The Washington Post Sunday
This week’s games
Buccaneers at Ravens, 1 p.m., Fox Ravens by 71/2
The previous time these teams met, in 2014, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco threw a career-high five touchdown passes in the first 16:03. Now Flacco is ready to play after missing four games with a hip injury, but he will be the backup to Lamar Jackson. The Ravens lead the NFL in rushing since Jackson took over, and his 332 yards on the ground since Week 11 are the most by a quarterback in his first four starts in the Super Bowl era. Tampa Bay has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in eight straight games.
Predicted winner: Ravens, 69 percent
Patriots at Steelers, 4:25 p.m., CBS Patriots by 21/2
New England failed to clinch its 10th consecutive AFC East title last week when it was beaten by the Dolphins’ miracle final play, but the Patriots will get another crack at it this week in Pittsburgh. New England has won the past five meetings between these AFC powers, and QB Tom Brady is 11-2 all-time against the Steelers, including playoff games. Pittsburgh has lost three straight, and with a trip to New Orleans next on its schedule, its playoff chances are far from a sure thing.
Predicted winner: Patriots, 53 percent
Eagles at Rams, 8:20 p.m., NBC Rams by 121/2
Philadelphia was effectively eliminated from the NFC East race last week with its overtime loss at Dallas, and its nightmare season continues to get worse with the news this week that QB Carson Wentz has a stress fracture in his back. Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will start, but a win in Los Angeles seems like a tough ask to help the Eagles’ faint wild-card chances. The Rams were shut down last week in a loss to the Bears, but they have never lost consecutive regular season games under Coach Sean McVay.
Predicted winner: Rams, 78 percent
Saints at Panthers, Mon., 8:15 p.m., ESPN Saints by 6
This matchup — the first of two between the NFC South rivals scheduled for the final three weeks of the season — looked a lot more interesting before Carolina went on its five-game losing streak. Now, New Orleans has already clinched the division title, and the Saints can secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs if they win out. Only one of the Panthers’ losses during their slide came at home, so maybe not all hope is lost as they return to Bank of America Stadium, where they are 5-1.
Predicted winner: Saints, 74 percent
Cardinals at Falcons, 1 p.m. Falcons by 9
Atlanta also has lost five straight, and the Falcons are assured of their first losing season since 2014. Arizona has lost four of five, and its only win was against the Packers — and it led to the firing of coach Mike McCarthy. Atlanta Coach Dan Quinn might face a similar fate if he can’t end his team’s skid against the Cardinals. Arizona has the league’s worst offense, averaging 13.7 points and 242.4 total yards, and it has eclipsed 21 points only one time this season.
Predicted winner: Falcons, 71 percent
Cowboys at Colts, 1 p.m. Colts by 3
Dallas has won five in a row, and after its victory over the Eagles last week, it can clinch the NFC East title with a win in Indianapolis or losses by both Philadelphia and Washington. The Cowboys are just 2-4 on the road, though, and the Colts have won four straight at home. WR Amari Cooper has gotten a lot of the credit for Dallas’s offensive awakening, but RB Ezekiel Elliott remains the Cowboys’ most dangerous player. Elliott leads the league with 1,764 yards from scrimmage. Predicted winner: Cowboys, 52 percent
Dolphins at Vikings, 1 p.m. Vikings by 71/2
Minnesota’s latest dud led to the firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, and the Vikings will play their first game with interim coordinator Kevin Stefanski against Miami. Despite losses in three of its past four, Minnesota still holds the second wild-card spot in the NFC and has a manageable schedule to end the season. The Dolphins are tied for the second wild-card spot in the AFC after their stunner against New England, but they have lost five straight road games by an average of 16.4 points.
Predicted winner: Vikings, 63 percent
Lions at Bills, 1 p.m. Bills by 21/2
Although Buffalo lost to the Jets last week to clinch a losing season, the Bills actually have the league’s top defense in total yards. They also have the league’s best passing defense and rank third in net yards allowed per pass attempt, meaning Lions QB Matthew Stafford could be in for another tough week after he managed just 101 passing yards against Arizona in his most recent outing. The Bills’ Josh Allen is the first quarterback since 1951 to rush for at least 90 yards in three straight games.
Predicted winner: Lions, 56 percent
Packers at Bears, 1 p.m. Bears by 51/2
Chicago announced itself as a legitimate contender in the NFC with its prime-time win over the Rams last week, and now the Bears can clinch the NFC North for the first time since 2010 with a win or a Vikings loss. Green Bay has won nine of its past 10 games against Chicago and has an eight-game winning streak at Soldier Field (including postseason games), but these Packers are 0-6 on the road and have dropped eight straight away from Lambeau Field dating from last season.
Predicted winner: Bears, 66 percent
Raiders at Bengals, 1 p.m. Bengals by 3
Oakland defensive coordinator Paul Guenther spent the past four seasons in that same position with Cincinnati, and the defenses on both teams are terrible. The Raiders are allowing 6.52 yards per play, the worst by an NFL team through 13 games since the 1970 merger. The Bengals, who have lost five straight and seven of their past eight, are last in the league in yards and points allowed, but they did hold the dynamic Chargers to a season-low 288 yards last week. Predicted winner: Bengals, 66 percent
Titans at Giants, 1 p.m. Titans by 1
Tennessee is in the thick of the AFC playoff race after two straight wins. Against a New York defense that ranks 21st in yards allowed, the Titans have a chance to gain at least 400 yards in a third straight game for the first time since 2000. The Giants have won four of five since their bye week, and they squandered a 16-point lead in their only loss during that span. RB Saquon Barkley has rushed for more than 100 yards in four straight games.
Predicted winner: Titans, 54 percent
Seahawks at 49ers, 4:05 p.m. Seahawks by 31/2
Seattle can clinch a playoff berth with a win in San Francisco, no small feat considering the Seahawks appeared to be in disarray early in the season. Seattle has won four in a row, including a 43-16 rout of the 49ers just two weeks ago to extend its winning streak in this once-heated rivalry to 10. Seattle is second in the NFL with a plus-11 turnover margin; San Francisco is last at minus-21. The 49ers have a chance to become the first team since at least 1940 to go six straight games without a takeaway.
Predicted winner: Seahawks, 75 percent