Three teams have already clinched their playoff berth and another five sides can lock in their place in the playoffs this weekend.
New England, Buffalo, Green Bay, San Francisco and Seattle can all start to make plans to play in January as well if they win this weekend and in the case of Green Bay and Seattle, have a result go their way.
To kick things off this weekend, the Ravens can also lock up the AFC North with a win over the hapless New York Jets in the final Friday morning game of the season (AEDT).
The biggest game though can’t confirm any playoff destinies although it will give Houston or Tennessee the upper hand in the race for the AFC South division.
We’ve got our NFL tips and previews for all 16 games right here for you so read on to see who we like.
Baltimore is already in the playoffs but can lock up the AFC North with a win here and also a first-round bye with a win and a Patriots or Chiefs loss on Monday morning. There are few sides that they would have a better chance of picking up that much needed win than a travelling New York Jets side on a short week. For the punters though, it makes the Ravens a tough proposition to take a shot on with a huge line and a quarterback that is so reliant on his running ability battling a leg injury. I have no doubt the Ravens will win but this could be one of those games where they jump out to a 10-0 lead early and then just have to kill the clock because the Jets aren’t looking too likely to score at all. For a same game multi, look for the Ravens to lead at half time and win in a low scoring contest.
Miami heads to New Jersey for the second straight weekend after going down in a heartbreaker to the Jets last weekend. If nothing else, they are getting their money’s worth from their kicker Jason Sanders after catching a touchdown pass against the Eagles, he kicked seven field goals against the Jets in a performance Jonny Wilkinson would be proud of. They might have to score some touchdowns against the Giants here who showed signs of life against the Eagles. I have to back against the Giants though, regardless of who is the quarterback, that Eagles game had the makings of a “one last hurrah” moment against a division rival and the kick in the guts from losing that will linger into this weekend.
The good news for the Texans, they have not lost back to back games all season. The bad news, Tennessee might be the toughest bounce back assignment they’ve faced with the way their offence is rolling. You’d be silly to count out Deshaun Watson in a quarterback duel though, the third year signal caller is enjoying a successful season guiding Houston’s offence. Houston last won in Tennessee in a 2015 battle of the backups. If this game becomes a shootout like I’m expecting, I’ll give the edge to the Texans slightly larger range of pass catchers.
It wouldn’t be an NFL season without some sort of controversy surrounding the New England Patriots. Of course, some video intern grabbing some sideline B Roll footage in front of an entire press box is probably closer to the accusations of serving warm Gatorade instead of filming defensive signals or playing in cold weather, but it at least gives us a reason to tune into this game. Let’s be honest, without this storyline, even the most diehard fans of either team should just flip over to the Titans-Texans game instead and enjoy two competent sides. New England has not looked like themselves, going 2-3 in the challenging part of their schedule but you have to expect them to come out motivated to prove a point against the Bengals.
Carolina is cooked, there’s no second guessing that anymore. That close battle with the Saints is the anomaly in the Panthers’ last four losses and if Seattle wants to avoid playing on Wild Card Weekend, they will need to win this game and I like their chances of running right over the Panthers defence. Not only do I like them to cover, I think this could get really ugly if the Panthers have given up on the season. They’ve given up 29, 34, 29 and 40 points in their last four games, If Seattle can’t at least get into the 30’s that will say a whole lot about where they are at.
No Mike Evans is a huge blow for the Buccaneers but this is a side that still has enough offensive talent to score plenty of points and enough defensive shortcomings to concede a whole lot of points, even against the Lions backup quarterbacks. Detroit has lost six in a row and look like they are heading for an overhaul of the organisation in 2020 so I’ll give the edge to Tampa, even with Winston’s strange desire to match every touchdown throw with an interception. If Winston is unavailable then Tampa will have to turn to Ryan Griffin who hasn’t done much in his career, but I’ll back Bruce Arians to coach around his backup and get the ball to his playmakers. Wait before making this play though, because the line and total may move.
How big was that Chiefs win in New England? It clinched the AFC West title for another season and kept their hopes of stealing a first round bye alive. Denver will be a tough out for them here with rookie quarterback Drew Lock helping engineer a big upset over the Texans last week. It’s the Broncos last away game and they have gone 4-2 against the spread as a road underdog this season. Against an up and down Chiefs team they should be able to put together enough drives to score in the mid 20s and as long as they don’t commit turnovers giving the Chiefs short field, I think they can keep it close, their defence just isn’t at a level to get them over the line here though.
Here at Neds we believe in giving every game the amount of attention it deserves. With that in mind, this game is going to be a rough watch with the Eagles struggling to get by the Giants last week and now travelling to Washington on short rest. If either team gets over 20 points here I’ll be shocked and it will make you really unsure about the possibility of having to watch Philadelphia in the playoffs.
The Packers kicked off the 2019 season with an ugly 10-3 win in Chicago and they could end the Bears playoff hopes with a victory on the frozen tundra. If you want to feel confident in last week’s squeaker with a dreadful Washington side, maybe they had an eye on this one and took their 3-9 opponents lightly. Chicago’s offence will be tough to slow down with Mitch/Mitchell Trubisky which then turns attention back to Aaron Rodgers and how well he can function. As long as he has his favourite outlet Davante Adams out on the field with him, I think that should stop the Bears teeing off on Aaron Jones and keep them off balance enough to get them home in a game that should be pretty close from the first to the last whistle.
There should be plenty of emotion in the stands with the Raiders playing their final game in Oakland before they move to Vegas… and possibly head back to Oakland in 10 or 15 years. On the field it’s a battle between the very stoppable force and the not that hard to move object when the Jags offence is on the field with the Raiders defence. During Oakland’s three game losing run that has ended their playoff hopes, they have given up 34, 40 and 42 points while the Jaguars have scored 3, 13, 20, 11 and 10 points in a five game losing run. If one team is more likely to bounce back in this one, it has to be the Raiders, it’s all set up for them to leave the fans in Oakland with one last win by crushing a Jags side in dire need of a rebuild.
Despite being quarterbacked by Kirk Cousins, I’m finding myself needing to be talked out of backing the Vikings by a lot in this game. The Chargers looked really good against the Jaguars but you have to remember, it was only the Jaguars. While Phillip Rivers will do everything he can to keep the home side in the contest, the Vikings pass rush is going to be too good on the day. For a bit of added value as well, I’ll also take the co-leader for rushing touchdowns Dalvin Cook to run for his 14th of the season.
It’s only taken three months but the Browns are finally starting to produce the results that live up to their preseason hype. They have won four of their last five and are now, somehow, a slim chance of making the playoffs. It’s unlikely that they can close the gap on Pittsburgh but all they can do here is continue to try and keep pressure on by winning the games in front of them. The combination of injuries and a growing amount of game footage have slowed down Arizona’s offence to a point where they are struggling to come back even when teams go prevent. Cleveland should win this game and I’ll back them at a slightly larger line for a big of extra value.
Everything about this game screams red flags on the 49ers. In the past three weeks they have recorded a huge win at home over Green Bay, gone on the road and lost in tough conditions to Baltimore before a big win in New Orleans. Now they come back to face the underwhelming, 4-9 Falcons with a number of key players already ruled out through injury. Atlanta has, to their credit, looked good going 3-2 since their bye as they have suddenly found ways to win games. As long as this line stays above 10 points I’m happy to take the Falcons to keep it close while also having some built in insurance against a 49ers let down.
Want to know how much respect Dallas gets when it comes to betting lines? They are on a three game losing run, have looked pretty poor since the start of November and somehow, are still only 1.5 point underdogs to the resurgent Rams. If the Rams are to make the playoffs, they have to win this game to keep the pressure on the Vikings for that last Wild Card spot and it looks like they have finally shaken that Super Bowl hangover. There is a temptation to try and get greedy by pushing for a bigger line but Dallas does have enough talent to keep this close, but I think the Rams will get home one way or another.
You’re probably wondering how this game managed to get the primetime spot and to be totally honest, you’re not alone. But low and behold, the Bills could clinch just their second playoff berth since 1999 with a win in Pittsburgh. Of course it would require their first win over the Steelers since October 1999 when we were enjoying Family Guy coming back from one of its hiatuses, Fight Club was just about to be released in cinema and Y2K was a credible threat. Believe it or not I actually like the Bills to spring a (minor) upset in this game, that defence should be able to cause plenty of problems for Duck Hodges and I could very easily see them scoring a touchdown on their own.
Something is off with the Saints defence and getting gashed by the 49ers last week had been something we should have seen coming. While the Colts showed they can still put up plenty of points in their loss to the Buccaneers. This should be a high scoring affair and while the Saints have the offensive talent to put up 40, the Colts (as long as T.Y. Hilton plays) can certainly match them here. I’ll take the Colts to cover the line although in a tipping contest I’d still back the Saints, since they have Michael Thomas who is on his way to setting all sorts of records for a receiver and should score a touchdown or two.