With so many games in Week 16 deserving of our attention, it is hard to pick just one. Here are those that are both important and (figure to be) exciting
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (Thursday)
So, not only should it be a great game between Jaguars’ rising quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the solid Jets’ defense, it’s a game both teams need to win.
If the Jags run the table, they will win the AFC South. The Jets, only a game behind the Chargers and Dolphins, need a win to stay in the hunt and improve their record in the AFC.
According to NFL odds, the Jets are one-point favorites at the Meadowlands.
Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens (Saturday)
The Falcons remain in the mix in the moribund NFC South, with no one seemingly wanting to win the division. Thus, a victory by Atlanta could propel it into a share of first. The Saints have swept the Falcons, but a win here, and next week against Arizona, and Atlanta would have a Week 18 game against the Bucs to potentially decide the division.
The Ravens are also hoping that a Week 18 game settles their division. They dropped behind the Bengals in the AFC North last week. Now, no wiggle room. If Baltimore wins here, and wins again next week against the Steelers, the Week 18 showdown in Cincy decides the division.
The Ravens are favored to win by a touchdown-plus.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (Saturday)
The Vikings have clinched the NFC North, but they could be a No. 1 seed or down to the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. So, they need to keep winning to hold off the 49ers, while leaving open the door to possibly catch the Eagles, as remote as that is.
Meanwhile, the Giants need this game even more. Getting the win over the Commanders last Sunday night makes it a strong probability they will reach the playoffs. However, with a game against the Vikings this week, and the Eagles in Week 18, there’s nothing certain. Big Blue needs Saquon Barkley (18 carries, 87 yards, one touchdown against Washington) to have another big game against the Vikes.
Minny’s a four-point favorite at home.
Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers (Saturday)
Everyone seems on board with the Lions’ run to a potential berth in the playoffs. Everyone but the teams in the same battle, namely the Seahawks, Giants and Commanders.
Detroit just needs to keep on winning. One loss is probably ending its chances. It trails the Giants and Commanders, and loses the tiebreaker with the Seahawks. It’s elimination football with the Lions.
The same with the Panthers, who are one of the three NFC teams a game behind the Buccaneers in the godawful South. If the Panthers win, win again next week against the Bucs in Tampa Bay, then dispose of the Saints in Week 18, perhaps they take home this division.
Detroit is a field-goal fave in Charlotte, but negatory (-155) leads affirmative (+125) as far as the Lions earning a berth. That’s per NFL playoff odds.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (Saturday)
There’s a lot that may happen if the Eagles defeat Dallas. Philly will win the NFC East (third time since 2017). It will also take them to 14 wins, which will be a franchise record. Winning also makes the Eagles top seed in the NFC.
Clinching the No. 1 seed this early is important. The injured shoulder of quarterback Jalen Hurts would get extra time to heal.
Dallas still has an outside shot at the NFC East title, if they don’t lose here. A loss by the ‘Boys also has the potential of shrinking their lead as the first wild-card down to one-half game, Games against current playoff teams (Titans and Commanders) remain.
The injury to Hurts has made the Cowboys 4½-point Christmas Eve choices.