DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA, December 23, 2017:. Last week the NFL celebrated Hanukkah. This Christmas football takes center stage. There was no Thursday night game. No Sunday night games allow players to spend Christmas Eve with their families.
However, there are two games on Christmas night. Christians throughout Pennsylvania will be balancing their Christmas dinners in front of the television.
Christmas falls on December 25, and 25 could be a special number in football for several teams.
This is the 25th anniversary of the 1992 NFL season.
1992 was the first year that the Eagles played with very heavy hearts. Beloved defensive standout Jerome Brown died in a car crash. In 1992 Reggie White and the rest of the Eagles vowed to “Bring it home for Jerome.” They still have not done so, but this year they have a very realistic shot at winning it all.
Reggie White was the Minister of Defense then, and the Eagles defense this year does the late White and Brown proud.
They missed the 1992 NFL playoffs, and the Chargers may do it again
The only team to start 0-4 and make the playoffs were the 1992 Chargers. This year they started 0-4 and got to 7-6 before a tough loss last week. They most likely will miss the playoffs, but it would make us wonder if larger forces were at work if they snuck their way in. The 7-7 Packers have been eliminated, but this is the 25-year anniversary of the Gunslinger’s run in Titletown.
Brett Favre came in for an injured Don Majkowski and never looked back. Now another Brett has brought things full circle by replacing the injured Aaron Rodgers, but Hundley is no Favre.
For the 49ers, 1992 was a changing of the NFL guard.
After missing almost all of two seasons with a back injury, Joe Montana was traded away and Steve Young was the face of the franchise. 2017 saw the 49ers go from a 1-10 laughingstock to winners of three straight thanks to the arrival of Jimmy Garoppollo. For the Steelers, Chuck Roll retired after 22 seasons after the 1991 season.
Bill Cowher took over, and the team has been contenders virtually every year under him and his successor Mike Tomlin.
The 1992 Dallas Cowboys went on to win the first of their three Super Bowls in four years.
Jerry Jones feels he has another dynasty in the making with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant being the new triplets. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin are all in the Hall of Fame.
On this silver anniversary, “Jerrah” believes his team can reach those heights over the next few years.
With that, Here is the NFL 2017 Week 16 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Christmas Football on Saturday, December 23, 2017, 4:30 p.m.
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-13.5) — The 8-6 Ravens have a shot at the playoffs. They will not have a letdown against the woeful Colts. This game could be over by halftime. Ravens cover.
Minnesota Vikings (-9) at Green Bay Packers — The 7-7 Packers are out of the playoffs and have shut down Aaron Rodgers for the year. The 11-3 Vikings have already clinched the NFC North and can clinch a first-round bye with a win. The spread is high, but Mike Zimmer’s defense should feast on a backup quarterback. Vikings win but fail to cover.
Christmas Football on Sunday, December 24, 1:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-10) —
The Buccaneers are awful and the 10-4 Panthers are tied for the NFC South lead. Their defense will be ready to put this game away without much difficulty. Panthers cover.
Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears (-6.5) —
Last year the Browns started 0-14 before winning. This year they are 0-14. The Bears are not a good team, and Cleveland has played well in a couple of agonizing losses. The Browns are starving for a win, and their desperation will win out. Upset special, Browns win outright.
Detroit Lions (-5) at Cincinnati Bengals —
The 8-6 Lions are still alive for a playoff berth, and they have the offensive talent to take care of a Cincinnati team losing its coach after the season ends. Lions cover.
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) —
The Chiefs with a win can lock up the AFC West. The Dolphins are soft. The Chiefs have finally righted the offensive ship in the last two weeks and should win this game easily. Chiefs cover.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-12.5) —
The 11-3 Patriots have clinched the AFC East and with wins in its last two games can clinch home field throughout the playoffs. The 8-6 Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999. They need a Christmas miracle, and Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will pile on the lumps of coal with zero mercy. Patriots cover.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-5.5) —
The 9-5 Falcons are one game behind the 10-4 Saints, who are tied for the division lead. These teams are evenly matched, and the Falcons won a heart-stopped in Atlanta. In the Louisiana Superdome, trust the home field. Saints win but fail to cover.
Los Angeles Chargers (-7) at New York Jets —
The 7-7 Chargers are hanging by a playoff thread while the Jets are done for the year. The Chargers have the talent, but the Jets play very tough at home and would love to be a spoiler. It is hard to trust the Jets with a third-string quarterback though. Chargers win but fail to cover.
Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) at Tennessee Titans —
The 10-4 Rams just went into Seattle and blasted their arch-rival. Now they travel to face an 8-6 Titans team that has lost two straight games. The Titans are soft. The Rams have superior talent. A win locks up the NFC West for the Rams. They will get it. Rams cover.
Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins (-3.5) —
Both teams are eliminated and playing out the string. Go with the home field, but barely. Redskins win but fail to cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5) at San Francisco 49ers —
The Jaguars are 10-4 and can lock up the AFC South with a win. Jacksonville even has a very outside shot at home field throughout the playoffs. The 49ers are only 4-10, but they have won three straight and are a totally different team with Jimmy Garoppollo. San Francisco’s defense hangs tough. Jaguars win but fail to cover.
New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals (-4) —
Both teams are done for the year, but the Giants are a mess at every level. Even a struggling Arizona team should handle this without too much difficulty. Cardinals cover.
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-5) — Both teams are 8-6 and fighting for their playoff lives. Seattle got throttled last week at home while Dallas got a key road win. The Cowboys get Ezekiel Elliott back from suspension. Cowboys win but fail to cover.
Christmas Football on Monday, December 25, 4:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-9.5) at Houston Texans —
The 11-3 Steelers were one horrendous call away from cruising to home field throughout the playoffs. They have locked up the AFC North but not a first-round bye. They also play down to the level of their competition. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles (-9) —
The 6-8 Raiders were one yard away from victory and instead fumbled away their season. The 12-2 Eagles have clinched the NFC East and can lock up home field throughout the playoffs with a win either this week or next week. Carson Wentz is out, but the last time Nick Foles played against the Raiders, he threw seven touchdown passes in a 49-20 Eagles victory.
The Raiders have an improving but still awful secondary, which means the Raiders will get a large black lump of coal in their stockings. Eagles cover.
Image: Oakland Raiders Cheerleaders image courtesy Oakland Raiders