NFL Week 16 schedule and game-by-game predictions

By Vincent Frank
Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) meet after a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Week 16 schedule starts out with a rare Christmas Day game between NFC rivals in that of the Vikings and Saints in the Bayou. This is a huge game for both teams, each one for separate reasons. There’s also three Saturday games on the slate, capped off by an outing between the Raiders and Dolphins with major playoff ramifications.

On Sunday, we’re most excited to see the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks do battle in a game that could very well decide the NFC West. It’s in this that we provide you with the NFL Week 17 schedule while giving game-by-game predictions.

Updated: Dec. 27, 9:30 AM EST

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NFL Week 16 Sunday games

Carolina Panthers at Washington Football Team

NFL Week 16: Panthers-Washington
Dec 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) reacts after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Washington won 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, Fox

Panthers-Washington Week 16 point spread: Washington -1.0 (over/under 43.5)

Update: Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (thigh) out

Washington head coach Ron Rivera going up against the team that fired him last season. Rivera doing so with his current squad in first place in the NFC East and looking to potentially winning the division despite a narrow Week 15 loss to the Seahawks. The turn around in D.C. has been something else since a 1-5 start to the season with Washington is now 4-1 in its past five games. Alex Smith is 4-1 as a starter this season and 10-5 since he joined the organization back in 2018. He should be good to go for this one after missing last week’s game.

As for the Panthers, things have turned ugly. Carolina has lost eight of nine since a 3-2 start to the season. Its defense has given up 28 points per game over the past three outings. That included a four-touchdown performance by Drew Lock of the Broncos back in Week 14. Do the math here, folks. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Washington 20, Panthers 17

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Week 16: Colts-Steelers
Dec 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) jogs off the field following the game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Colts-Steelers Week 16 point spread: Colts -1.5 (over/under 43.0)

Things are not going swimmingly for Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers. They have lost three consecutive since an 11-0 start to the season. That includes a humiliating Week 15 defeat at the hands of the previously two-win Bengals. More than anything, it’s been about a lack of a rushing attack to help Ben Roethlisberger on offense. Pittsburgh has gained a total of 154 yards on the ground during its three-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger seems to be a shell of his former self under center while dealing with an knee injury.

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It’s a much different story in Indy right now. The team has won three consecutive games. Potential future Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers is playing perhaps the best football of his career, having tossed 18 touchdowns against four interceptions over the past nine games. The rejuvenated Colts defense is also allowing the fifth-fewest rushing yards in the league. This will make all the difference in NFL Week 16. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Colts 24, Steelers 20

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Week 16: Falcons-Chiefs
Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) leaps over Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby (21) during the third quarter in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, Fox

Falcons-Chiefs Week 16 point spread: Chiefs -10.5 (over/under 53.0)

Related: Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) out

On the surface, there’s no way in this green earth that Matt Ryan and Co. are going to be able to stay with the defending champs come Week 16. Boasting a 4-10 record, Atlanta is giving up nearly 26 points per game after blowing yet another multi-score lead against the Buccaneers last Sunday. That includes opposing quarterbacks putting up 28 passing touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. Add in Julio Jones’ injury issues, and this one could get out of hand early. 

Related: Top candidates to become Falcons next head coach

However, we’d be foolish not to focus on what the Chiefs have done recently. Despite boasting a 13-1 record, all of the Chiefs’ past six wins have come by one score. They are winning by an average of four points during said six-game winning streak. Sure Kansas City’s offense will have a field day against a weak Falcons defense. I am just not sure if it’s enough for the defending champs to cover at -10.5

NFL Week 16 predictions: Chiefs 35, Falcons 27

Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars

Bears, Mitchell Trubisky
Dec 29, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Bears-Jaguars Week 16 point spread: Bears -8.0 (over/under 47.0)

Losers of 13 consecutive games, I have absolutely no idea why the Jaguars are sticking it out with embattled head coach Doug Marrone. Here’s a squad that is losing by more than 11 points per game while ranking in the bottom five in the NFL in both scoring offense and scoring defense. Heck, the Jags previously stout defense has recorded 17 sacks in 14 games. Ouch! 

Related: If you’re a fan of the Jaguars, check out #DUUUVAL rumors, rankings, and news here.

As for the Bears, they remain in the playoff picture after righting the ship. Losers of six consecutive heading into Week 14, Chicago laid waste to the Houston Texans by the score of 36-7 before taking out Minnesota in a do-or-die game this past Sunday. The team is currently one game out of the playoffs. Surely, Chicago will come to play against one of the worst teams in the NFL. It also helps that Mitchell Trubisky has Chicago averaging 31 points in the four games since he regained his starting job.

NFL Week 16 predictions: Bears 24, Jaguars 13

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

NFL Week 16: Bengals-Texans
Nov 26, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) smiles after throwing a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Bengals-Texans Week 16 point spread: Texans -7.0 (over/under 44.5)

Prior to last week’s shocking win over Pittsburgh, Cincinnati had put up 31 points in three games since Joe Burrow was lost for the season to a torn ACL and MCL. Something changed big time in Cincinnati on Monday night. Relying on a mistake-prone Steelers and the legs of quarterback Ryan Finley (yes, that’s a thing), the Bengals won their third game of the season. Was that a mirage or just an example of the Steelers struggling big time recently?

Related: Top candidates to become Texans new head coach

On the other hand, these Texans are also playing out the string. Their ugly Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears pretty much ended any hope that this team could turn things around. Despite this, Houston has Deshaun Watson under center. That should be enough against one of the worst teams in the league heading into NFL Week 16. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Texans 31, Bengals 14

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens

NFL Week 16: Giants-Ravens
Jan 11, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) is sacked by Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Kamalei Correa (44) in the second quarter in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, Fox

Giants-Ravens Week 16 point spread: Ravens -10.0 (over/under 44.0)

We can break this one down pretty quickly. Despite still being remotely alive in the NFC East race, Joe Judge and the Giants don’t match up well at all against Baltimore. The Ravens are yielding the fourth-fewest points in the NFL and boast one of the top defensive front sevens in the game. The Giants’ offensive line has been a complete mess, leading to yet another injury for quarterback Daniel Jones

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On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are averaging 29 points per game while reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson has turned things around after a scary bout with COVID-19. While the G-men rank in the top-nine in scoring defense, their offense won’t be enough to keep this one terribly close after Baltimore put up 40 against the Jags in Week 15.

NFL Week 16 predictions: Ravens 31, Giants 17

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

NFL Week 16: Browns-Jets
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) gets his team fired up before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] Browns 15 1

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Browns-Jets Week 16 point spread: Browns -9.5 (over/under 43.5)

How’s that for a meaningless win? These Jets headed into Week 15 at 0-13 and being outscored by an average of 16.1 points per game. They had the inside slant to land consensus No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft. Instead, New York took out a then 9-4 Rams team by the score of 23-20.

Related: Jets’ Adam Gase admits failure

In terms of the Jets’ Week 16 matchup against a vastly superior Browns team, they now really have nothing to play for. Cleveland is still battling for its playoff lives at 10-4 on the season. That will make all the difference in the world. Add in the fact that these Browns are 8-0 against losing teams this year, and there’s every reason to believe New York will be on the receiving end of a blowout loss after a one-week hiatus from embarrassment.

Update: Browns missing most of WRs following COVID outbreak

NFL Week 16 predictions: Browns 38, Jets 13

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Week 16: Broncos-Chargers
Dec 29, 2019; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn watches play during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 4:05 PM EST, CBS

Broncos-Chargers Week 16 point spread: Chargers -3.0 (over/under 48.5)

Two teams pretty much playing out the stretch. One squad in that of the Chargers likely looking to hire a new head coach in a couple weeks. Another team in that of the five-win Broncos set for some pretty dramatic off-season changes after a blowout Week 15 loss to the Buffalo Bills. It’s not a sexy matchup by any stretch of the imagination. 

Related: Time is now for Chargers to fire Anthony Lynn

With that said, both Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Broncos quarterback Drew Lock have a lot to play for. While Herbert is etched in stone as the face of the franchise in Los Angeles, the jury is still out on Lock in Mile High City. It’s in this that I am going to go with the more desperate of the two in a Chargers road win during NFL Week 16. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Broncos 23, Chargers 20

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

NFL Week 16: Eagles-Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) drops back to pass in the third quarter of a Week 14 NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Dallas Cowboys won, 30-7. Dallas Cowboys At Cincinnati Bengals Dec 13

Time/station: 4:25 PM EST, Fox

Eagles-Cowboys Week 16 point spread: Eagles -3.0 (over/under 49.5)

Update: Ezekiel Elliott (calf) likely to play

Both of these NFC East rivals have something to play for down the stretch. In Philadelphia, that includes head coach Doug Pederson battling for his job. Pederson just recently benched Carson Wentz for rookie Jalen Hurts, who led the team to a season-saving win over New Orleans back in Week 14 before the team turned in a solid performance in a narrow loss to the Cardinals this past Sunday. Philadelphia is 1.5 games out in the NFC East with two games remaining.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Cowboys, check out #DallasCowboys rumors, rankings, and news here.

As for the Cowboys, they are pretty much in an “on a wing and a prayer” status right now. Boasting a 5-9 record, Dallas is one game behind Washington in the NFC East following a blowout Week 15 win over San Francisco. It has also been swept by the team in the nation’s capital. In a game that will be pretty ugly, it’s time to go with the Cowboys to keep their ridiculously love 5% division title aspirations alive.

NFL Week 16 predictions: Cowboys 27, Eagles 23

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

NFL Week 16: Rams-Seahawks
Oct 3, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) shakes hands with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) following a 30-29 Seattle victory at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 4:25 PM EST, Fox

Rams-Seahawks Week 16 point spread: Seahawks -1.0 (over/under 47.5)

Update: Seahawks WR Josh Gordon (substance abuse) will not play

This is pretty much for the NFC West title and an ability to stay afloat for the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the NFC Playoffs. By virtue of their disastrous Week 15 loss to the previously winless Jets, these Rams are 9-5 on the season and one game ahead of Seattle. Even then, they can tie for the division while boasting the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win here.

Related: Is Jared Goff the answer in Los Angeles?

There’s one dramatic difference between these two squads, a difference that should lead Sean McVay and the Rams to a win. Led by Aaron Donald, their defense has recorded a whopping 44 sacks in 14 games. Jared Goff himself has gone down just 20 times. On the other hand, Hawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 41 times. Look for that to be the biggest difference in what should be a close game even after last week’s pathetic performance.

NFL Week 16 predictions: Rams 30, Seahawks 27

NFL Week 16 Sunday Night Football

Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers

NFL Week 16: Titans-Packers
Jan 19, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) shoes a touchdown against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward (35) during the first quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 8:20 PM EST, NBC

Titans-Packers Week 16 point spread: Packers -3.0 (over/under 54.0)

Aaron Rodgers vs. Derrick Henry. A matchup between two NFL MVP candidates with a ton of postseason ramifications. The NFL could not have asked for a better Week 16 “Sunday Night Football” matchup. Tennessee sits at 10-4 on the season and in a first place tie with the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South. Green Bay has already won its division, but is doing battle for a first-round bye. 

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The one glaring issue for Mike Vrabel’s Titans has been on the defensive side of the ball. This unit is giving up 25.8 points per game and has recorded a league-low 14 sacks. That’s not a recipe for success against a Packers quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who has thrown 40 touchdowns against four interceptions and has been sacked a mere 18 times. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Packers 35, Titans 31

NFL Week 16 Monday Night Football

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

NFL Week 16: Bills-Patriots
Jan 4, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) forces Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) to fumble during the fourth quarter in the AFC Wild Card NFL Playoff game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 8:15 PM EST, ESPN

Bills-Patriots Week 16 point spread: Bills -7.0 (over/under 46.0)

Related: Bills not concerned over Stefon Diggs’ ankle injury

Back in Week 8, Buffalo disposed of the Patriots by the score of 24-21 in a tight affair in Western New York. More than anything, it was a still-impressive New England defense that kept that game close. Unfortunately for Bill Belichick and Co., Cam Newton’s struggles under center and a lack of skill-position talent has limited this team to just 21.3 points per game. 

Related: Patriots QB options for 2021

That’s not going to cut it against Josh Allen and Buffalo in Week 16. The third-year quarterback continues to play out of his mind, tallying 38 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions on the season after a brilliant Week 15 outing against Denver. With Buffalo looking for a top two seed after clinching its first AFC East title and New England officially eliminates from playoff contention, I am not expecting a competitive affair.

NFL Week 16 predictions: Bills 28, Patriots 13

NFL Week 16 Christmas Day football

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

NFL Week 16: Vikings-Saints
Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 4:30 PM EST, Fox/Amazon/NFL Network

Vikings-Saints Week 16 point spread: Saints -7.0 (over/under 51.0)

Drew Brees returned last week and will once against be back for this rivalry game after missing four games (ribs, lung) to injury. This is great news for a Saints team that’s one game behind Green Bay for the top spot in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye. Despite showing glimpses of brilliance, Taysom Hill has not elevated the Saints’ offense since taking over for Brees. And while the latter did not play necessarily well in his return Week 15 against the Chiefs, he’s an upgrade.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Saints, check out #Saints rumors, rankings, and news here.

As for the Vikings, they are 6-8 on the season and pretty much done when it comes to the NFC Playoff race. Kirk Cousins and Co. were behind the proverbial eight-ball from the get, going 1-5 on the season. Recent losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears add another layer to this. Given that Minnesota doesn’t have much to play for here, I am not expecting a terribly inspiring effort from Mike Zimmer’s squad.

NFL Week 16 predictions: Saints 31, Vikings 20

NFL Week 16 Saturday football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

NFL Week 16: Buccaneers-Lions
Dec 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) points against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, NFL Network

Buccaneers-Lions Week 16 point spread: Buccaneers -9.5 (over/under 54.0)

A total of 30 passing touchdowns for the eighth time in his career. Leading a team that boasts an 9-5 record and is a good bet for the playoffs after a comeback Week 15 win over Atlanta. Yes, we’re talking about one Mr. Tom Brady. Despite some issues with interceptions (seven in the past six games), Brady is still leading an offense averaging over 29 points per game. 

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On the other side sits a five-win Lions team that’s pretty much playing out the string following the firing of head coach Matt Patricia. Detroit is giving up a ridiculous 31.1 points per game and an opposing 107.0 passer rating. Expect Brady and Co. to take advantage of this in a big way. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Buccaneers 34, Lions 16

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

NFL Week 16: 49ers-Cardinals, Kyler Murray
Nov 19, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 4:30 PM EST, Amazon

49ers-Cardinals Week 16 point spread: Cardinals -5.0 (over/under 49.0)

Update: Nick Mullens, Raheem Mostert out for the 49ers

Update: 49ers sign QB Josh Rosen

At 5-9 on the season, the injury-plagued 49ers are playing out the string. It’s been a disastrous season for the defending NFC champs. How bad is it? San Francisco doesn’t even have a home to play in right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also started mistake-prone quarterback Nick Mullens over the lesser of two evils in that of C.J. Beathard with Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined. That’s until Mullens himself was injured. That did not turn out too swimmingly as Mullens turned the ball over another three times during Week 15’s loss to the Cowboys en route to San Francisco being eliminated from playoff contention.

Related: 49ers quarterback options for 2021

Arizona is in a completely different situation. It currently boasts a one-game lead over the Bears for the final playoff spot in the NFC after a blowout Week 14 win over the New York Giants and a huge win this past Sunday against a game Philadelphia squad. This came after the team lost three consecutive games. Riding a high with a postseason spot on the line, I see no reason why the Cardinals will have a problem with San Francisco in this one. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Cardinals 24, 49ers 20

Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders

NFL Week 16: Dolphins-Raiders
Dec 13, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) celebrates his touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Time/station: 8:15 PM EST, NFL Network

Dolphins-Raiders Week 16 point spread: Dolphins -3.0 (over/under 47.5)

Update: Raider QB Derek Carr (groin) likely to play

Despite boasting a 7-7 record, Jon Gruden and the Raiders are a complete mess right now. That’s especially true on the defensive side of the ball following the firing of Paul Guenther. Las Vegas is giving up an average of 30.1 points per game. Its run defense is a complete mess as evidenced by the fact that Jonathan Taylor put up a career-best performance against this unit in Week 14. The Raiders then didn’t do themselves any favors during a late-game meltdown against the division-rival Chargers last week.

Related: NFL Week 16 injury report

As for the 9-5 Dolphins, they need this win big time in order to maintain their status as the final wildcard team in the AFC. This comes after a hard-fought Week 15 win over New England that saw Miami without its three top pass catchers. Needless to say, this is a huge game for rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and young head coach Brian Flores. Expect the team to be up to the task here. 

NFL Week 16 predictions: Dolphins 28, Raiders 24