It's do-or-die time in the NFL.
Well, some teams have already died while others have died, but for the other 20 or so squads, Week 16 will be integral.
Of this week's 16 games, 12 feature at least one team still in playoff contention, while six matchups pit together two teams playing for something other than Teddy Bridgewater or Jadeveon Clowney.
Let's take a look at the full slate, along with a closer gander at games with the most on the line.
|Away Team||Home Team||Winner|
|Miami Dolphins||Buffalo Bills||Dolphins|
|New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers||Panthers|
|Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||Cowboys|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||St. Louis Rams||Rams|
|Cleveland Browns||New York Jets||Browns|
|Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs|
|Minnesota Vikings||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals|
|Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||Broncos|
|Tennessee Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jaguars|
|Arizona Cardinals||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks|
|New York Giants||Detroit Lions||Lions|
|Oakland Raiders||San Diego Chargers||Chargers|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens|
|Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||Bears|
|Atlanta Falcons||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Depending on how you feel about the scorching (two wins in their last three! By four combined points!) Atlanta Falcons, this is essentially for the NFC South title and a first-round bye.
The Saints clinch both of those things with a win, while the Panthers would just have to beat Mike Smith's 4-10 squad in Week 17 to do the same should they win on Sunday.
New Orleans walked all over Carolina in the teams' first meeting, but this one shifts to Bank of America Stadium. That makes it "a challenge" for the Saints, as quarterback Drew Brees put it, via USA TODAY Sports:
"We know what we're playing for -- we're playing for the divisional championship and the two seed so it doesn't get any bigger or better than that," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "It is going to be a challenge for us. Obviously we understand our deficiencies on the road here the last couple of trips. It is great motivation for us."
"Deficiencies," to say the least. Check out Brees' home (where he is other-worldly) vs. road (where he is average) splits:
|Record||Passing Yards||Comp%||YPA||TD||INT||QB Rating|
Things aren't going to get any easier against the Panthers, either, who are 6-1 at home and giving up a minuscule 11.9 points per game.
Carolina's offense isn't exactly a powerhouse, and majestic Rob Ryan knows how to get creative and cause problems on defense. But the Panthers have quietly scored at least 20 points or more in four of their last five games, which will be plenty enough behind their elite defense at home.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
There's a very good chance the Bears' postseason hopes will come down to Week 17 when they play the Green Bay Packers, but with an outside shot at winning the NFC North this week (a win plus a Packers loss plus a Detroit Lions loss), motivation won't be problem.
The same goes for Philly, which will in all likelihood have to beat Dallas next week but can clinch the NFC East with a win and a Cowboys defeat on Sunday.
Who ya got?
This one should be scintillating.
Both teams have a seemingly endless amount of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, while both have been embarrassed on defense on several occasions. According to Football Outsiders' efficiency rankings, the Bears rank fourth on offense and 22nd on defense, and the Eagles come in at Nos. 3 and 25, respectively.
That matches up with all of the standard statistics as well, making this contest a recipe for points.
In the end, though, Chicago will be able to put up more. Just take a look at what Matt Cassel was able to do to this Eagles secondary last week, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info:
Vikings QB Matt Cassel had a lot of success with deep throws in Sunday's win. Take a look pic.twitter.com/xAuYuCVaMJ— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 16, 2013
OK, so that was Cassel to guys like Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright and Chase Ford, without Adrian Peterson, mind you. Now, imagine what kind of damage Jay Cutler—with freakin' Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery—can do with Matt Forte keeping the defense honest.
The Eagles will be able to keep pace, especially if LeSean McCoy keeps his word:
Bears-Eagles Sunday, both w/ division lead up for grabs. Lesean McCoy is ready to put the team on his back, though » pic.twitter.com/1ConvfOo7b— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 19, 2013
But the Bears will come out on top in the shootout.