ATLANTA — Hanukkah is in the rear view mirror, and Christmas is upon us. Last week two very good teams found early lumps of coal in their stockings as the 0-13 Jets shocked the 9-4 Rams and the 2-10 Bengals beat up the 11-2 Steelers. As the NFL 2020 Week 16 extravaganza begins, all 32 teams should make a holiday wish for what they need most. In any case, here are our wishes for the 32 teams. Some clubs need more team Christmas presents than others. But only one wish will be expressed for each team. Only time will tell if these wishes are granted. If Santa does his job, the reindeer sled does not break down, and the elves are not put out of business by Amazon, team Christmas presents may be delivered on time before the 2021 NFL Draft.
Our NFL 2020 Week 16 wish list of team Christmas presents
- Arizona Cardinals: More toys for Kyler Murray to throw to
- Atlanta Falcons: A defense that plays all four quarters
- Baltimore Ravens: Offensive help for Lamar Jackson
- Buffalo Bills: Brutally cold weather in January
- Carolina Panthers: A healthy Christian McCaffrey
- Chicago Bears: An offense to match their defense
- Cincinnati Bengals: A healthy Joe Burrow
- Cleveland Browns: A break with the past
- Dallas Cowboys: A healthy Dak Prescott
- Denver Broncos: A healthy Von Miller
- Detroit Lions: 44 players to help Matthew Stafford
- Green Bay Packers: Subzero Lambeau weather in January
- Houston Texans: A bookend for J.J. Watt
- Indianapolis Colts: A running game to help Philip Rivers
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 45 new players
- Kansas City Chiefs: Avoiding boredom
- Las Vegas Raiders: A defense led by Wade Phillips
- Los Angeles Chargers: Special teams
- Los Angeles Rams: Forgetting the Jets game happened
- Miami Dolphins: An offense to help their defense
- Minnesota Vikings: A return to Mike Zimmer defense
- New England Patriots: A new quarterback
- New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees and Taysom Hill returning
- New York Giants: A healthy Saquon Barkley
- New York Jets: A new coach
- Philadelphia Eagles: An identity
- Pittsburgh Steelers: More physicality
- San Francisco 49ers: The return of their defense from injury
- Seattle Seahawks: The second coming of Marshawn Lynch
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offensive consistency
- Tennessee Titans: Receivers to take the load off Derrick Henry
- Washington No-Names: A team name
With our wish list of team Christmas presents concluded, here is the CDN NFL 2020 Week 16 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by DraftKings and all times Eastern.
Friday, December 25, 2020, 4:30 p.m
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) —
These teams have played instant classics in the playoffs in recent years. But this year, the Vikings will be home in January. The Saints have lost two straight but at 10-4 still need one more win to lock up the NFC South. Expect Sean Payton to keep his foot on the gas pedal. Drew Brees is back, and the offense is still loaded. Saints cover.
Saturday, December 26, 2020, 1:00 p.m
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) at Detroit Lions —
The Buccaneers must win out to have an outside shot at winning the NFC South. The Lions are done for the year. They might end up receiving lumps of coal from Santa instead of any Christmas presents. Tom Brady has shown he can still lead stirring comebacks, but that is only because his offense disappears for long stretches. The spread is too high for a road game with that inconsistency. Buccaneers win but fail to cover.
Saturday, December 26, 2020, 4:30 p.m
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) —
At 8-6, the Cardinals have to win out to have a shot at the playoffs. The 49ers are done for the year. But Kyler Murray remains exciting, and the 49ers are too injured on defense to stop him. A big day by Deandre Hopkins should be enough. Cardinals cover.
Saturday, December 26, 2020, 8:00 p.m
Miami Dolphins (-2.5) at Las Vegas Raiders —
The 9-5 Dolphins landed in the playoffs with two more wins. But a loss could have them miss the playoffs. On the other hand, the 7-7 Raiders have lost four of five and are clinging to playoff life. A loss officially eliminates them. Marcus Mariota looked good in place of an injured Derek Carr, but the Raiders have no defense. Luckily for them, Miami’s offense is nothing special. Miami wins with defense. The Raiders get back several players from the COVID list, giving them a puncher’s chance. Go with the momentum. Dolphins cover.
Sunday, December 27, 2020, 1:00 p.m
Now, NFL 2020 Week 16 gets up to full speed with a big Sunday afternoon and evening schedule.
Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) —
The 10-4 Colts are tied for the AFC South lead but do not hold the tie-breaker. The Steelers started 11-0 but have lost three straight, including an ugly loss to previously 2-10 Cincinnati. The Colts are playing better football, but two of the three Pittsburgh losses were on the road. At home, give the Steelers one chance to right the ship. As well as Philip Rivers is playing, the Steelers have the defense to rattle him. The Colts also have a good defense, so it will come down to the Pittsburgh running game in the cold weather. Steelers cover.
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5) —
The 13-1 Chiefs are virtually unstoppable. The Falcons are done for the year and cannot stop anyone. The Falcons have blown big leads, but that will not be an issue in this game. Patrick Mahomes is playing on another level. He has too many weapons. This could get ugly early. Chiefs cover.
Chicago Bears (-7.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
The 7-7 Bears still have a shot at the playoffs. The 1-13 Jaguars can secure the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft with two more losses. The Bears are just not that good on offense, and the Jaguars have played some competitive games against less elite teams. The spread is too high for a road team with an inconsistent offense. Bears win but fail to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-9) —
Both teams have lost 10 games. The Bengals had an inspiring home win over Pittsburgh with a third string quarterback, so expect a major emotional letdown. The spread is too high to trust the Texans, even though they took Indianapolis to the limit twice. Texans win but fail to cover.
New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens (-10) —
The 5-9 Giants are only one game out in the NFC Least, while the 9-5 Ravens can still make the playoffs. The Giants have fought hard for Joe Judge, but Lamar Jackson is just too much of a duel threat weapon for the Giants to stop. Colt McCoy has been an improvement over Daniel Jones, but he does not have nearly enough help to make this competitive. Ravens cover.
Cleveland Browns (-10) at New York Jets —
The 10-4 Browns are in the New Meadowlands for the second straight week. They won an efficient game over the Giants with defense. Now they take on the Jets, who finally won a game. Yes, the Jets shocked the Rams. No, it will not lead to a winning streak. If anything, it will make the Browns guard against a letdown. The Browns can pound the ball, and they are only one game back in the AFC North. This week, the NFL’s longest playoff drought finally ends. The Jets win may have cost them the to pick in the 2021 Draft. Either way, this game is a street fight and the Browns will unleash Nick Chubb to batter the Jets defense. Browns win but fail to cover. Nonetheless, this could be the best of team Christmas presents for long-suffering Browns fans.
Sunday, December 27, 2020, 4:00 p.m
Carolina Panthers at Washington Lumps of Coal (-2) —
Riverboat Ron Rivera takes on his old team. The Panthers are done for the year. The Washington No-Names had their four game winning streak snapped last week but at 6-8 still lead the horrendous NFC Least by one game. Washington may not have a team name, but they have a defense that is built Rivera tough. Non-Redskins Lumps of Coal cover.
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) —
No team Christmas presents for Denver and LA NFL fans. Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention. The Chargers have a star quarterback in Justin Herbert, but the Chargers always play close games. The Broncos defense has broken under the weight of injuries, and they gave up 48 points to Buffalo. The Chargers are not Buffalo. Chargers win but fail to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5) at Dallas Cowboys —
Despite both teams having lost nine games, the Cowboys are only one game back in the woeful NFC Least. They have won two straight. The Eagles are 1 1/2 game out of the division lead. Jalen Hurts as played well in place of Carson Wentz. This could be a shootout. The Cowboys have better receivers and Ezekiel Elliott has not forgotten how to carry a football. Upset special, Cowboys win outright.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) —
The 9-5 Rams lost a shocker at home to the previously winless Jets to fall one game behind the 10-4 Seahawks in the NFC West. It would be a mistake to just this game by that game. If the Seahawks win, they win the division. If the Rams win and win next week, they are division champs. Russell Wilson is a superstar but the Rams have so many weapons for Jared Goff to throw to. Sean McVay against Pete Carroll is a great chess match. Expect an angry McVay to pull out all the stops. Upset special, Rams win outright.
Sunday, December 27, 2020, 8:00 p.m
Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers (-4) —
The 10-4 Titans are tied for the AFC South lead and they hold the tie-breaker. The 11-3 Packers have wrapped up the NFC North and are one game ahead of everyone in the race to lock up home field throughout the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is playing lights out football and has thrived under Matt Lafleur. The Titans rely on Derrick Henry, who is running like a beast. However, if the Packers get an early lead, it could take away Henry as a factor. The Titans are a good team. The Packers are a great team. They want every team to have to go through Lambeau Field in January. They will succeed in that quest. Packers cover.
Monday, December 28, 2020, 8:00 p.m
One final game concludes the NFL 2020 Week 16 Christmas holiday schedule. And here it is.
Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at New England Patriots — T
The 11-3 Bills clinched their first AFC East title in 25 years. The 6-8 Patriots had their streak of 11 consecutive AFC East championships and 19 straight winning seasons snapped. Yet in Buffalo, the Bills barely survived 24-21 over the Patriots. Josh Allen is playing well and Cam Newton is not. The momentum and logic favors the Bills. But Bill Belichick at home deserves the benefit of the doubt. He knows defense. Expect a heavy dose of running back by committee. Dynasties do not go down without a fight, especially on Monday Night Football. Upset special, Patriots win outright.