Ah, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the second most joyful time of the year behind Christmas Day and what a way to celebrate the holidays than to watch some Sunday football games. This Sunday features several crucial games for teams who are looking to make the playoffs like the Dolphins and Chiefs game, Bills and Patriots game, Falcons and Saints game, Rams and Titans game, and the most crucial game, the Seahawks and Cowboys games. All of these teams have clinched a playoff berth, are looking to clinch one on Sunday, or are inching closer towards a playoff berth with a win on Sunday. With all of this said, here’s what to what for in Sunday’s games and hopefully all of you have a safe and merry Christmas.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers; 1:00pm
1. Jameis Winston Vs Panthers Defense
Jameis Winston is coming off one of his better performances of the season as he threw for 299 yards and 3 TDs in a narrow loss to the Falcons last week. He will have a difficult time throwing against the Panthers this week as the Panthers rank 11th in passing yards per game allowed (216.3). He’ll also be looking to play better in this game than the first game against the Panthers where he threw 2 interceptions and no TD passes for only 210 yards.
2. Cam Newton Vs Bucs Defense
Cam Newton is coming off another great game where he threw 4 TDs for 242 yards and rushed for 58 yards. Super Cam could have another huge performance against a Bucs defense that ranks dead last in passing yards per game allowed (271.3). The Bucs defense has also struggled to get to the quarterback as they rank dead last in total sacks with 18. Add these two things together and you get a long day for the Bucs defense.
3. Panthers Run Game
The Panthers are coming off a big win in which they rushed for 151 yards and could have a similar performance against a Bucs defense that ranks 23 in rushing yards per game allowed (119.5). Given that the Falcons ran for 201 yards against the Bucs last week, McCafferey and Stewart may be in for a big game come Sunday.
Bold Prediction: Panthers rack up 500 yards on Bucs defense.
Cleveland Browns @ Chicago Bears; 1:00pm
1. DeShone Kizer Vs Bears Defense
This game will come down with to how well Kizer plays in this game to get the Browns their first win of the season. Kizer will need to keep the turnovers at a minimum compared to last week where he threw for only 146 yards and 2 interceptions. This performance will not cut it against a Bears defense that ranks 10th in passing yards per game allowed (215.6). The outcome of this game hinges on Kizer’s performance and could either mean the 2nd straight 1-15 season or the 2nd team in NFL history to go 0-16.
2. Mitch Trubisky Vs Browns Defense
Trubisky is coming off an awful performance against the Lions where he completed 31 of 46 passes for 314 yards, 1 TD, and 3 interceptions and the offense only scored 10 points. Trubisky could have a bounce back gam against a Browns defense that ranks 21st in pass yards per game allowed (235.6). All Trubisky has to do is outperform Kizer and he and the Bears will not lose to the Browns.
3. Both Teams Running Games
The run game for both teams will be looking to perform well against the opposing teams because both teams have rookie quarterbacks and both QBs won’t be wanting to throw the ball 30 times in this game. The advantage here goes to the Bears rushing attack especially since they have Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen at their disposal while the Browns have Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. who have been inconsistent this season. It’ll be intriguing to watch which defense can keep the run game win check especially since the Browns rank 7th against the run (96.1) while the Bears rank 11th (107.6). This matchup will determine the winner of the game.
Bold Prediction: DeShone Kizer outplays Trubisky and throws for 300 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions.
Detroit Lions @ Cincinnati Bengals; 1:00pm
1. Matt Stafford Vs Bengals Pass Defense
Matt Stafford is coming off a strong performance where he threw for 237 yards and 2 TDs against the Bears and will be looking to prevent turning the ball over against a Bengals defense that ranks 8th in passing yards per allowed (214.0). However, Stafford may be looking to hand the ball off to his running backs to try and take Br of pressure off him but ultimately, he’ll be the one carrying the load for the Lions offense.
2. Andy Dalton Vs Lions Pass Defense
Oh Andy, what a forgetful performance he had against the Vikings. He completing 11 of 22 passes for 113 yards and threw 2 interceptions as well. This offense only scored 7 points when A.J. McCarron came into the game in the 4th quarter to prevent Dalton from embarrassing himself even more. This week, he faces a Lions defense that ranks 28th in passing yards per game allowed (251.2) and they allowed Trubisky to throw for over 300 yards which should be a good thing for Dalton going into this game.
3. Both Teams Run Games
Both teams running games have been nonexistent all season long and don’t expect that to change on Sunday even though the Bengals rank dead last in rush yards per game allowed (131.5) while the Lions rank 16th against the run (111.1). With this said, the running game will not play much of a factor in this game which means that Matt Stafford and Andy Dalton will be throwing the ball a lot on Sunday.
Bold Prediction: Matt Stafford throws for 400 yards and 4 TDs.
Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs; 1:00pm
1. Jay Cutler Performance
Jay Cutler has another horrible performance against the Bills last week where he completed 28 of 49 passes for 3 interceptions and no TDs in a disappointing loss. This week, he could bounce back against a Chiefs defense that ranks 26th in passing yards per game allowed (245.7). The Dolphins can still make the playoffs if a lot of things go their way, but they have to win in order to keep this hopes alive and it seems like Cutler won’t be able to outduel his counterpart in Alex Smith.
2. Alex Smith Vs Dolphins Pass Defense
Smith is coming off a great performance against the Chargers where he threw for 231 yards and 2 TDs and can clinch the AFC West division with a win against the Dolphins. He faces a Dolphins defense that ranks 15th in passing yards per game allowed (222.6). The Miami defense knows they can’t allow the big plays or else their offense will have a tough time getting back into the game.
3. Kareem Hunt
Kareem Hunt is coming off a monster game where he racked up 155 rushing yards on 24 carries and caught 7 passes for 51 yards while scoring a rushing and receiving TD in the process. He’ll be looking to have a similar type of performance against a Dolphins defense that ranks 13th in rushing yards per game allowed (109.9). If he can have a similar performance, the Chiefs will be in control of the momentum throughout most of the game.
Bold Prediction: Kareem Hunt racks up 150 scrimmage yards and 3 TDs.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots; 1:00pm
1. Tom Brady/Rob Gronkowski Connection
Tom Brady and Gronk will look to continue to produce against the Pats like they did last week against the Steelers as Brady completed 9 passes to him for 168 yards. In their first game against the Bills the two connected for 9 receptions and 147 yards. They face the Bills again who rank 17th in passing yards per game allowed (229.1). If the Bills can’t stop Gronk, the Bills will have a very small chance of winning the game.
2. Tyrod Taylor Vs Patriots Pass Defense
T-mobile is coming off a string performance where he threw for 224 yards and a TD with no turnovers in a win against the Miami Dolphins last week. The last time Taylor faced the Patriots he suffered a knee injury that saw him leave the game. Now he faces a Patriots defense that ranks 29th in passing yards per game allowed (255.1). The Patriots know what they have to do especially since they had success containing Tyrod in the pocket in their lost game.
3. LeSean McCoy
Shady McCoy is coming off a solid performance in which he rushed for 50 yards and caught 4 balls for 46 yards, notching a rushing and receiving TD in the process. He’ll be facing a Patriots defense that ranks 26th in rushing yards per game allowed (122.3). Shady will need to perform well if the Bills want to come away with a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Bold Prediction: Gronk catches 10 passes for 175 yards and 2 TDs.
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints; 1:00pm
1. Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman/Terron Ward
This tandem of Freeman and Coleman has been dangerous every since these two entered the league but Coleman may not play because of an injury and if he doesn’t, Terron Ward will be taking his snaps. These running backs will be facing a Saints defense that ranks 18th in rushing yards per game allowed (115.0) but the Saints allowed 132 rushing yards in their first encounter which was two weeks ago. The offense will need the running game to perform as well as the first game to set up the play-action game.
2. Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram
These two running backs are the best running back tandem in the league and perhaps one of the best tandems in NFL history. They’ve both racked up over 1,000 scrimmage yards and will look to perform better than they did against the Falcons in their first encounter as they only racked up 50 rushing yards but Alvin Kamara was knocked out of the game because of a concussion. This Falcons defense ranks 9th in rushing yards per game allowed (106.6) and this defense knows they have to stop the run game like they did in the first game against the Saints.
3. Matt Ryan and Drew Brees
Matt Ryan cannot throw 3 interceptions against the Saints like he did against them two weeks ago and expect to win the game. He knows he has to limit the turnovers or else the Saints will take advantage of those turnovers. Drew Brees also cannot throw a back-breaking interception in the red zone inside two minutes like he did two weeks ago or else this will lose him the game again. The will both look to lean on their run game more as the Falcons defense ranks 12th against the pass (217.1) and the Saints rank 7th (213.4). With all of this said, the quarterback that commits the least amount of turnovers will win this game.
Bold Prediction: Run game racks up 300 yards from both teams combined.
Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Jets; 1:00pm
1. Philip Rivers Vs Jets Defense
Philip Rivers must play better than he did last week where he threw 3 interceptions against the Chiefs. He will be facing a Jets defense that ranks 20th in passing yards per game allowed (234.0), so he could have a bounce back game and needs it since the Chargers are still in the playoff hunt. Though Rivers may not have Keena Allen in the lineup come Sunday.
2. Bryce Petty Vs Chargers Pass Defense
Bryce Petty will be making his 2nd start of the season and will be looking to have a better outing against the Chargers as he threw for only 179 yards, a TD, and 2 interceptions. However, Petty will most likely have a similar performance if not worse this time around as he faces a Chargers defense that ranks 4th in passing yards per game (201.9). If the Jets want to spoil the the Chargers playoff hopes, they’ll need a solid performance out of Petty come Sunday.
3. Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon had himself a great performance against the Chiefs as he racked up 78 yards on the ground and racked up 91 receiving yards along with a TD last week in their loss. The Chargers will be giving Gordon more targets especially since 3rd down back Austin Ekeler is out for the year with a broken wrist and Keenan Allen may not suit up. The Jets defense ranks 21st in rushing yards per gam allowed (117.9). The Jets will need to stop the run to force Rivers into throwing the ball a lot come Sunday.
Bold Prediction: Melvin Gordon racks up 175 scrimmage yards and 2 TDs.
Los Angeles Rams @ Tennessee Titans; 1:00pm
1. Todd Gurley
Gurley is coming off his best performance against the Seahawks last week as he racked up 152 rushing yards and 3 TDs on the ground and caught 3 passes for 28 yards and a TD. Gurley made the Legion of Boom look silly and will be looking to do that against a Titans defense ranks 3rd in rushing yards per game allowed (87.2). The Titans need to stop Gurley or else they’ll also be in for a whooping like the Seahawks last week.
2. DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry
These two running backs were expected to be among one of the league’s best tandems but have vastly underperformed all season long. They could have a big game against a Rams defense that ranks 24th in rushing yards per game allowed (120.8). If the run game does not perform well, Mariota will be in deep trouble against an aggressive Rams pass rush.
3. Jared Goff and Marcus Mariota
Two young quarterbacks will be facing off in a big game that will affect these teams playoff hopes regardless of the result. Goff will be looking to feed Gurley the fall like he did last week because Goff only threw the ball 21 times but threw 2 TDs in the process. As for Mariota, he needs to have his best game of the season in order to keep up with the Rams high-powered offense. Last week he didn’t turn the ball over and will need so that the Rams don’t blow them out of the water. Goff has the advantage as the Titans rank 25th against the pass (242.6) while th Rams rank 6th (208.1).
Bold Prediction: Todd Gurley runs for 150 yards and 2 TDs.
Denver Broncos @ Washington Redskins; 1:00pm
1. Broncos Pass Rush Vs Redskins O-Line
This is a big matchup between two units that have underwhelmed this season. The Redskins have allowed the 10th most sacks in the league 38.0 (though the Redskins have sustained several injuries to the offensive line) while the Broncos have only sacked the quarterback 31 times this season which ranks 20th overall. The Broncos will be looking to pressure Cousins enough to get him to turn the ball over a few times.
2. Redskins Pass Rush Vs Broncos O-Line
This matchup will be critical in the outcome of the game especially since it seems like Paxton Lynch may be playing which means the Redskins will look to pressure him early and often. The Broncos offensive line has allowed the 5th most sacks this year (43.0) while the Redskins have sacked the quarterback 36 times, which is tied for 10th best this year. The matchup is more favorable for the Redskins and could give the Broncos QB a nightmare of a game.
3. Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler
Captain Kirk will be hoping he throws some more yards compared to last week where he only threw for 196 yards but threw 2 TDs in that game against the Cardinals. Osweiler will be hoping he shreds the Redskins defense like he did last week against the Colts where he threw for 194 yards, threw 2 TDs and rushed for 1. They will have a tough time performing better than last week as the Redskins defense ranks 16th in passing yards per game allowed (223.4) while the Broncos rank 2nd (188.7). With this said, it should be a defensive battle and will come down to the defense that forces more turnovers.
Bold Prediction: Both defenses combine for 12 sacks and 2 TDs.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Francisco 49ers; 4:05pm
1. Sacksonville Vs Niners O-Line
The Jaguars will be looking to keep getting after the quarterback in this game and they face a star in Jimmy Garropolo who has a leaky offensive line that has allowed the 8th most sacks this season (42.0). Sacksonville ranks 1st in total sacks on the season with 51.0 with Calais Campbell owning 14.5 of those. This defense will prove to be the Niners’ biggest challenge all season and need to keep Garropolo upright if they want to come away with points.
2. Jimmy Garropolo
Jimmy G is looking great for the Niners this season and will look to have a similar performance as last week where he threw for 381 yards and 1 TD against the Titans. However, he faces his toughest test in the Jaguars defense that ranks 1st in passing yards per game allowed (168.9). If Garroplo wins this one, Niners fans will have a lot to look forward to in the near future.
3. Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles has been playing very well as of late as he hasn’t been thrown an interception in his last 5 games. Last week, he torched the Texans for 326 yards and 3 TDs. Now he faces a Niners defense that ranks 19th in passing yards per game allowed (231.1). The Niners defense will need to prevent Bortles from going off against them if they want to pull off a huge upset against the Jaguars this Sunday.
Bold Prediction: Sacksonville racks up 10 sacks and scores a TD.
New York Giants @ Arizona Cardinals; 4:25pm
1. Cardinals Pass Rush Vs Giants O-Line
The Cardinals pass rush is mediocre at best and sit in 16th with total sacks on the season allowed with 32.0 while the Giants offensive line has allowed 30 sacks which ranks 22nd most in the NFL. The Cardinals will need to get home and sack Eli especially so he doesn’t throw for 400 yards like he did last week against the Eagles. Don’t be surprised if the Giants go no huddle and throw quick passes to neutralize the pass rush.
2. Eli Manning
Eli Manning is coming off a surprisingly great performance where he threw for 434 yards against the Eagles last week and will look to do the same against the Cardinals, but they will not be as easy to throw against as the Eagles as they rank 14th in passing yards per game allowed (221.1). The Cardinals knows that Manning will most likely throw a lot quick passes and to neutralize the pass rush so the Cardinals have to be sure that the receivers don’t score long TDs and tackle in the open field.
3. Drew Stanton
Drew Stanton will be the quarterback starting for the Cardinals again and he will look to win the game against the Giants for team pride since they are no longer in playoff contention. Stanton will be facing a Giants defense that ranks 31st in passing yards per game allowed (263.4). With this said, Stanton should have a better performance than Eli but the Giants defense will certainly apply a lot of pressure on him to make sure he doesn’t perform well.
Bold Prediction: Manning throws 3 interceptions and throws for less than 300 yards
Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys; 4:25pm
1. Zeke Elliott’s Return to Lineup
Zeke Elliott is back in Dallas after serving his 6-game suspension and looks a little slimmer than before his suspension. Zeke will be facing a Seahawks defense that allowed over 200 rushing yards against Todd Gurley and now ranks 17th in rushing yards per game allowed (112.9). Given that the Legion of Boom has suffered a significant amount of injuries, Zeke could be in for a huge game which would take loads of pressure off Dak Prescott.
2. Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott is very happy to have his best friend back in Zeke and will look to have a better outing than last week against the Raiders as he threw for 212 yards and 2 interceptions with no TDs. He faces a Seahawks defense that ranks 13th in passing yards per game allowed (217.9), but will get help from Zeke and the run game to take pressure off Dak and use the play-action more effectively. It’ll be interesting to to see how this matchup unfolds on Sunday.
3. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson and the offense are coming off their worst performance of the season as they only rushed for 78 yards and Wilson only threw for 142 yards and only put up 7 poults against the Rams defense. Wilson will be looking to bounce back against a Cowboys defense that ranks 18th in passing yards per game allowed (229.7). Wilson needs to carry the team because the run game will not do well regardless of who they play. If Wilson doesn’t perform better, the Seahawks will be out of the okayoffs doe the first time under Pete Carroll.
Bold Prediction: Zeke runs for 200 yards and 4 TDs on Seahawks.