Week 16 of the NFL season begins with two games on Saturday and ends with two on Monday night, with all the others played on Sunday. There’s no more “Thursday Night Football,” which means teams won’t be at risk of being completely unprepared and players unready to compete on a short week.
Here are our Top 6 questions for NFL Week 16.
1. What will Ezekiel Elliott’s return mean to the Cowboys?
The Cowboys have survived their last six games without their most important offensive player, and Elliott is returning just in time for Dallas to make a playoff push. Dallas is currently the No. 9 seed in the NFC, so they will need help from more than just Elliott in order to reach the postseason. The Seahawks, the team they will face on Sunday, are currently just ahead of them in the playoff picture. Both teams have the same record, so it goes without saying that this weekend’s game is huge.
Dak Prescott is infinitely more comfortable with Elliott on the field. If there’s a problem for the Cowboys, it could be that they travel on the road to face the Eagles in Week 17. They are probably hoping the Eagles beat the Raiders Monday night to wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That might make Dallas’ path to the playoffs a bit easier.
2. Can Pittsburgh’s offense survive without Antonio Brown?
The Steelers were able to move the ball well last week even after Brown exited their game against the Patriots in the first half, but we can’t assume that will be the case going forward. While Houston’s pass defense is nothing special, no quarterback leans on his top receiving threat more than Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have good depth at wide receiver with rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant, and they will need both to step up this week and perhaps in Week 17.
Brown is dealing with what head coach Mike Tomlin called a “significant contusion,” though he is expected to return in time for the playoffs. However, he could probably use an extra week to heal, and the Steelers may need to win their final two games to earn a first-round playoff bye. Fortunately, they face the Browns in Week 17.
3. Will Brock Osweiler look sharp again?
The Denver Broncos looked like two different teams in Week 15: One when Trevor Siemian was at quarterback, and another when Brock Osweiler stepped in. Osweiler went 12 of 17 for 194 yards, two touchdowns passes, and one rushing touchdown as he led the Broncos back from down 10-0 to a 25-13 win over the Colts filling in for the injured Siemian.
Osweiler has seen significant action in four games this season, and none have led to as many points as the Week 15 game. Osweiler may not be able to convince anyone he’s worthy of anything more than a backup job at this point, but he may be able to turn some heads if he can put together a few strong games in a row.
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