It’s the week before Christmas and Santa has come early for NFL fans.
As is tradition at this time of year, the NFL schedule makers treat us to a split schedule of games. Two games on Saturday night, a handful on Sunday and of course, Monday Night Football to round off the week.
Last week ended on Monday evening with an instant classic. The Ravens saw off the Browns in a 42-47 shootout and opened up the AFC North even further.
The Saturday games are a welcomed treat in what has been an ever flexible schedule this season. The Bills take on the Broncos in the early Saturday slate. Yet another primetime slot for Josh Allen and the Bills as they aim to plant their flag as genuine AFC contenders. The late kickoff pits the 10-3 Green Bay Packers against the 4-9 Carolina Panthers. The Packers inherited the number one seed in the NFC last week following the Saints loss to the Eagles. Aaron Rodgers has been putting in an MVP calibre season to date and will have an opportunity to shine under the Saturday Night Lights.
Elsewhere in the League, for the first time in over a decade, the New England Patriots won’t be winning the AFC East. They will however, be facing off against the Dolphins this weekend who are keeping the pressure on the Bills in the race for the division title. The Dolphins gave the Chiefs a scare last week, running them to the wire right into the latter stages of the fourth quarter but came out as eventual losers. Expect them to bounce back with a win this weekend.
One of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend will be between the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Football Team. The Seahawks bounced back with a resounding win over the New York Jets last week but could face a tough challenge this week. The Seahawks offence faltered against the New York Giants pass rush, and they’ll face an even tougher defensive line this weekend. Chase Young has been stating his case for defensive rookie of the year and will be hungry to state his claim further against Russell Wilson this week.
A Washington victory would not be a shocking outcome in this game and would have huge playoff implications for both sides. The Seahawks are clinging on to their playoff spot for dear life while the WFT are pushing for their first berth since the days of Kirk Cousins at QB.
The standout game of week 15 is undoubtedly that of the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints. While this game will be deprived of the presence of Drew Brees, the Saints roster is strong enough to give Mahomes and the Chiefs a decent game. With both teams having already clinched their playoff places – the priority strictly lies now with the aim of achieving the number one seed in their respective conferences. The all-important first seed grants the holder a first-round bye, an even more prestigious accolade this year where only one team will achieve the honour – compared to two in previous years.
Across the rest of the schedule, most games seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Only the Vikings-Bears, Cowboys-49ers and Cardinals-Eagles games could be considered up for grabs.
This is how I feel the remainder of week 15 pans out; The Colts and Titans both pick up wins, keeping the AFC South race interesting. The Ravens will beat the Jaguars while the Bucs should see off the Falcons (Although don’t be surprised if Atlanta pull off a win here). The Rams will beat the Jets convincingly while the Browns are favourites to beat the Giants on Sunday Night Football – A rare primetime appearance for both these squads. On Monday Night the Steelers should handle business against the Burrow-less Bengals.
As we wind down to Christmas, the novelty of enjoying live sports with a drink in hand becomes all the more enjoyable. With games on both Saturday and Sunday, some may say it is the perfect weekend to be an NFL fan.