The National Football League is giving its fans another early Christmas gift as a pair of game grace the gridiron on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Indianapolis (3-11) at Baltimore (8-6), 4:30 p.m. on NFL Network. Week 16 action opens in Charm City as the Baltimore Ravens host the struggling Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts let a a 7-3 halftime lead against Denver in Indianapolis last Thursday night get away from them. the watched the Broncos take control of things at Lucas Oil Stadium, outscoring the Colts 18-3 in the final 30 minutes of play, dropping a 25-13 decision. Denver’s C.J. Anderson ran amok, leading all rushers with 158 yards in the contest, as his team outrushed Indy 213-70, while Brock Osweiler, who took over for Trevor Siemian (left the contest with an injury), threw for 194 yards and a pair of TDs (Indy’s Jacoby Brissett threw for 158 yards with no TDs or interceptions but had a sack). Denver on third down tries went 7 of 15 (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down tries) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:51, while the Colts kept the pigskin for 23:09, going 6 of 13, 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The Ravens manhandled a winless Cleveland Browns club last Sunday along the shores of Lake Erie and came away 27-10 winners at First Energy Field. Baltimore led 17-10 at the half, then pulled away from the Browns and scored their final 10 points of the contest unchallenged. Although the Browns outrushed Baltimore 130-97, Joe Flacco burned the Browns for 288 yards and a TD to TE Benjamin Watson, while Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer threw for 146 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. The Ravens on third down conversions went 7 of 16 and kept the ball for 36:48, while the Browns were 5 of 14, holding the pigskin for 23:12 (both clubs were 0 of 1 on fourth down tries).

Indy leads the series 8-3 and the Colts have outscored the Ravens 272-210. Indy came away 20-13 winners in the Hoosier State in 2014, while Baltimore’s last win came in 2011 in Charm City by a final of 24-10. Baltimore’s favored by 13 and the over/under is 41. The Ravens are trying to get into the playoffs, while the Colts are trying to maintain some order for their season. While Indy will make this one close, Baltimore takes the win at home in Charm City.

Minnesota (11-3) at Green Bay (7-7), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Minnesota and Green Bay square off at Lambeau Field, as the Vikings have already clinched the NFC North, while the Packers look to somehow slow down the Purple Wave in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst on Saturday night.

The Vikings clinched the NFC North with a convincing 38-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday at US Bank Stadium. Minnesota, who scored their first 27 points unchallenged (they led 20-0 at the half), held the Bengals to a 6-yard run by HB Giovanni Bernard with 6:22 left in the contest, when the game was all but settled. Minnesota outrushed the Bengals 124-46 and sacked Andy Dalton three times and picked him off twice, while Case Keenum threw for 236 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with WR Sean Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph on both tosses. Minnesota was 4 of 12 on third down tries in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, while keeping the ball for 35:52. As for the Bengals? They were a somewhat dismal 1 of 13 on third down, went 1 of 3 on fourth down and held the ball for 24:08.

For the first time since 2008, the Green Bay Packers will not make the NFL Playoffs. The Packers welcomed the return of Rodgers but it wasn’t enough for them in Charlotte as they fell to Cam Newton and Carolina 31-24 at Bank of America Stadium. Rodgers threw his first of three TD passes of the afternoon as time expired in the first quarter when he and WR DaVonte Adams connected on a 13-yard TD strike after Carolina’s Cam Newton threw a 7-yard TD pass to Christian McCaffery to open the scoring in the contest. Green Bay would eventually take a 14-10 into the intermission when Rodgers and RB Randall Cobb hooked up on a 33 yard TD strike before Carolina took control of things, outscoring the Packers 21-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Green Bay would eventually pull to within a touchdown with 2:43 left in the contest when WR Richard Rodgers caught a 24-yard TD pass from Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay then recovered the onside kick and got the ball as far as the Panthers’ 38-yard line when Geronimo Allison caught a 10-yard pass from Rodgers but fumbled the ball, which Carolina promptly recovered. Carolina then ran the clock out and took the win at home.

Rodgers threw for 290 yards and the three TDs but was picked off three times, while Newton threw for 242 yards and four TDs in the Tar Heel State. Carolina outrushed 151-120, the Panthers were 6 of 12 on third down conversions and held the ball for 33:57, while the Packers kept the pigskin for 26:03, going 4 of 11 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

The NFC North affair is a rematch of the team’s week six contest in the Twin Cities (Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone), which the Vikings won 23-10 at US Bank Stadium. Minnesota led 14-10 at the half and the Vikings shut the Packers out in the second half. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 112-72 and Keenum threw for 239 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brett Hundley, taking over for Rodgers, threw for 157 yards and a TD but was sacked four times and picked off three times. Green Bay went 4 of 17 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down and kept the ball for 27:51

In the week six contest, the Packers were favored by 3 and the Vikings covered with the 13 point win in the Twin Cities. As for the 46 1/2 over/under? It was safe, as both clubs combined for only 33 points. In the rematch on the eve before Christmas Eve, the Vikings are favored by 9 and the over/under’s 40 1/2. The Vikings want to be home for the holidays and the playoffs. As for the Packers? They want to be the Grinch. You’re a mean one, Green Bay. Packers put a lump of coal and switches in the Vikings stocking, pull the upset at Lambeau and take the win in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst.

Cleveland-Baltimore Broadcast Information – 4:30 p.m. on NFL Network: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (Field reporter)
NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Scott Graham, Mike Mayock, Scott Kaplan (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (Indianapolis), 83 (Baltimore); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (Indianapolis), 83 (Baltimore)

Referee: Tony Corrente

Injury Report

Indianapolis
OUT: T Denzelle Good (Knee), WR Donte Moncrief (Ankle), TE Brandon Williams (Concussion), CB Rashaan Melvin (Hand)

Baltimore
DOUBTFUL: WR Jeremy Maclin (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Maurice Canady (Knee), DT Carl Davis (Shoulder), S Anthony Levine (Thigh)

Weather: Overcast with a 60 percent chance of rain and 62 degrees

Minnesota-Green Bay Broadcast Information – 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter)
NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Brandon Gaudin, Ross Tucker, Hub Arkush (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (Minnesota), 83 (Green Bay); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (Minnesota), 83 (Green Bay)

Referee: Carl Cheffers

Injury Report

Minnesota
OUT: CB Tramaine Brock (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Mackensie Alexander (Rib), T Riley Reiff (Ankle), S Andrew Sendejo (Ankle)

Green Bay
OUT: WR Davante Adams (Concussion), CB Demetri Goodson (Hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: LB Nicholas Perry (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Jahri Evans (Knee), LB William Matthews (Hamstring), CB Davon House (Shoulder)

Weather: Clear and 10 degrees

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel

 

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