A few NFL playoff spots are still up for grabs, and some potential upsets are lurking in Week 16 of the NFL season.
All five of these potential upsets can affect the playoff picture. The point spreads are the top5onlinecasino consensus point spreads as of Thursday morning.
Washington (+3) at Philadelphia
Chip Kelly-led Eagles teams have a tendency to lose Saturday-night games they need to win.
They lost a 2013 wild-card game at home to the Saints. Their playoff hopes suffered a debilitating blow in a Week 16 loss at Washington last season.
Saturday night’s game is a must-win for the Eagles. If the Redskins win, they win the NFC East. Kirk Cousins (97.2 passer rating) is a better quarterback than Sam Bradford (83.8) and judging by his decision to make Cousins the starter at the beginning of the season, Jay Gruden is a better coach than Kelly at least in terms of personnel decisions.
DeSean Jackson’s 2 games vs PHI since he left: 5-117-1, 4-126. #Eagles nursing injuries to LCB Maxwell (shoulder) & RCB Rowe (concussion).
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) December 23, 2015
The Redskins (7-7) are 1-5 on the road this season, but three of those losses have come to the Panthers, Patriots and Jets. The Eagles (6-8) aren’t as good as any of those teams.
Jacksonville (+3 1/2) at New Orleans
NFL players and coaches say they don’t watch the scoreboard.
But who are they kidding?
If the Colts lose at Miami and the Texans lose at Tennessee in their 1 p.m. games Sunday, the Jaguars (5-9) still will have a shot at the AFC South title when they take the field at 4:05 p.m. against the Saints. That would give them an extra spring in their step and make this game a potential upset.
The Saints (5-9) have nothing to play for and rolled over against the Lions on Monday night. They have the 30th-ranked passing defense in the NFL. They’ve allowed 39 receiving touchdowns, by far the league worst. The Dolphins are second-worst with 31. The Saints also have allowed 15 passing plays of 40 or more yards, the most in the league.
That latter statistic spells trouble for a team that’s going up against Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Among receivers who have caught at least 50 passes this season, Hurns leads the league with 17.1 yards per reception and Robinson is third with 16.5.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) December 20, 2015
Drew Brees, who is dealing with a foot injury, could be a spectator as one of the NFL’s most promising offenses puts a ton of points on the scoreboard.
New England at Jets (+3)
Since shocking the Patriots 28-21 in the 2010 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium, the Jets have gone 1-8 against the Patriots.
The height of the Patriots’ dominance over their division rivals came in the Butt Fumble Game in 2012, which the Patriots won 49-19. Since then, the Patriots’ biggest margin of victory over the Jets was seven points, a 30-23 win at New England in Week 7 this season. The Jets (9-5) have won four straight since losing four out of five in the middle of the season, but they need to keep winning and get a little help to make the playoffs.
The Patriots (12-2) have won two straight since losing two in a row. But those wins came against the Texans and Titans, members of the anemic AFC South. It will be a lot different going against an AFC East rival in a stadium where the Patriots barely escaped with a win six weeks ago against the NFL’s other New York team.
Carolina at Atlanta (+7)
Three forces could combine to stir up a stunner in this game.
The Falcons (7-7) snapped a six-game losing streak last week, beating the Jaguars 23-17 at Jacksonville. They still can make the playoffs if they win their last two games and the Vikings and Seahawks both lose their last two. The chances are slim, but if the Falcons upset the Panthers (14-0), they’ll still be alive in the playoff hunt because the Seahawks and Vikings play later games Sunday.
The Panthers remained perfect by the skin of their teeth last week, blowing a 28-point lead against the Giants before Graham Gano’s last-second field goal. There’s a chance they peaked in their 38-0 win over the Falcons two weeks ago, a game that’s likely still fresh in the Falcons’ minds.
Finally, Josh Norman and the Falcons’ receivers are exchanging verbal barbs. Julio Jones and Roddy White questioned whether Norman should be considered a lockdown corner, according to NFL.com, and Norman fired back by saying that White is the Falcons’ “fifth receiver.”
At some point Norman is going to fire up the wrong receiver and get burned.
Green Bay (+4 1/2) at Arizona
This is a clash of NFC heavyweights. The Cardinals (12-2) currently sit in the No. 2 seed and the Packers (10-4) would be the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, but the Packers still could overtake the Cardinals and earn a first-round bye.
The Cardinals might not have much of a home-field advantage in this game.
The Packers have won three in a row, including a 30-20 victory at Oakland last week in which they won despite being out-gained 372-293.
The Cardinals have won eight in a row and it makes sense that they’re the favorite. The Packers’ offense doesn’t seem to be clicking on all cylinders. Eddie Lacy has just 664 rushing yards this season and Aaron Rodgers has completed just 56 percent of his passes in the last seven games.
Considering their championship pedigree, however, it’s hard to count the Packers out of any big game. Also, the Cardinals might not have much of a home-field advantage.