NFL Week 16 is here and with it comes Thursday Night Football, Christmas Day football and so much more in a 16-game slate that promises to be thrilling.
There is plenty for football fans to enjoy in an NFL Week 16 schedule that includes games on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There are crucial division battles, like the Washington Football Team facing the Dallas Cowboys. But there is no divisional matchup more important than the Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots.
Of course, those are just the headliners in an exciting slate of games that will provide memorable moments, upsets and jaw-dropping performances.
Let’s dive into our NFL Week 16 bold predictions.
Aaron Rodgers ruins Christmas for the Cleveland Browns
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, is playing better than any of his peers right now. While Tom Brady is the leading MVP candidate, his 15-7 TD-INT ratio and 99.3 passer rating from Week 8-14 trails far behind Rodgers stats (15-1 TD-INT ratio, 112.1 passer rating) in his last six games. The All-Pro quarterback will also be facing a Browns’ defense limited by COVID-19 with only five days to prepare for the Packers.
Keep in mind, this is the same defense that allowed 271 passing yards to Tyler Huntley (Week 14) and a four-touchdown outing to rookie Mac Jones. The Packers are on fire right now both defensively and offensively, giving them an edge on both sides of the ball against Cleveland. A three-touchdown performance and a 31-24 win are very possible for Rodgers and the Packers, ruining Christmas Day in Cleveland.
Jonathan Taylor sends the Arizona Cardinals into panic mode
A running back hasn’t won NFL MVP since 2012, when Arian Peterson (2,097 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) edged out Peyton Manning with 61% of the vote. It’s become a quarterback award ever since, but Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is making a serious case for the coveted honor.
- Jonathan Taylor stats (Week 6-15): 1,191 rushing yards (132.3 ypg), 6.05 ypc, 16 total touchdowns, 139 receiving yards
Taylor is single-handedly carrying one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NFL since October. During the team’s 7-3 stretch, opponents know Taylor is getting the football and they still can’t stop them. That’s a problem for an Arizona Cardinals defense allowing 4.7 ypc since Week 2 and 113.3 rushing yards per game from Week 10-14.
Pair the Colts’ advantage in the trenches with their defense’s fast, physical style against the Cardinals and it’s easy to chart a path for Indianapolis to win in Arizona on Christmas. If that happens, given how the Cardinals have looked in the last three weeks, panic will set in for the once consensus No. 1 team in NFL power rankings.
Chicago Bears fire Matt Nagy, make franchise history
The Chicago Bears don’t like to break precedent. Never in this franchise’s storied history has ownership ever fired a head coach during the season. But the changing landscape in the NFL could force that small sign of respect to their head coach to end. NFL teams with open head-coaching vacancies can start interviewing candidates immediately after NFL Week 16, that’s an important window for Chicago.
There are already two teams (Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars) with open vacancies and they won’t waste time to begin their searches. Chicago isn’t a playoff contender and they frankly shouldn’t be trusted to win on the road against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 26. Assuming the Bears lose, we expect Nagy to be fired the next day.
Trevor Lawrence delivers career-best performance vs. New York Jets
It’s fair to say quarterback Trevor Lawrence hasn’t quite lived up to the pre-draft hype in 2021. But the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars is largely the victim of terrible surroundings, starting behind a bad offensive line with one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. But we’re expecting good things in NFL Week 16.
In a battle of teams battling for draft position, the Jaguars should see this as an opportunity to build Lawrence’s confidence. He’s facing a Jets’ secondary that has been one of the worst in the NFL since October. From Week 5-14, opposing quarterbacks posted a 19-4 TD-INT ratio with a stellar 115.2 passer rating, 71.7% completion rate and averaged 8.9 ypa against New York. Given plenty of time to throw in a high-scoring game, Lawrence could throw three touchdowns.
Cooper Kupp explodes against Vikings’ secondary, joins exclusive club
The chemistry between Los Angeles Rams stars Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp is absurd for their first year together. Even sharing some targets with Robert Woods earlier in the season and now Odell Beckham Jr., Kupp has a shot to set single-season NFL records.
We certainly won’t see Kupp make history in NFL Week 16, but he could join an exclusive club. Only 22 wide receivers in NFL history have eclipsed 1,600 receiving yards in a season and a majority of them did it in a 16-game season. When Kupp blows past that mark on Sunday, he’ll become just the 10th to do it in 15 games or fewer.
New England Patriots recover, clinic AFC East over Buffalo Bills
The Patriots had a chance to prove they are the best team in the AFC with a Week 15 victory over the Colts, but they fell well short of it. A bad week of practice proved costly, ending in a 27-17 loss. You can bet Bill Belichick will not allow that same poor effort and intensity again.
Simply put, the Buffalo Bills haven’t demonstrated they have the physicality to win these matchups. They got blown off the ball against the Colts and suffered the same result at home against the Patriots. The weather won’t be as harsh this time around at Gillette Stadium, but it shouldn’t heavily influence the Patriots’ game plan. A victory would give the Patriots a two-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Bills in the AFC East, that wraps up the division.