This Saturday has become a tradition of sorts in the NFL. The penultimate week of the season has turned into a event for Saturday slates featuring some of the best teams in the league. This week is no exception and Sling TV is offering a free live look in of these games all exclusively airing on NFL Network. Here is your weekly preview for Week 16.
With the New York Giants suffering their third straight losing season (and fifth in six years) of double-digit losses, the team handed the reins back to Eli Manning for what was almost certainly the final home start of his career with the team, and he repaid the goodwill gesture with a 36-20 win over the Dolphins. If this the end of Manning’s time with the Giants, he finishes as the team’s all-time leader in passes, completions, completion percentage, yards, touchdown, interceptions, pick-six’s, wins, losses (he’s 117-117 for his career), and, most importantly, Super Bowl wins. For all the crap he’s taken over the years (much of it deserved, frankly) that is an incredible legacy.
As for the NFL playoff picture, the Vikings, Texans and Cowboys can all clinch with a win this weekend, while the Raiders, Browns, Eagles, and Rams face elimination should they lose. It’s entirely possible all the remaining playoff berths could be locked up this weekend.
Saturday, December 21
Houston Texans (9-5) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7)
1pm ET on NFL Network
The Texans emerged victorious last week in their battle with the Titans for sole possession of first place in the AFC South, winning 24-21, with Carlos Hyde rushing for 104 yards and a TD, DeAndre Hopkins pulling in six passes for 119 yards, and Kenny Stills catching 3 passes for 35 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Bucs reeled off their fourth straight win, beating the Lions 38-17 with Jameis Winston passing for 400+ yards for the first time in his career, as well as four touchdown passes.
Buffalo Bills (10-4) vs New England Patriots (TK)
4:30pm ET on NFL
The Bills finally clinched a playoff berth with their 17-10 win over Pittsburgh, as Josh Allen ran for a touchdown in the first quarter and then passed for one in the fourth to put his team up for good. Tom Brady had another shaky day, but the defense was on point, grabbing four interceptions, including a pick-six by Stephon Gilmore, en route to a 34-13 win over the Bengals. The Pats now lead the league with 25 interceptions, while Pittsburgh is a distant second with 17.
Los Angeles Rams (8-6) vs San Francisco 49ers (11-3)
8:15pm ET on NFL
The Rams got torched by the Cowboys, to the tune of 44-21 as Jared Goff managed just 284 yards on 51 attempts and Todd Gurley ran 11 times for 20 yards. After winning an epic shootout over the Saints the week before, the Niners suffered an epic letdown against the Falcons, getting outscored 19-9 in the fourth quarter for a 29-22 loss in which Atlanta scored the go-ahead TD with two seconds on the clock then hammered the coffin shut with a fumble recovery for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.
Sunday, December 22
Jacksonville Jaguars (TK) vs Atlanta Falcons (TK)
1pm ET on FOX
Gardner Minshew connected with Chris Conley for a pair of TDs in the final six minutes to give the Jaguars a 20-16 win over the Raiders, in what was the final NFL game in Oakland (for now) before they move to Vegas. In a year riddled with frustration and disappointment, the Falcons managed a huge win over the Niners, 29-22, as Julio Jones caught 13 passes for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with two seconds on the clock. The Falcons would recover a fumble in the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, as SF tried in vain to flea-flicker their way back to victory.
New Orleans Saints (11-3) vs Tennessee Titans (8-6)
1pm ET on FOX
The Saints’ Drew Brees just enjoyed perhaps the greatest QB performance in league history, as he completed 29 of 30 passes (96.7 percent) for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Not only did Brees extend his own records for career completions and passing yards, he also broke Peyton Manning’s career touchdown record and set the mark for highest completion percentage (20+ passes) in a game. Oh, and the Saints beat the Colts 34-7. The Titans fell out of their tie for first in the AFC South by losing to the Texans, 24-21, on a day when Ryan Tannehill threw an interception on 1st-and-goal from the five that was returned 86 yards by Whitney Mercilus to set up the Texans’ first score of the game.
Carolina Panthers (5-9) vs Indianapolis Colts (6-8)
1pm ET on FOX
The Panthers’ death spiral continued with their sixth straight defeat, this time losing to the Seahawks 30-24, as Carolina QB Kyle Allen threw 3 picks, wasting 87 yards and 2 TDs by Christian McCaffrey. The Colts fell victim to Drew Brees’ record-making day, taking their fourth straight loss to the tune of 34-7, officially snuffing out their playoff hopes.
New York Giants (3-11) vs Washington Redskins (3-11)
1pm ET on FOX
Eli Manning was granted a start in what is likely his final home game as a Giants QB, and made the most of it, completing 20 of 28 for 283 yards and two TDs (nevermind the three interceptions) to lead the G-men to a 36-20 win over Miami, ending the team’s nine-game losing streak and getting showered with a richly deserved standing ovation when he came off the field with two minutes to play. Dwayne Haskins completed 19 of 28 for 261 yards and two TDs and managed not to get picked off or sacked, but with his team down four on the final play of the game, his fumble at the 50 was returned by Nigel Bradham for a touchdown and the final indignity of Washington’s 37-27 loss to Philly.
Dallas Cowboys (7-7) vs Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)
4:25pm ET on FOX
Dallas shook off a three-game skid to trounce the Rams 44-21 with Dak Prescott completing 15 of 23 for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Tony Pollard rushing 12 times for 131 yards and a touchdown, and Ezekiel Elliott carrying the ball 24 times for 117 yards and two TDs. Carson Wentz completed 30 of 43 for foro 266 yards and three TDs and Miles Sanders carried the ball 19 times for 122 yards and a TD as the Eagles overcame a three-point deficit with less than five minutes to play to beat Washington 37-27.
Arizona Cardinals (4-9-1) vs Seattle Seahawks (11-3)
4:25pm ET on FOX
The Cards jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a pair of Kenyan Drake touchdown runs and never looked back, as Drake finished with 137 yards and four rushing TDs in Arizona’s 38-24 win over Cleveland. The Seahawks racked up their tenth single-possession win of the season, beating the Panthers 30-24, with Russell Wilson completing 20 of 26 for 286 yards and two touchdowns and Chris Carson rushing 24 times for 133 yards and two TDs.
Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) vs Chicago Bears (7-7)
8:20pm ET on NBC
The Chiefs buried the Broncos under a driving snowstorm, 23-3, as Travis Kelce hauled in 11 passes for 142 yards to become the first tight end in NFL history to crack 1,000 yards in four straight seasons. Da Bears’ playoff hopes were officially extinguished by the Packers in a 21-13 loss at Lambeau that ended with Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky completing a 13-yard pass to Tarik Cohen, who then lateraled it back to Trubisky, who promptly recovered his own fumble before making it down to the Green Bay 16 and lateraling it to Jesper Horsted, who made it down to the seven before fumbling the ball, which the Pack recovered at the two with the clock reading 0:00.
Monday, December 23
Green Bay Packers (11-3) vs Minnesota Vikings (10-4)
8:15pm ET on ESPN
Aaron Rodgers had a miserable day, completing 16 of 33 for 203 yards, but he made a great pass to Davante Adams for a 29-yard touchdown that set the team on the path to a 21-13 win over Chicago that ended in a crazy fashion; you can read about it in the above paragraph. The Vikings’ defense sacked and pillaged the Chargers with malice aforethought, taking down QB Philip Rivers three times for 24 yards, intercepting him three times and recovering four Charger fumbles on the way to a 39-10 shellacking.
Stats courtesy Pro Football Reference