By Dan Durkin
(CBS) It’s possible that all 12 of the NFL’s playoff seeds could be determined after Week 16. But this is the NFL, so the odds of that happening are extremely low.READ MORE: Northwestern University Receives Gift Of $480 Million, Largest In University History, From Patrick And Shirley Ryan
Each conference features one marquee matchup. The AFC’s No. 1 seed, New England (12-2), travels to New York (New Jersey, really) for a tilt with the 9-5 Jets, who have won four straight and are in the wild-card hunt as the current No. 7 seed. Meanwhile the NFC’s No. 2 seed, Arizona (12-2), hosts the NFC’s No. 3 seed, the 10-4 Packers in Glendale.
Here’s my take on how this weekend’s action plays out.
(Home team in all CAPS)
Redskins 30, EAGLES 24 — Saturday night, 7:25 p.m.
Does anybody want to win the NFC East this season? Winners of two straight, the Redskins are in prime position to take control of the division. Their offense has hit its stride over the past few weeks and now faces a wounded and vulnerable Eagles team. Ignore the home/road splits stats you see about Kirk Cousins — his success is less about location and more about opponents, and the Eagles aren’t a good one.
BUCS 24, Bears 23 — noon
It’s the Lovie Smith Bowl, part deux. With both of these teams eliminated from playoff contention, this game boils down to pride for the players and evaluation for the front office. The Bears are banged up on both sides of the ball, particularly on offense. Who lines up for the Bears at receiver remains to be seen, but it won’t be enough to take advantage of a vulnerable Bucs’ secondary. The Bucs will ride Doug Martin to a slim win at home.
Panthers 34, FALCONS 20 — noon
Two weeks ago, the Panthers thoroughly embarrassed the Falcons, shutting them out 38-0 in Charlotte. This Sunday, the Panthers will dominate the Falcons in Atlanta, albeit in a less-lopsided manner. Cam Newton will lead the Panthers to the top seed in the NFC as they go to 15-0 on the season and win for the sixth time in their last seven games against the Falcons.
BILLS 27, Cowboys 13 — noon
Kellen Moore is starting at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Really. That’s a thing that’s happening this weekend in Buffalo. While the Bills are eliminated from playoff contention, they should feast on Moore’s weak arm and rout the Cowboys at home.
Steelers 34, RAVENS 17 — noon
The Steelers’ passing game is the most dominant unit going in the league right now. Now they get a matchup against the Ravens, who have allowed 28 passing touchdowns and opposing quarterbacks a passer efficiency rating of 101.9, the fourth-highest total in the league. This game will be over by halftime.
LIONS 31, 49ers 13 — noon
It takes a real die-hard fan to tune into this game. The 49ers have nothing going on offense, and their defense was just carved up by A.J. McCarron. The Lions are 4-2 in their last six games and should find little resistance on both sides of the ball as they pick up their sixth win of the season.
CHIEFS 30, Browns 17 — noon
The Chiefs are the hottest team in the league right now. Their schedule sets up nicely for them to run the table, finish the season on a 10-game winning streak and take their chances in the wild-card round. Their defense will dominate Johnny Manziel, and their running game will trample the Browns’ 31st-ranked run defense.READ MORE: Two Simeon High School Students, Both 15, Killed In Shootings Four Hours Apart
DOLPHINS 24, Colts 20 — noon
The Colts’ emergency quarterback is punter Pat McAfee. Their current quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, is running on fumes, while their backup quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst, has more years in the league (10) than starts (nine). The Dolphins are an enigma, as they’ve been all season, but they have enough weapons on offense to take advantage of a Colts’ secondary that has given up several explosive plays this season.
JETS 27, Patriots 24 — noon
The AFC Game of the Week is in New York, with huge playoff implications riding in this game for both teams. The Patriots have an opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed with a win, while the Jets are jockeying for position with the Steelers and Chiefs for the final two AFC wild-card spots. The Patriots are running out of healthy bodies on offense. The Patriots make themselves one-dimensional against the Jets in general and throw the football, but Tom Brady’s depleted targets will be their undoing.
Texans 24, TITANS 20 — noon
There’s no question that the Texans are a resilient team. They’ve gone through three different quarterbacks over their past three games, yet they remain on top of the AFC South and have a chance to clinch the division with a win in Tennessee. The Texans aren’t sure if it will be Brian Hoyer or Brandon Weeden under center against the Titans, but their defense will lead them to their fourth straight win over Zach Mettenberger and the Titans.
Jaguars 34, SAINTS 27 — 3:05 p.m.
It’s strange to think that this game could be one of the most fruitful for fantasy footballers seeking a league championship, as little defense will be played in this game. Drew Brees is going to play the game with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. It’s probably not the wisest of decisions. I like the Jaguars to light up the Saints defense like a Christmas tree in New Orleans.
CARDINALS 31, Packers 27 — 3:25 p.m.
The NFC Game of the Week is in Glendale. Both of these teams are dealing with key injuries in their secondary. For the Packers, Sam Shields’ availability is in question as he recovers from a concussion. For the Cardinals, they were dealt a devastating blow, as Tyrann Mathieu was lost last weekend to a torn ACL. Why he was still playing late in a blowout against the Eagles is a question Arizona is asking this week. Either way, I’ve maintained for weeks that the Cardinals, not the Panthers, are the best team in the NFC. They’ll prove it this weekend.
SEAHAWKS 34, Rams 13 — 3:25 p.m.
The Seahawks are playing as well as any team in the league right now and have an ideal matchup against the Rams to keep control of the fifth seed in the NFC. The Rams actually beat the Seahawks in the season opener, but these are two different teams right now. Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin is unstoppable, and the defense will lock down Todd Gurley and put the game in the hands of Case Keenum.
VIKINGS 23, Giants 20 — 7:30 p.m.
No Odell Beckham Jr. for the Giants and a banged-up Adrian Peterson for the Vikings. The Minnesota defense is still playing at a high level and will now be able to mix and match coverages without the threat of Beckham. It’s a crucial game for both teams, but I like the Vikings defense to carry them to a big win at home.
BRONCOS 24, Bengals 20 — Monday night, 7:30 p.m.
Both of these AFC juggernauts are playing with their backup quarterbacks in a matchup with huge playoff implications. The Denver defense will be able to throw a variety of looks and disguises to confuse A.J. McCarron in just his second NFL start as the Broncos pick up a huge win at home.
Season record through Week 15: 141-83 (Last week: 15-1)MORE NEWS: SWAT Team On Scene On Division Street On Near North Side
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @djdurkin.