What to Watch For in N.F.L.’s Christmas Day Games

It’s not a misprint.

If you’re scrolling by way of your tv listings on Christmas Day, you’ll see two N.F.L. video games on the schedule, which could possibly be a little bit of a reprieve from the vacation meal and festivities (or from the slate of N.B.A. video games).

One of the matchups, on paper, needs to be higher than the opposite, however each video games will function high-profile stars, together with Aaron Rodgers, the league’s reigning most precious participant, in addition to Davante Adams, Kyler Murray, Myles Garrett and Jonathan Taylor.

Below is the whole lot you want to know in regards to the N.F.L.’s video games on Saturday.

4:30 p.m., Fox and NFL Network

Facing a coronavirus outbreak, the N.F.L. rescheduled Cleveland’s sport final week, and the Browns (7-7) narrowly misplaced to the Raiders on Tuesday thanks to a walk-off area purpose. But Cleveland’s roster was depleted by coronavirus absences, together with its high two quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum, in addition to Coach Kevin Stefanski. The Browns’ postseason chances stand at 21 percent, the results of an up-and-down season with accidents and inconsistent play from Mayfield. One of the few vibrant spots has been Garrett, who’s tied for third in the league in sacks with 15. But even he’s questionable to play with a groin harm.

As of Wednesday morning, neither Mayfield nor Keenum had cleared the well being protocols, placing Nick Mullens, the group’s third-string quarterback, in line to begin once more. But no matter who’s beginning at quarterback, the matchup towards Green Bay will likely be robust. The Packers (11-3) arguably have the very best home-field benefit in the league, and forecasts name for the temperature to be close to freezing with winds at 10 miles an hour.

Aaron Rodgers, as ordinary, is enjoying effectively, finishing almost 68 p.c of his passes, and he has thrown for 3,487 yards and 30 touchdowns. Eight of these touchdowns have been caught by Davante Adams, who ranks third in the league in receiving yards (1,248) and fourth in catches (96).

The Packers protection has additionally performed nicely, permitting solely two groups to rush for greater than 150 yards and permitting a median of 217.9 passing yards per sport. The Packers have already clinched the N.F.C. North and at the moment maintain the convention’s No. 1 seed, that means the street to the playoffs runs by way of Lambeau Field.

Green Bay is justifiably a 7.5-point betting favourite, and if the Browns, short-handed or not, falter in any space of the sport, it might get ugly.

8:15 p.m., NFL Network

Once thought-about the N.F.L.’s greatest group as they burst to a 10-2 begin, the Cardinals (10-4) have misplaced two consecutive video games and are declining, a foul signal this shut to the postseason. In each of its latest losses, Arizona’s offense appeared inefficient as Kyler Murray threw inaccurate passes and misfires. The Cardinals have additionally performed with out their greatest weapon, DeAndre Hopkins, who was positioned on injured reserve with a hamstring harm. The group hopes he can return for a playoff push. A loss to the Colts (8-6) would drop the Cardinals’ possibilities of profitable the N.F.C. West to 43 p.c, that means their hard-earned work earlier in the season could possibly be wasted and they’d be in jeopardy of dropping home-field benefit for a postseason sport.

The arc of the season for Indianapolis has been the other. The Colts began 3-5, however have received 5 of their final six video games. In that stretch, the group unleashed Jonathan Taylor, and the operating again has turn out to be one of many N.F.L.’s greatest gamers. He leads the league in the most important dashing classes, with 270 carries, 1,518 yards and 17 touchdowns. His emergence has taken stress and duty off Carson Wentz, whom the group traded for this low season with the purpose of reviving his profession underneath Coach Frank Reich after Wentz’s 5 up-and-down seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Colts protection can be stout, particularly the entrance seven, and permits solely 109 dashing yards per sport.

The Cardinals are the betting favourite (-2), and can want to play prefer it to reverse their downward slope.

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