As we approach the last six weeks of the NFL regular season, there are many games coming up that have significant implications on the playoff picture. Currently, the division leaders in the AFC include the perfect 10-0 Steelers, the 9-1 Chiefs, the 7-3 Bills, and the 7-3 Colts. In the NFC, the 8-2 Saints, 7-3 Rams, 7-3 Packers, and the 3-6-1 Eagles lead their respective divisions. If the season were to end today, the six wild card teams making the playoffs would include the Titans, Browns, and Raiders in the AFC, and the Seahawks, Buccaneers, and Cardinals in the NFC. With many teams right outside of the playoff picture like the Ravens and Dolphins, the standings could change considerably after this weeks games. Although there are many big games this weekend, I will mention four that are must watch games for this Thanksgiving special Week 12.
4. Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This might not be the most important game for the Chiefs as they are comfortable at the top of their division at 9-1, but this is a big game for Tom Brady and the Bucs. Tampa Bay just came off of a poor performance against the Rams, in which Brady threw two interceptions, including one at the end of the game to seal the victory for the Rams.
Tampa Bay is now a game and a half behind the division leading Saints, who have games against the Broncos and Falcons the next two weeks. This is a must win for the Bucs if they want any shot to win the division. With the Saints winning both games over the Bucs this season, it is already unlikely that the Bucs will finish ahead of the Saints. However, with Brees out for at least a couple more weeks, they very well could lose one of the next two games, in which the Bucs could gain some ground on the division leaders.
The last time Mahomes and Brady went head to head was last December, when the Chiefs beat the Patriots 23-16. This should be another big test for the Chiefs, after they just squeaked by the Raiders last week. This will be a measuring stick for the Bucs, as they still try to prove to the league that they are serious Super Bowl contenders. There will not be that many more opportunities to watch Brady and Mahomes face off, so enjoy this one at 4:25 p.m. EST this Sunday.
3. Washington Football Team vs Dallas Cowboys
According to the current NFC East standings, these two teams are at the bottom of the division. Who would want to watch two 3-7 teams battle it out? The reason why this game is a must watch is because there is a strong likelihood that one of these two teams wins the division. The Eagles, who are currently leading the division at 3-6-1, have not looked good in the past two games, losing to the Giants and the Browns.
Carson Wentz has not been good this year, with some in the media calling for him to be benched. It is hard to argue with them as he has thrown the same amount of interceptions as touchdown passes. With the Eagles having a very tough schedule to end the season, I do not see them winning the division. So, at this point, this division is anyone’s to take and one of these two teams is going to get a huge confidence boost for winning this game on Thursday.
The Washington Football Team just came off of a big win against the Bengals, while the Cowboys got through a close one against the Vikings. Although this might not be the prettiest game to watch, it is one of the most important games of the weekend, as the winner could very well see themselves at the top of the division come Monday. With the game kicking off at 4:30 p.m. EST, this is the perfect game to watch while eating Thanksgiving dinner.
2. Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers
There is no better way to end Thanksgiving then with a big division rival match-up between two playoff caliber teams. It is surprising to see that the Ravens, who were 14-2 last season, are now 6-4 and are on the outside looking in. The Ravens started the season off well, but their level has dipped the last four games, in which they were 1-3 in that span. The Steelers on the other hand come into this game undefeated on the season. With Ben Roethlisberger healthy and a star rookie wide receiver in Chase Claypool, the Steelers have started the season 10-0.
The Steelers recently beat the Ravens in Week 8, in which Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions. In Jackson’s early career, he has struggled against the best teams in the league. With the Browns a game up on the Ravens for second in the division, this becomes a huge game for the Ravens, one that they cannot afford to lose. Pittsburgh on the other hand are only six games away from a perfect regular season, although their sights are set on the Lombardi trophy and not a perfect record. This may be the toughest test for the undefeated Steelers, as the Ravens will be desperate for a win.
Although both are playing on a short week, the energy and excitement will be high for this game, as there is always bad blood between these division rivals. Sit back and enjoy this one at 8:20 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving, as this one should keep you awake after the big meal you eat earlier in the day.
1. Tennessee Titans vs Indianapolis Colts
This game should be a must watch for any football fan. This AFC South match-up has massive implications on who will win the division. Both teams are currently 7-3, although the Colts own the tiebreaker because of the win against the Titans earlier in the season. Both the Titans and the Colts are coming off big wins against tough opponents. They both won in overtime, with the Colts hitting a game winning field goal to beat the Packers, while the Titans had Derrick Henry rush for the game winning touchdown against the Ravens. Both offenses score a lot, each averaging just under 28 points per game. The Colts are a lot better of defense though, as they rank second in the league on yards allowed per game, while holding their opponents to an average of 20.8 points per game.
The Colts will have to try to stop Derrick Henry, who did rush for 133 yards last week and over 100 yards when these two teams faced off against each other in Week 10. Philip Rivers outplayed Ryan Tannehill in that game as Rivers threw for 308 yards, completing 74.4% of his passes while Tannehill struggled, throwing for 147 yards and only completing 55.6% of his passes. This is an important game for both teams. If the Colts win, they will be ahead by two games, holding the tiebreaker for the rest of the season, while if the Titans win, they will be up by a game, splitting the two head to head meetings. This 1 p.m. EST game on Sunday is arguably the best and most important game in Week 12, and one that every football fan should watch this weekend.