Normally it’s Sundays that are the big day for the NFL, but not so in Week 16. It’s Christmas Eve, Saturday, that features a majority of the games, and all the big games with playoff implications. So, for this week’s edition of the Friday Five, I’m looking at the five games on the Christmas Eve slate that have caught my eye.
Saturday Early Games:
Seattle Seahawks (7-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
About: The Seahawks are reeling. At 7-7, they are barely hanging on to the playoff race. And they face a fierce Week 16 battle that has the potential to drop them below .500 late in the season. The Chiefs, meanwhile, survived a scare in Houston in Week 15 and remain hot on the heels of the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs are looking to secure the AFC West title, again, but also to possibly slide into the No. 1 seed. This has big playoff implications for both teams and figures to be an interesting battle.
New York Giants (8-5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
About: The Vikings won the NFC North in spectacular fashion with a come-from-behind win for the ages. But there’s work yet to be done. Their place in the playoffs is secure, the seeding is not. They’re still in the running for the No. 1 seed, as long as they win and get some help. They’re also trying to stay ahead of the 49ers. The Giants, meanwhile, got a huge win on Sunday night against the Commanders. It moved them to eight wins and assured they won’t have a losing season. They would be in the playoffs if it started today but they need to keep winning to improve their seed and secure their spot. This is a battle of two NFC hopefuls.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-4) at New England Patriots (7-7)
About: This is a tale of two teams that had radically different Week 15 experiences. The Bengals were down big in Tampa Bay before rallying late for a 34-23 win. The win moved them into sole possession of first place in the AFC North, but the Bengals aren’t far behind. The Patriots, meanwhile, squandered a shot at overtime with a ridiculous play that handed the win to the Raiders. Now sitting at 7-7, the Patriots are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. They need to get wins down the stretch if they want to get back to the post-season. Both teams are motivated to win and both have a lot on the line in New England this Christmas Eve.
Saturday Late Games:
Washington Commanders (7-6-1) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
About: The Commanders’ post-season hopes were dealt a blow Sunday night as they fell 20-12 to the Giants. That leaves the team at 7-6-1 with three games left, including games with the 49ers, Browns and Cowboys. The Commanders need wins to keep the pressure on the Giants and Lions in the playoff race. Heading to battle the leagues’ top defense on Christmas Eve is more than a challenge. Even with a rookie third-string quarterback, the 49ers remain hot. The team won the NFC West in Week 15 and remain just a game back of the Vikings for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Can Brock Purdy keep his spotless record intact? That’s the challenge facing the 49ers’ rookie on Christmas Eve.
Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
About: The Cowboys are a long shot to win the NFC East but technically there’s still a chance. They need to win out, and that begins with holding serve at home against the Eagles. The Cowboys haven’t been sharp of late, nearly losing at home to the Texans before surrendering 40 points and the game to the Jaguars in Week 15. Fortunately they catch a break as the Eagles are likely without starting quarterback and MVP candidate Jalen Hurts. This figures to be a key game in defining the seeding in the NFC and deciding the future of the 2022 NFC East.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.