Today's Stories Tomorrow's History


NFL Christmas Day picks, schedule, stats, odds, playoff race

The Week 16 NFL schedule for the 2023 season continues Monday with three great Christmas Day matchups, and we have you covered with what you need to know. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game and a bold prediction for each matchup.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a game projection and a look at the playoff picture. Analytics writer Seth Walder picks out each matchup’s biggest X factor, and fantasy analyst Eric Moody hands out helpful fantasy football intel. Finally, Walder and Moody give us final score picks for all three games. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded day of NFL football.

Let’s get into the full slate, including Raiders-Chiefs, Giants-Eagles and Ravens-49ers. (All playoff chance percentages are via FPI and independent of other results.)

Jump to a matchup:

1 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: KC -10 (40.5)

Storyline to watch: The Chiefs have beaten the Raiders in 10 of 11 games with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In only three of those victories was the final margin less than 14 points. Otherwise, they’ve been lopsided. So the question heading into this one is: Can the Raiders find a way to stay close and give themselves a chance to win by making plays late in the game? — Adam Teicher

Bold prediction: Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby, who has a career-high 13.5 sacks, will sack his “frenemy” Mahomes at least two times. The rivalry between the two has taken off the past two seasons, even as the Chiefs have dominated the series since Crosby and Mahomes first met in 2019. Crosby has sacked Mahomes four times and registered four QB hits in their past three meetings. — Paul Gutierrez

Stat to know: The Chiefs are seeking their ninth straight 10-win season, which would tie for third-longest streak in NFL history. It would also be Mahomes’ sixth straight 10-win campaign as a starting quarterback, which would break a tie for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

Matchup X factor: Raiders edge rusher Malcolm Koonce. You know Crosby is going to bring it, but Koonce has been playing well. Since Week 9, he ranks fifth in pass rush win rate at edge, and he recorded two sacks last week against the Chargers. If the Raiders are going to stifle the Chiefs, the Koonce/Crosby tandem has to be at its best. — Walder

What’s at stake: The Chiefs could celebrate Christmas with an AFC West title if they win, and it’d also put them at an 20% chance to earn the top seed and a playoff bye. The Raiders are clinging to postseason dreams, and their chances would climb to 6% if they win. Read more.

Injuries: Raiders | Chiefs

What to know for fantasy: Mahomes has averaged 303.5 passing yards against the Raiders in his career, which is good news for Chiefs receiver Rashee Rice. Mahomes has completed 80% of his passes and averaged 9.0 yards per pass attempt when throwing to Rice. He also has six passing touchdowns and no interceptions when targeting the rookie. See Week 16 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Raiders games are 10-4 to the under this season, tied for the highest under percentage in the NFL. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Chiefs 28, Raiders 20
Walder’s pick: Chiefs 34, Raiders 10
FPI prediction: KC, 82.6% (by an average of 12.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jones eager to capitalize on fresh start with Raiders … Mahomes accepts penalty for blasting officials … Reid expects Pacheco back vs. Raiders

4:30 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: PHI -13.5 (42.5)

Storyline to watch: It’s Matty Pencils versus Tommy Cutlets. Matt Patricia is in his second week as Eagles defensive playcaller after taking over for Sean Desai. He’s trying to turn around a defense that ranks last on third down and 31st in passing touchdowns allowed. Quarterback Tommy DeVito has given New York a spark, tossing eight touchdown passes to three interceptions over seven games (five starts), but the Giants are coming off a 24-6 loss to the Saints in which DeVito passed for only 177 yards and was sacked seven times. — Tim McManus

Bold prediction: DeVito will throw for 300 yards. He has never failed in prime time. So what if there is only one game of evidence? The Achilles heel of this Eagles defense is against the pass, where they are 28th in the NFL in allowing 255.4 yards per game through the air. DeVito has already said he welcomes the hostile environment that will surely greet him in Philadelphia, and he could put up big numbers. — Jordan Raanan

Stat to know: Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has a career-high 14 rushing touchdowns this season (already tied for the most in a season by a QB in NFL history with Cam Newton in 2011). A 15th rushing score would tie halfback Steve Van Buren in 1945 for the second most in a season by any Eagles player (LeSean McCoy had 17 in 2011).

Matchup X factor: Giants tight end Darren Waller. The reality of the DeVito era is that it has been fun and filled with hype but also has contained only a single game with a QBR of 32 or greater. DeVito needs help, and Waller — who recently returned from injury — can provide it. A better game from the tight end would be the first of many breaks the Giants would need to pull an upset. — Walder

What’s at stake: Philly has clinched the playoffs but is still fighting for the NFC East. The Eagles would have a 77% chance to win a division title in a win (10% in the race to the conference’s top seed) and 21% in a loss. The Giants would be at less than 1% to make the playoffs if they pull off a Christmas Day upset. Read more.

Injuries: Giants | Eagles

What to know for fantasy: In Week 15, Eagles running back D’Andre Swift had a favorable matchup against the Seahawks and delivered a solid performance. On 20 touches, he gained 75 yards. The Eagles are double-digit favorites against the Giants, so it’s implied Philadelphia will be playing with a lead. The Giants’ defense has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards and third-most rushing touchdowns per game to opponents. This bodes well for Swift. See Week 16 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Giants are 0-5 outright and 1-4 ATS against teams currently with winning records. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Eagles 28, Giants 17
Walder’s pick: Eagles 27, Giants 13
FPI prediction: PHI, 87.5% (by an average of 15.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Giants, DeVito still have a lot at stake in game vs. Eagles … Dickerson undergoes thumb surgery … DeVito on pizzeria flap: Some ‘stuff slipped through the cracks’

8:15 p.m. ET | ABC/ESPN+ | Spread: SF -5 (46.5)

Storyline to watch: Talk about a Christmas gift: This game could be a preview of Super Bowl LVIII, with the Niners and Ravens sitting as the betting and ESPN FPI favorites to represent their conferences in the big game. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it’s only the second matchup of teams holding a share of the NFL’s best record in Week 16 or later since the 1970 merger. It’s also one more prime-time opportunity for Niners QB Brock Purdy and RB Christian McCaffrey and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson to stake a claim to the league’s Most Valuable Player award. — Nick Wagoner

Bold prediction: The Ravens will hold McCaffrey out of the end zone. He is the second 49ers player to score 20 touchdowns in a season, joining Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who scored 23 in 1987. But Baltimore, which leads the NFL in scoring defense, hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown in four straight games, a span of 13 quarters. — Jamison Hensley

Stat to know: The 49ers have won six straight games by double digits, tied for their longest streak in franchise history (1987 and 1993). The last team to win seven straight by double digits in a single season was the 2007 Patriots (eight).

Matchup X factor: 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel. The Ravens don’t let receivers get open. In fact, they have the second-best defensive team open score (71) in ESPN’s receiver tracking metrics. But that’s not how Samuel wins — he’s a YAC machine. Maybe the Ravens can slow down Brandon Aiyuk (who does excel at getting open). But stopping Samuel is a different sort of challenge. — Walder

What’s at stake: Both teams have locked up playoff berths, and the 49ers already won the NFC West. San Francisco would have a 97% chance to be the top seed in the NFC with a win (70% with a loss), while a win for Baltimore would put the Ravens at 82% to get the AFC’s No. 1 seed (52% with a loss). Read more.

Injuries: Ravens | 49ers

What to know for fantasy: Because of his dual-threat ability, Jackson can still be considered a top-five fantasy quarterback even when facing a stout 49ers defense. San Francisco’s defense allowed 234 rushing yards to the Cardinals in Week 15. The Ravens could have similar success on the ground behind their offensive line that ranks fourth in run block win rate. With Keaton Mitchell ruled out for the season by a knee injury, Jackson might get more carries, and running back Gus Edwards — who has scored a touchdown in six of his past eight games — could be an intriguing flex option. See Week 16 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Jackson is 24-11-2 ATS on the road in his career. Read more.

Moody’s pick: 49ers 17, Ravens 14
Walder’s pick: 49ers 26, Ravens 21
FPI prediction: SF, 64% (by an average of 4.8 points)

Matchup must-reads: Underdog Ravens feel ‘disrespected’ ahead of 49ers showdown … Juszczyk believes versatility is key in keeping fullbacks relevant in the NFL … Jackson once again hearing ‘MVP’ chants … The case for and against Purdy being MVP


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *