Monday, December 21, 2015

First Look at Week 16 Motivation

In the final two weeks of the season, figuring out which teams will be most motivated to win and which will consider resting players can be key to fantasy success. Here's an early look at what is at stake in each game on the Week 16 Slate:

San Diego at Oakland: Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs and just playing out the string. Oakland's ascending young team should be more motivated than the beat-up Chargers.

Washington at Philadelphia: This game should have a playoff atmosphere and both teams have everything to play for. Washington will clinch the NFC East with a win. Philadelphia needs to beat Washington and then the Giants in Week 17 to clinch the division.

New England at NY Jets: The Jets are fighting for their playoff lives and would face an uphill battle should they lose to the Patriots. The Patriots can clinch the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs with a win in either of their final two games.

Houston at Tennessee: Tennessee has long been eliminated and could end up with the first overall pick. Houston will be highly motivated however as a win would clinch the AFC South title. A loss and Houston would potentially face a win-or-go-home matchup with Jacksonville in Week 17.

Cleveland at Kansas City: Cleveland has nothing to play for but Mike Pettine is coaching for his job and Johnny Manziel may be playing for his as well. Kansas City badly needs to keep winning to stay ahead of the Jets and Steelers in the Wild Card race. The Chiefs also could steal the division away from the Broncos should Denver slip up once more and the Chiefs win out.

Indianapolis at Miami: Indianapolis needs to win out and get plenty of help to make the playoffs (Houston losses to Tennessee and Jacksonville). Miami has already been eliminated.

San Francisco at Detroit: Both teams are playing for pride at this point.

Dallas at Buffalo: Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention and motivation could be hard to muster.

Chicago at Tampa Bay: Neither team has anything to play for.

Carolina at Atlanta: Carolina still needs one more win (or an Arizona loss) to clinch the top seed in the NFC. A win at Atlanta would allow the Panthers to rest their stars in Week 17. Atlanta maintains very slim playoff hopes. In addition to winning out, the Falcons would need a number of other games to go their way (including a Rams upset of the Seahawks and a Giants upset of the Vikings).

Pittsburgh at Baltimore: The Steelers are well-positioned to make the playoffs with only trips to Baltimore and Cleveland standing between them and a top-five seed in the AFC. Baltimore would love nothing more than to play spoiler against their hated rival and should be up for this game (at least to start).

Jacksonville at New Orleans: The Saints are eliminated and Jacksonville is hanging on by a thread. A win by either Houston or Indianapolis in the early games would officially eliminate the Jaguars from the AFC South race.

Saint Louis at Seattle: The Seahawks will be motivated to keep winning to stay ahead of the Vikings for the 5th seed in the NFC. A trip to take on the NFC East champ is much more appealing than a likely trip to Lambeau to face the Packers in the first round. Saint Louis is eliminated from contention.

Green Bay at Arizona: Arizona needs to beat either Green Bay or Seattle in the final two weeks to to lock up a first round bye. A win would allow Arizona to rest players in Week 17. The NFC North will likely come down to the Week 17 matchup between the Vikings and Packers regardless of the outcome of this game (assuming Minnesota handles the Giants). However, Green Bay could keep their hopes of a bye alive with an upset in Week 16. If Green Bay falls behind by multiple scores, it's possible they'd rest some injured players in the second half to prepare for the big Week 17 matchup.

New York Giants at Minnesota: The Giants may be eliminated before kickoff if Washington wins. Or they could be very much alive in the NFC East race should Philadelphia win. For Minnesota, this matchup could be almost meaningless should the afternoon games go as expected. The Vikings should clinch a playoff spot before kickoff. Regardless, they should be motivated with the game at home and the possibility of favorable seeding slightly increased with a win.

Cincinnati at Denver: Another game that should have a playoff atmosphere, both teams will have a lot at stake. Cincinnati can clinch the AFC North and a first-round bye with a victory. Denver would put itself in the driver's seat for a first round bye with the win. The Broncos still have work to do just to make the playoffs and have a lot at stake in the final two weeks.


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