NFL Week 16 preview

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers badly need to beat the Bengals on Sunday.
Mike Stone/REUTERS
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers badly need to beat the Bengals on Sunday.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Steelers by 3½.

Records: Bengals 8-6 (7-6-1 vs. spread), Steelers 7-7 (5-8-1 vs. spread).

Comments: Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati, 24-17, Oct. 21 . . . With a win, Bengals can clinch playoff spot for second straight season for the first time since 1981-82 . . . Cincy’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis is averaging 108 yards rushing in his last five games . . . Steelers QB Big Ben Roethlisberger is 89 passing yards shy of his seventh straight 3,000-yard season . . . Bengals QB Andy Dalton is 10-5 on the road . . . Cincinnati has a league-high 43 sacks . . . Pittsburgh is No. 1 in total defense . . . Player to watch: Bengals rookie LB Vontaze Burfict has a team-high 139 tackles.


Injuries: BENGALS: QUESTIONABLE: CB Adam Jones (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (head), K Mike Nugent (head), RB Cedric Peerman (ankle). PROBABLE: LB Vontaze Burfict (illness), DE Carlos Dunlap (illness), TE Clark Harris (not injury related), T Andre Smith (foot), T Andrew Whitworth (head). STEELERS: OUT: CB Ike Taylor (ankle). DOUBTFUL: T Mike Adams (ankle). PROBABLE: CB Cortez Allen (groin), CB Curtis Brown (knee), LB James Harrison (illness), DE Cameron Heyward (not injury related), CB Keenan Lewis (hip), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related), C Maurkice Pouncey (illness), WR Emmanuel Sanders (rib), DE Al Woods (illness).

Cleveland at Denver

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Time: 4:05 p.m. Line: Broncos by 12½.

Records: Browns 5-9 (8-5-1 vs. spread), Broncos 11-3 (8-5-1 vs. spread).

Comments: Broncos shooting for their 10th straight win and QB Peyton Manning is 5-0 vs. Browns . . . Cleveland’s Josh “Flash” Gordon leads all rookies with 759 receiving yards . . . Denver’s Demaryius Thomas has five receiving TDs in six home games . . . LB D’Qwell Jackson leads Browns with 106 tackles . . . Denver LB Elvis Dumervil needs one sack to reach 10 for third time in his career . . . Browns rookie Trent Richardson has 11 rushing TDs . . . Player to watch: Manning has 16 TD passes, 2 INTs, and a 109 passer rating at home.

Injuries: BROWNS: OUT: TE Jordan Cameron (head), S Tashaun Gipson (foot), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (knee). QUESTIONABLE: DT Ishmaa’ily Kitchen (calf), DE Frostee Rucker (shoulder, hip), TE Alex Smith (illness, knee). PROBABLE: WR Travis Benjamin (finger), T Oniel Cousins (shin), WR Joshua Cribbs (knee), RB Montario Hardesty (knee), G Shawn Lauvao (head, foot), T Ryan Miller (not injury related), DE Juqua Parker (knee), RB Trent Richardson (chest, rib, finger), DT Phil Taylor (knee, calf), T Joe Thomas (back). BRONCOS: DOUBTFUL: G Chris Kuper (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: RB Chris Gronkowski (hamstring). PROBABLE: S Mike Adams (knee), WR Eric Decker (ankle), WR Trindon Holliday (knee), C Dan Koppen (knee), S Jim Leonhard (ankle), RB Knowshon Moreno (ribs), DT Kevin Vickerson (groin), WR Matthew Willis (knee), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle).

New York Giants at Baltimore


Time: 4:25 p.m., Fox Line: Giants by 2½.

Records: Giants 8-6 (6-7-1 vs. spread), Ravens 9-5 (5-8-1 vs. spread).

Comments: Skidding G-Men have lost four of six and need a pair of wins to clinch a playoff spot . . . Sliding Ravens have lost three straight but can clinch second straight AFC North with a win . . . Giants coach Tom Coughlin leads league in exasperated expressions (unofficial stat) . . . Baltimore coach John Harbaugh leads league in complaints to referees (also unofficial) . . . Ravens have won 12 straight home games vs. NFC . . . Giants are 4-1 after losses . . . Player to watch: NYG’s Victor Cruz needs one catch for second straight 80-catch, 1,000-yard season.

Injuries: GIANTS: QUESTIONABLE: C David Baas (hip, shoulder), TE Travis Beckum (knee), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee, foot), S Kenny Phillips (knee), S Tyler Sash (hamstring), G Chris Snee (hip), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder). PROBABLE: CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), DT Chris Canty (neck), WR Hakeem Nicks (knee), WR Rueben Randle (back). RAVENS: OUT: LB Jameel McClain (neck). DOUBTFUL: S Bernard Pollard (chest). QUESTIONABLE: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), RB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (thigh, shoulder), RB Bernard Pierce (head), WR Torrey Smith (head), G Marshal Yanda (ankle). PROBABLE: TE Ed Dickson (knee), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DE Arthur Jones (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh).

San Francisco at Seattle

Time: 8:20 p.m., NBC Line: Even.


Records: 49ers 10-3-1 (9-5 vs. spread), Seahawks 9-5 (10-4 vs. spread).

Comments: 49ers beat Seahawks, 13-6, Oct. 18 and can clinch second straight NFC West crown with a win . . . Seattle clinches a playoff spot with a win . . . Colin Kaepernick’s four TD passes last week (I forget against whom) were most for a 49er QB since 2003 . . . Seattle receiver Golden Tate has five TDs in last six games . . . 49ers lead NFL in scoring defense (15.57 points per game); Seahawks are second (15.64) . . . San Fran’s Frank Gore hasn’t rushed for 100 yards since October win over Seattle . . . Player to watch: Seattle QB Russell Wilson is 6-0 with 12 TD passes at home.

Injuries: 49ERS: QUESTIONABLE: LB Tavares Gooden (ribs), LB Clark Haggans (shoulder), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), DT Justin Smith (elbow), DT Will Tukuafu (concussion). PROBABLE: K David Akers (pelvis), G Alex Boone (knee), LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), CB Tarell Brown (shoulder), S Dashon Goldson (foot), RB Frank Gore (wrist), G Mike Iupati (shoulder), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder), S C.J. Spillman (illness), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder). SEAHAWKS: QUESTIONABLE: S Jeron Johnson (groin), WR Sidney Rice (knee), CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring), CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring). PROBABLE: DT Alan Branch (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), CB Richard Sherman (not injury related), RB Robert Turbin (illness), RB Leon Washington (illness).

San Diego at New York Jets

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Jets by 2.

Records: Chargers 5-9 (6-8 vs. spread), Jets 6-8 (7-7 vs. spread).

Comments: Greg McElroy gets his first start at QB for Jets, while celebrated teammates Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow play cheerleading roles (maybe one of them can borrow Fireman Ed’s helmet?) . . . Chargers QB Philip Rivers is 210 passing yards shy of his fifth straight 3,500-yard campaign . . . Player to watch: Jets’ Shonn Greene has rushed for 240 yards in two games vs. SD.

Injuries: CHARGERS: DOUBTFUL: DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee). QUESTIONABLE: LB Demorrio Williams (ankle). PROBABLE: RB Ronnie Brown (hamstring), LB Donald Butler (groin), T Jeromey Clary (knee), G Tyronne Green (hamstring), WR Eddie Royal (hamstring), LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring). JETS: DOUBTFUL: CB Aaron Berry (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring), WR Mardy Gilyard (illness), DT Sione Po’uha (back), LB Ricky Sapp (ankle), WR Chaz Schilens (knee, calf), LB Bryan Thomas (chest). PROBABLE: TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist, ankle), DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), K Nick Folk (back), S LaRon Landry (heel), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), LB Garrett McIntyre (hamstring), RB Joe McKnight (ankle), G Brandon Moore (hip, foot), LB Calvin Pace (shoulder), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder, toe), QB Mark Sanchez (back), LB Bart Scott (toe), G Matt Slauson (knee), QB Tim Tebow (ribs).

New Orleans at Dallas

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Cowboys by 2½.

Records: Saints 6-8 (7-7 vs. spread), Cowboys 8-6 (6-8 vs. spread).

Comments: Cowboys lead the series, 15-9, but Saints have won 6 of last 7 . . . New Orleans posted first shutout in 17 years last week vs. Tampa Bay but still have NFL’s worst defense . . . Saints WR Marques Colston has eight TDs in last 11 games . . . Cowboys WR Dez Bryant has a TD catch in six straight . . . Player to watch: Dallas’s Dan Bailey has ended last two games with winning kicks.

Injuries: SAINTS: OUT: RB Jed Collins (knee, toe). QUESTIONABLE: RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), CB Patrick Robinson (groin). PROBABLE: TE Jimmy Graham (wrist), T Zach Strief (ankle), RB Pierre Thomas (knee). COWBOYS: OUT: NT Jay Ratliff (groin). QUESTIONABLE: WR Kevin Ogletree (illness), LB Ernie Sims (concussion). PROBABLE: WR Dez Bryant (finger), CB Morris Claiborne (concussion), RB Felix Jones (knee), RB DeMarco Murray (foot), S Charlie Peprah (foot), LB DeMarcus Ware (elbow).

Washington at Philadelphia

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Redskins by 6½.

Records: Redskins 8-6 (9-5 vs. spread), Eagles 4-10 (3-10-1 vs. spread).

Comments: Redskins beat Eagles, 31-6, Nov. 18 and sit atop NFC East after Week 15 for first time since 1999 . . . Philly RB LeSean McCoy is back after missing four games with a concussion. He has 17 TDs in last 15 home games . . . Eagles have gone eight games without an INT . . . Player to watch: Washington’s Kai Forbath has started his career by hitting 15 straight field goals (NFL record is 16).

Injuries: REDSKINS: QUESTIONABLE: DE Stephen Bowen (biceps), T Tyler Polumbus (head). PROBABLE: LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder, not injury related), LB London Fletcher (ankle), WR Pierre Garcon (foot), QB Robert Griffin III (knee), LB Rob Jackson (not injury related), LB Ryan Kerrigan (ankle), C Will Montgomery (knee), T Trent Williams (thigh). EAGLES: OUT: RB Stanley Havili (hamstring). DOUBTFUL: RB Chris Polk (toe). PROBABLE: WR Jason Avant (hamstring), TE Brent Celek (concussion), S Kurt Coleman (chest), WR Riley Cooper (knee), CB Brandon Hughes (lung contusion), WR Jeremy Maclin (back), G Evan Mathis (ankle), RB LeSean McCoy (concussion), QB Michael Vick (concussion).

Tennessee at Green Bay

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Packers by 12½.

Records: Titans 5-9 (5-9 vs. spread), Packers 10-4 (8-6 vs. spread).

Comments: Titans seek fourth straight win over Packers . . . Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 2,234 yards with 25 TDs and 3 INTs in last eight games vs. AFC opponents . . . Tennessee’s Chris Johnson had a 94-yard TD run last week and is NFL’s all-time leader with six career TD runs of at least 80 yards . . . Player to watch: Packers’ Casey Hayward leads all rookies with six picks.

Injuries: TITANS: OUT: C Kevin Matthews (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: LB Colin McCarthy (concussion), CB Ryan Mouton (hamstring), DE Scott Solomon (knee), WR Damian Williams (hamstring), WR Kendall Wright (rib). PROBABLE: WR Kenny Britt (knee), QB Jake Locker (left shoulder), LB Will Witherspoon (hamstring). PACKERS: OUT: TE Tom Crabtree (hamstring), WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring), RB James Starks (knee), DE C.J. Wilson (knee), S Charles Woodson (collarbone). QUESTIONABLE: RB Alex Green (concussion), G Greg Van Roten (back, illness), DE Jerel Worthy (hamstring). PROBABLE: WR Randall Cobb (shoulder), G T.J. Lang (concussion, illness), QB Aaron Rodgers (ankle), C Jeff Saturday (neck, shoulder), LB Erik Walden (ankle).

Indianapolis at Kansas City

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Colts by 7.

Records: Colts 9-5 (9-5 vs. spread), Chiefs 2-12 (5-9 vs. spread).

Comments: Colts look to become fourth team in league annals to win 10 games in a season after winning two or fewer . . . Indy’s Andrew Luck needs 74 passing yards to pass Cam Newton (4,051) for most by a rookie . . . Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles averaging 91.4 yards rushing at home this season . . . Player to watch: Colts’ T.Y. Hilton leads all rookies with four 100-yard receiving games and six TD catches.

Injuries: COLTS: OUT: RB Delone Carter (ankle), LB Kavell Conner (hamstring), C Samson Satele (ankle), S Tom Zbikowski (knee). QUESTIONABLE: NT Antonio Johnson (ankle), T Winston Justice (biceps), C A.Q. Shipley (knee). PROBABLE: LB Jerrell Freeman (thumb), LB Dwight Freeney (ankle), S Joe Lefeged (calf), QB Andrew Luck (knee), NT Martin Tevaseu (illness), CB Teddy Williams (knee). CHIEFS: DOUBTFUL: TE Tony Moeaki (head). QUESTIONABLE: T Branden Albert (back), S Abram Elam (quadriceps), G Russ Hochstein (back), NT Jerrell Powe (illness). PROBABLE: CB Javier Arenas (ankle), G Jon Asamoah (thumb), WR Jon Baldwin (illness), WR Josh Bellamy (illness), S Eric Berry (hand), WR Terrance Copper (hamstring), CB Brandon Flowers (illness), G Ryan Lilja (back), QB Brady Quinn (ribs), G Rich Ranglin (knee), CB Neiko Thorpe (illness).

Buffalo at Miami

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Dolphins by 4½.

Records: Bills 5-9 (6-8 vs. spread), Dolphins 6-8 (7-7 vs. spread).

Comments: Bills beat Dolphins, 19-14, and go for first season sweep since 2007 . . . Buffalo will miss playoffs for 13th straight season — longest active streak in NFL . . . Bills’ Stevie Johnson needs 109 yards for third straight 1,000-yard campaign . . . Dolphins’ Brandon Fields averages NFL-high 50.6 yards per punt . . . Player to watch: Miami’s Reggie Bush is averaging 121.3 scrimmage yards in December games the past two seasons.

Injuries: BILLS: OUT: DE Mark Anderson (knee), WR Marcus Easley (hamstring), LB Chris White (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: C Eric Wood (knee). PROBABLE: LB Nick Barnett (knee), S Jairus Byrd (foot), TE Scott Chandler (foot), DT Marcell Dareus (knee, wrist), G Andy Levitre (knee), CB Justin Rogers (foot), TE Lee Smith (back), RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder), CB Aaron Williams (knee), DT Kyle Williams (ankle), DE Mario Williams (wrist). DOLPHINS: OUT: WR Davone Bess (back), LB Koa Misi (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: CB Nolan Carroll (knee), WR Brian Hartline (back), TE Jeron Mastrud (hamstring), DT Randy Starks (not injury related). PROBABLE: WR Armon Binns (ankle), S Chris Clemons (neck, ribs), LB Karlos Dansby (biceps), DE Derrick Shelby (groin), S Jimmy Wilson (hip).

St. Louis at Tampa Bay

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Buccaneers by 3.

Records: Rams 6-7-1 (9-5 vs. spread), Buccaneers 6-8 (8-4-2 vs. spread).

Comments: Rams WR Brandon Gibson has collected 12 catches for 176 yards over his last two games . . . Bucs’ Doug Martin (1,647 scrimmage yards) has shot at becoming third rookie with 2,000 (Eric Dickerson, Edgerrin James) . . . St. Louis’s Sam Bradford threw for a career-high 377 yards last week . . . Player to watch: Tampa DE Michael Bennett has career-high nine sacks.

Injuries: RAMS: QUESTIONABLE: CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh). PROBABLE: CB Bradley Fletcher (illness), RB Steven Jackson (illness), LB James Laurinaitis (back), DE Robert Quinn (illness), C Scott Wells (knee). BUCCANEERS: DOUBTFUL: DE Aaron Morgan (shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: CB LeQuan Lewis (knee). PROBABLE: DE Michael Bennett (shoulder), DE Da’Quan Bowers (hamstring), LB Lavonte David (knee), TE Luke Stocker (head, nose), WR Mike Williams (wrist).

Oakland at Carolina

Time: 1 p.m. Line: Panthers by 9.

Records: Raiders 4-10 (4-10 vs. spread), Panthers 5-9 (7-7 vs. spread).

Comments: Panthers DEs Greg Hardy (11 sacks) and Charles Johnson (10½) can bring the heat . . . Carson Palmer is 13 yards shy of becoming first Raiders QB with a 4,000-yard season . . . Oakland’s Darren McFadden is averaging 89.6 yards rushing in his last five games vs. NFC foes . . . Player to watch: Carolina’s Cam Newton has thrown 152 passes without an interception.

Injuries: RAIDERS: OUT: DT Richard Seymour (knee, hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: S Tyvon Branch (neck, ankle), WR Juron Criner (hip). PROBABLE: CB Phillip Adams (concussion), T Khalif Barnes (triceps), TE Richard Gordon (biceps), S Mike Mitchell (neck). PANTHERS: DOUBTFUL: C Geoff Hangartner (foot). QUESTIONABLE: RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle), T Garry Williams (illness). PROBABLE: C Thomas Austin (illness), T Byron Bell (illness), LB Thomas Davis (not injury related), DT Dwan Edwards (wrist), T Jordan Gross (not injury related), DE Charles Johnson (not injury related), WR Brandon LaFell (toe).

Minnesota at Houston

Time: 1 p.m., Fox Line: Texans by 8.

Records: Vikings 8-6 (6-7-1 vs. spread), Texans 12-2 (9-5 vs. spread).

Comments: Texans secure home field throughout playoffs with a win . . . Vikings’ Adrian Peterson is 294 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s season record of 2,105 . . . The next catch for Houston’s Andre Johnson will be his 800th.

Injuries: VIKINGS: QUESTIONABLE: DE Brian Robison (shoulder). PROBABLE: DE Jared Allen (shoulder), DE Everson Griffen (elbow), T Matt Kalil (illness), P Chris Kluwe (left knee, right groin), T Phil Loadholt (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (abdomen, groin), S Mistral Raymond (ankle), CB Marcus Sherels (quadriceps, elbow), CB Antoine Winfield (knee). TEXANS: OUT: CB Alan Ball (foot). PROBABLE: LB Bryan Braman (knee), RB Tyler Clutts (knee), NT Shaun Cody (back), DE Jared Crick (neck), TE Owen Daniels (hamstring), LB Tim Dobbins (shoulder, thumb), RB Justin Forsett (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (groin), T Derek Newton (knee), S Glover Quin (hip), LB Brooks Reed (groin), LB Barrett Ruud (knee), LB Darryl Sharpton (toe), DE Antonio Smith (ankle), G Wade Smith (knee, ribs), RB Ben Tate (hamstring, foot), QB T.J. Yates (right elbow).

Chicago at Arizona

Time: 4:25 p.m. Line: Bears by 5½.

Records: Bears 8-6 (6-8 vs. spread), Cardinals 5-9 (6-7-1 vs. spread).

Comments: Bears lead series, which dates to 1920, 55-27-6 . . . Cardinals have an NFL-high 22 INTs; Bears have 21 . . . Chicago has lost six of seven . . . Arizona has lost nine of 10 . . . Cardinals’ Beanie Wells had three rushing TDs last week . . . Chicago’s Brandon Marshall has a team-record 107 catches . . . Player to watch: Arizona LB Daryl Washington has 10 sacks in his last 15 games.

Injuries: BEARS: OUT: LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring). DOUBTFUL: DT Henry Melton (chest). QUESTIONABLE: WR Earl Bennett (concussion), LB Blake Costanzo (calf), CB Tim Jennings (shoulder), T Jonathan Scott (hamstring). PROBABLE: LB Geno Hayes (knee), WR Brandon Marshall (hamstring), DE Shea McClellin (knee). CARDINALS: OUT: WR Early Doucet (concussion), G Mike Gibson (calf). QUESTIONABLE: LB Quentin Groves (foot), TE Rob Housler (knee), S Rashad Johnson (hamstring), T Nate Potter (knee), S James Sanders (calf), RB Anthony Sherman (knee), DE Ronald Talley (ankle), DT Dan Williams (hamstring). PROBABLE: DE Calais Campbell (calf), TE Mike Leach (back, shoulder), CB Greg Toler (hamstring).