The New Orleans Saints sit at 6-8 and currently need a series of extremely unlikely events to unfold over the next two weeks in order to have any shot at the playoffs. The most important factor in their slimmest of chances, is to win their final two games. That starts here against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in their second meeting of the past three weeks.
Tampa has played well in the Superdome in recent seasons and they are currently in a tight playoff race. The Saints will need to play their best in all three areas, in order to win. Unfortunately, this is something that has really been a problem for them. When the offense is humming, the defense is awful. When the defense is stout, the offense flounders. The special teams? Well, they're usually just bad. Hopefully the Saints can put it together this Christmas Eve, and give Who Dat Nation a huge gift this Christmas.
Lets take a look at this matchup as well as the rest of the Week 16 NFL schedule.
Last week I went 12-4
I told you so: Giants over Lions!
What do I know: Cardinals over Saints?
Thursday, December 22nd - Thursday Night Football
Expect big passing games from Eli Manning and Carson Wentz in this one, but ultimately the Giants will make the stops when they're needed the most. Giants win 28-22.
Saturday, December 24th - Early Games
Don't expect Jay Ajayi to have the type of monster performance he had against the Bills earlier in the season, but he will be the key victory for the Dolphins. Miami wins 33-20.
The only reason this game is close is that it's a divisional matchup that always seems to be close. The Jets will need an almost perfect effort from their passing game, but it still won't be enough. New England wins 24-22.
Fresh off of firing their head coach last Sunday, Jacksonville packs it in early for the season, while Tennessee continues their pursuit of a playoff spot. Tennessee wins 30-13.
Green Bay knows a playoff appearance and possibly a division title are at their fingertips, but standing in their way are one of their fiercest rivals. Defense will rule the day in this one, but in the end, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will pull out a close victory. Green Bay wins 19-17.
Cleveland will be just moments away from finally winning their elusive first game of the season, until San Diego snatches it away in the closing seconds. San Diego wins 22-19.
Redskins(7-6-1) at Bears(3-11)
Washington put themselves in a bind with a disappointing loss last Monday Night, but they rebound with a close win in Chicago. Washington wins 35-31.
Don't expect Julio Jones to have another record breaking performance against Carolina, but the combined passing yards will be huge in this one. Atlanta wins 34-28.
Saturday, December 24th - Late Games
Offense will rule the day here, but Oakland's balance will be too much for Andrew Luck and the Colts. Oakland wins 31-23.
Cardinals(5-8-1) at Seahawks(9-4-1)
Thankfully this game won't end in a tie or a cavalcade of special team errors like their last meeting. Unlike that game, there will be a lot of points in this one and ultimately Russell Wilson will make the big play to lead Seattle to victory. Seattle wins 34-33.
San Francisco will finally win their second game of the season by punishing the Rams with their ground game and forcing Jared Goff into a pair of turnovers in the Los Angeles rain. San Francisco wins 17-14.
Buccaneers(8-6) at Saints(6-8)
It's just difficult to get a handle on what the Saints are going to bring from week to week. The offense looked dead-and-buried against Detroit and the first game with Tampa, then last week they explode in Arizona against the NFL's top-ranked defense. The Saints looked ineffective against the Bucs just two weeks ago, but some changes have happened since then. Most notably, the Saints will have rookie standout Michael Thomas back at receiver. Unfortunately, the Saints won't have cornerback Delvin Breaux to combat Tampa's standout receiver, Mike Evans.
The Saints may be eliminated from playoff contention before this game kicks off, but the team will play to win, and in-turn at least spoil the playoff hopes of their NFC South rivals. It'll take a complete performance for the Saints to beat the highly motivated Bucs here. According to some, it might take a miracle at this point. Who knows, miracles seem to happen on Christmas. Saints win 24-19.
Saturday, December 24th - Saturday Night Football
Houston will make up for its terrible quarterback play with its resurgent defense. Points will be at a premium in this one, but Houston will get just enough to beat Cincinnati. Houston wins 15-14.
Sunday, December 25th - Sunday Night Football (Game 1)
Ravens(8-6) at Steelers(9-5) - De facto AFC North Championship Game
The last matchup between these two fierce and bitter rivals seemed to be missing some of that fire that we've become accustomed to, but that fire should be back for this huge matchup. With a Pittsburgh win, the Steelers win the AFC North title. With a Baltimore win, the Ravens stay alive for the division crown going into next week's finale. This one will be close all the way through, until Steve Smith scores the late game-winner. Baltimore wins 21-17.
Sunday, December 25th - Sunday Night Football (Game 2)
Denver will need to rely heavily on their stout defense, as their offense has fallen off the edge. Kansas City does just enough to win and they'll do it again here. If this game is remotely as entertaining as their first matchup, we should be in for a treat. Kansas City wins 28-24.
Monday, December 26th - Monday Night Football
Lions(9-5) at Cowboys(12-2) - Game of the Week
Dallas will use their stellar ground game to keep Matthew Stafford on the sidelines and wear down the Detroit defense. There will be no last second comeback for the desperate Lions in this one, as Dallas holds on for a big victory at home. Dallas wins 28-26.
The Saints are all but eliminated from playoff contention, but the season rolls on anyway. Tell us how you see Week 16 playing out. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below. Merry Christmas!