A very important warning in case you haven’t been paying close attention: All of the Sunday games are on Saturday this week! Okay, now that I’ve saved your football-watching life, here are the top four to watch on Christmas Eve, with an additional dandy on Boxing Day…
(Team rankings are based on our latest power rankings.)
1. No. 13 Eagles at No. 11 Cowboys (Saturday, 4:15 ET on Fox)
Hard to believe, but there’s a good chance the winner of this game represents the NFC East in the playoffs. The Eagles crushed the Cowboys in their first meeting this year, and Philly has only improved since that matchup. Yeah, this one’s in Dallas, but the ‘Boys have struggled a tad in their last two home games, barely beating the Dolphins and blowing it against the Giants. Plus, Philadelphia won in Dallas last year.
2. No. 15 Giants at No. 14 Jets (Saturday, 1:00 ET on Fox)
Huge implications for the quadrennial matchup between New Jersey’s two rival squadrons. There’s a good chance the winner goes to the playoffs and the loser does not, especially if the winner is the Jets and the loser is the Giants. For what it’s worth, the Jets are the home team, so their season-ticket holders will be in attendance at MetLife Stadium.
3. No. 8 Falcons at No. 2 Saints (Monday, 8:30 ET on ESPN)
New Orleans won a nail-biter in Atlanta earlier this year, which is probably why the division title isn’t at stake for this game. That said, the Falcons can still put some pressure on, send a big message and wrap up a playoff spot with a road victory. The Saints have won all six of their games this year at the Superdome by an average score of 40-18 (seriously), but the Falcons won in New Orleans last season. In fact, the Saints haven’t beaten the Falcons by more than six points at home since 2006.
4. No. 12 Chargers at No. 10 Lions (Saturday, 4:05 ET on CBS)
It looks as though the Lions are a playoff certainty, but I’m not so sure. I’m surprised to see them as a 2.5-point favorite against the league’s hottest team. And if they fall to the still-alive Chargers, they might have to win in Green Bay in Week 17 to get in. It won’t be easy. San Diego also benefits from this being a 4:05 start, since it won’t feel like 10 a.m. at kickoff. Both offenses have a lot of momentum right now, so expect a fun, high-scoring affair at Ford Field.
5. No. 3 49ers at No. 17 Seahawks (Saturday, 4:15 ET on Fox)
San Francisco controls its own destiny for a first-round bye, but now they’re on two fewer days rest than normal and going up against a streaking Seahawks team on the road. Considering that Seattle’s one of the toughest places to play and the ‘Hawks are still in the playoff race, this could be quite a tough task for the 49ers. That’s why they’re only a 2.5-point favorite against their division rivals. Since Week 12, the Seahawks are 3-1 with 116 points for and 54 against, while the Niners are 2-2 with 71 points for and 40 against.