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NFL Week 16: Previewing the Christmas weekend schedule

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Good morning, I’m Josh Rosenblat. We’ll be back in your inbox Wednesday, Dec. 28. Have an incredible holiday weekend.

In today’s SI:AM:

🎄 The NFL’s Christmas slate

🧽 Spongebob, slime and sports

📉 The sports lowlights of the 12 months

For those who’re reading this on SI.com, you’ll be able to enroll to get this free newsletter in your inbox each weekday at SI.com/newsletters.

What to observe for in Week 16

With Christmas falling on Sunday, the NFL adjusted its schedule to have an 11-game slate tomorrow, followed by three games on Sunday and a Monday night contest to complete out the week. The result: three straight days of football with playoff-related storylines taking center stage.

Can the Titans keep pace within the AFC South?

After the Jaguars’ dominant win over the Jets last night, the Titans need a win against the Texans tomorrow (1 p.m. ET, CBS) to maintain their slim lead atop the division. Jacksonville has won three in a row, coinciding with Tennessee’s four-game losing streak that has pushed them down the standings. Remember, these two squads square off in Jacksonville within the season’s final week.

Sorting through the NFC wild-card race

Because it stands, the three wild-card teams within the NFC are the Cowboys (who’ve already clinched a playoff berth), the 8-5-1 Giants and 7-6-1 Commanders. The Giants have an enormous game tomorrow against the Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Fox), who claimed the NFC North crown last week. The Commanders tackle the NFC West champion 49ers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

The Seahawks (7–7), Lions (7–7) and, one way or the other, the Packers (6–8) are only waiting for either or each of those NFC East rivals to slide up.

Can the Dolphins keep from sinking?

Miami is the streakiest team within the NFL this season. They began the 12 months winning three straight contests before dropping three in a row. Tua Tagovailoa and co. rediscovered their offensive rhythm and rattled off five consecutive wins over non-playoff teams before facing three winning squads and dropping all three games. It adds as much as an 8–6 record and a borderline playoff spot. They welcome the Packers this weekend (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox) with the chance to place some separation between them and the 7–7 Patriots, who host the surging the Bengals tomorrow (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

The most effective of Sports Illustrated:

This prolonged foray into skilled sports will not be from the exact same playbook as the enduring, pseudo-athletic-related Nick programming of a long time past—Double Dare, GUTS and Wild & Crazy Kids chief amongst them. But events just like the simulcasts, NFL Slimetime and the Slime Cup harness the weather that made those shows what they were to present us a professional sports viewing experience that’s unique, unmistakably gooey and often fun.

The highest five…

… things I saw, watched and listened to:

5. This throwback uniform matchup between the Wizards and Jazz

4. Kansas coach Bill Self’s smooth behind-the-back assist in practice

3. The Jets’ “foot fumble,” which is now being added to the list of bizarre ways the Jets have lost the football during games

2. Mark Woodley, a Waterloo, Iowa sports reporter who was placed on weather coverage duty during a snowstorm and his hilarious responses to the news anchor’s questions

1. “A Philly Special Christmas,” a two-song record put out by Eagles offensive linemen Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata, and Lane Johnson with proceeds going to local charities in Philadelphia

SIQ

Today, (Dec. 23) is the anniversary of a famous game in NFL history, when the Steelers defeated the Raiders due to rookie running back Franco Harris. Harris, who died Tuesday, accomplished the “Immaculate Reception” in the ultimate seconds of the sport, giving Pittsburgh the victory and a berth within the AFC championship game. What team did the Steelers face the subsequent week with a spot within the Super Bowl on the road?

Check Dec. 28’s newsletter for the reply.

Yesterday’s SIQ: Two quarterbacks from the highly touted 2021 NFL draft class went up against one another last night when Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars defeated Zach Wilson and the Jets. Which of the ten signal-callers picked in that draft has thrown essentially the most interceptions of their NFL profession up to now?

Answer: Lawrence. The draft’s top pick has thrown 24 interceptions up to now, two greater than Texans QB Davis Mills.

Lawrence led the league in picks last season with 17 but has rebounded in 2022. The Clemson product has been especially impressive over the season’s last month, winning three of 4 games and pushing his franchise back into playoff contention.

Ahead of the 2021 draft, Lawrence was lauded as “one of the best quarterback to come back into the draft in nearly a decade,” based on SI’s Michael Rosenberg. But in that very same profile, Lawrence’s comments about not feeling immense pressure to succeed were panned by some.

“It’s hard to clarify that because I would like people to know that I’m captivated with what I do and it’s really essential to me, but … I don’t have this huge chip on my shoulder, that everybody’s out to get me and I’m attempting to prove everybody improper,” he said. “I just don’t have that. I can’t manufacture that. I don’t wish to.”

That attitude appears to be understanding just nice for the 23-year-old, despite his rookie-season struggles.

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