Will Dallas’ DeMarco Murray Play, Other Things to Know About NFL Week 16
Eight playoff spots are still available as the 2014 NFL season heads to Week 16. Here's a preview of some of this week's most interesting storylines:
The Jags-Titans Game Will Be Ugly
Tennessee at Jacksonville | EverBank Field; 8:25 p.m.(ET) on NFL Network
Holy bad scheduling! Two of the NFL’s worst teams will battle in primetime on Thursday night when Tennessee (2-12) travels to play Jacksonville (2-12). If you have holiday shopping left to do, this might be a good time to do it.
If you must watch, it’s likely you’ll see some ugly football. The best any of the teams’ offensive or defensive units rank in NFL statistical categories is 18th (Tenn. pass defense). It’s so bad that even if either team lands the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, they’d be better off trading it to get multiple players to help their sorry franchise. For what it’s worth, the Jags lost to the Flaming Thumbtacks, 16-14, in Week 6.
The Steelers, Chiefs & Bengals Control Their Own Playoff Destiny
Sunday (Dec. 21)
Kansas City at Pittsburgh | Heinz Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Monday (Dec. 22)
Denver at Cincinnati | Paul Brown Stadium; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
The Steelers, Chiefs and Bengals each control their own NFL playoff destiny; if any one of the three teams wins out, they’ll get into the post-season. The catch is, there is no way all three teams can win their final two games.
Pittsburgh (9-5) hosts Kansas City (8-6) on Sunday in a game that should hinge on the performance of the Chiefs defense. If the Steelers win, they make the playoffs and only need to beat Cincy next week to win the AFC North title. The Chiefs can snag a wild-card berth with wins in the next two weeks.
Cincinnati (9-4-1) hosts Denver (11-3) on Monday night. The Broncos are still chasing home-field advantage, but they need to finish a game ahead of the Patriots for that to happen. The Bengals clinch a playoff spot with a win this week. They can wrap up the division title with a victory plus a Steelers loss and a Ravens loss or tie.
The Saints Can Clinch A Playoff Spot With Just Their Seventh Win
Atlanta at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Cleveland at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
The NFC South continues to be the most laughable division in the NFL, if not all of pro sports. This week, New Orleans (6-8) can wrap up a playoff spot with a home win over Atlanta (5-8) and a Panthers loss to the Browns. So, seven wins is all it takes to capture a division in 2014. Pathetic. Meanwhile, at least one of the Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Packers and Seahawks will not make the post-season field. All those teams will have better records than the Saints.
Carolina (5-8-1) may have Cam Newton back when they host Cleveland (7-7). If Newton is mobile enough, he’ll face Johnny Manziel, whose second career start almost has to go smoother than his first did against the Bengals last week. If Johnny Football can’t show some progress, the Browns front office may want to start reviewing film of Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota or whichever college quarterback they want to disappoint the team’s long-suffering fans with next.
DeMarco Murray Should Play For The Cowboys
Indianapolis at Dallas | AT&T Stadium; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Dallas (10-4) faces Indianapolis (10-4) on Sunday, but the rest of the week will be just as crucial for the Cowboys. As of this writing, star running back DeMarco Murray — who had surgery on Monday to repair a broken left hand — was practicing and likely to play against the AFC South-champion Colts. The Dallas offense functions much better with Murray than without him. Indy is still chasing a first-round playoff bye, so they won’t make it easy for Murray, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
Perhaps of greater interest to the Cowboys and their fans is the outcome of Saturday’s Eagles-Redskins game. If Philly loses, Dallas can clinch the NFC East with a victory on Sunday.
No One Expects Arizona To Beat Seattle
Seattle at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Winners of four games in a row, the defending Super Bowl-champion Seahawks are the NFL’s hottest team. Seattle (10-4) can clinch a return to the playoffs with a win over Arizona (11-3) and a loss or tie by the Eagles, Lions or Packers.
With quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton out for the rest of the regular season with injuries, the Cardinals are perhaps the NFL’s least likely potential No. 1 seed ever. Arizona has the league’s best record, a diverse offense and stout run defense and it is still an 8-point home underdog to the Seahawks. If the Cards can somehow win on Sunday, they’ll clinch the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It’s just that not very many people think they can; they lost 19-3 to Seattle in Week 12.
Saturday (Dec. 20)
Philadelphia at Washington | FedEx Field; 4:30 p.m. (ET) on NFL Network
San Diego at San Francisco | Levi's Stadium; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Sunday (Dec. 21)
Minnesota at Miami | Sun Life Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Baltimore at Houston | NRG Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Detroit at Chicago | Soldier Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Green Bay at Tampa Bay | Raymond James Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
New England at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
N.Y. Giants at St. Louis | Edward Jones Dome; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Buffalo at Oakland | O.co Coliseum; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS