Six teams on upset alert in NFL Week 16

Nov 5, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and running back Alvin Kamara (41) celebrate a score against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY

The regular season is almost over as teams scrap for playoff positioning in NFL Week 16, and we expect to see some big-time upsets taking place.

There’s a ton of divisional rivalry games going on, and the race for the top spot in the NFC is something special with four teams tied atop the conference. All the pressure will lead to some fun games for fans to watch.

These are the six teams we’re placing on upset alert in NFL Week 16.

Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots (-6.5)

A game that features two dominant defenses, this AFC East rivalry game is crucial. A Patriots loss could lead to Buffalo claiming the division for the first time since the Clinton Administration.

The reason we’re putting the Patriots on upset alert is that, quite simply, Tom Brady and his offense has been a mediocre wreck. The 42-year-old quarterback is dealing with an elbow injury that video showed may be more serious than the team has let on. Now with Julian Edelman banged up and few options of reliable production, the offense has struggled even against lesser defenses.

Buffalo’s defense is legit. If Josh Allen can manage to not turn the ball over, the Bills should win and surge to the top of the AFC East.

Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)

After coming out of the toughest three-game late-season stretch in NFL history with a 2-1 record, the 49ers emerged banged up and exhausted. The result was a stunning loss to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday that has the 49ers needing to win out to claim the top spot in the NFC.

The Rams are healthier than the 49ers right now, and they have the running game to attack San Francisco’s area of weakness on defense. If Jimmy Garoppolo stays cold, like he was last Sunday, the Rams can upset the balance of power and get a revenge win over their long-time NFC West rival.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) vs. New York Jets

Mike Tomlin has done a masterful job with the Steelers in 2019, but the extent of his powers ends when it’s time for quarterbacks to execute the offense. Last weekend, Devlin Hodges sunk Pittsburgh’s chance at a win with four brutal interceptions.

Though the Jets have taken a few steps back in recent weeks, they have shown the ability to play excellent defensive football against consistent offenses. And with Sam Darnold under center, the Jets have been competent offensively, outside of the Cincinnati game last month.

Should Hodges turn the ball over again and Darnold lets the game come to him, the Jets can pull off a huge upset and deal the Steelers a enormous blow as they attempt to secure a playoff spot.

New Orleans Saints (-2.5) vs. Tennessee Titans

After watching the Saints the past two weeks, it seems impossible to think they will somehow hit a wall. Then you realize the Saints will be away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 16. So, maybe, the Titans can get to the future Hall of Famer in front of their home crowd — outdoors on a day that could feature a wet field and rain.

On top of the weather, the Titans are a good football team right now. Ryan Tannehill is playing out-of-his-mind and the offense is a well-balanced machine. Tennessee’s defense is darn good, possessing pass rushers and talented defensive backs who work well in tandem.

Dallas Cowboys (-2) vs. Philadelphia Eagles

There’s a reason we’re high on Dallas selecting a top receiver in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Even with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, Dallas’ offense needs another playmaker. Now, with Dak Prescott dealing with an injury to his shoulder, it’s going to be very interesting to see if the Cowboys lean more on Ezekiel Elliott than they have all season in Week 16.

Regardless of who gets the heavy workload offensively, the big reason we’ve put the Cowboys on upset alert in NFL Week 16 is that their defense isn’t doing it right now. The Los Angeles Rams just took a sledgehammer to this unit, and even though the Eagles come into Sunday’s game with two healthy receivers, we see them having the ability to dictate offensively and win this game at home.

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)

Dalvin Cook may not play. His backup, Alexander Mattison, hasn’t practiced all week and likely will not play. Assuming both of these young running backs are out Monday night, it means the burden of propelling the offense rests almost exclusively on Kirk Cousins’ shoulders. And with the pass rush the Packers bring, that could be bad news for the Vikings.

Given the talent both teams have on both sides of the ball, this game likely won’t be decided until late. But given Aaron Rodgers’ reputation for late-game heroics, we’re banking on him to deliver on the road and to become “King of the North” once again.