NFL Week 16: What to watch for this weekend
The penultimate weekend of the NFL season is here.
For thinly time this year, it started on Saturday. Three games are finished, with the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers all earning key victories in their respective tilts. For Houston and New England, it meant division titles (again). For San Francisco, it meant keeping itself in the hunt for the NFC West crown and the conference’s top seed.
On Sunday, the drama continues. Should the Baltimore Ravens take care of business on the road against the Cleveland Browns, they will clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. This would be the first time the Ravens have done so in their franchise’s history, dating back to their move from Cleveland in 1996.
The night game has the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. While the Bears have been eliminated, the Chiefs are still playing for seeding. Kansas City can keep faint hopes alive for a bye week (Baltimore would need to lose out, or the Patriots would have to lose at home to the Miami Dolphins), by beating Chicago for its fifth consecutive win. However, a loss by the Chiefs would clinch a bye week for both Baltimore and New England, while moving Houston into the third seed.
In the AFC wild card race, the Buffalo Bills are locked into the fifth seed with a 10-5 record. However, the sixth seed is interesting. The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently occupying the spot via tiebreaker. Yet a loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, coupled with a Tennessee Titans win over the New Orleans Saints, puts Tennessee in the driver’s seat. The Steelers control their own destiny with two victories over the Jets and Ravens — both on the road — but a loss in either game, combined with Tennessee beating Houston in Week 17, and the Titans are postseason bound.
Finally, the NFC East. Should the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles, they win the division with a week to spare. If the Eagles win on Sunday afternoon, they still need to beat the New York Giants in Week 17 to clinch the division, but would be in control. The winner of the division will be the fourth seed and will likely play the 49ers or Seattle Seahawks, whoever loses the NFC West race. Technically, the Minnesota Vikings could sneak into the fifth slot, but only by winning out and getting a pair of Seahawks’ losses.