NFL's Week 16 Late Game Previews


Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson

Los Angeles Rams (11-3) vs. Arizona Cardinals (3-11)

Preview

The Rams have surrendered to games in a row falling 1 game behind the Saints for Home field advantage, while also having the lost the head-to-head to New Orleans. Now, without help, it will be a miracle if the Rams receive the first seed in the AFC. However, if the Rams can get back on track with a win against their division foe and a loss from Chicago would still lead to a first round bye and an opportunity to sit LAR’s stars in week 17. Although the Rams still have reason to fight, the Cardinals find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum. Currently holding the number 1 slot in the 2019 NFL Draft, Arizona has every reason to lose this game securing them the top selection; however, that scenario is unlikely to happen. Cases where teams fold for Draft picks cause mayhem in the locker room and could lead to a lack of respect in the coaching room. The Cardinals will come out firing, if they are effective or not.


Players to watch

The Cardinals suffered a blowout loss to Atlanta last week,. And it saw first round pick Josh Rosen get benched for Mike Glennon late in the contest. With high expectations revolving around his future, Rosen will attempt to lead the Cardinals 32nd ranked offense to a victory against the vaunted Rams roster. There has been one weak link all year in the Rams defensive system and that has been their run game; David Johnson will need to have a solid performance in order to steal this victory and send the Rams to their third loss in a row. On the opposite side of the ball, Patrick Peterson will have his hands full covering Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, one of the top receiver duos in the league. With Jared Goff struggling as of late, all eyes will be on him to protect the ball and get it to his playmakers. Although the Rams have a bunch of All-stars on their roster, the team revolves around Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald. If they both have a dominant outing against a rookie quarterback, banged up offensive and a run defense ranked in the bottom three, Los Angeles should be just fine. Watch for newly signed running back and former Denver Bronco and Carolina Panther CJ Anderson, as he will assume the lead back role in LARs backfield in the event Gurley can’t go.


Keys to the game

Arizona Cardinals

Establish the run

Protect the Ball

Give Rosen Time in the Pocket


Los Angeles Rams

Pressure Josh Rosen

Spread out the Offense

Control the Clock


Injury list

Arizona Cardinals

Rudy Ford, S - Ribs (Questionable)

Markus Golden, DE - Ankle (Questionable)

Rodney Gunter, DT - Foot (Questionable)

Will Holden, OL - Shoulder (Questionable)

J.J. Nelson, WR - Illness (Questionable)

Patrick Peterson, CB - Illness (Questionable)

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE - Illness (Questionable)


Los Angeles Rams

Todd Gurley, RB - Knee (Questionable)

Justin Davis, RB - Shoulder (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Todd Gurley, RB (LAR)

Jared Goff, QB (LAR)

Brandin Cooks, WR (LAR)

David Johnson, RB (AZ)

Robert Woods, WR (LAR)


Prediction

With the Rams still in contention for a first round bye in the playoffs, they will be playing at full power, and they should be hungry for a win after two upsetting losses. Although Jared Goff has 5 interceptions and 0 touchdowns in their last two outings, he should get back on track against a mediocre defense, while Todd Gurley controls the game from the get-go. Although the Rams won’t risk further injury to their star back, he has previously said, “I think I will be fine” for the game on Sunday. He will test out his knee in pregame warmups resulting in a game-time decision. Divisional matchups could go either way in any given week, but this matchup shouldn’t be thought of as a struggle, as it should get out of hand fast falling in the Rams favor.


Final Score: Rams 34, Cardinals 13


Written by: Jason Feiner



Chicago Bears (10-4) vs. San Francisco 49ers (4-10)

Preview

The Bears are coming off two impressive wins and clinched the NFC North, claiming a playoff spot in the process. On the heels of back to back victories against the second place Rams and the division foe Packers, the bears are finding their momentum with the postseason on the horizon. With some added help from LAR, the Bears could find themselves taking a bye week in the Wildcard round. The 49ers, although eliminated, are still fighting and just won a slugfest against the Seahawks in a division battle that fell into overtime. Although any given game doesn’t have a predetermined outcome, it will be tough for the 49ers beaten up roster to compete with a true contender in the NFC.

Players to Watch

The Bears defense has been dominant this year slowing down every offense they have had the opportunity to play against; Nick Mullen’s will need to do everything he can to protect the ball and move it down the field. This will be the 49ers toughest test of the year giving Matt Breida and George Kittle little room to work with as the offense will need to lean on the two playmakers heavily to have any hope of pulling out a victory. Khalil Mack, one of the top defensive players will have a great opportunity to wreak havoc in the backfield of the rookie quarterback, creating pressure and mistakes. If the Bears can keep the 49ers low-end offense in check, Mitch Trubisky, Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard should generate enough points to pull out their eleventh win on the year.


Keys to the game

Chicago Bears

Control the Clock

Pressure Nick Mullen’s

Force Mistakes


San Francisco 49ers

Protect the Ball

Keep Nick Mullen’s Clean

Generate Chunk Plays


Injury list

Chicago Bears

Eddie Jackson, S - Ankle (Doubtful)

Aaron Lynch, LB - Elbow (Questionable)

Bilal Nichols, DT - Knee (Questionable)


San Francisco 49ers

Jaquiski Tartt, S - Shoulder (Out)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Mitch Trubisky, QB (CHI)

Chicago D/ST

Tarik Cohen

George Kittle

Allen Robinson


Prediction

The 49ers have been hurt and underperforming all year. Their talent on both sides of the ball doesn’t match up with the elite play of the Bears skill players and defensive unit. This game will not be high scoring, but Nick Mullen’s could vary we’ll have his worst game as a pro-athlete in week 16. The Bears will win on the back of their defense with their offense coming on in the second half to pull away.


Final Score: Bears 24, 49ers 13


Written by: Jason Feiner



Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1) vs. New Orleans Saints (12-2)

Preview

The Saints and Steelers face off in arguably the best game of Week 16 with multiple playoff implications on the line. The Saints need only one more win to lock up the #1 seed in the NFC, while Pittsburgh could clinch a playoff spot/ potentially the AFC North with a victory. New Orleans’ once-dominant offense has gone cold these last few weeks, with not a lot of eye-popping numbers on the stat sheet. But, they are at home this week, and with those raucous fans in the Bayou cheering them on, look for a great performance out of this team. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, just finally defeated the Patriots in the regular season at home, and are now looking to capitalize on that momentum by defeating the Saints in their house.


Players to watch

Drew Brees may have lost the MVP to Patrick Mahomes these last few weeks, but he’d probably suffice that for a chance to win the Super Bowl MVP again. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are still a towering duo of running backs, so look for them to utilize that style, maybe even seeing Taysom Hill get involved in a play or two. Michael Thomas has been absolutely silent for weeks now, and he’s due to explode for a big game soon. Ben Roethlisberger was given some ammunition from the Saints’ Cameron Jordan when he said Ben wasn’t a top-five QB of his era, so look for him to prove the DE wrong. Antonio Brown is still the best receiver in the AFC, so he’ll be making some highlight-reel catches.


Keys to the game

Pittsburgh Steelers

Prepare for raucous home crowd

Don’t make costly mistakes

Control the clock

Pressure Brees early/often


New Orleans Saints

Revitalize the offensive struggles

Let Kamara/Ingram loose

Pressure Roethlisberger from outside

Double team PIT’s WR corps


Injury list

Pittsburgh Steelers

James Connor, RB - Ankle (Out)

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR - Groin (Questionable)


New Orleans Saints

Jermon Bushrod, OT - Hamstring (Out)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Drew Brees, QB (NO)

Alvin Kamara, RB (NO)

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR (PIT)

Ben Roethlisberger, QB (PIT)

Antonio Brown, WR (PIT)

Prediction

The Saints need just one win to secure home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, which would all but guarantee they’re going to Atlanta to try and win a second Lombardi trophy. However, I don’t see it happening this week. Pittsburgh needs this win more than the Saints do to stay atop the AFC North, because one loss will slide them down behind the Ravens and their stout defense. This is arguably the best game on the Week 16 ledger, and for good reason. Steelers will escape New Orleans with a critical win, but don’t be surprised if the Saints still lock up the #1 seed this week.


Final Score: Steelers 31, Saints 27


Written by: Joe Carlino



Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) vs. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)

Preview

The Chiefs and Seahawks are set to faceoff in a Sunday night matchup that has tons of playoff implications on the line. Kansas City needs to win to keep ahold of the AFC West and the #1 seed in the AFC. Seattle needs a win to clinch a Wildcard spot since a numerous amount of teams are hoping they lose this weekend. The Chiefs defensive front has beena bright spot but they will need to step it up against the most run-heavy offense in the league. The Seahawks defense has the ultimate test going against the potential league MVP and an offense that can light up a scoreboard quickly.


Players to watch

Damien Williams filled in nicely last week as the lead back and if he can continue it into this matchup then the KC offense should be able to move the ball. Chris Jones has been a monster for the Chiefs and it will be up to him to help put the pressure on Russell Wilson. Chris Carson is they key to Seattle’s chances to winning this game, if he can steadily get first downs, help run the clock, and keep the Chiefs offense of the field then Seattle would like their chances to win this game. Frank Clark will need to come off the edge hot to chase down Patrick Mahomes so he can’t just sit back there and throw all over the Seahawks defense.


Keys to the game

Kansas City Chiefs

Contain Wilson in the pocket

Get off to a fast start

Feed Tyreek Hill


Seattle Seahawks

Establish the run

Control the clock

Pressure Mahomes into mistakes


Injury list

Kansas City Chiefs

Sammy Watkins, WR - Foot (Out)

Spencer Ware, RB - Hamstring (Doubtful)

Kendall Fuller, CB - Thumb (Questionable)


Seattle Seahawks

Tedric Thompson, S - Chest/Ankle (Out)

D.J. Fluker, OG - Hamstring (Questionable)

Rashaad Penny, RB - Knee (Questionable)

Bradley McDougald, S - Knee (Questionable)

Jarran Reed, DT - Oblique/Groin (Questionable)

Shaquil Griffin, CB - Hip (Questionable)

Tyler Ott, LS - Illness (Questionable)

Germain Ifedi, OT - Groin (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Patrick Mahomes, QB (KC)

Chris Carson, RB (SEA)

Tyreek Hill, WR (KC)

Russell Wilson, QB (SEA)

Travis Kelce, TE (KC)

Prediction

This is going to be a good matchup between two teams that are complete opposites on the offensive side of the ball. Seattle will look to force the run so they can keep Mahomes off the field as much as they can. The Seahawks are a different team at home so I see them forcing a turnover or two which could be the difference in the outcome of this matchup. Wilson leads the team on a game-winning drive in the 4th quarter to help lock Seattle in the playoffs in front of the home crowd.


Final Score: Seahawks 27, Chiefs 24


Written by: Cody Manning


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