Week 16 of the NFL season puts a number of playoff races directly in the spotlight. While the playoff scenarios aren’t that wild this season as only a handful of teams are in the running, there are a number of rivalry games that could clarify division champs in Week 16. Let’s take a closer look at the top five games of the week and remember, there will be three Saturday games this week in addition to the regular Thursday, Sunday and Monday menu.
Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Odds: Texans -3
The Houston Texans beat the Tennessee Titans in Week 15 to move ahead by a game in the AFC South. Now they’ll aim to hold their serve and beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are red-hot right now with wins in five of their last six games. However, they’ll likely be without top wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in this game. Meanwhile, the Texans have won five of seven, so they’re on a roll themselves.
New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans
Odds: Saints -1
The Saints are coming off a near-perfect effort on Monday Night Football when they dismantled the Indianapolis Colts 34-7. Now they’ll visit the Titans, who suffered a discouraging loss to the Texans last week. The Titans had won six of seven before having their momentum dulled. Can they get back on track in this spot? They’ll have a rematch with the Texans in Week 17.
As for the Saints, at 11-3, they’re in the running for the top spot in the NFC, so this is an important game for them. There are a total of four teams in the NFC at 11-3 while the Minnesota Vikings are a game back at 10-4.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Odds: Vikings -4.5
Speaking of the Vikings, they’ll host the Packers this week in a showdown for the top spot in the NFC North. It’s an important game because the winner will be in the Top 4 of the NFC standings and have home-field advantage for at least one playoff game. The loser will fall down to fifth or sixth and have to go on the road.
The key to this game will be the Packers run defense, which is giving up 120.9 rushing yards per game. They’ve been a real weakness this season and the Vikings have the league’s fourth-best rush offense (135.9 per game). However, keep an eye on the status of running backs Dalvin Cook and Alex Mattison, who both left last week’s game with injuries.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
Odds: Ravens -10
The Baltimore Ravens have won 10 in a row. The last time they lost was back in Week 4 to the Cleveland Browns, who smoked them 40-25 in Baltimore. The Ravens will be looking for more than just some revenge here as a win locks up the No. 1 seed in the AFC for them.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
Odds: Cowboys -2.5
The Cowboys and Eagles have both underperformed significantly this season. However, one of these subpar teams has to win the NFC East and get to the playoffs and that winner will be decided on Sunday. Both teams are at 7-7 but the Cowboys come into this game with higher spirits. They smoked the Los Angeles Rams 44-21 at home last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles have earned very narrow wins over the New York Giants and Washington Redskins in back-to-back weeks.