Five quick-hit storylines entering Week 16:
1. ‘Skins set up for Saturday success — There’s a lot to like about the Redskins’ chances of clinching the NFC East Saturday night in Philadelphia. Kirk Cousins has 15 total touchdowns to just two interceptions in his last six games. He leads the NFL in completion percentage and all of his playmakers are healthy. One of those playmakers, by the way, would love nothing more than to put the final dagger in his former team. DeSean Jackson has four touchdowns in his last five games, with three of those scores going for 56 yards or more. That’s not good news for an Eagles team that lost its two starting corners in the first half of Sunday night’s 40-17 blowout home loss to the Cardinals.
2. Beckham’s bad behavior benefits Minnesota — The Giants’ remote shot at winning the NFC East dwindled Monday when it was announced Odell Beckham Jr. would be suspended one game for his reckless on-field behavior Sunday vs. Josh Norman and the Panthers. Beckham will appeal, but don’t expect the 9-5 Vikings to shed tears for him if he loses. Minnesota has virtually clinched a playoff spot, but a home win Sunday night against New York sets up a de facto NFC North title game in Week 17 at Lambeau Field.
3. Motivation for Panthers goes beyond perfection — Carolina coach Ron Rivera has plenty of incentive to play his starters Sunday in Atlanta. The 14-0 Panthers are two NFC South wins away from a perfect regular season, but the Arizona Cardinals — winners of eight straight — continue to nip at their heels for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
A win against the Falcons would clinch home field throughout the playoffs and leave Rivera with the ultimate Week 17 dilemma: does he go for the undefeated regular season at home against Tampa Bay or rest his starters, namely the irreplaceable Cam Newton, in a game with zero playoff implications?
4. Chief concerns in Denver — A blur of red is closing in on Denver and the AFC West crown. The Chiefs (9-5) have won eight straight and welcome the lowly Browns to Arrowhead Sunday while the Broncos (10-4), losers of two straight, host a Bengals team Monday night that’s 6-1 on the road this season. Denver can put themselves in a position to grab a first-round bye with a win or risk losing the division — and possibly worse — with a loss. It doesn’t matter much who’s under center for the Broncos Monday if they cannot run the football. Denver running backs have rushed for a total of 90 yards in the team’s last two losses. The Bengals enter Week 16 ranked eighth in the league against the run (93.2 Yds/G).
5. Will Raiders, Chargers bolt to L.A.? — Week 15 featured the Rams and Chargers playing what could be their final home games ever in St. Louis and San Diego, respectively. The third team vying for Los Angeles, the Oakland Raiders, will wrap up their home schedule on Christmas Eve against divisional foe and potential future business partner, the Chargers. It’s a meaningless game on the field, but the final gun will officially set the wheels in motion for the race to Hollywood. NFL owners are expected to vote on which team(s) will have the green light to relocate on Jan. 12-13 in Houston.
Player information and team statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference and NFL.com.