Winter has arrived and with it, an unfortunate wave of COVID-19 infections that has affected several teams, some more than others, and that could also alter the race to the Playoffs in the last stretch of the regular calendar.
Among the teams most affected in recent days for this reason are the Kansas City Chiefs, who began to recover some of the 13 players they put on the reserve / COVID-19 list, including tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill, while the New Orleans Saints, who have not had their coach Sean Payton before Week 15 for this reason, would not have Tysom Hill or backup Trevor Siemian, placed on the reserve / COVID- list. 19, so they will turn to their third quarterback, rookie Ian Book, plus they would not have safety Malcolm Jenkins for their game Monday night.
The NFL enters a period of uncertainty, not only in sports with the definition of the teams that will go to the Playoffs, but also because of the way in which this wave of infections can affect the race to the Super Bowl.
For now, ESPN Deportes experts analyze the riskiest bets of the most relevant duels of Week 16 and offer us their predictions for a career that is also far from being defined.
IVIS ABURTO / Twitter: @IvisAburto
WASHINGTON vs. COWBOYS
Rookie Micah Parsons has proven to be a virtually unstoppable force and shouldn’t be any different against Washington in a game where the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East title.
In the last six games, Parsons, who in addition to the awards for Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year, should be considered a serious candidate for the Defensive of the Year, has at least one sack or forced loose pellets and that streak will extend to seven games against a Washington Football Team that allowed five sacks and suffered four turnovers in the first meeting between the two teams 15 days ago.
BILLS vs. PATRIOTS
This prediction is simple: the Patriots will throw more than the three passes they attempted the first time they collided with the Bills.
On the basis that Mac Jones will throw more and lead a more balanced offense, the Patriots will win the victory that will secure their 18th AFC East title in the past 22 seasons and also sweep the Bills for the fourth time. in five years and put Buffalo in serious trouble to reach the Playoffs, after he started the 2021 season as a favorite to take the division and reach the Super Bowl.
If you think the offense will come to the rescue of the Bills, think twice. The Patriots defense is second with the most interceptions (20) this season and will apply that poison to Josh Allen, who has suffered 10 interceptions since Week 6.
SEBASTIÁN M. CHRISTENSEN / Twitter: @SebastianMCESPN
COLTS vs. CARDINALS
Jonathan Taylor’s season may be so good that some might not be surprised by what I am about to say, but the Colts’ running back is going to surpass 200 yards rushing against Arizona.
I understand that a running back is unlikely to win the MVP award, but I have no doubt that there is no one more important to his team this year than Taylor to the Colts.
The Cardinals defense allows 4.6 yards a carry and if Taylor joins the club for 2,000 rushing yards in one season, who says no to the MVP?
DOLPHINS vs. SAINTS
The Dolphins’ running attack has been so bad in recent years, they already celebrate in South Florida when they exceed 100 yards on the ground. The Saints defense is coming off a clinic against the Buccaneers and is the best rushing in the NFL, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry. The additions of Duke Johnson and Philip Lindsay, who would return this week after being on the COVID-19 list, add another explosiveness to this running attack, so, against all odds, the Dolphins will rush for more than 150 yards against the Saints.
ALFONSO MANCILLA / Twitter: @poncho_mancilla
RAVENS vs. BENGALS
In the Christmas letter from the Ravens, an important request must have been included: the four-leaf clover that gives them the fortune of winning any of the matches in which the scoreboard has been closed and that is for their game this weekend. week, Baltimore have lost the last three games by a combined four points.
It is a bit difficult for those who write this to write off Baltimore, because teams that have good coaches generally manage to get good results. John Harbaugh is an excellent coach, but it seems that in 2021, he has struggled to find the wisdom to make the decisions that allow his team to win the tight games.
In fact, the game in Cincinnati could be the one that defines the season of the feathered ones, because if they lose (which is highly probable), we may not even see them in the Playoffs.
RAMS vs. VIKINGS
If there has been a team that the NFL seems to treat like its spoiled baby and has given him as many gifts as Santa Claus, it is the Rams.
While there were times during the first few weeks of the season when it seemed like the Woolly ones would fall short of expectations, now it seems they have the momentum to have a successful postseason. The point is that for the Rams to fulfill the NFL dream of playing at home in the Super Bowl in Los Angeles next February, there are four teams that seem to be above them (Green Bay and Tampa Bay) or with a very high level. similar (Dallas and Arizona).
Perhaps what the Rams should have pointed out in their letter to Santa, the Three Wise Men and even Valentine’s Day is that quarterback Matthew Sttaford sublime himself and allow them, at least, to reach the NFC Final, a task that looks complicated , but that would be very entertaining.
PABLO VIRUEGA / Twitter: @PabloViruega
BROWNS vs. PACKERS
Cleveland is not only in a fight with the COVID positives on its roster but also in the fight for the leadership of the AFC North, where all four teams are involved.
The Browns will not have it easy, as they will face what for many is the best team in the NFL and will play in Green Bay, where few can make it out alive, especially at this time of year. This will be the game that ends up burying the Browns, who came out as one of the favorites in their division at the start of the season, but the irregularity on both sides of the ball, particularly at quarterback with Baker Mayfield has been an issue. constant. This may be the game not only for Cleveland to stay alive or fire, but also to define, in large part, the future of Mayfield himself.
I’m not saying it will be a beating from the Packers, in fact, do not expect it, since it does not take a beating or, at least, Green Bay does not have to convince anyone that it is the best team in the NFC.
Green Bay will win the game without much trouble and will be confirmed as the best in the NFL and the big favorite to reach the Super Bowl.
BRONCOS vs. RAIDERS
Early postseason duel, because whoever loses can be fired from the Playoffs, in fact, they already have little chance of getting it.
The Raiders can enter a winning streak that will make their fans thrill to see them in the Playoffs, but they will fall short, because they depend on other results, but they will make the race for the division interesting, especially they will make it difficult for the Chargers to walk.
The Broncos will not close the year well, because the defeat against Las Vegas will come and a few more to close the season, but their New Year’s gift will be that they will no longer have Vic Fangio as coach, but they will not last long, because the Search, which has been ineffective in recent years, to find a coach, as well as a quarterback, because the future is not on his current roster.
CARLOS NAVA / Twitter: @TapaNava
STEELERS vs. CHIEFS
The Steelers are going to defeat the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to plunge into the competition for the AFC North divisional title.
Pittsburgh will take advantage of the probable COVID-19 casualties of Patrick Mahomes’ two best offensive weapons, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, and its defense will capture the Chiefs quarterback four times, who also have the tackle in the virus protocol. incumbent Lucas Niang.
Ben Roethlisberger will throw for 300 yards with three touchdown passes against the improved defense of the Chiefs, who also hasn’t had cornerback Chavarius Ward all week, who is on the reserve list for COVID-19 and it is unknown if he will be able to play.
GIANTS vs. EAGLES
The Eagles will make the Giants look small when Jalen Hurts throws for more than 300 yards and rushes for another 100 for his team to win for the eighth consecutive time at home to the New York team and finish throwing them out of any mathematical hope of the Playoffs.
Hurts has 10 touchdowns per career, the most of all quarterbacks in the NFL, and only Lamar Jackson has advanced more rushing yards than he has. To top it off, the Giants’ defense is half a table down against the pass.