By William Hill
Last Updated: 20th December 2019
The NFL season is entering its climax and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. While the top two seeds in the AFC seems to be set with both the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots looking exceptional, plenty of lower seeds are still to play for. We preview some of the big matchups from week 16.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
New England have had the season we have come to expect from them in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, as they have had another double-digit win season and look a lock to make another deep playoff run. However, Buffalo have pushed them every step this year and sit just one win behind them in the AFC East. With Josh Allen progressing nicely at quarterback and a defence marshalled well by safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, Buffalo have battled to a 10-win season.
While nobody expects the Bills to lift the Lombardi Trophy this year, they could prove a difficult playoff opponent and could easily put the cat amongst the pigeons by knocking some of the more fancied sides out. Buffalo will visit Foxboro as underdogs, and can be backed at 5/2, while the Patriots are 1/3 favourites. The handicap sits at 6.5, with total points set at a comparatively low 37. While this will be a matchup between two of the best defensive coaches in the league, 37 points is low in an era of high scoring, so taking the over at 20/23 could prove profitable.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
This game needs no introduction, as one of the biggest divisional rivalries takes place in a vital NFC East fixture. Both sides enter with an identical record, so a win here is vital to have any hope of reaching the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys had a real statement win last week, with a strong ground game leading the way to a demolishing of the Los Angeles Rams, but quarterback Dak Prescott has a shoulder injury, so the ‘Boys’ could be one-dimensional. Philadelphia narrowly escaped a shock loss to Washington, but the Eagles have the talent on both sides of the ball to win out.
This game should be played in a phenomenal atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Cowboys are narrow underdogs at 4/5. However, Philadelphia will target Prescott and could seize the initiative in the NFC East. Back Philly to win at 21/20.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Another huge matchup in the NFC playoff battle, the 10-4 Minnesota Vikings host the 11-3 Green Bay Packers in a must win game for home advantage in the NFC, which will be vital. If Green Bay can win, Lambeau Field will be a huge advantage come the post-season, while Minnesota will be keen to continue to increase their momentum approaching January.
Minnesota will sorely miss star running back Dalvin Cook, who is set to be rested following a shoulder injury, which could give Green Bay the advantage. Aaron Rodgers has the Packers performing at a high level, and they are 2/1 to snatch an away win. Minnesota are 5/12, but without Cook the Vikings could really struggle.