WEEK 16 FEATURES FOOTBALL ON FOUR STRAIGHT DAYS
AS PLAYOFF PICTURE COMES INTO FOCUS
With four straight days of football, a Christmas Day contest, a Saturday tripleheader and two clashes of teams with 10-or-more wins – including a Sunday night showdown on the Frozen Tundra – the NFL’s stockings are full entering Week 16.
CHRISTMAS DAY GAMES: The MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-8) and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-4) kick off Week 16 with a Christmas Day game on Friday (4:30 PM, FOX/NFLN/Amazon). The Saints will clinch a fourth consecutive NFC South title with a win. Including the postseason, this will be the 22nd game played on Christmas Day since the 1970 league merger. That list includes the longest game in NFL history, Dec. 25, 1971, when Miami defeated Kansas City, 27-24, in double overtime to advance in the AFC playoffs.
- Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON is the fifth rookie with at least six games of 100-or-more receiving yards in history, joining BILL GROMAN (nine games in 1960), ODELL BECKHAM JR. (seven games in 2014), HARLON HILL (seven games in 1954) and BILLY HOWTON (six games in 1952).
COMEBACK BUCS, BRADY KICK OFF SATURDAY TRIPLEHEADER: The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (9-5) and DETROIT LIONS (5-9) play the first of three Saturday games this week (1:00 PM ET, NFLN). Tampa Bay can clinch its first playoff berth since 2007 with a win.
- Buccaneers quarterback TOM BRADY is expected to start his 298th regular-season game and tie the NFL record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE, who made 298 starts from 1991-2010. Saturday also will mark the 300th regular-season game in Brady’s career, making him the 12th player ever to reach that milestone.
- Last week, Brady passed for 390 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 110.4 rating. He now has 19 career games with at least 375 passing yards and two touchdown passes, surpassing PHILIP RIVERS (18 games) for the third-most such games in NFL history. Only DREW BREES (32) and PEYTON MANNING (20) have more.
- The Buccaneers overcame a 17-point deficit to win last week. It marked the fourth time this season Tampa Bay has come back from a deficit of at least 10 points, tied with the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (four comebacks of 10-or-more points) for most in the NFL.
- Throughout the NFL this season, there have been 40 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win, the most through Week 15 in league history.
- There also have been eight games in a which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 17 points to win, trailing only the 2011 season (nine games) for the most ever through Week 15.
FROM LAST PLACE TO THE PLAYOFFS: In 15 of the previous 17 seasons (2003-19), at least one NFL team has made the leap from last or tied for last in its division to the playoffs the following season. Six teams have done it over the last three seasons, including the 2017 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES, who won Super Bowl LII after finishing last in the NFC East in 2016. This season, three teams are vying to join that group: the ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-6), MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5) and WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (6-8).
- Washington, which hosts Carolina on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, CBS), can clinch its first division title and playoff berth since 2015 with a win and a Giants loss or tie.
- The Cardinals, who will clinch their first playoff berth since 2015 with a win and a Chicago loss or tie, host San Francisco in the second of three games on Saturday (4:30 PM ET, Amazon).
- Last week, quarterback KYLER MURRAY passed for 406 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 127.8 rating and added a rushing touchdown.
- Murray has nine games with both a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown this season, the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history.
- Murray has 10 career games with both a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown and is the fourth quarterback with 10 such games in his first two seasons in NFL history, joining CAM NEWTON (14 games), JOSH ALLEN (10) and STEVE GROGAN (10).
- Murray, who has 26 touchdown passes and 11 rushing touchdowns this season, joined CAM NEWTON (2015) as the only quarterbacks with at least 25 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.
SIX TEAMS VYING FOR FOUR BERTHS IN AFC: Six AFC teams – the BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5), CLEVELAND BROWNS (10-4), INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-4), LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (7-7), MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5) and TENNESSEE TITANS (10-4) – are battling for the final four playoff berths in the conference. One of those spots will go to the AFC South winner, either the Colts or Titans.
- Miami is in Las Vegas on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, NFLN) for a key AFC tilt. If the Dolphins can secure a playoff berth, Miami will have gone from last place in its division the previous year to the postseason.
COLTS-STEELERS CLASH IN STEEL CITY: With a win and a loss by Miami or Baltimore, the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-4) can cement a spot in the AFC playoffs when they meet the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-3) on Sunday at Heinz Field (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Pittsburgh, meanwhile, can clinch its first AFC North division title since 2017 with a win over the Colts.
- The game is one of two involving teams with 10-or-more wins on the NFL’s Week 16 docket, preceding the Sunday night battle between Tennessee and Green Bay.
- In four of the past six seasons (2014-19), a similar matchup involving teams with 10-or-more wins in Week 16 or later has produced an eventual Super Bowl team. The 2019 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 2016 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, 2015 DENVER BRONCOS and 2014 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS each vaulted to the Super Bowl after a late-season showdown against an opponent with at least 10 wins.
- This week, both Pittsburgh and the WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (vs. Carolina on Sunday, 4:05 PM ET, CBS) can clinch divisions after missing the playoffs last season.
- At least two NFL teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.
SUNDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN AT LAMBEAU: In an interconference battle of first-place teams, the TENNESSEE TITANS (10-4) head north to meet the GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-3) on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC).
- The Titans can clinch a playoff berth with a win, a Miami loss Saturday or a Baltimore loss earlier in the day on Sunday. Tennessee can capture its first AFC South division title since 2008 with a win and a Colts loss.
- Green Bay can nail down the NFC’s No. 1 seed and the conference’s only first-round bye with a win combined with a Seattle loss or tie.
- Tennessee has generated at least 30 points and 420-or-more yards of total offense in five consecutive games. The Titans are one of five teams in history with such a streak. If Tennessee reaches each of those marks on Sunday night, Tennessee will become the first team in history with at least 30 points and 420-or-more yards of total offense in six consecutive games.
- Titans running back DERRICK HENRY has recorded at least 100 rushing yards in nine consecutive road games, the second-longest streak in NFL history. With 100 rushing yards on Sunday night, he will match the NFL record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer BARRY SANDERS (10 consecutive games from 1996-97).
- Henry, who led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and had 16 rushing touchdowns in 2019, has 1,679 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns this season and joined SHAUN ALEXANDER (2004-05), Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (1997-98) and LARRY JOHNSON (2005-06) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,500 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons.
- Last week, Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL became the third player with a passer rating of 145-or-higher, three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns in a single game in NFL history, joining JACK KEMP (Dec. 4, 1960) and MICHAEL VICK (Nov. 15, 2010).
- Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS leads the league with 40 touchdown passes and a 118.0 passer rating (minimum 100 attempts). Rodgers has 3,828 passing yards in 2020 and needs 172 to reach 4,000 in a season for the ninth time in his career. Last week, Rodgers became the first player in NFL history with three seasons of at least 40 touchdown passes. He also reached the mark in 2016 (40 touchdown passes) and his MVP-winning 2011 season (45).
- Packers wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS enters Week 16 with 98 receptions for 1,186 yards and ranks second in the league with 14 touchdown receptions. On Sunday night, he can become the sixth player with at least 100 receptions, 1,200 receiving yards and 15 touchdown receptions in a single season in NFL history.
CHIEFS AMONG TOP DEFENDING SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-1) can secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and the lone first-round bye with a win against the ATLANTA FALCONS (4-10) at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Kansas City is seeking to match the best regular season by a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history.
- Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 254 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 92.0 rating last week. Mahomes has 21 career games with at least three touchdown passes, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (21) for the second-most such games by a quarterback in his first four seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (27) has more.
- Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE ranks second in the NFL with 1,318 receiving yards. The first tight end with at least 1,200 receiving yards in three seasons in NFL history, Kelce needs 60 receiving yards on Sunday to surpass GEORGE KITTLE (1,377 receiving yards in 2018) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.
- Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN passed for 356 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 110.6 rating on Sunday. Ryan has 343 touchdown passes in his 13-year career and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer FRAN TARKENTON (342 touchdown passes) for the 10th-most touchdown passes in NFL history.
RESOUNDING ROOKIE: When the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-13) host the CHICAGO BEARS (7-7) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), running back JAMES ROBINSON has an opportunity to make further history.
- Robinson, who has 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving), needs one more to establish the most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. He’s currently tied with PHILLIP LINDSAY (10 in 2018) and DOMINIC RHODES (10 in 2001).
- Robinson already has 1,414 yards from scrimmage, the most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era, having surpassed Rhodes (1,328 in 2001) and Lindsay (1,278 in 2018).
ALLEN, BILLS CLOSE WEEK 16 ON MONDAY NIGHT: The BUFFALO BILLS (11-3), who’ve clinched the AFC East division title for the first time since 1995, travel to Gillette Stadium to meet the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-8) in the season’s final Monday Night Football contest (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
- Last week, Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN became the first quarterback in NFL history with at least eight rushing touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.
- Bills wide receiver STEFON DIGGS leads the NFL with a franchise-record 111 receptions and ranks third in the league with 1,314 receiving yards.
- This season, 13 Buffalo players have caught at least one touchdown pass, tied for the most in NFL history.
WEEK 16 NFL SCHEDULE
FRIDAY-MONDAY, DECEMBER 25-28
Friday, Dec. 25 (Christmas)
Minnesota at New Orleans, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 26
Tampa Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m.
San Francisco at Arizona, 4:30 p.m.
Miami at Las Vegas, 8:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, Dec. 27
Cincinnati at Houston, 1 p.m.
Chicago at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Atlanta at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Cleveland at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Denver at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle, 4:05 p.m.
Carolina at Washington, 4:05 p.m.
Philadelphia at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Tennessee at Green Bay, 8:20 p.m. (SNF)
Monday, Dec. 28
Buffalo at New England, 8:15 p.m.