Ahhhh, Christmas weekend. Family, reflection upon the year we’ve had ...
The NFL has stacked the weekend with games, starting Saturday afternoon and continuing into Monday night. With so much football awaiting the home viewer, here’s a rundown of all the matchups ... including the Chiefs-Broncos game in prime-time on Christmas night (Sunday, in case you were uncertain).
COLTS (7-7) AT RAIDERS (11-3)
“AAAWWWK!” carols the Upset Bird, imbued by holiday spirit of an alcoholic variety. “Andrew Laaawwwwk!” Oakland already has clinched its first playoff spot since 2002, while underachieving Indy, though not mathematically out, would need a Christmas miracle. Andrew Laaawwwk, I mean, Luck, right now, is better than Derek Carr thanks to the latter’s limiting finger injury. Betting line: Raiders by 3 1/2 .
DOLPHINS (9-5) AT BILLS (7-7)
Simple: Miami ends its eight-season playoff drought if it beats the Bills on Saturday followed by a Denver loss Christmas night in Kansas City. Except the first part of that equation won’t be simple at all. The Dolphins haven’t won in Buffalo since 2011, freezing rain is forecast, and the Bills — with only infinitesimal, barely breathing playoff hopes — are in a classic spoiler’s role vs. their AFC East rivals. Betting line: Bills by 3 1/2 .
49ERS (1-13) AT RAMS (4-10)
How can you resist a combined record of 5-23? Jared Goff was iffy to start for L.A. because of a concussion, but it’s not as if the Rams have been a better offense since benching Case Keenum. Niners won Week 1 meeting 28-0 but we see a turnaround here. Todd Gurley should finally get his elusive 100. Betting line: Rams by 4.
JETS (4-10) AT PATRIOTS (12-2)
Patriots have clinched AFC East crown and first-round bye but still aim for home-field thorughout, so can’t afford a stumble here. And that isn’t likely against a Jets team that (based on last week’s effort vs. Miami) already has quit on Todd Bowles. Bryce Petty is iffy for New York, so Ryan Fitzpatrick is on standby. Like it matters? Bill Belichick gets his 200th Pats win. Betting line: Pats by 16 1/2 .
TITANS (8-6) AT JAGUARS (2-12)
Tennessee likely needs to win out (or hope Houston loses) to eke into the playoffs, but Jax (despite nine losses in a row) could be a bigger-than-expected test. The coaching change, with interim guy Doug Marrone in for Gus Bradley, could provide a jolt, and Blake Bortles has eight TDs vs. zero picks in past two meetings with Titans. Betting line: Titans by 4 1/2 .
VIKINGS (7-7) AT PACKERS (8-6)
Green Bay, winner of four in a row, can clinch a playoff spot by winning here if a few other things all fall right. Minnesota, once 5-0, is technically alive but needs a miracle of Biblical size. Aaron Rodgers is 10-0 on TDs/picks his past five games, and when he’s really hot and the weather is really cold and the game is at Lambeau, we’ll take the Packers. Betting line: Packers by 7.
CHARGERS (5-9) AT BROWNS (0-14)
Cleveland closes next week at Pittsburgh, which might need the win to make playoffs. So this realistically is the Browns’ last, best hope to avoid the ignominy of 0-16, which hasn’t been done since Detroit in 2008. Betting line: Chargers by 5 1/2 .
REDSKINS (7-6-1) AT BEARS (3-11)
Washington, slumping and wearing that tie game like an anchor, must win out and pray to make the playoffs. Kirk Cousins will complete 30-plus passes and really spread it around in what seems to be an unfavorable matchup for this Bears defense. Betting line: Washington by 3 1/2 .
FALCONS (9-5) AT PANTHERS (6-8)
Atlanta clinches NFC South crown with a win if Tampa also loses, and Falcons sew up playoff spot by winning if a few others things go right. Carolina is not yet officially eliminated, but Panthers are less likely to make playoffs than you are to be hit by lightning while riding a unicycle in downtown Buenos Aires. Betting line: Falcons by 2 1/2 .
BUCCANEERS (8-6) AT SAINTS (6-8)
Tampa Bay clinches playoff spot by winning here if Packers, Lions and Redskins all lose. N’Awlins is not quite dead, but all but. Like Saints at home to make it tough on Bucs. Betting line: Saints by 3.
CARDINALS (5-8-1) AT SEAHAWKS (9-4-1)
Low stakes, with Seattle already having clinched NFC West title and ’Zona out of it — although Seabirds still are angling to secure a first-round bye. I’d be a little surprised if Russell Wilson and his guys had much problem in this game. Betting line: Seahawks by 7 1/2 .
BENGALS (5-8-1) AT TEXANS (8-6)
Houston clinches AFC South title with a win if Tennessee also loses — but I don’t see Cinci letting that happen. Bengals are eliminated but perfect for the spoiler role, especially getting A.J. Green back from injury. Betting line: Even.
RAVENS (8-6) AT STEELERS (9-5)
Call this one the NFL’s Christmas Day gift to fans. Baltimore-Pittsburgh is one of league’s genuinely most bitter rivalries, and this edition could be tantamount to winner-take-all for the playoffs. Steelers clinch AFC North with a win, but division odds swing to Ravens if they win, because they’d enjoy the tiebreaker of a series sweep. And second place in this division is hardly assured a wild-card spot. Betting line: Steelers by 5.
BRONCOS (8-6) AT CHIEFS (10-4)
Your Christmas Day nightcap finds the Chiefs able to clinch a playoff berth with a win or a Ravens loss, while Denver, now a longshot, must win and hope for help. Medium upset shot for visitors, but Chiefs are a solid home team that has won past two in series and rides a 9-0 run in division games. Betting line: Chiefs by 3 1/2 .
LIONS (9-5) AT COWBOYS (12-2)
Traditional Thanskgiving Day hosts meet on the Monday night stage. Dallas clinches NFC East and home-field throughout with a win here — or if Giants lost Thursday night. Detroit clinches NFC North title with a win here or a loss by Packers. And Lions clinch playoff spot with a win or loss by Bucs. Betting line: Cowboys by 7 1/2 .