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Washington Football Team v Carolina Panthers
FedExField | 8:05am AEDT
The Panthers have contended with some of the NFL’s top teams, falling by one-possession margins on the road to divisional leaders Kansas City, New Orleans and Green Bay (last week) and this is another opportunity against a divisional frontrunner. But this team is in another miserable late-season stretch, with Carolina 1-12 across its last 13 December games. Good news could come for the offense if receiver Curtis Samuel is back in action after a hamstring injury. The duo of Samuel and receiver DJ Moore gives quarterback Teddy Bridgewater some productive downfield targets. But on defense, end Brian Burns hasn’t been a regular practice participant this week. The Panthers have lost road games to Washington the past two seasons. This could be a crucial game for safety Jeremy Chinn, who’s among the contenders for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year along with Washington defensive end Chase Young. There’s a chance Washington can clinch the NFC East this weekend, but it will take winning this game vs. Carolina and a loss for the New York Giants at Baltimore. Washington might have to do it without quarterback Alex Smith (calf), who already missed last week’s loss to Seattle. That would mean turning to Dwayne Haskins, whose week has been anything but normal as video surfaced of him breaking coronavirus safety protocols during a party. On the field, the health of linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle) and Cole Holcomb (concussion) — who both sat out last week — could be crucial for Washington, which has won four of its past five games. Pierre-Louis appears more on track to play based on midweek practices. The backdrop of this game largely focuses on coach Ron Rivera, who spent almost nine full seasons with Carolina until he was fired in the fall of 2019.
Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks
Lumen Field | 8:25am AEDT
The Seahawks (10-4) can clinch their first NFC West title since 2016 with a victory, while the Rams (9-5) are looking to lock up a playoff berth. Los Angeles will also be trying to avoid its first losing streak of the season after an embarrassing 23-20 loss at home last weekend to the previously winless New York Jets. The Rams won the first meeting against Seattle 23-16 on Nov. 15 as Malcolm Brown rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was sacked a season-high six times. Los Angeles has won five of its past six against the Seahawks while averaging nearly 32 points per game. The Rams boast the No. 1 defense in the league. L.A. will be without leading rusher Cam Akers (high ankle sprain) this Sunday. The Seahawks are coming off a 20-15 victory at Washington that secured their spot in the postseason. Seattle’s DK Metcalf had only two catches while being shadowed by the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey in the first matchup. Metcalf needs 65 yards receiving to pass Steve Largent and set a single-season franchise record. Largent had 1,287 yards receiving in 1985. Seahawks TE Greg Olsen (foot) could return from the injured reserve.
Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers
SoFi Stadium | 8:05am AEDT
A battle of two 5-9 teams looing to get out of last place in the AFC West will go down Sunday when the Los Angeles Chargers play host to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are emerging from a brutal portion of their schedule where they lost three times in the last four games, all to first-place teams. Denver QB Drew Lock threw for just 132 yards in a loss to the Bills last weekend, a major step back after a four-TD performance in a Week 14 victory over the Panthers. Denver running back Melvin Gordon will get his second crack at his former team after rushing for 26 yards and catching six passes against the Chargers in a Week 8 comeback victory. Lock had three fourth-quarter TD passes during the rally. Rookie Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert has nine multi-TD games this season, including one in each of the last two weeks. Running back Austin Ekeler has 28 receptions in four games since returning from a hamstring injury but wide receiver Keenan Allen is dealing with his own hamstring issues that limited him to 24 snaps in a Dec, 17 victory over the Raiders. The Chargers are just 3-4 in their new L.A.-area stadium this season.
Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field | 5:00am AEDT
The Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the Indianapolis Colts (10-4) on Sunday afternoon. Pittsburgh opened the season with 11 straight wins but has looked like a mess since then with setbacks against the Washington Football Team, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. Now comes another tough test against the Colts, who have a chance to secure a playoff berth with a win this weekend, combined with a loss by the Baltimore Ravens or the Miami Dolphins. Pittsburgh already has secured a playoff berth but needs a win to bolster its chances for the top seed and a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The teams last met in 2019, with the Steelers hanging on for a narrow 26-24 victory.
Cleveland Browns v New York Jets
MetLife Stadium | 5:00am AEDT
The Cleveland Browns (10-4) eye their sixth win in the last seven games, and can take a big step toward locking up their first playoff berth in 17 years, when they visit the New York Jets on Sunday. Baker Mayfield has been terrific over the last month, averaging more than 300 yards passing per game with 10 touchdowns against one interception in the last four games. Running backs Nick Chubb (931 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs) and Kareen Hunt (793 rushing yards, 10 total TDs) power the NFL’s third-ranked rushing offense. Rookie Nick Harris is expected to fill in again at right guard for Wyatt Teller (ankle), but defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (neck) is expected to back in the middle of the defensive line. The Jets (1-13) may have taken themselves out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes with last week’s surprising 23-20 win at the Los Angeles Rams and will be trying to get their first home win (0-7) of the season. Quarterback Sam Darnold (1,767 yards, 6 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) hasn’t been good in 2020, but he managed the game well enough (22-of-31, 207 yards, 1 TD) at LA. 37-year old Frank Gore (605 yards, 2 TDs) leads the Jets’ ground game. The defense will be stressed, however, as defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and linebacker Harvey Langi were both put on the Injured/Reserve list this week.
Atlanta Falcons v Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium | 5:00am AEDT
The Kansas City Chiefs will attempt to win their 10th straight contest when they host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes will look to bolster his MVP credentials that currently boast an NFL-best 4,462 passing yards to go with 36 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Tight end Travis Kelce has recorded 98 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 scores, and he needs 60 yards to break the yardage record for a tight end — 1,377 in 2018 by George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers. Receiver Tyreek Hill (83 receptions, 1,211 yards) is also excelling and has an NFL-best 15 touchdown receptions. Safety Tyrann Mathieu has a team-best six interceptions. The Falcons have dropped three straight games as they limp to the finish line. Quarterback Matt Ryan has 4,016 passing yards to pass 4,000 for the 10th time, and he has 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Receiver Calvin Ridley had career highs of 10 catches and 163 yards in last week’s 31-27 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he has team-best totals of 72 catches, 1,192 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Safeties Keanu Neal (hamstring) and Ricardo Allen (concussion) and linebacker Deion Jones (toe) were limited in practice on Wednesday while cornerback Darqueze Dennard (quadriceps) sat out.
Chicago Bears v Jacksonville Jaguars
TIAA Bank Field | 5:00am AEDT
The Chicago Bears will look to keep their NFC playoff hopes alive Sunday as they face the sliding Jacksonville Jaguars. At 7-7, the Bears enter Week 16 trailing the Arizona Cardinals by one game for the final NFC wild card spot. The Bears have won two straight behind a resurgent offense that has produced at least 30 points in the past three weeks. Running back David Montgomery has three 100-yard rushing games in the past four weeks after failing to eclipse the century mark at all before Week 12. The Jaguars have lost 13 straight games after winning their season opener, but coach Doug Marrone ensured this week the narrative surrounding the team concerned more than its inside track for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, declaring a competition between second-year Gardner Minshew and veteran Mike Glennon at quarterback. Minshew threw a pair of touchdowns in a 40-14 loss at Baltimore in Week 15, but both came after the Ravens built a 26-0 lead at the half. Jacksonville has been outscored 71-24 in the past two weeks. Running back James Robinson, the Jaguars’ top offensive weapon, rushed for a season-low 35 yards last week as he deals with an ankle injury, but Marrone said he is expected to play. Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, linebacker Khalil Mack and receiver Allen Robinson were held out of Thursday’s practice for precautionary reasons.
Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans
NRG Stadium | 5:00am AEDT
Two teams with no shot at the postseason will match up when the Houston Texans (4-10) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1) on Sunday afternoon. This is the first game between the teams since 2017, when the Texans held on for a 13-9 win. Houston has won the last three games against Cincinnati and leads the all-time series 6-4. This time, star Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will go for his 11th game of the season with a paseer rating of 100 or better. Running back David Johnson will look to build upon a career-best performance in which he caught 11 passes for 106 yards. For Cincinnati, rookie quarterback Joe Burrow is out injured, and Ryan Finley will look to guide the offense again after passing for only 89 yards last week. Veteran running back Giovani Bernard contributed a season-high 97 yards from scrimmage and will look for another solid performance as the offseason approaches.
Tennessee Titans v Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field | 12:20pm AEDT
Multiple playoff scenarios could play out as the Green Bay Packers (11-3) host the Tennessee Titans (10-4) on Sunday afternoon. Green Bay can clinch a playoff berth with a win, combined with a loss by the Seattle Seahawks. Meanwhile, Tennessee can clinch an AFC playoff berth with a victory. The Titans also can clinch an AFC South division title, but in addition to beating the Packers, they also will need some help with the Indianapolis Colts losing against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Perhaps surprisingly, the Titans have won four of the past five games in their series against the Packers. Titans running back Derrick Henry will go for his third game in a row with 145-plus rushing yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Packers are powered by a great offense led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and star wideout Davante Adams will try to catch a touchdown for the ninth time in the past 10 games.
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium | 8:25am AEDT
A fierce divisional rivalry will resume, albeit with a pair of disappointing teams, when the Dallas Cowboys (5-9) host the Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1) on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles won the first showdown of the season, 23-9, when the teams met Nov. 1. Philadelphia has won two in a row in the series, but Dallas holds a 66-53 edge in the all-tiem series. Andy Dalton has two-plus touchdown passes in four of his five starts for the Cowboys since stepping in for injured starter Dak Prescott. Meanwhile, the Eagles will once again give the keys of the offense to Jalen Hurts, who has provided a boost at quarterback since grabbing the starting job from Carson Wentz. Look for Hurts and the Eagles to ask for another big contribution from running back Miles Sanders, who compiled 156 yards from scrimmage in the teams’ first meeting of the season.
New York Giants v Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium | 5:00am AEDT
The Baltimore Ravens look to post their fourth consecutive victory when they host the New York Giants on Sunday. Baltimore (9-5) is in a must-win situation as it currently is on the outside of the AFC wild-card race. The Miami Dolphins are also 9-5 and hold the tiebreaker edge. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is enjoying another solid season by passing for 2,461 yards and 21 touchdowns against eight interceptions, while adding 828 yards and seven scores on the ground. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is leading the defense and he has an NFL-high eight forced fumbles. Defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback Marcus Peters are nursing calf injuries and their statuses will be determined later in the week. New York (5-9) is one game behind the first-place Washington Football Team in the NFC but was outscored by a combined 46-13 while losing the past two weeks. Quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring, ankle) hopes to play after sitting out last week. Tight end Evan Engram (calf) and wideout Golden Tate (calf) were limited in practice on Wednesday but both are expected to be fine. Engram has a team-best 54 receptions. Linebacker Blake Martinez (128 tackles) and cornerback James Bradberry (three interceptions) are enjoying solid campaigns for a defense that allows 22.2 points per game.