The penultimate week in the NFL’s regular season begins on Christmas Eve when the Chargers travel to Oakland. The Redskins and Eagles contest a critical game in the NFC East on Saturday, while Sunday’s early window is highlighted by the Patriots taking on the Jets. The second set of games on Sunday features Green Bay visiting Arizona. The Giants and Vikings were flexed to Sunday Night Football, but the best game of the week might be Monday’s Bengals/Broncos clash.
Let’s take a look at the full slate.
San Diego (4-10 at Oakland (6-8) – Spread: Raiders -5.5
It feels a bit ironic that the Raiders final home game in Oakland comes against another team seriously considering relocation. (I don’t think the winner gets to move and the loser has to stay in their current home, but that would add intrigue to the game.) The Raiders are 60-50-2 all-time against the Chargers and dominated their earlier tilt this season (cruising to a 37-29 win after holding a 30-6 halftime lead). But San Diego won three straight before that.
On the year, Oakland is 2-5 at home straight up and against the spread after falling to the Packers in Week 15. They beat the Ravens and Jets and suffered setbacks against Cincinnati, Denver, Minnesota, and Kansas City.
The Chargers are 1-5 on the road but 4-2 ATS. Their recent trips resulted in a victory in Jacksonville, and fairly close losses at Green Bay, Baltimore, and Kansas City. San Diego dominated Miami at home on Sunday.
Washington (7-7) at Philadelphia (6-8) – Spread: Eagles -3
The Redskins, who have been a nightmare on the road this year (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS), got their first win away from home in Week 14, beating Chicago 24-21. Before that, they lost double-digit road games to the Giants, Jets, Pats, and Panthers, along with an OT setback to the Falcons 25-19. Washington handled Buffalo in DC 35-25 on Sunday.
Philly lost at home on Sunday Night Football to Arizona 40-17 in Week 15. The Eagles are 3-4 at home overall and for betting purposes. They lost to Dallas, Miami, and Tampa Bay while beating the Saints, Giants, and Bills.
Indianapolis (6-8) at Miami (5-9) – Spread: TBA – Who will play QB for the Colts?
The Fins are playing out the string with a strange schedule that has them at home four times in the final five weeks. Miami beat the Ravens, 15-13, in Week 13 but then lost to the Giants, 31-24, in Week 14. For the season, the Dolphins are 2-4 in Miami and a woeful 1-5 against the spread. Recently, the crowd at Sun Life has been pretty mixed in terms of which team they’re supporting. The Dolphins not only lost at San Diego in Week 15, but two offensive lineman left the game with injuries.
Despite Andrew Luck missing most of the year, the Colts were in great shape to make the playoffs before road losses at Pittsburgh (45-10) and Jacksonville (51-16) moved them level with Houston in the AFC South. Hosting Houston in Week 14, the Colts led early, but failed to hold on, and now they need wins and help to make the playoffs. Indianapolis is 3-4 on the road straight up and against the number.
New England (12-2) at New York Jets (9-5) – Spread: Patriots -3
When these teams met in Week 7, the Patriots trailed early in the fourth quarter, but got a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Danny Amendola to take the lead midway through the final stanza. Brady’s hook-up with Rob Gronkowski late in the quarter put the game on ice. The Jets can feel good about the fact that they played the Pats tough on the road; but that won’t ease the pain of losing three straight and eight of nine to their fiercest rival.
New England is 5-1 on the road and 3-3 ATS. They lost at Denver, 30-24, but won at the Texans, Giants, Colts, Cowboys, and Bills. The Patriots blew out Tennessee at home last week. New York is 5-2 overall and 4-3 against the number at home; they’ve won two straight at home, crushing Tennessee in Week 14 and the Dolphins in Week 12. The Jets won at in come-from-behind fashion at Dallas last Saturday.
Houston (7-7) at Tennessee (3-11) – Spread: TBA – Quarterback situation unclear
While the Titans are 15-12 all-time against Houston, the Texans have won three straight and six of seven in the series. At the start of November, Houston beat Tennessee, 20-6, in Texas. The Titans committed three turnovers in the game and the Houston D contained rookie pivot Marcus Mariota.
Tennessee is 1-6 at home and 2-4-1 against the spread. They beat the Jaguars in a shootout during Week 13, but lost to the Colts, Bills, Dolphins, Falcons, Panthers, and Raiders. In Sunday’s road loss at New England, Mariota was injured and is out for the season.
Houston is 3-4 SU and ATS on the road after winning at Indianapolis in Week 14. The Texans won at Jacksonville and Cincinnati while falling in Buffalo, Miami, Atlanta, and Carolina. They remain firmly in the hunt for the AFC South despite a middling record.
Cleveland (3-11) at Kansas City (9-5) – Spread: Chiefs -12.5
The end of the season is no cakewalk for the Browns, whose tilt with the red-hot Chiefs is sandwiched between an ugly road load at Seattle in Week 15 and a home game with the Steelers to wrap up the year. Cleveland is 1-5 on the road and 2-4 against the spread with their lone triumph on the road coming in Baltimore (33-30).
Kansas City is 4-2 at home and 3-3 for betting purposes. The Chiefs have won eight straight following Sunday’s victory in Baltimore. KC’s four home Ws have all come on their current win streak (over the Steelers, Lions, Bills, and Chargers). Their two home setbacks came against Denver (in a game Jamaal Charles literally fumbled away in the dying moments) and Chicago (by one point).
San Francisco (4-10) at Detroit (5-9) – Spread: Lions -9
The 49ers have just one road win (at Chicago, 26-20 in Week 13). They are 1-6 on the road and 2-5 against the number. They covered in a three-point loss against the Giants in New York in October. San Francisco continues to be the lowest scoring team in the NFL. They lost at home to the Bengals 24-14 last week.
Detroit (3-4 home, 2-5 ATS) briefly flirted with playoff contention during a three-game win streak that included home Ws over the Raiders and Eagles and a road win in Green Bay. That came and went, though, and this final home game of the season is rather meaningless thanks, in large part, to Aaron Rodgers’ backbreaking Hail Mary in Week 13. Detroit is playing on a short week after beating the Saints on Monday Night Football.
Dallas (4-10) at Buffalo (6-8) – Spread: Bills -6
This will be the Cowboys’ final road game in a lost season. Dallas has actually been half-decent on the road, going 3-4 straight up and against the spread. (They went 8-0 road SU last year, remember.) They won road games against the Giants and Dolphins with Tony Romo and beat the Redskins without him. Dallas lost in the final seconds at home last Saturday to the Jets.
The Bills enter this contest having played five of their last six on the road. In their last home game, they beat Houston, 30-21, in Week 13, improving the team to 3-3 SU and ATS at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo also beat Indianapolis and Miami in front of their fans early in the season. The Bills lost to Washington 35-25 over the weekend.
Chicago (5-9) at Tampa Bay (6-8) – Spread: Bucs -3
The Bears have been a good road team this year. After falling at Minnesota in Week 15, Chicago is 4-3 away from home and 5-2 for betting purposes. They won at Green Bay, 17-13, in Week 12. They also have victories in Kansas City, San Diego, and St. Louis.
The Bucs are 3-4 straight up and against the spread in Tampa. They fell at home to New Orleans, 24-17, in Week 14, though, all but crushing their playoff hopes. Their home wins came at the disposal of Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Dallas, which currently look like three of the worst teams in the league. Tampa Bay lost at St. Louis 31-23 in a game that wasn’t that close during Thursday Night Football in Week 15.
Carolina (14-0) at Atlanta (7-7) – Spread: Panthers -7
In Week 14, the Panthers destroyed Atlanta, 38-0, in a game that was over in the first quarter. The Falcons turned the ball over four times and the Panthers nearly doubled up Atlanta in total yards. Carolina has won five of the last six meetings with the Falcons but trail the all-time series 24-17.
The Panthers blew a big lead in New York against the Giants, but rallied to win 38-35 and stay unbeaten on Sunday. Carolina is 7-0 on the road and 5-2 against the spread. They failed to cover was a three-point win at New Orleans.
The Falcons are 3-3 at home and 2-4 against the number. They won and covered against the Eagles and Texans during the first month of the season. They’ve dropped their last three against Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and Minnesota. Atlanta won at Tampa Bay in Week 15.
Pittsburgh (9-5) at Baltimore (4-10) – Spread: Steelers -10
A classic AFC North rivalry is only relevant for the Steelers this season. Pittsburgh survived a stretch without Ben Roethlisberger and now conclude the year with back-to-back divisional road games. Pittsburgh is 3-3 on the road and 3-2-1 against the number, most recently winning at Cincinnati in Week 14 and falling to Seattle in Week 12. The Steelers came from behind to beat Denver in the Steel City on Sunday.
The Ravens lost tight games early in the season and threw in the towel when injuries hit the squad hard in the middle of the year. Baltimore will be playing a third straight home game in this one. They were rocked by the Seahawks in Week 14 and weren’t much better against the Chiefs in Week 15. The Ravens are 2-5 in Baltimore and 0-6-1 ATS.
Jacksonville (5-9) at New Orleans (5-9) – Spread: TBA – Drew Brees is questionable
Neither team is headed to the postseason, but the two franchises are in very different places. Jacksonville is having their best season since 2010 while the Saints may post their worst record since 2005, and are pondering whether coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees are part of their future plans.
The Jags are 1-5 on the road but 3-2-1 against the spread. Their only road game during the last month was a 42-39 loss in Tennessee. Their lone road win came at Baltimore (22-20) on a last-second field goal that never should have been. Jacksonville lost as a home favorite against Atlanta on Sunday.
New Orleans is 3-4 at home and 3-3-1 against the number after falling to the Lions on Monday night. The Saints have home wins over the Giants, Cowboys, and Falcons.
St. Louis (6-8) at Seattle (9-5) – Spread: Seahawks -13.5
The Rams started the year strong, surprising defending conference champs Seattle (34-31) in Week 1. But things have gone off the rails recently; the team lost five straight before a 21-14 home win over Detroit in Week 14. They made it two straight beating the Bucs on Thursday night in Week 15. St. Louis has just one road victory (against the Cardinals in Week 4) and are 1-4-1 against the spread on the road. The Rams were destroyed at Cincinnati, 31-7 in their last game outside of Missouri.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks, once 2-4 on the year, are now entrenched in an NFC Wild Card spot. Seattle dominated the Browns at home in Week 15 and have won five straight and seven of eight. The Seahawks are 5-2 at home and 4-3 ATS. During their recent winning streak they have victories at home over San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
Green Bay (10-4) at Arizona (12-2) – Spread: Cardinals -4
This is a second straight road game for the Packers after winning in Oakland on Sunday. Green Bay is 5-2 away from home (both SU and ATS). They started 2-0 with wins at the Bears and Niners, dropped a pair to the Broncos and Panthers, and then won another two over the Vikes and Lions.
The Cardinals difficult late-season slate continues (and it won’t get any easier in Week 17 against the Seahawks). Arizona is 5-1 at home but just 2-4 against the spread. They edged Minnesota (23-20) in Week 14. They also beat Cincinnati by three in Week 11 (34-31), and only got by Baltimore by one score in Week 8 (26-18). The Cardinals crushed Philadelphia on road last week.
New York Giants (6-8) at Minnesota (9-5) – Spread: Vikings -6
Both teams will be in need of wins with the Giants pursuing the NFC East title and the Vikings in prime position for a Wild Card berth (if not an NFC North crown). Minnesota is 14-12 all-time against the Giants, but New York has won two straight.
The G-men are 3-4 on the road and 4-2-1 against the spread. Their last three road games are wins against the Bucs and Dolphins, and a loss at Washington. Not only did New York lose a tight game at home with Carolina on Sunday, but star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was suspended for this contest because of his extracurricular activities during the Panthers game. Beckham is appealing the suspension.
The Vikings are 5-2 straight up and against the number at home after beating the Bears in Week 15. Minnesota has dropped their last two home contests against Green Bay (30-13) and Seattle (38-7).
Cincinnati (11-3) at Denver (10-4) – Spread: Broncos -3.5
The winner of this game has an excellent chance at securing a playoff bye, though neither team looks as strong as they did a month ago. The Broncos have a bit of a quarterback controversy going on between veteran Peyton Manning, who struggled early in the year before getting injured, and youngster Brock Osweiler. Meanwhile, the Bengals lost Andy Dalton in a Week 14 loss to Pittsburgh. He won’t be back until the playoffs at the earliest.
This is a second straight west coast road game for the Bengals who won at San Francisco during Week 15. The Bengals are 6-1 away from home (7-0 ATS). Their only loss was a 34-31 setback at Arizona.
Denver is 4-2 at home and 3-3 ATS. They lost to Oakland, 15-12, in Week 14 and fell to the Chiefs, 29-13, in Week 10. They have an impressive list of home wins, beating the Pats, Packers, Vikings, and Ravens at Mile High. The Broncos gave away a big lead in Pittsburgh during Week 15.
(Photo credit: Austin Kirk (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)