NFL Playoff Projection: Two massive Week 16 games should decide division titles

·3 min read

Somehow, we get Washington Football Team on Sunday night when the NFL has what amounts to two division title games. So much for flexing.

There are two great matchups in the NFL in Week 16 and both happen at 1 p.m. ET. Both should directly affect who wins a division title.

Let's start with the undercard, and that's the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are still hanging around a wild AFC North race, but whoever wins Ravens-Bengals will be in the driver's seat. If the Bengals win, they'll have a one-game lead on the Ravens and own the head-to-head tiebreaker due to a season sweep. The Ravens won't be in the clear if they win. Their three division losses could be an issue if a tiebreaker gets involved (the Bengals have just one). Still, the slumping Ravens need to start with a win Sunday. With a loss, they'd have very little shot of finishing ahead of Cincinnati.

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Michael Wagstaffe)
(Yahoo Sports graphic by Michael Wagstaffe)

The main event is the Buffalo Bills at the New England Patriots. The Bills are a game behind New England but they'd be a huge favorite to win the division if they win Sunday. The Bills would then take the lead in the tiebreaker, due to one fewer loss in the division (New England's Week 1 loss to the Dolphins looms large here). The Bills finish with home games against the Falcons and Jets. Anything can happen in the 2021 NFL but it's hard to see Buffalo losing either of those games.

New England would be on the verge of winning the division with a victory. They'd still need a Dolphins loss to clinch in Week 16, but they'd have a two-game lead on the Bills and own the tiebreaker. Whoever wins Sunday is very likely to take the AFC East, even if neither team would clinch right away.

The NFL has two great divisional showdowns on Sunday. Too bad neither is in prime time.

Josh Allen is hoping to lead the Bills to a win over the Patriots in a big rematch. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Josh Allen is hoping to lead the Bills to a win over the Patriots in a big rematch. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Here are the rest of the Week 16 games that will have the biggest impact on the playoff picture:

Browns at Packers

Circumstances aside, the Browns' loss to the Raiders was rough on their playoff chances. Now they go to Green Bay on a short week to play a Packers team that is the clear favorite for the NFC's No. 1 seed. If the Browns were ever going to pull off an upset, this would be a great time for it.

Colts at Cardinals

All of a sudden, the Cardinals need this to stay even with the Rams in the NFC West. The two teams are tied now. The Colts are pretty much locked into a wild-card spot, but a win would solidify that position and also put pressure on the Titans in the AFC South.

Rams at Vikings

The Rams struggled a bit but got a win over Seattle. Now they're a legit threat to take the NFC West crown from the Cardinals. The Vikings are going to have to pull off a big win or two down the stretch to get in as a wild card. They're 7-7 and tied with the Eagles and Saints for the final spot. Minnesota has the toughest remaining schedule of the three.

Dolphins at Saints

The Monday night game has two flawed teams that are still alive this season. The Saints had an enormous win last Sunday night at Tampa Bay and are tied for the No. 7 seed in the NFC. They also have the easiest remaining schedule of the 7-7 NFC teams. The Dolphins are still alive after getting their sixth straight win. They might need to push that winning streak to nine to get a wild-card spot.