16. Lions vs. Cardinals
Storyline: The Lions Stimulus Package
I know that DeAndre Hopkins will be out, and James Conner will either be banged up or out, but it's still the Lions. Not only are the Lions severely outmatched against the Arizona Cardinals, but they gain nothing from beating the Cardinals. Their victory will come in defeat. So, it looks like the Lions will be there to give the Cardinals precisely what they need after a tough loss to the Rams. The Cardinals will receive a stat boost and another win getting that much closer to the first-round bye, it's the Lions stimulus package.
15. Jets vs. Dolphins
Storyline: Trap Game
The Dolphins have quietly been having one of the best turnarounds in the NFL. They are on a five-game win streak, and there is nobody on their schedule that they can’t beat. The Dolphins are one game away from a possible tie with the Bills. However, that one game may be trickier than usual. Normally, the Jets would be an easy win, but the Dolphins have their star receiver, Jaylen Waddle, and most of the running back room on the COVID list. The Dolphins only beat the Jets by seven last time, so this will be tough. However, it’s a must-win game.
14. Texans vs. Jaguars
Storyline: Tank Bowl
Both teams need a loss to move up in the draft, but they are also staring at their best chance to win. Plus, it’s a divisional matchup, and Urban Meyer has finally been fired, which means the Jags could actually play better. However, the Meyer firing comes in the middle of the week, so maybe that might mitigate its effect on the Jags.
13. Giants vs. Cowboys
Storyline: The Trial of Dak Prescott
Dak is holding the Cowboys back at this point. He started the season out looking like an MVP, but he’s falling off to the point of being a liability. However, there's still time for Dak to get back to being great, and the Giants are a great team to test him. Their season may be over, and their offense may be injured and ineffective, but the defense is good, and they will provide a challenge. Mahomes had a crucial get-right game against the Giants that led to a winning streak for the Chiefs. The Chargers got their first back-to-back win from the Giants. Brady also got a get-right game against the Giants. This game could be the one that puts the Cowboys on track, but this Giants defense will make Dak earn it.
12. Bucs vs Saints
Storyline: Can the Bucs Finally Beat the Saints?
Full disclosure: I have picked the Bucs to beat the Saints every time Brady has been here. Every time, they play in the regular season, they make me look foolish. The Bucs are always compelling. Last year, it was all the weapons. Then, in the second game last year, it was the addition of Antonio Brown. This year, it was the fact that the Saints had lost so many stars. However, the Bucs always find a way to fall apart. Now, Taysom Hill is at QB, the Saints are dealing with injuries, and Deonte Harris is suspended. Is it finally safe to say the Bucs will win, or will they be swept two years in a row?
11. 49ers vs. Falcons
Storyline: Kyle Shanahan vs. His Old Team
The 49ers are trying to make a playoff push. The 49ers need wins, and they need them now. This is a game they will have to win, but they lost the last time they played the Falcons. They have had to sit with that loss for two years. This year they get a chance to avenge it and get closer to the playoffs. The 49ers have one shot, one opportunity. Will they capture it?
10. Seahawks vs. Rams
Storyline: Pain and Playoffs
The Seahawks need a win here. They are trying to win out and save their season. They have been on a roll lately against some bad teams and some good ones. However, the Rams will be the actual test. The Rams look like they are evolving into their final form. The Rams could deliver an early finale to the Seahawks season, especially now that Tyler Lockett is on the COVID list. However, the Rams have also been hit hard with COVID.
9. Raiders vs. Browns
Storyline: Can the Browns Stay Alive?
The Chiefs absolutely killed the Raiders, but they still shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ask the Cowboys. The Browns beat the Ravens, but barely. The Browns almost let a vast lead go. After losing their QB, Baker Mayfield, to COVID, can they hold the Raiders for four quarters and keep their season alive? Especially, now that backup QB Case Keenum has tested positive too.
8. Bills vs. Panthers
Storyline: Whose Luck Will Change?
The Bills have lost to the Patriots and the Bucs. They are in a slump. Cam and the Panthers have also been in a slump. The Panthers defense hasn’t looked elite in weeks, and the offense hasn't looked as good without CMC. However, someone’s luck will change, but who will it be?
7. Packers vs. Ravens
Storyline: Who Will Blink First?
The Packers are now tied with the top seeds in the NFC, and now it’s all about outlasting the other number one teams and securing that first-round bye. However, they face a tough Ravens team that won't give an inch for free, Lamar or no Lamar. Can the Packers survive the dangerous Ravens?
6. Titans vs. Steelers
Storyline: Identity Game
Who are these two teams, really? The Steelers are supposed to be a run-first team, but they aren’t running that much. They are supposed to be disciplined, but they haven’t appeared that way. The defense is supposed to be good, but they got wrecked by the Vikings. The Titans have a lot of injuries, but have found ways to win here and there. They beat the Jaguars, but the Jags aren’t very good. This game will tell us if the Titans can be trusted.
5. Broncos vs. Bengals
Storyline: Playoff Push
The Broncos are trying to climb the division ladder and stay alive in the playoff race. However, despite the Broncos having the same record, the Bengals are playing for even more. If the Bengals win, they will own a head-to-head against another wild card team. They also could take the lead in their division. Everything is still on the table for these teams. They can still win it all, but they will need to win this weekend first.
4. Bears vs. Vikings
Storyline: Rivalry Game
The Vikings are still trying to stay alive in the playoffs. They barely held off the Steelers after almost choking away a blowout. If they are going to have any hope to do anything this year, they will have to figure out how to maintain a lead. Bears have very little to play for outside of the love of Justin Fields and beating a rival. The Bears were close to winning a rivalry game last week. Will they take their frustrations out on the Vikings or continue to be frustrated?
3. Eagles vs. WFT
Storyline: NFC East Playoffs
Somehow, it always comes down to these last few games in the NFC East. It’s like the playoffs before the playoffs. Both teams are in survival mode and come into this bout with the exact same record. Who will leapfrog the other in the division? Both teams have their injuries and gaps in depth. I expect this to be a very competitive game.
2.Patriots vs. Colts
Storyline: Do the Patriots Have a Weakness?
The Patriots and Colts are two of the hungriest teams in the NFL. So, it’s only fitting that they collide for playoff positioning. The Patriots have looked unbeatable, and the Colts have looked like the sleeping giants of the league that are no longer sleeping. The Colts have been running all over teams. However, can they run all over the Patriots? The Patriots defense has looked outstanding, but they did falter against the Titans in the run game. Could the run game be their weakness?
1. Chargers vs. Chiefs
Storyline: Game of the Week
The Chargers and the Chiefs are two of the most exciting teams in the league. They both have the firepower to put on a show, and they also both have pretty good defenses with the edge going to the Chiefs. This is a massive game because if the Chargers win, they own the head-to-head, and they could take the division back. From there on out, they would control their destiny. However, if the Chiefs win, they continue their push for the one seed in AFC.
There won't be a Greatest Story on Turf: Week 16. However the Greatest Story on Turf will return for Week 17. See you in Week 17!