The 2017 NFL season is winding down, as we approach the home stretch. In a season of unpredictable injuries and suspensions, it has been a rollercoaster of a season for most teams. This upcoming week is crucial for those “in the hunt” as they hope to clinch a playoff spot in their division. It’s also an important time for players like Ezekiel Elliot, who is returning after a six-game suspension. With that being said, here is what to expect for Week 16:
1) Ravens beat the Colts
While the Indianapolis Colts are already eliminated from the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens are only two wins away from securing a playoff spot, which is the first time since 2014. QB Joe Flacco has thrown 14 TD’s and 12 INTs this season, with their offense ranked 27th when looking at yards gained. To win these next two games, they will need to rely on basic football fundamentals, mainly tackling and blocking. By enforcing this into their run and defense game, they will have a greater chance at winning both games.
2) Ezekiel Elliott’s return to the Cowboys
While the Cowboys aren’t guaranteed to make the playoffs, the return of their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, certainly improves their chances of not being eliminated on Sunday as they take on the Seahawks. His return gives Dallas a boost in their run game, something that backup RB Alfred Morris attempted to imitate. Being tied with the Seahawks, who are also in the hunt will only make this game more aggressive than usual. Essentially, they will need to beat the Seahawks, and hope that the Falcons or Panthers lose.
3) Juju Smith - Schuster’s return and bigger role
After being suspended for a game after an ugly hit on Bengals’ player Vontaze Burfict, Schuster is back in the Steelers lineup. His return perhaps came at the most crucial time as star RB Antonio Brown injured his calf and is expected to be out for the rest of the regular season. He will have an expanded role along with Martavis Bryant hope to split the WR duties. Schuster ranks third in rookie receiving yards, behind Cooper Kupp and Evan Engram. As TE Vance McDonald returns after a shoulder injury, it will allow the Steelers to run two tightends as well as giving Roethlisberger more options.
4) Thomas Davis is suspended for his hit on Davante Adams
After laying out Packers WR Davante Adams, LB Thomas Davis who was originally going to be suspended for two games, is dropped down to a one game suspension according to NFL Appeals Officer James Thrash. His suspension came at perhaps one of the worst times for the Panthers as they take on the Buccaneers Sunday afternoon. Winning six of their last seven games, they can clinch a playoff berth with a win.