We’re previewing the Week 16 NFL slate with score predictions for each game from our Nation reporters, what’s at stake in the playoff picture and potential draft order from Kevin Seifert, Football Power Index projections from ESPN Stats & Information and much more.

Jump to a matchup:


Point spread: TEN -10.5 | Matchup quality: 40.6 (of 100)

John Keim’s pick: Since Week 9, the Redskins have committed a league-high 50 penalties on offense, 14 more than anyone else. It leaves them in negative situations and, with a banged-up crew, unable to recover. In the past three weeks, the Titans have held opposing offenses to 280 yards or fewer each time; in that same period, the Redskins’ offense has been held to 288 yards or fewer each game. Washington has lost too many key players on offense to hang with a good team. Titans 27, Redskins 14

Turron Davenport’s pick: The Titans are riding Derrick Henry‘s hot streak of 408 rushing yards over the past two games. Washington’s run defense is allowing 116.6 rushing yards per game this season, so it will be another prime opportunity for Henry. Tennessee is playing outstanding football in all three phases over its past three games, outscoring opponents 73-31, and the defense is tied with the Ravens for the top spot in points allowed (18.1 per game). Both teams need this game, but the Titans are more realistic playoff contenders. Titans 25, Redskins 14

What’s at stake: The Redskins can’t clinch a playoff spot in Week 16, but they could be eliminated with either a loss and an Eagles win, or a loss and wins by the Seahawks and Vikings. The Titans are in the same boat. They can’t clinch but can be eliminated by a loss along with wins by the Steelers and Ravens. — Seifert

FPI win projection: TEN, 75.7 percent. Tennessee can nose its playoff probability to just over 50 percent with a victory, while a Washington win would get the Redskins closer to a 1-in-3 chance. Losses would drop them to 10 and 4 percent, respectively.

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Point spread: LAC -4.5 | Matchup quality: 60.6 (of 100)

Jamison Hensley’s pick: The Ravens have to go cross-country on a short week, and the Chargers play at home on eight days’ rest. This isn’t an ideal situation for Baltimore, especially when considering the Ravens’ history. Since 2013, Baltimore is 1-6 when playing on the road against teams from the AFC and NFC West. Chargers 23, Ravens 13

Eric D. Williams’ pick: The Chargers get back two key players in running back Melvin Gordon and nose tackle Brandon Mebane. So expect the Bolts to pound the football on offense and crowd the line of scrimmage defensively, forcing Lamar Jackson to push the ball down the field. Jackson has fumbled an NFL-high seven times since Week 11, losing three of those, and this defense is primed for takeaways. Chargers 28, Ravens 20



Steve Young explains that if Lamar Jackson can overcome his biggest challenge yet in the Chargers’ defense, the Ravens can make a deep run in the playoffs.

What’s at stake: The Chargers already have clinched a playoff berth, but they can keep their AFC West title hopes alive with a win. The Ravens can’t clinch a wild-card berth this weekend but they would be eliminated with a loss and wins by the Steelers and Titans. — Seifert

FPI win projection: LAC, 79.5 percent. The Ravens might currently hold the final wild-card spot in the AFC, but that could change dramatically if they can’t upset the Chargers on Saturday night. A Ravens victory gets them up to an 82 percent chance to make the playoffs, while a loss drops them to just 16 percent, the largest possible swing of the week. A win for the Chargers gets L.A. up to a 34 percent chance to earn a bye, while a loss drops it to 2 percent.

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Point spread: PHI -2.5 | Matchup quality: 60.2 (of 100)

Turron Davenport’s pick: After seeing their nine-game winning streak broken, the Texans are looking to get another streak started by following up last week’s win against the Jets with a victory against the Eagles. Houston’s rush defense is fourth in the league, allowing 88.3 yards per game, and it’ll look to slow down Nick Foles‘ aerial game by getting pressure from J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans have scored 29 or more points in three of their past four games. With a first-round bye at stake, Deshaun Watson will lead his team to a tough road win. Texans 31, Eagles 24

Tim McManus’ pick: The Eagles are a loose group right now and are riding the momentum Foles helped create in an upset win over the Rams in Week 15. The defensive line stepped up its game in that victory and will be key Sunday as well. Houston has yielded a league-high 52 sacks this season. If Philly’s defensive front can keep that trend going, it has a good shot at pulling out the win. Eagles 28, Texans 24

What’s at stake: The Texans can clinch the AFC South with a win or losses by the Colts and Titans. To secure a first-round bye, the Texans would need a win (or tie) and a Patriots loss. The Eagles can’t clinch a wild-card spot in Week 16, but they can be eliminated with a loss and a Vikings win. — Seifert

FPI win projection: PHI, 55.3 percent. The Eagles are still very much alive in the NFC playoff picture, especially if they can hold off the Texans at home. A victory would get them to a 48 percent chance to make the playoffs, compared to a 10 percent chance with a loss. On the other sideline, a road win for the Texans would get them to 84 percent to earn a week off.

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Point spread: IND -10 | Matchup quality: 51.8 (of 100)

Jordan Raanan’s pick: It looked as if the Giants were back on track until they were shut out Sunday by the Titans. It was a step up in competition from recent weeks, and Eli Manning looked more like the quarterback who struggled badly in the first half of the season. This should be more of the same. The Colts have the eighth-ranked rushing defense, which will put the pressure on the Giants’ passing attack without Odell Beckham Jr. You can’t like their chances. Colts 26, Giants 20

Mike Wells’ pick: In Week 15, the Colts blanked Dallas while the Giants put up a goose egg against Tennessee. The Colts shouldn’t have a problem running the ball against the Giants, who are 28th in the NFL when it comes to stopping the run. Indianapolis might only have to worry about running back Saquon Barkley because Beckham is still dealing with a quad injury. Indy will make it three consecutive victories and eight of its past nine. Colts 27, Giants 10



Steve Young explains why he believes the Colts and Andrew Luck will not become complacent and overlook the Giants.

What’s at stake: A win would bolster the Colts’ wild-card chances, but they can neither clinch nor be eliminated in Week 16. — Seifert

FPI win projection: IND, 73.5 percent. Indianapolis has rallied from its 1-5 start (when FPI gave it only an 8.5 percent chance to make the playoffs) to be FPI’s most likely team to grab the sixth spot in the AFC. A loss here (depending on results elsewhere) wouldn’t be the end of the road for Indy, as it would still be projected to make the playoffs 36 percent of the time, but a win would increase the odds to 46 percent.

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Point spread: NE -13.5 | Matchup quality: 49.3 (of 100)

Mike Rodak’s pick: Even if the Bills do not pull off a rare victory at Gillette Stadium, where they are 2-14, it would be a win for Buffalo if Josh Allen is competitive in his first game against the Patriots. Allen has the NFL’s 10th-best Total QBR since his Week 12 return from an elbow injury, but Tom Brady — despite his hiccups last Sunday — has the second-best QBR (80.9) over that span. Patriots 24, Bills 14

Mike Reiss’ pick: The Patriots are the NFL’s only undefeated team at home (6-0) this season, and returning to Gillette after back-to-back road losses serves up a reminder of how the club has looked much different this season at home vs. the road. One player in the locker room said focus was sharp this week, with a reminder that just because there is a Patriots logo on the helmet, it doesn’t guarantee anything. Patriots 27, Bills 17

What’s at stake: The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a win or a Dolphins loss. They can’t clinch a first-round bye this week, but they could lose out on one if both the Chiefs and Texans win. — Seifert

FPI win projection: NE, 86.0 percent. If the Patriots want to earn a first-round bye, this game is pretty much a must-win. Should the Patriots hold off Buffalo, they’d be 57 percent to avoid wild-card weekend. A loss drops them to a 1-in-20 chance at still earning a bye.

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Point spread: DAL -7.5 | Matchup quality: 48.4 (of 100)

Jenna Laine’s pick: The Bucs might have one of the top offenses in the NFL in terms of yardage, but in the past two weeks, they’ve averaged just 13 points — 29th in the league. Right now, their only victory against a top-10 defense is Week 1, and that was a much different Saints team. Don’t expect a lot of scoring opportunities. Just like the Ravens in Week 15, the Cowboys have dominated time of possession all season, averaging 32 minutes, 3 seconds with the ball, third best in the league. Cowboys 20, Buccaneers 14



Stephen A. Smith is hoping for a Cowboys loss to the Bucs on Sunday and predicts it will be followed by a season-ending loss to the Giants.

Todd Archer’s pick: The Cowboys have the second-worst red zone offense in the NFL, scoring touchdowns on 19 of 43 trips inside the opponent’s 20. Maybe it’s a good thing they are seeing the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has the worst red zone defense, giving up 40 touchdowns in 51 inside-the-20 drives. The Cowboys don’t want to face a win-or-else game in Week 17, so it will be imperative for them to finish off drives with touchdowns. And if they win and clinch a playoff spot, red zone opportunities will become even more important in the postseason. Cowboys 27, Buccaneers 17

What’s at stake: The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East title with a victory, or with losses by the Eagles and Redskins. They can secure at least a wild-card berth with a tie and a Vikings loss. — Seifert

FPI win projection: DAL, 69.0 percent. After being shut out by the Colts, a date with Tampa should get the Cowboys’ offense back on track. The Bucs have allowed the second-highest Total QBR this season and have been the fourth-least-efficient defense. Even with a loss, though, FPI has Dallas as a solid favorite to make the playoffs (82 percent) and win the NFC East (78.5 percent).

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Point spread: ATL -3.5 | Matchup quality: 46.0 (of 100)

Vaughn McClure’s pick: For as bad as this season has been for the Falcons, one of their five wins was a 31-24 triumph over the Panthers back in Week 2. In that game, Cam Newton threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Well, Newton won’t play this time around due to a shoulder injury, leaving the Falcons to face Taylor Heinicke, who has thrown five career passes. If the Falcons can’t figure out a way to pull out this road victory against the Newton-less Panthers — especially with Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones in the lineup this time around — then there might be more turnover this offseason than initially anticipated. Falcons 24, Panthers 17

David Newton’s pick: The Panthers will be without Newton, with backup Heinicke making his first career start. They also will be without outside linebacker Shaq Thompson, who was placed on injured reserve. While the Carolina defense played its best game of the season in a 12-9 loss to New Orleans on Monday, it’s hard to see Heinicke matching Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and a Falcons offense averaging 25.4 points per game. Falcons 24, Panthers 17

What’s at stake: The Panthers are on the brink of playoff elimination. It will be official with either a loss or a Vikings win. They also can be eliminated if the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins all win. — Seifert

FPI win projection: ATL, 49.8 percent. How big a difference is the change from Newton to Heinicke? Had Newton been healthy and played, Carolina would have been a nearly 60 percent favorite. But with Heinicke forced into the lineup, FPI now sees this as virtually a dead heat.

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Point spread: MIN -6 | Matchup quality: 40.1 (of 100)

Courtney Cronin’s pick: While the Vikings control their own playoff destiny, it’s not as simple as “win and in” for Minnesota in Week 16. But Minnesota can do its part against the Lions the same way it notched a win over its division rival in Week 9: pressure Matthew Stafford early and often. The Lions QB was sacked 10 times in their first meeting and now has even fewer weapons to work with on offense after Marvin Jones Jr. and Kerryon Johnson went on IR, though he is making a concerted effort to get the ball out faster. Kirk Cousins and the offense should be able to build some consistency after finally getting the running game going in Week 15. Vikings 31, Lions 20

Michael Rothstein’s pick: The offense has gotten markedly less explosive since the teams’ previous meeting. Add in that the Vikings are playing for a playoff berth and Detroit has nothing to play for other than pride, and this could get ugly. Of course, based on the Lions’ history of the past quarter-century or so, this is exactly the type of game Detroit would win. But with Stafford banged up, it’s tough to see that actually happening. Vikings 27, Lions 10



Tedy Bruschi and Darren Woodson are both in sync on the Vikings defeating the Lions on the road in Week 16.

What’s at stake: The Vikings can clinch a wild-card spot with a win and losses by the Eagles and Redskins. — Seifert

FPI win projection: MIN, 59.2 percent. No team in the NFC has as much playoff leverage riding on its Week 16 game as Minnesota. The Vikings can increase their chances at the playoffs to 85 percent, or see them fall to 37 percent. They’ll need Cousins to turn his game around, as he has now gone three consecutive starts with a Total QBR below 50; he has never had four such starts in a row in his career.

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Point spread: GB -3 | Matchup quality: 27.4 (of 100)

Rob Demovsky’s pick: The Packers have lost nine in a row on the road dating to last season, and this is the last chance to avoid going winless on the road this season. If they don’t notch a victory, it will be their first winless season on the road since 1958. As Aaron Rodgers said, “I think it’s important for us to not be a statistic next to the [1958] Packers.” That’s about all they have to play for, but it’s more than the Jets have. Packers 23, Jets 11

Rich Cimini’s pick: The Packers’ road record (0-7) is eye-opening, but it’s not like they’re venturing into hostile territory. The Jets are 2-5 at home, having lost four straight with an average margin of defeat of 18 points. Key question: Will there be more cheeseheads in the crowd than Jets fans with bags over their heads? Difference in the game: Sam Darnold is improving, but he’s no Rodgers. Packers 24, Jets 17

FPI win projection: GB, 68.0 percent. Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs. Neither appears likely to bring back its current head coach. Both already have their quarterback for years to come. The only real consequence of this game’s result is draft order. The Jets would have a 5 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick with a loss, but a victory would knock them out of contention.

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Point spread: CLE -10 | Matchup quality: 17.4 (of 100)

Katherine Terrell’s pick: The Bengals look like they’re going to be without Tyler Boyd this weekend, and John Ross and Joe Mixon are banged up as well. It’s hard to imagine the Bengals can beat the Browns on the road with almost all of their playmakers injured, despite the fact that their defense has been much improved lately. If Boyd can’t play, it could be a long day in Cleveland. Browns 24, Bengals 13

Pat McManamon’s pick: The Browns no longer have the edge of a real chance at the playoffs, but they will be playing in front of a sellout crowd for the home finale as they seek to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2007. The Browns had a little fun at the Bengals’ expense four weeks ago, but this game should be more competitive. Quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s 111.1 rating since Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator is the defining statistic for this game. The rookie is just playing too well for the Browns to lose. Browns 24, Bengals 16



Tedy Bruschi and Darren Woodson tab Baker Mayfield to lead the Browns to victory over the Bengals in a Week 16 AFC North matchup.

What’s at stake: The Browns, still alive in the playoff race, would be eliminated by a loss, or wins by the Colts, Ravens or Titans. In other words, their postseason hopes are as shaky as they can be. — Seifert

FPI win projection: CLE, 60.2 percent. The exact scenario the Browns need has not occurred in any one of FPI’s 10,000 simulations, and the odds of their “dream” scenario are closer to 1 in 50,000. Mayfield posted a career-high 96.5 Total QBR on the road against the Bengals in their Week 12 encounter … could he do even better at home?

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Point spread: MIA -4 | Matchup quality: 10.5 (of 100)

Mike DiRocco’s pick: Since the Jaguars fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, made QB coach Scott Milanovich the playcaller and benched Blake Bortles for Cody Kessler, the offense has been almost non-functional. The Jaguars have scored one offensive touchdown in the three games since the changes, and that came when the Titans held a 30-2 lead and were in soft coverage. Kessler has been sacked 13 times in his three starts, and the Jaguars managed just 20 net passing yards in Week 15 against Washington. Hard to see the offense mustering much Sunday. Dolphins 13, Jaguars 6

Cameron Wolfe’s pick: Miami has looked like an AFC contender when playing at home this season, evident in its 6-1 record with victories over New England and Chicago. Playoff chances are slim, so motivation will be key in this one. But if the Dolphins come to play, they should be able to feast off Kessler in a bounce-back game that might be ugly to watch for fans of offensive football. Dolphins 17, Jaguars 12

What’s at stake: The Dolphins remain in play for a wild-card berth and even have a path to the AFC East title. They can’t clinch anything in Week 16, but a loss would eliminate them from playoff contention altogether. They also can be eliminated if the Patriots, Colts and Titans all win. — Seifert

FPI win projection: MIA, 50.7 percent. The Jags’ defense might not be the same as a season ago, but it still ranks fourth in defensive efficiency and fifth in defensive FPI. Miami will need more from Ryan Tannehill than it got in Week 15. Tannehill ranks 31st out of 32 qualifying signal-callers this season in Total QBR.

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Point spread: CHI -4 | Matchup quality: 39.5 (of 100)

Jeff Dickerson’s pick: San Francisco is a pesky team, and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan reminds me a lot of Matt Nagy. The Niners are better than their record indicates, but the Bears are still playing for a potential first-round bye. That’s enough motivation for Chicago to get it done. Plus, the Bears have forced a league-high 35 turnovers, and the 49ers struggle to protect the football. Bears 21, 49ers 17

Nick Wagoner’s pick: The 49ers have played better the past two weeks, and Chicago must travel to Santa Clara for this one, which could make things interesting. At the end of the day, though, Chicago leads the league in takeaways while the Niners are tied for the third-most turnovers (27). When in doubt, err on the side of who is likely to win the turnover battle. Bears 23, 49ers 20



Darren Woodson says the Bears’ defense is going to completely shut down the 49ers.

What’s at stake: The Bears already are NFC North champions, but they have an outside chance to sneak into a first-round playoff bye. They’ll need a victory to ensure that possibility extends to Week 17. — Seifert

FPI win projection: CHI, 64.7 percent. Sunday will be the toughest test yet for Nick Mullens by far. The Bears have allowed a league-low 33.9 QBR this season. The gap between the Bears and the No. 2 Vikings is as large as the gap between Minnesota and the 15th-ranked team (Denver). Mullens has faced defenses ranking 32nd, 13th, 31st, 11th (twice) and 15th.

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Point spread: LAR -14 | Matchup quality: 37.5 (of 100)

Lindsey Thiry’s pick: The Rams are coming off back-to-back regular-season losses for the first time in Sean McVay’s tenure as coach, and with two games remaining before the playoffs, they must get back on track in all three phases against the Cardinals. “There’s an increased sense of urgency from us as coaches,” McVay said. “And I sense that from the players.” Jared Goff has thrown six interceptions in the past three games, and Aaron Donald hasn’t recorded a sack in the past two. That frustration will be taken out on Arizona. Rams 32, Cardinals 17

Josh Weinfuss’ pick: The Rams will be coming into Arizona with a full head of steam after consecutive losses. They’ve shut out the Cardinals twice in their past three meetings. Oh, and the Cardinals are set to roll out their patchwork offensive line against one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Rams 38, Cardinals 10

What’s at stake: The Rams can clinch a first-round bye with a victory and a Bears loss, while a Cardinals win would threaten their current status as the front-runner for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. — Seifert

FPI win projection: LAR, 88.7 percent. The Cardinals can all but lock up the top pick in the NFL draft with a loss Sunday to the Rams, who are still playing for seeding. A Cards loss would give them the top pick in the draft 94 percent of the time, but an unlikely win — while also shaking up the NFC seeding picture — would make Oakland the team most likely to get the No. 1 pick.

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Point spread: NO -5.5 | Matchup quality: 81.7 (of 100)

Jeremy Fowler’s pick: The Steelers are tempting to pick because the NFL universe is opening; no team is untouchable. But the Saints are back home in the Superdome, where they’ve posted at least 40 points in three of their past four games. The Steelers are capable of winning a shootout and are eager to strengthen an AFC North lead, but they need to play turnover-free ball to find their edge. The trouble with that? Pittsburgh has eight turnovers in its past three road games. Saints 35, Steelers 28

Mike Triplett’s pick: The Saints’ offense has been slumping, while the defense has been thriving lately. Both of those trends could change Sunday, though. Drew Brees, who has thrown a total of two touchdown passes and three interceptions in the past three games — all on the road — returns home, where he has thrown four touchdown passes in each of his past three games. As a team, the Saints are averaging 38 points a game at home this season. Meanwhile, the Saints’ underrated defense has allowed 17 points or fewer in six consecutive games. But that streak will be tested by perhaps the best wide receiver duo in the NFL this season. Saints 30, Steelers 26



Steve Young explains what the Steelers’ game plan should be against the Saints in order to take control of the AFC North.

What’s at stake: The Steelers would clinch the AFC North with a win and a Ravens loss. If the Ravens also win, the Steelers can still clinch the playoffs with a victory and losses by the Colts and Titans. The Saints can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win, or losses by the Bears and Rams. They’ll ensure a first-round bye with a tie, or a loss by the Rams or Bears. — Seifert

FPI win projection: NO, 70.9 percent. The Steelers are currently 81 percent favorites, per FPI, to take the AFC North. A Steelers loss and a Ravens win essentially flips Baltimore to the 80 percent favorite.

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Point spread: KC -2.5 | Matchup quality: 87.0 (of 100)

Adam Teicher’s pick: The Seahawks are 0-4 in games against teams that, like the Chiefs, are in the top 10 in scoring. The Seahawks are ninth in scoring but have posted more than 31 points just once, against the lowly 49ers. The Chiefs have been over 31 points eight times and are better equipped to win a shootout, which this game will become. Chiefs 34, Seahawks 27

Brady Henderson’s pick: The Seahawks’ defense had several coverage busts in the first half of their overtime loss to the 49ers in Week 15, showing what a great playcaller like Kyle Shanahan can do against Seattle even without a great cast of skill players. It’ll get much harder Sunday against the bright offensive mind of Andy Reid and arguably the NFL’s best quarterback/receiver/tight end trio in Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Seahawks are a whopping 16-2 in prime-time home games under Pete Carroll, but a dangerous Chiefs offense that leads the league in scoring plus a banged-up Seahawks roster is a bad combination. Chiefs 34, Seahawks 30

What’s at stake: The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West title and at least a first-round playoff bye with a victory and a Chargers loss. To clinch the AFC home-field advantage, the Chiefs have two scenarios. The simplest is a win, with losses by the Chargers and Texans. It’s also possible that the Chiefs could clinch with a win and a Chargers loss, even if the Texans win, if results elsewhere mean the Chiefs would win a strength-of-victory tiebreaker with the Texans. Meanwhile, five scenarios could clinch the Seahawks a wild-card spot. The simplest: a win and losses by the Redskins or Vikings, or a win and losses by the Redskins and Eagles. — Seifert

FPI win projection: KC, 51.7 percent. The Chiefs are only the fourth team since the start of the 2015 season to be FPI favorites in Seattle and the first AFC team to be a road FPI favorite over the Seahawks since New England in 2012.

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Point spread: DEN -3 | Matchup quality: 20.5 (of 100)

Jeff Legwold’s pick: The first back-to-back losing seasons for the Broncos since 1971-72? They need to win the final two games to avoid that distinction. In the end, the pursuit of some personal goals might help them as a team. Rookie running back Phillip Lindsay is nine yards away from a 1,000-yard rushing season and 113 yards away from tying Dominic Rhodes’ NFL record for rushing yards in a rookie season by an undrafted player. Toss in the uncertainty over coach Vance Joseph’s future as well as perhaps that of quarterback Case Keenum, and there is a lot on the table for the Broncos in this one. Broncos 24, Raiders 17

Paul Gutierrez’s pick: Derek Carr has not thrown an interception since Oct. 7, a stretch of 301 passes, and while the Broncos offer a No Fly Zone-lite secondary, it will still be a challenge. Plus, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb might be champing at the bit to take down Carr, who already has been sacked 47 times. But in what could be the final Raiders game in Oakland — at night and against an ancient rival — Jon Gruden’s team prevails. Raiders 17, Broncos 16



Darren Woodson is confident the Broncos will pull out a win against a struggling Raiders team.

What’s at stake: The Raiders could work themselves into the No. 1 pick of the 2019 draft if they manage to lose one more game than the Cardinals over the final two weeks of the season. — Seifert

FPI win projection: DEN, 60.7 percent. Carr and Keenum rank 27th and 29th in Total QBR this season, respectively. With both teams out of the playoffs, this game ought to be about quarterback evaluation, helping each team decide how aggressively it needs to seek an upgrade at the game’s most important position.

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