #5 seed and the Jets already eliminated from playoff contention, this game is essentially meaningless. Expect the Bills to sit some of their starters as they prepare for the first week of the playoffs, which is why they are not heavy home favorites.

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Kathryn Riley // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Buffalo Bills

- Favored to win: Buffalo Bills
- Spread: -1.5
- Odds: -128

- New York Jets team stats:
- Offense: 273.1 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 195.1 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing offense: 78.1 ypg (#31)
- Defense: 324.1 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 236.2 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing defense: 87.9 ypg (#2)

- Buffalo Bills team stats:
- Offense: 331.6 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 199.5 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing offense: 132.1 ypg (#5)
- Defense: 300.1 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 195.9 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing defense: 104.2 ypg (#11)

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

Cleveland Browns (6-9) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-14)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

A meaningless battle in the AFC North has zero playoff implications after a 31-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens officially knocked the Cleveland Browns out of postseason contention. The major storyline is just how disappointing the Browns were this year after tremendous preseason hype.

After setting the rookie touchdown pass record in 2018, quarterback Baker Mayfield has had a tough time building on his early success. Mayfield has thrown just one more touchdown (19) than interceptions (18) this season. Key offseason acquisition Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t impacted the offense. In fact, he’s been mostly hidden all year in head coach Freddie Kitchens’ system. While 71 catches and 954 yards is nothing to scoff at, Beckham was supposed to bring the offense to another level. Instead, he and fellow receiver Jarvis Landry are rumored to be telling opponents to help get them out of Cleveland.

No matter what happens Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals will finish as the worst team in football. They’ll select #1 in the 2020 NFL draft and are poised to select who they hope will be their franchise QB in Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow.

The Browns got the best of the Bengals 27-19 when the two matched up earlier in December despite two interceptions from Mayfield.

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Kirk Irwin // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Cleveland Browns

- Favored to win: Cleveland Browns
- Spread: -3
- Odds: -148

- Cleveland Browns team stats:
- Offense: 342.8 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 221.0 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing offense: 121.8 ypg (#11)
- Defense: 361.6 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 219.2 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing defense: 142.4 ypg (#30)

- Cincinnati Bengals team stats:
- Offense: 320.5 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 231.3 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing offense: 89.2 ypg (#28)
- Defense: 399.1 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 245.2 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing defense: 153.9 ypg (#32)

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Stacy Revere // Getty Images

Green Bay Packers (12-3) @ Detroit Lions (3-11-1)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

The Green Bay Packers are Kings in the North once again. After a 23-10 victory, the Packers have secured their first division title since 2016 and can earn a first-round bye beginning with a victory over the Detroit Lions. A #1 seed in the conference is still in play, too—if the Seattle Seahawks can sweep the season series against the San Francisco 49ers, the Pack (with a win) will slide into the top slot in the NFC.

The Packers overcame three first-half turnovers, behind an expert defensive performance, to rally in the Monday Night Football finale. Two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers was a modest 26-of-40 for 216 yards and a rare interception, but the offense was carried by running back Aaron Jones’ 154 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The defense shined the brightest, though, as they rendered the Vikings offense relatively useless. Green Bay sacked Kirk Cousins five times and held the QB to 122 yards passing; the Vikings managed only seven first downs the entire game.

It’s been a season to forget for the Detroit Lions, who have now lost eight straight and own the third-worst record in the league. The Lions looked like legitimate contenders when these two faced off earlier in October—Detroit held a 22-13 lead in the fourth quarter, but a signature Aaron Rodgers comeback (and some questionable officiating) sunk the Lions, 23-22.

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Hannah Foslien // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Green Bay Packers

- Favored to win: Green Bay Packers
- Spread: -12.5
- Odds: -644

- Green Bay Packers team stats:
- Offense: 339.7 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 228.1 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing offense: 111.7 ypg (#15)
- Defense: 355.8 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 239.1 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing defense: 116.7 ypg (#23)

- Detroit Lions team stats:
- Offense: 349.6 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 251.1 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing offense: 98.5 ypg (#22)
- Defense: 398.3 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 282.6 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing defense: 115.7 ypg (#21)

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Manuel Velasquez // Getty Images

Los Angeles Chargers (5-10) @ Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

A disappointing season will come to an end for the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday. A year removed from a 12-4 record and a trip to the divisional round of the playoffs, the Chargers will at best win only six games. They’ll head to Kansas City to take on a Chiefs squad that very much has something to play for. The Chiefs have a playoff spot locked up but can still earn a first-round bye. It would require the New England Patriots to lose to the listless Miami Dolphins, but it is still possible. A loss for the Chiefs could drop them as low as the #4 seed if the Houston Texans are victorious over the Tennessee Titans.

The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are hot at the right time. Winners of five straight, K.C. looks like the team that reached the AFC title game a season ago. Their winning streak kicked off against the Chargers in Mexico City, when they won 24-17 and never looked back. Over the last two weeks against the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears, the defense has given up six combined points.

Mahomes hasn’t come close to replicating his 2018 MVP campaign, which included 50 touchdown passes and over 5,000 passing yards, but the 24-year-old earned his second straight Pro Bowl selection. Mahomes is joined by five additional teammates, including his two favorite targets, tight end Travis Kelce and wideout Tyreek Hill.

Could this be the last time we see Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers? The 38-year-old, who becomes a free agent at season’s end, says he can still do it, but there are a lot of factors that will play into his future.

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Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Kansas City Chiefs

- Favored to win: Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: -8.5
- Odds: -347

- Los Angeles Chargers team stats:
- Offense: 367.5 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 277.9 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing offense: 89.7 ypg (#27)
- Defense: 311.5 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 202.0 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing defense: 109.5 ypg (#16)

- Kansas City Chiefs team stats:
- Offense: 382.1 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 288.3 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing offense: 93.8 ypg (#23)
- Defense: 348.5 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 219.0 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing defense: 129.5 ypg (#26)

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Dylan Buell // Getty Images

Chicago Bears (7-8) @ Minnesota Vikings (10-5)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

After a 23-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings’ hopes of a division title have been eliminated and they are locked into the sixth and final playoff seed in the NFC. The Vikings forced three first-half turnovers on Monday night, but couldn’t find any rhythm on offense and generated only 139 total yards. Quarterback Kirk Cousins’ losing streak continues—he is now 0-9 in his career on Monday Night Football. Cousins was bullied by a Packers defense that sacked him five times, grabbed an interception, and held the QB to 122 yards passing.

The Chicago Bears have lost two straight and can finish no better than .500 a year removed from a 12-4 record and a division title. It was an all-around disappointing season for Chicago and head coach Matt Nagy in his sophomore campaign.

In the absence of running back Dalvin Cook, who sat out of Monday’s game with a chest injury, it was abundantly clear how much the Vikings missed him. Backup running back Alexander Mattison also sat out with a high-ankle sprain, so Mike Boone made his first career start. He finished with 28 yards on 11 carries.

The Bears won’t experience playoff football this season, and now that the Vikings can’t improve their playoff standing, this game is largely meaningless.

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Hannah Foslien // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Minnesota Vikings

- Favored to win: Minnesota Vikings
- Spread: -1
- Odds: -119

- Chicago Bears team stats:
- Offense: 294.1 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 207.5 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing offense: 86.7 ypg (#29)
- Defense: 325.7 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 228.5 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing defense: 97.2 ypg (#6)

- Minnesota Vikings team stats:
- Offense: 357.1 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 226.5 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing offense: 130.6 ypg (#7)
- Defense: 341.9 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 237.2 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing defense: 104.7 ypg (#14)

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Michael Reaves // Getty Images

Miami Dolphins (4-11) @ New England Patriots (12-3)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

The New England Patriots winning the AFC East is maybe the most predictable thing in football. Last week in a 24-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills the Pats won their 11th consecutive division title, and a victory over the Miami Dolphins means New England would earn a 10th consecutive first-round bye.

For the Pats and head coach Bill Belichick, the playoffs start this week. The top seed in the conference is no longer attainable, but the team understands the value of a first-round bye and an opponent traveling to Foxborough for at least the divisional round.

While 4-11 looks like a wildly disappointing season at first glance, the Dolphins have something to build on in 2020. After starting the year 0-7, Miami has played .500 football since. Last week almost ended in tragic collapse after the Dolphins surrendered a 23-point fourth-quarter lead to the Cincinnati Bengals, but their overtime field goal secured a 38-35 victory. Since committing to Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting QB, the Dolphins have been much more consistent. While the team is in search of their franchise quarterback, Fitzpatrick (still under contract in 2020) has buoyed them in the meantime.

The Patriots are massive favorites—they dominated the Dolphins 43-0 when the two met Week 2.

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Billie Weiss // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New England Patriots

- Favored to win: New England Patriots
- Spread: -16
- Odds: -1086

- Miami Dolphins team stats:
- Offense: 304.7 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 231.9 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing offense: 72.9 ypg (#32)
- Defense: 400.8 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 265.4 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing defense: 135.4 ypg (#27)

- New England Patriots team stats:
- Offense: 354.1 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 249.6 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing offense: 104.5 ypg (#19)
- Defense: 268.3 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 170.7 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing defense: 97.7 ypg (#7)

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Kevin C. Cox // Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons (6-9) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

Will back-to-back losing seasons for head coach Dan Quinn be enough the send him packing? It has been a disappointing road for the Atlanta Falcons since their unprecedented collapse in Super Bowl LI, as the team will miss the playoffs for the second straight year. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is in his first year with the squad, so it’s likely his job will remain safe. The team won only five games each of the last two seasons, so 2019 was an improvement, albeit a small one. Tampa Bay hasn’t seen much success since the Jon Gruden years of the early 2000s. This season will mark the 12th consecutive time the Bucs miss out on the postseason.

The Falcons’ passing attack, ranked #3 in the league, is still dynamic, but the team hasn’t found a recipe for success. The Tampa Bay offense and quarterback Jameis Winston lead the league in passing, but Winston also leads the league with a staggering 28 interceptions—10 more than the next-closest QB.

The Buccaneers have a decision to make: the option to retain Winston with a franchise tag, or let the former #1 overall selection walk and hit free agency.

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Will Vragovic // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

- Favored to win: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Spread: -1
- Odds: -115

- Atlanta Falcons team stats:
- Offense: 380.1 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 295.2 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing offense: 84.9 ypg (#30)
- Defense: 357.6 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 248.3 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing defense: 109.3 ypg (#15)

- Tampa Bay Buccaneers team stats:
- Offense: 402.5 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 310.1 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing offense: 92.3 ypg (#25)
- Defense: 342.0 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 269.1 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing defense: 72.9 ypg (#1)

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Sean Gardner // Getty Images

New Orleans Saints (12-3) @ Carolina Panthers (5-10)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. EST

The New Orleans Saints were the first team to clinch a playoff berth, but with one game remaining in the 2019 regular season, they’ll need help to earn a bye. Here’s how it can happen: If either the Green Bay Packers or San Francisco 49ers lose or tie Week 17, and the Saints are victorious over their NFC South rival Carolina Panthers, they will slide into a top-two seed. If both the Packers and Niners lose or tie, New Orleans (with a win) will be the #1 seed in the NFC. There are myriad other scenarios, but for the Saints, winning is the first and most crucial step.

The Carolina Panthers have experienced a rollercoaster of a season which includes starting quarterback Cam Newton being placed on injured reserve, backup quarterback Kyle Allen looking strong in relief but struggling down the stretch to the point of being benched in favor of rookie QB Will Grier, and long-time head coach Ron Rivera getting axed mid season. Oh, and the Panthers have lost seven straight.

When these two squared off last month, Carolina rallied from an 13-point deficit in the third to tie the game at 31 before Saints kicker Wil Lutz converted a 33-yard field goal as time expired. Oddsmakers don’t believe it will be quite as close this time through.

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Frederick Breedon // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New Orleans Saints

- Favored to win: New Orleans Saints
- Spread: -13
- Odds: -671

- New Orleans Saints team stats:
- Offense: 373.5 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 265.3 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing offense: 108.2 ypg (#17)
- Defense: 333.3 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 238.7 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing defense: 94.7 ypg (#5)

- Carolina Panthers team stats:
- Offense: 342.7 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 224.1 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing offense: 118.5 ypg (#14)
- Defense: 374.2 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 228.8 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing defense: 145.4 ypg (#31)

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Richard Rodriguez // Getty Images

Washington Redskins (3-12) @ Dallas Cowboys (7-8)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Cowboys have nobody but themselves to blame for the fact they are on the outside looking in on the NFC playoff picture. They are the NFL’s top-ranked offense, led by Dak Prescott, who is second in the league in passing yards. They were 6-4 through 10 games, leading the NFC East, while the Eagles struggled and the Giants and Redskins were trending toward competing for the top overall draft pick. Then came a three-game losing streak. And a two-game winning streak from the Eagles. And come Week 16, they found themselves traveling to Philadelphia with first place in the division on the line.

Dallas fell short, being stifled by the Eagles defense, 17-9, putting them in a scenario where they need to beat Washington in Week 17 and hope the Giants upset Philadelphia in order to claim the division title and the fourth seed in the NFC.

While they are still alive, the talks in Dallas have centered more around the future of coach Jason Garrett than the postseason. Not to mention Prescott’s recent injury troubles, as he deals with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder that has him limited in practice this week.

It seems that a once-promising season for the Cowboys may end in disappointment and a change in the regime. For Washington, a season in which they have already made a change at the head coaching position could be made just a bit sweeter by driving a final dagger through the hearts of the Dallas faithful.

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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Dallas Cowboys

- Favored to win: Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: -10.5
- Odds: -554

- Washington Redskins team stats:
- Offense: 274.9 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 175.3 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing offense: 99.7 ypg (#21)
- Defense: 376.3 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 235.3 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing defense: 141.1 ypg (#29)

- Dallas Cowboys team stats:
- Offense: 425.8 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 297.1 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing offense: 128.7 ypg (#8)
- Defense: 330.7 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 226.2 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing defense: 104.5 ypg (#13)

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Thearon W. Henderson // Getty Images

Oakland Raiders (7-8) @ Denver Broncos (6-9)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

Somehow, the Raiders are still yet to be eliminated from playoff contention heading into Week 17. By beating the Chargers 24-17 last week, and having a few other games fall into place, they enter the final week of the regular season needing a victory and three (potentially four) other things to happen.

Oakland’s way in would be paved by winning a four-way tie between potential 8-8 teams in the AFC, meaning that in addition to beating Denver on Sunday, they would need the Titans to lose to the Texans, the Steelers to lose to the Ravens and the Colts to beat the Jaguars. If all of those things happen, the Raiders could get in, but only if they were to hold a strength-of-victory advantage over Pittsburgh, which would hinge on the result of up to four other games.

These two teams met all the way back in Week 1, when the Raiders were fresh off of the Antonio Brown saga and the Broncos were kicking off 2019 with Joe Flacco as their starting quarterback. Things have changed, and Drew Lock now leads Denver into this game off of a 27-17 win over the Lions in Week 16. Coach Vic Fangio hinted that Lock, the second-round draft choice, could be the quarterback of the future. That seems a long way out, but on Sunday, he could just be the guy to put a disappointing end to the Raiders’ era in Oakland ahead of their move to the desert.

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Matthew Stockman // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Denver Broncos

- Favored to win: Denver Broncos
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -173

- Oakland Raiders team stats:
- Offense: 356.1 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 236.4 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing offense: 119.7 ypg (#13)
- Defense: 362.6 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 262.6 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing defense: 100.0 ypg (#8)

- Denver Broncos team stats:
- Offense: 302.6 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 196.5 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing offense: 106.1 ypg (#18)
- Defense: 327.7 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 215.3 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing defense: 112.4 ypg (#18)

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Christian Petersen // Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (8-7)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Cardinals may not have had anything to play for, but they impressed nonetheless in Week 16, running all over the Seahawks in Seattle en route to a 27-13 victory. Running back Kenyan Drake, acquired via an in-season trade with the Dolphins, has been on a tear and racked up 166 yards and two touchdowns on an injury-riddled Seattle defense. The Arizona defense wasn’t bad either, holding Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense to just 224 total yards.

There’s reason for optimism in Arizona, with a new energy surrounding first overall pick Kyler Murray. In Los Angeles, it’s more reflection. The reigning NFC Champions are eliminated from playoff contention, and will finish third in the NFC West behind both San Francisco and Seattle. An offense that seemed unstoppable a year ago—called by coach Sean McVay and anchored by young stars Jared Goff and Todd Gurley II—lost its luster.

The Rams’ conference title defense officially came to an end last Saturday, when they lost a 34-31 thriller in San Francisco. Robbie Gould’s game-winning 33-yard field goal did them in, capping off a nine-play, 60-yard drive from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that put the 49ers back atop the conference and in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage.

While this game is essentially one in which both teams are “playing for pride,” there is clearly enough talent on both squads. The Rams should win and finish above .500, but the big takeaway may just be how loaded the NFC West will be for years to come.

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Thearon W. Henderson // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Los Angeles Rams

- Favored to win: Los Angeles Rams
- Spread: -6
- Odds: -276

- Arizona Cardinals team stats:
- Offense: 338.3 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 210.3 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing offense: 127.9 ypg (#9)
- Defense: 400.5 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 279.9 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing defense: 120.6 ypg (#25)

- Los Angeles Rams team stats:
- Offense: 371.6 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 279.2 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing offense: 92.4 ypg (#24)
- Defense: 336.1 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 220.2 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing defense: 115.9 ypg (#22)

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Emilee Chinn // Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) @ New York Giants (4-11)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

Could this be another case of the Eagles starting to click at the right time? At 5-7, their season seemed lost, but Doug Pederson’s group has won three in a row, including a pivotal 17-9 victory over the Cowboys in Week 16 that puts them firmly in position for the NFC East title and the fourth seed in the NFC playoff picture.

Carson Wentz threw for 319 yards and a touchdown while the Philadelphia defense held Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to 47 rushing yards and quarterback Dak Prescott to a 74.5 passer rating. Now, the Eagles control their own destiny. A win against the Giants will see them become division champions and hosting whichever team qualifies as the fifth seed in the conference.

Should the Eagles fall victim to an upset, they can still win the division if the Cowboys were to slip up in their NFC East meeting with Washington.

The Giants have had a rough season, but quarterback Daniel Jones had reason to celebrate (with Eli Manning) following their 41-35 overtime win over Washington last Sunday in which he threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns. That marks two wins in a row for the Giants, who had lost their previous nine games before beating the Dolphins in Week 15.

These two rivals faced off in Week 14, when Manning started in place of Jones. It took overtime, but the Eagles won that game 23-17 thanks to Wentz’s game-winning touchdown pass to Zach Ertz. With so much riding on the game for Philadelphia, expect them to sweep the season series with a victory and an NFC East championship on Sunday afternoon.

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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Philadelphia Eagles

- Favored to win: Philadelphia Eagles
- Spread: -4.5
- Odds: -220

- Philadelphia Eagles team stats:
- Offense: 358.1 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 236.9 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing offense: 121.2 ypg (#12)
- Defense: 327.3 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 239.3 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing defense: 88.0 ypg (#3)

- New York Giants team stats:
- Offense: 334.6 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 230.4 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing offense: 104.2 ypg (#20)
- Defense: 375.8 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 263.1 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing defense: 112.7 ypg (#19)

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts (7-8) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

While both of these teams are eliminated from playoff contention, the NFL moved the kickoff time to 4:25 p.m. EST because the result of this game can still have an impact on the final wild card in the AFC through a very convoluted playoff scenario. For the Colts, a chance to finish the season with a .500 record is all they have to play for. It’s been a wild journey for the franchise that learned only at the beginning of the year that their entire future would change course with quarterback Andrew Luck retiring early.

Their season came crashing down late, when a four-game losing streak saw them go from AFC South contenders to elimination. They put an end to that skid last week with a 38-6 beatdown of the Panthers.

The Jaguars had their own ill-timed losing streak. They dropped five in a row to fall toward the bottom of the conference standings with three of the losses in that span coming in division games. They also had an unexpected early shift at quarterback, when free-agent signing Nick Foles injured his shoulder in Week 1, forcing Gardner Minshew II into action. Minshew enters Sunday with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in his first season.

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Colts were victorious at home, dominating on the ground (264 team rushing yards) and powering their way to a 33-13 victory.

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Indianapolis Colts

- Favored to win: Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -189

- Indianapolis Colts team stats:
- Offense: 330.9 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 197.7 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing offense: 133.2 ypg (#4)
- Defense: 346.4 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 246.4 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing defense: 100.0 ypg (#8)

- Jacksonville Jaguars team stats:
- Offense: 341.0 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 231.6 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing offense: 109.4 ypg (#16)
- Defense: 382.1 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 242.3 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing defense: 139.8 ypg (#28)

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Justin Berl // Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) @ Baltimore Ravens (13-2)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens locked up home-field advantage in the AFC with their win over the Browns last weekend, and for that, the soon-to-be MVP will enjoy their Week 17 matchup against the Steelers from the sidelines. Jackson will be rested, with coach John Harbaugh opting to start Robert Griffin III in his place. A number of other starters will also sit for the Ravens, making this a winnable game for the struggling Steelers, who have lost two games in a row and are hanging on to very slim playoff chances.

That means that Jackson’s magical 2019 season will end, having thrown 36 touchdowns and rushing for seven more on the ground for a QB record1,206 yards.

The simplest path for Pittsburgh to get in is a victory coupled with a Titans loss. If they drop to 8-8, they would need receive a lot of help from the Raiders, Colts, and Titans games, however.

While Pittsburgh still has a chance, the Ravens have been so good this season that they are still favored in a tuneup game that will mark their last on-field action until divisional weekend.

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Justin K. Aller // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Pittsburgh Steelers

- Favored to win: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: -2
- Odds: -132

- Pittsburgh Steelers team stats:
- Offense: 284.0 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 193.6 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing offense: 90.4 ypg (#26)
- Defense: 304.1 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 202.1 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing defense: 102.0 ypg (#10)

- Baltimore Ravens team stats:
- Offense: 414.5 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 209.6 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing offense: 204.9 ypg (#1)
- Defense: 309.4 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 215.9 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing defense: 93.5 ypg (#4)

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Wesley Hitt // Getty Images

Tennessee Titans (8-7) @ Houston Texans (10-5)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

While the Texans clinched the AFC South with their win over the Buccaneers last weekend, they face an interesting dilemma this week as they host a division foe still vying to punch its ticket. A win for Houston in this game, coupled with a Chiefs loss, would see them move up to the third seed. But the Chiefs are hosting the lowly Chargers and still trying to move up to the second seed, so the Texans may end up staying put as the fourth seed.

Still, the Texans are expected to play to win, rather than rest players. At least that is what coach Bill O’Brien said on Monday. That decision comes after Houston lost playmaking receiver Will Fuller to a groin injury on Saturday. He is expected to miss one to three weeks, putting his playoff status in doubt.

The Titans, on the other hand, have a bit of experience resting players. Entering their eventual 38-28 loss to the Saints, they made the decision to keep Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry out and let him recover from a hamstring injury that has been plaguing him for a number of weeks. Though they did lose, they still find themselves in a situation this week where a win will get them in.

Seeing as they have much more riding on the game and the focal point of their offense now has fresher legs, they are a good bet to get a road win against their rivals and advance to play in the wild-card round. Tennessee can still qualify if they lose, but it would require losses from both the Steelers and Colts.

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Frederick Breedon // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Tennessee Titans

- Favored to win: Tennessee Titans
- Spread: -4
- Odds: -190

- Tennessee Titans team stats:
- Offense: 355.9 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 224.0 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing offense: 131.9 ypg (#6)
- Defense: 363.4 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 259.2 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing defense: 104.2 ypg (#11)

- Houston Texans team stats:
- Offense: 366.1 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 239.4 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing offense: 126.7 ypg (#10)
- Defense: 383.1 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 270.3 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing defense: 112.8 ypg (#20)

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers (12-3) @ Seattle Seahawks (11-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Dec. 29, 8:20 p.m. EST

Unquestionably the biggest game left in the 2019 NFL season, this clash of division foes is for the NFC West title, a potential first-round bye in the playoffs, and, for the San Francisco 49ers, home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

While the 49ers have had a remarkable season regardless of the result Sunday night, a loss to the Seahawks would see them go from the top overall seed to fifth and bound to hitting the road in the playoffs as a wild-card team. For Seattle, a win in this game would give them the division crown and thus, a home game either on Wild Card Weekend or in the divisional round, depending on results from the Packers and Saints. And though the Seahawks won the first matchup this season on the road, 27-24, they are ravaged by injuries and coming off a home loss to the Cardinals in Week 16. Running back Chris Carson will likely be out for the rest of the season, while tackle Duane Brown needs knee surgery.

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has been out with a core muscle injury as well, but coach Pete Carroll expects him to be back in time to play on Sunday night.

On top of the fact that the entire NFC playoff picture can be shaped by this game, it will also mark the return of Marshawn Lynch to the NFL. The once-retired running back has rejoined the Seahawks as a potential answer to their depleted backfield, as he hopes to bring “Beast Mode” back to Seattle just in time for a postseason run.

With Seattle's injuries mounting, the 49ers' sights are set on home-field advantage to cap off an incredible season; thus they’re the favorite to win this rematch of NFC heavyweights.

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Thearon W. Henderson // Getty Images

Insiders predict: San Francisco 49ers

- Favored to win: San Francisco 49ers
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -184

- San Francisco 49ers team stats:
- Offense: 379.9 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 234.8 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing offense: 145.1 ypg (#2)
- Defense: 277.4 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 165.6 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing defense: 111.8 ypg (#17)

- Seattle Seahawks team stats:
- Offense: 376.2 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 237.9 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing offense: 138.3 ypg (#3)
- Defense: 380.5 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 263.5 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing defense: 117.0 ypg (#24)

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