As the year draws to a close, the main slate of games is shifted to Christmas Eve with many having major playoff implications. Here are five things to look out for on a festive NFL Saturday.
1. Will the Patriots shock the Bengals to stay right in the playoff hunt?
The New England Patriots are one of many teams on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Unfortunately, they have the league’s joint toughest schedule through the final three weeks, as Joe Burrow and the Bengals come to town.
After the Jets lost on Thursday night, it’s looking a tiny bit better for Bill Belichick’s Patriots, but that final very un-Belichickian play in Las Vegas may be costly when it comes to who gets the final AFC wildcard spot.
Who would’ve thought Zac Taylor’s Bengals would have secured a second straight playoff berth at the beginning of last season? A win today will be nice, putting them in control of the race for the division with Buffalo and Baltimore coming up.
2. Might the Houston Texans hurt their division rival?
Under Love Smith’s leadership, the Houston Texans have caused problems for both Dallas and Kansas City these past two weeks, but can they hamper the Tennessee Titans?
A loss for Mike Vrabel’s men will make a fourth straight playoff berth increasingly unlikely, giving the Jacksonville Jaguars the lead of the AFC South.
Trevor Lawrence’s rise to stardom paired with the Titans’ four-game losing streak has put pressure on a team that looked like a shoo-in for the playoffs a month ago.
3. Can the Seahawks come away from Arrowhead still in wildcard contention?
Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks are in need of a win in Kansas City today to keep their season alive. The Hawks currently sit at a 31% chance of making the postseason, that number will be way bigger if they are to pull off the shock.
Their opponents, Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs were crowned AFC West Champions for the seventh time in a row. Focus now turns toward getting the one seed from the Buffalo Bills.
Reid’s men will need the Bills to lose one, the most likely being the next MNF against the Bengals, but also need to be wary of a slip-up themselves. It got super close in Houston last week.
4. The New York Giants can potentially clinch a playoff spot with a win
Fresh from the hold-on SNF win over their division rival Washington Commanders, the New York Giants can clinch a playoff spot this week with a win and a loss from two of Washington, Seattle, and Detroit.
Sunday night’s win was mega, putting them in the driving seat for a first postseason berth since 2016, a big achievement for Brian Daboll in his first season as head coach.
In their way are the Minnesota Vikings, who will be hoping to be on the boil for the whole game this week. Last Saturday’s first half in Indianapolis was abysmal, needing a record-breaking comeback to secure their eventual victory.
5. Could Gardner Minshew secure the #1 seed for the Philadelphia Eagles?
Gardner Minshew will start for the Philadelphia Eagles in Dallas tonight as Jalen Hurts is out with a shoulder injury. Can he win them the NFC East?
A win would not only wrap up the division but also the number one seed, giving some key Eagles players potentially a few weeks of rest, ready to begin again deep into January.
The Cowboys are very unlikely to win the division, and already have secured a spot in next month’s playoffs, but a win over their bitter rivals will still be sought after.