The Week 16 schedule for the 2021 NFL season is stacked with great matchups, and we’ve got you covered with what you need to know heading into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score picks.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know, playoff picture and/or draft position implications and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe hands out helpful fantasy football intel, as well. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.
Let’s get into the full Week 16 slate, including a massive AFC East meeting between the Patriots and Bills, the Ravens and Bengals battling for AFC North supremacy, Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson going catch for catch and two excellent Christmas Day showdowns on Saturday. It all culminates with a Monday Night Football matchup between the Dolphins and the Saints on ESPN. (Game times are Sunday unless otherwise noted.)
Thursday: TEN 20, SF 17
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET | Fox/NFL Network
Matchup rating: 67.3 | Spread: GB -7.5 (45.5)
What to watch for: If the Browns are going to have success against the Packers, it might have to come on the ground. While the Packers’ defense has made major improvements against the pass, their run D has been shaky. That unit is allowing 4.5 yards per rush (25th in the NFL) and has a success rate of 52% (second worst in the NFL), according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Even so, the Packers don’t typically load up to stop the run, putting eight or more defenders in the box a league-low 9% of the time. Browns running back Nick Chubb typically takes advantage of such schemes, averaging 5.4 yards per run against seven or fewer defenders in the box. That’s the fourth-highest such average by a running back this season. — Rob Demovsky
Bold prediction: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will break Brett Favre’s franchise passing touchdown record on the opening drive, earning his 443rd. If he throws a second touchdown, his streak of consecutive games with multiple passing TDs and no interceptions will continue and tie him for the second-longest such streak in the Super Bowl era. But the rest of Green Bay’s touchdowns will come on the ground on Saturday, ending that streak at four games. — Jake Trotter
Stat to know: Green Bay receiver Davante Adams needs four catches to reach 100 receptions this season, which would be the third 100-reception season of his career. And it would break a tie with Sterling Sharpe for the most in Packers history.
Playoff and draft implications: The Packers already clinched the NFC North, and they have a 71% chance to land the No.1 overall seed in the NFC, per ESPN’s FPI. A win would make it 84%, while a loss would drop the chances to 44%. The Browns, meanwhile, have a 16% chance to make the playoffs — which would rise to 32% with a win or fall to 9% with a loss. And if they lose, they can be eliminated on Sunday with wins from Baltimore, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, the L.A. Chargers and Pittsburgh. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Rodgers has finished as QB4 or better in four straight games. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Cleveland is 6-14 against the spread (ATS) in its past 20 road games. Read more.
Christmas Day throwback: The Browns have never played on Christmas, but the Packers have done so twice — both against the Bears. Green Bay’s most recent of the two came in 2011, when it won behind five touchdown passes from Rodgers.
Trotter’s pick: Packers 31, Browns 22
Demovsky’s pick: Packers 34, Browns 24
FPI prediction: GB, 68.7% (by an average of 6.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Heartbreaking defeat vs. Raiders puts battered Browns on the brink … Inside Rodgers’ historic pursuit of Favre’s TD record with the Packers … Browns’ Newsome on reserve/COVID-19 list; Hooper, Stefanski clear protocols … Rodgers, on cusp of Packers history, heeds words of Favre, tries to ‘enjoy’ run
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET | NFL Network
Matchup rating: 75.0 | Spread: ARI -1 (49)
What to watch for: Watch how Colts running back Jonathan Taylor does against Arizona’s run defense. The Cardinals are allowing 4.6 yards per carry, while Taylor is averaging 5.6. Whether the Cardinals will have a merry Christmas will depend on how well they slow down Taylor. But there are two ways for them to do that: Score early and force the Colts to throw because they’re behind, or stop Taylor at the line of scrimmage and avoid the big plays. — Josh Weinfuss
Bold prediction: The Colts will force Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray into at least one interception for the fifth time in his past six games. The Colts have had at least one interception in eight of the past nine games and are tied for the NFL lead for forced turnovers with 31. They’ve intercepted 17 passes on the season. — Mike Wells
Stat to know: This one will feature the top two running backs in terms of rushing TDs this season: Arizona’s James Conner has 14, which trail only Taylor’s 17. Conner needs two more to tie the Cardinals’ single-season record of 16 (David Johnson in 2016), and Taylor needs one more to tie DeAngelo Williams (2008) for the most leaguewide through 15 games over the past 15 seasons.
Playoff and draft implications: Arizona can clinch a playoff spot this week with seven different scenarios — but the easiest would be a win. And the division is not as sure as it once was. The Cardinals have a 64% chance to win the NFC West title, per ESPN’s FPI. The Colts can’t clinch anything this week, but they would be eliminated from the AFC South race with a loss. They have an 82% chance to still make the conference’s top seven. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Fifteen quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than Murray over the past two weeks. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Indianapolis is 5-1 ATS on the road this season with five straight covers. Read more.
Christmas Day throwback: The Cardinals have two Christmas Day games to their history, most recently in 2010. They beat Dallas with a Jay Feely 48-yard field goal with just five seconds remaining in the game. Indianapolis has never played on Christmas.
Wells’ pick: Colts 31, Cardinals 20
Weinfuss’ pick: Colts 27, Cardinals 24
FPI prediction: ARI, 62.8% (by an average of 4.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Colts send message to rest of AFC with first win over Patriots since 2009 … Wolfley, the voice of the Cardinals, ‘just sounds like football’ … Why are the Cardinals playing their worst football of the year?
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 93.3 | Spread: NE -2.5 (43.5)
What to watch for: After New England quarterback Mac Jones threw just three passes against the Bills in a 14-10 win in early December — a result of wind gusts of 40 mph and a productive running game — the big question this time around is how much the Patriots flip their offensive plan to feature more of the passing game. The Patriots rushed for 222 yards in that game, so the Bills are likely to make adjustments in that area. That’s why Patriots offensive coordinator called it a “tug of war” situation for the coaching staff, given how recently the teams played each other. — Mike Reiss
Bold prediction: Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen will pass for two touchdowns, reaching 100 for his career, and run for at least one score against a Patriots defense that limited the Bills to just 10 points in their first meeting. A major issue for the Bills’ offense when the teams first met was scoring touchdowns in the red zone, but that has improved for Buffalo as of late, and the offense will rise to the occasion with the division lead on the line. — Alaina Getzenberg
Stat to know: Patriots edge rusher Matthew Judon has 12.5 sacks this season, tied for the third most by a Patriots player since sacks became official in 1982 (Andre Tippett had 18.5 in 1984 and 16.5 in 1985).
Playoff and draft implications: The Patriots can clinch a playoff berth through a few different outcomes this weekend, but more importantly, they can lock up the AFC East with a win and a Miami loss on Monday night. But a loss would turn the divisional control over to the Bills. Both teams have FPI odds north of 80% to make the playoffs, and the division title chances lean with New England 55%-45%. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Allen’s next game with 45 rushing yards against the Patriots will be his first. In fact, he has been held under 12.5 fantasy points in the majority of his starts against the divisional rival. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: New England is 7-1 ATS in its past eight games, and it has covered five straight games as a favorite. Read more.
Getzenberg’s pick: Bills 27, Patriots 23
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 30, Bills 23
FPI prediction: BUF, 51.6% (by an average of 0.6 points)
Matchup must-reads: Allen, Bills have chance at redemption with the division lead at stake vs. Patriots … Patriots expect ‘a different game’ in crucial AFC East rematch against Bills … We know who’s up next: Bills focused on chance at AFC East lead against Patriots
1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating: 76.8 | Spread: LAR -3 (48.5)
What to watch for: Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook, the NFC’s leading rusher, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and will not be available to play against the Rams. Los Angeles has the sixth-best run defense in the NFL and is holding teams to under 100 yards rushing on average. The Vikings don’t plan to change their approach when handing the torch from Cook to Alexander Mattison, Minnesota’s backup running back, who was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. In the three other instances this season in which Mattison started for Cook, the backup played at least two-thirds of the Vikings’ offensive snaps and scored two touchdowns, while averaging 24.3 carries, 6.0 targets and 149.3 yards from scrimmage each game. — Courtney Cronin
Bold prediction: Against a Vikings defense that’s allowing an average of 252.1 passing yards per game (29th), Rams receiver and first-time Pro Bowl selection Cooper Kupp will record his 11th consecutive game with more than 90 receiving yards. Ten games with 90-plus receiving yards is already the longest streak in NFL history. — Lindsey Thiry
Stat to know: Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson needs 65 receiving yards to be the first player in NFL history with 1,400 in each of his first two seasons.
Playoff and draft implications: The Rams can clinch a playoff berth with either a win or losses from Philadelphia and New Orleans. Additionally, they enter Week 16 with a 35% chance of winning their division, per ESPN’s FPI. Those chances would improve to 48% with a win Sunday, or fall to 17% with a loss. The Vikings, meanwhile, have a 30% chance of reaching the playoffs, and those could climb to 52% if they win or drop to 14% with a loss. See current playoff picture.
Field Yates breaks down Cooper Kupp’s pursuit of fantasy football history.
What to know for fantasy: Kupp has 88.9 more fantasy points than any other wide receiver this season. The difference in total points between Kupp and WR7 (139.4) is greater than the difference between WR7 (Stefon Diggs) and WR65 (DeVante Parker). See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Minnesota has gone over the total in four of its past five games. Read more.
Thiry’s pick: Rams 24, Vikings 20
Cronin’s pick: Rams 28, Vikings 24
FPI prediction: LAR, 57.3% (by an average of 2.5 points)
1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating: 66.7 | Spread: TB -10 (43)
What to watch for: Keep a very close eye on the Panthers’ quarterback situation. Cam Newton will start. Sam Darnold “will play,” per coach Matt Rhule, after missing five games with a shoulder injury. Between them they have 15 turnovers in their past nine starts. The Bucs rank fifth in the NFL in takeaways with 25 and are tied for fifth with 37 sacks. This has all the makings of doom. — David Newton
Bold prediction: In Leonard Fournette‘s absence, Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II will rush for 90-plus yards and a touchdown. The Panthers may have the league’s second-ranked defense when it comes to yardage, but they did surrender 96 rushing yards and a touchdown to Devin Singletary last week and 86 rushing yards to Mike Davis the week before — not to mention Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook had 140-plus rushing yards each against them earlier this season. Jones is in a contract year and knows he has a chance to do what Fournette did last season when he was out. Plus, Jones had 198 yards against the Panthers last season. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: Newton is 2-0 starting opposite Tom Brady, one of four QBs to face Brady multiple times (including playoffs) and win each meeting. The others are Jake Plummer (3-0), Brian Griese (2-0) and Nick Foles (2-0).
Playoff and draft implications: Tampa Bay can clinch the NFC South with a win or a Saints loss. It can also lock up a playoff berth through various results in other games, including losses by Minnesota and Dallas, or losses by Minnesota and Philadelphia. The Panthers, meanwhile, are focused on the draft, rather than the playoffs. They are projected to pick at No. 7, and they have a 22% chance to earn a top-five spot. Carolina can also be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass in Week 15 … and maybe that’s a good thing if your team found a way to advance. The other time he did that this season (Week 4), he lit up the Dolphins for 411 yards and five touchdowns in the following week. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Carolina is 0-5 ATS in its past five home games. Read more.
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 21, Panthers 14
Newton’s pick: Buccaneers 34, Panthers 15
FPI prediction: TB, 73.8% (by an average of 8.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Sources: Buccaneers’ Fournette likely out for rest of regular season; team signing Bell … Newton may have given Panthers opening to return to Darnold at QB … Tampa Bay coach Arians on bringing back Brown: Only thing I care about is what’s best for Buccaneers
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 51.7 | Spread: CIN -3 (45)
What to watch for: This is one of several key games that will determine the playoff fate of the AFC North. Both teams have an 8-6 record, and the Bengals are looking to sweep Baltimore this season and secure a valuable tiebreaker and one-game lead over the Ravens. Baltimore is dealing with a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases and several injuries, including one involving QB Lamar Jackson. — Ben Baby
Bold prediction: Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews will set the Ravens’ single-season receiving record. He has dominated the past two weeks and needs 140 yards to eclipse Michael Jackson’s 1996 franchise mark of 1,201 receiving yards in a season. The Bengals have given up 872 receiving yards to tight ends this season. Only six teams have allowed more. — Jamison Hensley
Stat to know: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been sacked 44 times this season, the most in the NFL. And Jackson has been sacked the third-most times this season (38).
Playoff and draft implications: The Bengals are favored to win the AFC North at 48%, per ESPN’s FPI. A win puts that at 64%, while a loss drops it to 38%. And the playoff chances would climb from 49% to 74% with a win — or drop to 26% with a loss. The Ravens are sitting at 38% for the AFC North, odds that could rise to 67% or plummet to 9% on Sunday. And their playoff chances (57%) could go to 81% in a win or 32% in a loss. See current playoff picture.
Matthew Berry breaks down Tyler Huntley’s Week 15 and shares other top quarterbacks to target on the waiver wire in Week 16.
Betting nugget: Baltimore is 13-1 ATS as an underdog since 2018, including 4-0 ATS this season. Read more.
Hensley’s pick: Ravens 28, Bengals 26
Baby’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 17
FPI prediction: CIN, 53.3% (by an average of 1.1 points)
Matchup must-reads: ‘No definitive formula’: Ravens face decision at QB if Jackson not at full strength … Burrow believes low COVID-19 totals among Bengals partly due to Cincinnati’s lack of nightlife
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 32.9 | Spread: PHI -10 (40.5)
What to watch for: Eagles coach Nick Sirianni has been away from the team this week after testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning. If he can’t go on Sunday, pass game coordinator Kevin Patullo will take on the head-coaching duties. Sirianni’s absence is another wrinkle in an odd week for Philadelphia, which played Washington on Tuesday night following a COVID-19-related postponement. The Eagles still enter as heavy favorites against New York, which hasn’t registered a win at Lincoln Financial Field in its past seven tries. — Tim McManus
Bold prediction: Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts won’t have a turnover in this contest. Hurts had two turnovers on Tuesday night against Washington, and three in the most recent matchup against the Giants. But he knows all he needs to do in this one is protect the ball and the outcome should be positive for Philadelphia. So no turnovers this week, which will spell trouble for the Giants. — Jordan Raanan
Stat to know: Giants safety Xavier McKinney has five interceptions this season (tied for fourth most in the NFL), but he hasn’t had one since Week 12 against the Eagles.
Playoff and draft implications: The Eagles — sitting in eighth in the NFC with a 34% chance of reaching the playoffs, per ESPN’s FPI — would have a 44% to make the postseason with a win Sunday and a 12% chance with a loss. The Giants, meanwhile, can be eliminated with a loss or wins from any of Minnesota, New Orleans, Washington or Atlanta. They are currently set up to pick at Nos. 5 and 6 in the draft, and each selection carries at least a 35% chance of being in the top five. The Eagles’ trio of picks are all projected to fall between Nos. 11 and 22, assuming the Colts’ pick ends up with Philadelphia. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: The Saquon Barkley usage is encouraging, but the Giants No. 2 running back, Devontae Booker, has quietly finished three straight weeks as RB26 or better. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: New York is 0-3 ATS in its past three games — and 0-3 ATS in its past three road games. Read more.
Raanan’s pick: Eagles 27, Giants 13
McManus’ pick: Eagles 30, Giants 20
FPI prediction: PHI, 69.5% (by an average of 6.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: QB Jones believes he’s still in Giants’ plans … Goedert emerging as big-play threat during Eagles’ playoff push … Easy decisions for Giants: Shut down Jones, start Fromm … Eagles coach Sirianni tests positive for COVID
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 28.6 | Spread: LAC -10 (46)
What to watch for: Who steps up if Houston wide receiver Brandin Cooks does not play? Cooks was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday and seems unlikely to be available for the Texans. He is their top receiver, with 80 catches for 945 yards and five touchdowns, and has accounted for nearly 30% of the targets with Davis Mills under center. — Sarah Barshop
Bold prediction: Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert will throw for 400-plus yards and four touchdowns. He needs two passing touchdowns to tie Philip Rivers (2008) for the most in a single season in Chargers history (34), and he needs 106 passing yards to join Kurt Warner and Patrick Mahomes as the only quarterbacks since 1950 with 8,500 passing yards and 60 passing TDs through 30 career starts, per ESPN Stats & Information research. — Shelley Smith
Stat to know: Mills has five touchdown pass and two interceptions with a 67.5% completion percentage since Week 7, but he ranks last in the NFL in QBR over that span (20).
Playoff and draft implications: The Chargers’ current 73% chance of making the playoffs (ESPN’s FPI) would jump to 80% chance with a win or fall to 46% with a loss. They have reached the playoffs only twice in the past 10 seasons (2013, 2018). The Texans are eliminated and currently projected to pick at No. 3 in the draft. They have an 11% chance to land the top pick. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Los Angeles receiver Mike Williams had a great case for the September fantasy MVP, but he has been held under 60 receiving yards in six of his past nine games and hasn’t scored in four straight. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Houston has failed to cover its past three home games. Read more.
Smith’s pick: Chargers 42, Texans 14
Barshop’s pick: Chargers 35, Texans 10
FPI prediction: LAC, 79.7% (by an average of 11.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: James spreads holiday cheer as he readies for Chargers’ playoff push … Texans add WR Cooks, 2 others to reserve/COVID-19 list; now 18 total … Staley stands by 4th-down calls despite 3 misses … Texans once again facing a top pick in draft without standout quarterback
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 11.9 | Spread: ATL -5.5 (43)
What to watch for: The past three games between the Lions and Falcons have come down to the last play of the game — and ended with at least some element of weirdness, from penalties to clock run-offs. While this game doesn’t mean a ton in terms of playoffs for this season, the chances of it being entertaining based on the history of the series is fairly high. And Detroit might be starting Tim Boyle with Jared Goff on the reserve/COVID-19 list. — Michael Rothstein
Bold prediction: The Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown will join Odell Beckham Jr. as only the rookie wide receivers in the Super Bowl era with eight-plus catches in four straight games. St. Brown has at least 60 or more receiving yards in four of his past six contests on the road. — Eric Woodyard
Stat to know: Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts has 847 receiving yards this season, the fifth most by a rookie tight end in NFL history behind Mike Ditka (1,076), Jeremy Shockey (894), Keith Jackson (869) and Charle Young (854)
Field Yates and Matthew berry discuss Cordarrelle Patterson’s fantasy production as of late and if fantasy managers should start him vs. the Lions.
Playoff and draft implications: Atlanta will be eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday if it loses and either the Vikings or Eagles win. The Lions are already eliminated and are currently projected to have the No. 2 pick in the draft. ESPN’s FPI says they have a 25% chance of earning the No. 1 pick by season’s end. The Falcons are projected to pick at No. 8. See current playoff picture.
Betting nugget: Detroit is 9-5 ATS this season and 8-2 ATS when getting at least four points. It is also 5-1 ATS in its past six games. Read more.
Woodyard’s pick: Falcons 24, Lions 21
Rothstein’s pick: Falcons 24, Lions 22
FPI prediction: ATL, 63.3% (by an average of 4.6 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 1.8 | Spread: NYJ -2 (41.5)
What to watch for: The two fan bases, frustrated by years of ineptitude, might have conflicting emotions for this contest. Both teams are in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in 2022. So is a loss better than a win? Both teams are desperate for a spark. Since 2016, they are the two worst teams in the NFL. (The Jaguars are 27-67; the Jets are 26-68.) — Rich Cimini
Bold prediction: The Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence and Jets’ Zach Wilson won’t throw any touchdown passes, and the two will combine for four interceptions. The duo has thrown just 15 TD passes this season and only three since November began (Wilson two, Lawrence one), so expecting a shootout is unrealistic. Expecting both teams to surpass 14 points is, too. — Mike DiRocco
Stat to know: The Jaguars have failed to score more than 23 points in every game this season. If they don’t score 24 against the Jets, they would be the first team since the 2010 Panthers to not score 24 points in their first 15 games of the season.
Playoff and draft implications: We can skip the playoff part here with both teams eliminated. This one is all about draft position. The Jaguars are currently projected to pick at No. 1 in the NFL draft and have a 54.0% chance to finish there, per ESPN’s FPI. That would rise to 82% with a loss or fall to 23% with a win. The Jets currently hold the No. 4 pick and enter the week with an 11% chance to pick No. 1 overall — which would rise to 23% with a loss. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: In the first game post-Urban Meyer, Jacksonville running back James Robinson piled up 18 carries and six targets. In the final two games with Meyer on the sideline, he combined for 14 carries and four targets. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Both teams are 4-10 ATS, the two worst marks in the league. Read more.
DiRocco’s pick: Jets 17, Jaguars 7
Cimini’s pick: Jets 20, Jaguars 18
FPI prediction: NYJ, 52.4% (by an average of 0.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: Finally, a normal week ahead for the Jaguars … Despite rocky seasons for Jaguars’ Lawrence and Jets’ Wilson, 2022 offers a brighter future … Inside the dysfunctional decade of Jets and Giants football: What went wrong, what’s next? … Jets coach Saleh tests positive for COVID-19
4:05 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 40.5 | Spread: SEA -6.5 (42.5)
What to watch for: Both quarterbacks — Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Chicago’s Justin Fields — are dealing with ankle injuries. They are expected to play on Sunday but are recovering on a short week. It will be one more challenge for a pair of offenses that both rank among the bottom 10 in scoring. Get ready for plenty of talk on the broadcast about Wilson’s uncertain future and his eventful 2021 offseason, which included discussions between the Seahawks and Bears about a potential trade to Chicago. — Brady Henderson
Bold prediction: Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett, who’s returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list, will catch a 40-plus-yard touchdown pass. Wilson went only 1-of-11 on passes of 10-plus air yards on Tuesday. It didn’t help that he was facing a good Rams defense with arguably the NFL’s top cornerback in Jalen Ramsey. But it also didn’t help that he was without his best deep threat in Lockett. Against a lesser Bears secondary that has COVID-19-related issues of its own, Lockett will remind everyone what the Seahawks were missing against the Rams. — Henderson
Stat to know: Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn has 16 sacks this season, the third most in a single season in Bears history. He is also the second player in Bears history to record a sack in six straight games (Rosevelt Colvin had an eight-game streak from 2001 to 2002).
Field Yates and Matthew Berry react to another poor performance from DK Metcalf in fantasy and explain why fantasy managers should focus on starting Tyler Lockett.
Playoff and draft implications: Seattle will join Chicago and be eliminated from the playoffs in one of two scenarios: 1) a loss, or 2) wins from Minnesota and Philadelphia. Neither the Bears nor the Seahawks have their first-round draft pick next April. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Seattle’s DK Metcalf hasn’t been a top-25 WR once since returning from the Week 9 bye, finishing outside the top 50 at the position four times over that stretch. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Chicago is 2-9 ATS as an underdog this season. Read more.
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 24, Bears 17
FPI prediction: SEA, 73.5% (by an average of 8.3 points)
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 60.2 | Spread: KC -8.5 (45)
What to watch for: The Chiefs have generally protected quarterback Patrick Mahomes well, but here come the Steelers, who are second in the league in sacks. Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. played against Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt several times when Brown was with the Ravens and knows what a challenge Watt can be on every snap. “He plays with an effort unknown to mankind,” Brown said. “He’s somebody that very rarely are you able to keep him off a stat sheet.” The Chiefs’ ability to limit Watt’s numbers on the final stat sheet could determine Sunday’s outcome. — Adam Teicher
Bold prediction: Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will rush for 100 yards for only the third time this season. D’Onta Foreman rushed for 108 yards last week against Pittsburgh, and the Steelers’ run defense ranks second to last in the league. “It’s a copycat league,” Steelers’ defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said. “If you’re not doing something well, a team is definitely going to exploit that. I do think we’ll get a dose of run.” The Chiefs aren’t going to change their offensive identity, but don’t be surprised if Edwards-Helaire — who had just 32 yards against the Chargers last week — has a big afternoon. — Brooke Pryor
Stat to know: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 7-2 against the Chiefs, including the playoffs. That is tied for his most wins against any non-divisional opponent in his career (also seven wins against the Colts and Titans).
Playoff and draft implications: The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West with a win and a Chargers loss. A win by itself locks up a playoff spot. And while they had 0.5% chance of clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC after falling to 3-4 through Week 7 (per ESPN’s FPI), they currently have a conference-best 54% chance to earn it — and it would increase to 65% with a win. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has a 19% chance of making the playoffs. Those odds would increase to 43% with a win or fall to 12% with a loss. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: The passing talent has never been a question, but that’s now four straight games for Mahomes with a 10-plus-yard rush. He ran for 32 yards last week against the Chargers, his highest total since Week 7. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is 43-25-3 ATS in his career as an underdog, including 17-6-1 ATS since 2018. Read more.
Pryor’s pick: Chiefs 24, Steelers 23
Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 23, Steelers 20
FPI prediction: KC, 75.5% (by an average of 9.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: The legend of Money, or how the Steelers’ Haden found his swag … How Mahomes evolved his game, taking a cue from Brady … Tomlin: Steelers don’t regret Ingram trade to K.C. … Mahomes says he’s confident in Gordon if Hill, Kelce out
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 38.6 | Spread: NL (41.5)
What to watch for: Can Broncos quarterback Drew Lock find success against a reimagined Raiders defense? Lock is likely to start at QB for Denver with Teddy Bridgewater‘s concussion, and he has played well against the Raiders in the past, passing for a career-high 339 yards in last season’s finale. In fact, Lock has not thrown a pick against the Raiders and has a passer rating of at least 90 in two of three career starts against them. But Las Vegas’ defense is improved under first-year coordinator Gus Bradley. — Paul Gutierrez
Bold prediction: The Broncos’ defense will keep Raiders quarterback Derek Carr under 250 passing yards. Carr has thrown for more than 300 yards in three of the past four times he has faced the Broncos’ defense, including 342 yards and two touchdowns earlier this season. But this defense held Mahomes to 15 completions and without a touchdown earlier this month and held the Bengals to 246 total yards last Sunday. — Jeff Legwold
Stat to know: Las Vegas receiver Hunter Renfrow has 89 receptions this season, which means he needs seven more to move into third on the Raiders’ single-season list. And he is seeking to join Darren Waller (2020) and Tim Brown (1997) as the only players in franchise history with 100 receptions in a single season.
Playoff and draft implications: The Broncos will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss and wins from the Bills, Colts and Chargers. They have an 8% chance to make the playoffs, according to ESPN’s FPI, and those odds improve to 15% with a win. The Raiders have a 10% chance to make the playoffs, and those can climb to 21% with a win or drop to 1% with a loss. See current playoff picture.
Field Yates breaks down how the shared workload between Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon impacts fantasy.
What to know for fantasy: Raiders running back Josh Jacobs has more catches this season (47) than his previous season high for targets (45). With at least three catches in seven of his past eight games, he is worth starting, even if his 3.7 yards per carry isn’t exciting. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Denver games are 28-18 to the under with Vic Fangio as its coach, including 11-3 this season. Read more.
Legwold’s pick: Broncos 23, Raiders 21
Gutierrez’s pick: Raiders 20, Broncos 16
FPI prediction: DEN, 53.8% (by an average of 1.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: Broncos have a math problem on offense and won’t make the playoffs until they solve it … From rehab to the Pro Bowl: Raiders’ Crosby reflects on nearly two-year journey … Broncos don’t look at bruising running back Williams like he’s a rookie … Source: Raiders’ Abram has season-ending shoulder injury
8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 55.3 | Spread: DAL -10.5 (46.5)
What to watch for: The Cowboys — who locked up a playoff spot on Thursday night — can clinch the NFC East title with a win, and being back at AT&T Stadium should help the offense. The Cowboys are averaging 35.5 points per game at home this season and are scuffling at the moment, even with a three-game winning streak, all on the road. Washington is coming off a short week with Tuesday’s loss at Philadelphia and has allowed at least 31 points to the Cowboys in four of its past five trips to Arlington, Texas. — Todd Archer
Bold prediction: Like last week, a bold prediction would involve guessing who will be available for Washington as it deals with COVID-19 issues and injuries. Those factors could hurt Washington’s secondary Sunday, which means Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott will surpass 250 yards for only the second time in six games. He’ll also throw two touchdown passes. Prescott is a better passer at home — 16 touchdowns and two interceptions — and that will result in a big day. — John Keim
Playoff and draft implications: After clinching a playoff spot on Thursday night, the Cowboys can now clinch the NFC East title with a win, an Eagles loss or the strength-of-victory tiebreaker with the Eagles. And Washington has a 7% chance to make the playoffs (ESPN’s FPI), which would increase to 19% with a win or drop to 3% with a loss. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Washington running back Antonio Gibson has finished three of the past four weeks as a top-six running back and is trending in the right direction at the perfect time. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: Washington is 1-5 ATS against teams with winning records this season, but it is 4-1-1 ATS in its past five games as an underdog. Read more.
Keim’s pick: Cowboys 30, Washington 21
Archer’s pick: Cowboys 31, Washington 20
FPI prediction: DAL, 75.1% (by an average of 9.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Washington QB Heinicke clears COVID-19 protocols … Cowboys increase COVID-19 protocols, tell families to stay home for holidays … How Washington’s Gilbert went from Patriots’ practice squad to starting QB in five days … Even with rookie phenom Parsons, Cowboys’ defense ‘ain’t about one player
What to watch for: The Dolphins started 1-7, and the Saints have lost five straight games in the middle of the season. Yet here they both are at 7-7 with playoff hopes that will become even more realistic with a Monday night victory. The Saints will be at a severe disadvantage with quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian each on the reserve/COVID-19 list and rookie Ian Book expected to make his first career start. But both teams have already been relying mainly on their defenses. — Mike Triplett
Bold prediction: Just as the world is calling for Tua Tagovailoa to prove he can take over a game, the Dolphins quarterback delivers. Tagovailoa will turn in his best performance of the season on national television, throwing for 310 yards and two scores without turning the ball over. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Stat to know: Per Elias Sports Bureau data, the Dolphins are the fourth team in NFL history to reach .500 after being six-plus games below it at any point (1974 Jets, 1984 Packers and 2009 Titans). No team has made the playoffs in NFL history after being six-plus games below .500 at any point, and the 1994 Giants and 2021 Dolphins are the only teams in NFL history to have a seven-game losing streak and a six-game win streak in the same season.
Adam Schefter details the dilemma the Saints face at the quarterback position as they are down to just Ian Book on the roster.
Playoff and draft implications: The Dolphins have a 6% chance to make the postseason, per ESPN’s FPI. That chance climbs to 13% with a win and falls to 1% chance with a loss. The Saints, meanwhile, have a 49% chance to make the postseason, which jumps to 60% with a win and decreases to 30% with a loss. See current playoff picture.
What to know for fantasy: Miami receiver DeVante Parker has a touchdown or five catches in four straight games. See Week 16 rankings.
Betting nugget: New Orleans is 2-6 ATS in prime-time games in the past two seasons (1-3 ATS this season). Read more.
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Dolphins 28, Saints 14
Triplett’s pick: Dolphins 20, Saints 16
FPI prediction: NO, 62.8% (by an average of 4.4 points)