© Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
There are just three more weeks of regular season football remaining to settle several playoff scenarios across the two NFL conferences. Three of the eight division titles have been claimed, with the Minnesota Vikings clinching the NFC North after one of the most thrilling games of football you're likely to see.
Justin Jefferson and co. join the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers as division champions, leaving five titles up for grabs.
The Buffalo Bills can clinch the AFC East this weekend with a victory over the Chicago Bears or a Miami Dolphins loss or tie, and the Philadelphia Eagles can do the same if they win in Dallas.
These are the most intriguing matchups of the Week 16 slate, with several playoff scenarios on the line this coming weekend.
© Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: Philadelphia Eagles +5.5, Dallas Cowboys -5.5
- Total: Over/Under 46
- Money line: Philadelphia Eagles +210, Dallas Cowboys -250
The headline for the upcoming game between the Eagles and the Cowboys is Jalen Hurts' injury to his throwing shoulder. The Eagles quarterback suffered a shoulder sprain in the third quarter of the Week 15 game against the Chicago Bears. Hurts played through it, making some remarkable throws, including a 68-yard touchdown to AJ Brown down the right sideline, despite managing some pain.
In a far more competitive game than expected, Philadelphia escaped Chicago with a win, and the Cowboys giving up the win in their game against the Jaguars widened the gap between the two rival franchises to three games.
Dallas has to be upset that they let the moment get the better of them in their pursuit of the Eagles and now need to win out the rest of the regular season while also hoping the Eagles lose all three of their remaining games.
Of course, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys could start that ambitious scenario off with a win this coming weekend that would bring the gap back to two games. With the news of the injury to Jalen Hurts that might see him sidelined, the bookmakers currently have Dallas as a 5.5-point favorite at home.
Dak Prescott and the offense have been great in places this season and, at times, looked tough to slow down. Tony Pollard has been phenomenal, and I've been impressed with the support the offense has had from Noah Brown, who caught his second and third touchdowns of the season against the Jaguars on Sunday.
That said, the turnovers are a problem. Dak has thrown seven interceptions in his last four games, some of which can be categorized as poor throws, while others have been due to communication issues and not being on the same page as his receivers.
At times, the Cowboys appear to be playing clinical offensive football, and everything seems to click. Dallas has two great running backs that complement each other very well, and Ceedee Lamb has answered the call this season after stepping into Amari Cooper's role as the number one guy. They just need to iron out the mistakes and limit turnovers. All the hard work the defense has been able to do in recent weeks has been largely undone by the offense's failure to protect the football, and in the postseason, that can see you heading home in a hurry.
While Jalen Hurts' status hangs in the balance, the Eagles will see the return of star tight end Dallas Goedert, who has not played since mid-November. He may be playing with Gardner Minshew, who can certainly manage an offense at the NFL level. The problems will arise should the Eagles get behind and rely on Minshew to throw them back into the game.
This one is tough to call before we have confirmed the status of Jalen Hurts, but even without him, I like the Eagles at +5.5.
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots
- Spread: Cincinnati Bengals -3.5, New England Patriots +3.5
- Total: Over/Under 41.5
- Money line: Cincinnati Bengals -180, New England Patriots +160
The New England Patriots lost in a bizarre way last weekend, sacrificing what could have been an all-important win for their pursuit of the playoffs.
Jakobi Meyers' backward lateral pass was scooped up by Chandler Jones, who immediately rumbled over the top of quarterback Mac Jones on his way to the end zone in what will go down in NFL history as one of the dumbest plays of all time.
While the ending was bitterly disappointing for the Patriots, they had their opportunities to win the game. New England did a good job of limiting Davante Adams and forcing Derek Carr to target other receivers. Adams had four catches for just 28 yards on the day.
Rhamondre Stevenson had another day that leads you to believe he is indeed set to become the next big running back talent for the Patriots. The young budding star carried the ball 19 times for 172 yards and a touchdown, putting a struggling offense on his back and keeping them firmly in the game.
Mac Jones completed just over 40% of his passes and looked off all afternoon, going 13/31 for a poor day and 112 yards of passing. Jones was visibly frustrated, and the offense continued to look like something wasn't aligning with personnel and coaching.
Fortunately for New England, everybody else in the AFC East lost except the Buffalo Bills, meaning the Patriots haven't fallen any further behind the Dolphins or Jets.
They did, however, fall out of the number seven spot in the playoff rankings due to the LA Chargers' win over the Tennessee Titans. New England will need to be near perfect the rest of the season to stay in control of their fate, and dropping another game might spell the end of their playoff hopes.
Unfortunately for Bill Belichick and co, New England will host a Cincinnati Bengals team that has been on fire lately and is winning at all costs. The Bengals have won their last six in a row and eight of their last nine after stumbling out of the gate to start the season.
The Bengals' win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coupled with a Baltimore loss, gave them first place in the AFC North after weeks of chasing the Ravens. That's not a position the Bengals will want to give up lightly, and beating the Patriots this week will help maintain the gap between the 10-4 Bengals and the now 9-5 Ravens.
Joe Burrow threw four touchdowns to four different receivers as the Bengals overcame an early 17-0 deficit and further illustrated why they're going to be a challenge for just about anybody when the postseason rolls around.
The Patriots' defense is strong and certainly capable of holding their own, but another poor performance from Mac Jones and the offense would likely put this one out of reach. I'll back the Bengals at -3.5 in Foxborough.
© Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills @ Chicago Bears
- Spread: Buffalo Bills -9, Chicago Bears +9
- Total: Over/Under 40.5
- Money line: Buffalo Bills -450, Chicago Bears +350
The Buffalo Bills executed the all-important plan of beating the Dolphins on Saturday night to all but confirm their place as the champions of the AFC East and maintain their current number-one seeding and the accompanying home-field advantage.
While the Bills came away with the win, it wasn't without a few warning shots from Miami, and the game came down to a field goal conversion in the final moments to secure the W for Buffalo.
The return of Tre'Davious White proved invaluable against Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, with White making his presence felt throughout the game. Miami was able to get the better of the Bills' defense on a couple of occasions for big gains, including a nicely thrown touchdown down the right sideline to a gliding Tyreek Hill.
Overall, Buffalo is pleased to have won the game, that's all that mattered, and it was unlikely to be the cleanest of performances in snowy conditions against a good Miami Dolphins team. Josh Allen was able to pick apart Miami's secondary and benefited from Dawson Knox being a mismatch for Miami's linebackers and safeties all night. Knox went for six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Allen played one of his better games in recent weeks and certainly looked every bit as confident as we're used to seeing him. The Bills' star quarterback threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, as well as leading the team in with 77 yards on the ground.
One more win will secure the Bills' place as the AFCE division champs, and they can take care of business in Chicago with two games to spare. With a game in Cincinnati and a rematch against the Patriots at home to close out the season, Buffalo would like nothing more than to sew it up this weekend.
However, the Philadelphia Eagles proved on Sunday that overlooking the Chicago Bears is a genuine possibility that could result in a scare or even a puncture to the team's momentum. Philly found themselves in a close game with the Bears and a young quarterback in Justin Fields, who has proven that he can carry the offense without a genuine threat at running back or wide receiver. Fields just makes plays, and his mobility could be a problem for the Bills' defense.
The conditions are set to be freezing cold, with the game currently set to feel like -11 degrees. Buffalo is, of course, no stranger to ice-cold football conditions, but the weather will no doubt factor into the game plan.
I'd anticipate a similar execution to that we saw against the Miami Dolphins. Josh Allen seems comfortable running the ball with a supporting cast of Devin Singletary and James Cook, and establishing that threat early likely brings Stefon Diggs into the fold later in the game.
Buffalo is a heavy favorite on the road, and while I like them to win the game, I once again believe the spread to be too heavy. The Bills have covered the spread in just two of their last eight games. I backed Miami covering last week and will be doing the same again with the Bears this week. The weather conditions clearly suit Chicago's game plan and make it more of a level playing field as a result.
Related articles you might enjoy:
Billsfans Bets: NFL Week 15 Picks
Billsfans Bets: NFL Week 14 Picks
Billsfans Bets: NFL Week 13 Picks
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call the 24-hour confidential national helpline
(1-800-426-2537) or visit The National Council on Problem Gaming.
BillsFans is not a gambling website. All information on this website is intended for entertainment purposes only.
Rumbling Herd Media, LLC is not affiliated with any gaming outlets, professional sports teams, the NFL, and/or any association.