What to Watch For  


What to watch for: Viewing tips for Week 16 games

  • By Gregg Rosenthal and Marc Sessler
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Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

We'd argue that quarterback Thad Lewis actually helps Buffalo's chances for an upset. He showed promise in a Week 5 win over the Dolphins, but Sunday won't be easy: Miami passer Ryan Tannehill is playing his best football right now.

Further reading:
EJ Manuel out for Buffalo Bills; Thad Lewis to start
Brent Grimes, Nolan Carroll expect to play for Dolphins
Further viewing:
How have the Dolphins persevered?
Preview: Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

Huge moment for Cam Newton, who's struggled historically against the Saints. The Panthers signal-caller has just five touchdown passes in five games against New Orleans.

Further reading:
Sean Payton: Terron Armstead to start over Charles Brown
Week 16 predictions: Panthers top Saints; Ravens edge Patriots
Further viewing:
Do Saints need a wakeup call?
Cam Newton mic'd up on 'Sound FX'

Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals

Clinging to a thin lead in the AFC North, the Bengals can't afford to overlook a Vikings team that scorched the Eagles last week. Matt Cassel led Minnesota to 48 points, the team's biggest outpouring since Week 16 of 1998.

Further reading:
Young Bengals fan wants revenge for Kevin Huber hit
The best games over final two weeks
Further viewing:
Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Adrian Peterson is a bad gift-giver

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans

Despite a trainwreck campaign, the Texans still have the league's second-ranked pass defense. That might not be the case after facing a Peyton Manning-led Broncos attack that's scored touchdowns on an NFL-best 78.3 percent of its trips into the red zone.

Further reading:
Denver Broncos boast NFL's best offensive nucleus
Elliot Harrison picks all Week 16's games
Further viewing:
Preview: Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans
Ben Tate's future

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Titans coach Mike Munchak is fighting for his job. A loss against the suddenly frisky Jaguars would hand Tennessee back-to-back 10-loss seasons for the first time since 2004 and 2005.

Further reading:
Cecil Shorts (groin) shipped to Jaguars' IR
ATL's writers pick the winners for Week 16 NFL games
Further viewing:
Jason Babin mic'd up on 'Sound FX'
Preview: Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

It's the first game of the season between two teams who have clinched playoff berths. We'll be interested to see how Andrew Luck and Indy's offense fare against a Chiefs defense likely to have pass rusher Justin Houston back in the lineup.

Further reading:
Going Deep: Running down the backs for 2014
Charles, Alex Smith have Chiefs poised for playoff run
Further viewing:
"A Football Life Backstory': Marty Schottenheimer
Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

Crazy stat: The Browns rank top 10 in passing for the first time since ... 1991. That tells you how rough it's been in Cleveland for decades -- and how much of a difference Josh Gordon makes to this team.

Further reading:
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Tight ends for Week 16
New York Jets players back Rex Ryan despite struggles
Further viewing:
Is Jets head coach Rex Ryan fighting for his job?
Preview: Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams

NFL Homecoming
During Weeks 14-16, the NFL will highlight the accomplishments and contributions of the game's greats and celebrate dedicated fans around the holiday time period. More ...

It's not all bad for these two lovable losers. The Bucs have a turnover differential of +11 while the Rams sit at +10, making these two the only teams to rank in the top 10 in that category despite a losing record.

Further reading:
Picking winners for Week 16 NFL games
Pro Bowl ballots: Secondary
Further viewing:
Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. St. Louis Rams
Rams defensive end Quinn talks franchise sack record

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

Tony Romo's problem go beyond the final two minutes of games. He's consistently missed Dez Bryant open deep over the last few weeks. Romo used to be a great vertical passer, but he's struggled at that skill of late. He also is missing throws in the red zone, leading to a lot of field goals.

Further reading:

Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson head struggling sophomores
Morris Claiborne says he'll miss Dallas Cowboys game
Further viewing:
Preview: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
'Sound FX': Dez Bryant

New York Giants at Detroit Lions

The Lions are their own worst enemies. They have 18 turnovers since Week 11, five more than any other team in the NFL. Their 41 drops on the season lead the league. Matthew Stafford's steady start to the season has eroded over the last seven weeks with 54.3 percent passing, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Further reading:
Victor Cruz undergoes knee surgery; Jordan Reed out
Calvin Johnson defends Matthew Stafford's poor play
Further viewing:
Should Lions bench Stafford?
Preview: New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

The playoff picture
How would your team's prospects look if the season ended today? See where each team stands in the playoff picture midway through the season. More ...

The most insane stat of this season: Seattle has given up only 19 punt return yards all year. Their 1.4 yards-per-return allowed would set an NFL record. The Seahawks will clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with another home win.

Further reading:
Brandon Browner suspended indefinitely by NFL
Cardinals expect Larry Fitzgerald to play vs. Seahawks
Further viewing:
'NFL Fantasy Live': Rashard Mendenhall on Cardinals' offense
Which top team will go all the way?

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens

For all the talk about Rob Gronkowski's absence crushing the Patriots' offense, Tom Brady's crew racked up 453 yards last week against Miami. The expected return of Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson should help the Patriots hit more big plays and better capitalize in the red zone than a week ago.

Further reading:
Ravens' Torrey Smith rants on fantasy football owners
Patriots' Vince Wilfork: 'No question' I'll play in 2014
Further viewing:
Which of last year's Super Bowl teams is more dangerous now?
Top 10 plays from 'Thursday Night Football'

Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers

For all the deserved love being thrown Matt Flynn's way after his incredible comeback, the Packers quarterback did not have to make many great throws in Green Bay's comeback. He was very lucky a few second-half passes weren't picked off. Look for Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LaBeau to make Flynn throw to the outside more, especially on third-and-long. The Packers can't rely on winning a shootout.

Further reading:
Rodgers 'looked sharp' during Packers practice
Lacy is Packers' MVP -- and a no-brainer rookie of the year
Further viewing:
Mike Tomlin compares Le'Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy
'Sound FX': Best of Week 15

Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

If Dennis Allen's job is hanging in the balance; this matchup doesn't bode well. The Raiders' defensive performance against Kansas City was the most embarrassing effort we've seen all year. Oakland struggled badly with screens last year, and Danny Woodhead is one of the best screen-pass running backs in the league.

Further reading:
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Quarterbacks for Week 16
Dennis Allen on hot seat; Reggie McKenzie likely safe
Further viewing:
'A Football Life: Marty Schottenheimer'- One play at a time
Preview: Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

Look for a ton of big plays in this game because both safety groups are awful. Both quarterbacks, however, are coming off shaky outings. Jay Cutler did not have to do much in Chicago's win over Cleveland. He is often a beat late on throws. Nick Foles has been more erratic throwing the ball the last two weeks. He continues to make plays, but he's not hitting his deep shots as much and his lack of arm strength has shown up at times.

Further reading:

Brandon Marshall: There's 'chatter' over Cutler vs. McCown
Hall of Fame Cases For ... Six offensive-skill-player semifinalists
Further viewing:
The Philadelphia Eagles won't be watching other games on Sunday
Who do you trust more: Romo or Foles?

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

Candlestick Park has been kind to the 49ers over the years. No home team has won more games since 1950. The 49ers will clinch a playoff spot this week with a win or a loss by Arizona on Sunday.

Further reading:
Candlestick Park moments: Iconic San Francisco 49ers reminisce
Gonzalez not reconsidering retirement
Further viewing:
Candlestick Moments: Terrell Owens catches 20 passes
Which wild-card team will make the Super Bowl?

We examine coaches on the hot seat and chat with Packers guard Josh Sitton on the latest "Around The League Podcast."


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