NFL Week 16 preview: Pittsburgh Steelers to honor Franco Harris on a bittersweet day for the franchise



CNN

When the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Los Angeles Raiders on Saturday, it will be one of those rare moments in sports where the outcome really doesn’t matter.

Instead, thoughts will be with the Steelers legend Franco Harris who passed away earlier this week at the age of 72.

Harris’ death came just days before the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception,” a game-winning touchdown by Harris that led the Steelers to a victory over the Oakland Raiders.

The Steelers would still celebrate the anniversary but also honor Harris’ life by retiring his #32 jersey at the end of the first half of the game.

“We’re all heartbroken, but we look forward to honoring him and his legacy this weekend,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said via ESPN.

“Obviously, where our concern must be is the preparation required to put together the kind of performance fit for a great man like Franco.”

On the field, the Steelers are hoping to keep their slim chances of making the playoffs alive with another win — and the franchise has impressed recently by winning three of their last four.

It’s a similar story for other teams around the NFL, with the promise of an exciting weekend of action over the Christmas period.

For Chase Young, Christmas will come a day early and the 23-year-old is expected to make his long-awaited season debut for the Leaders on Saturday.

Young hasn’t played since suffering a serious knee injury in November of last year, but coach Ron Rivera says he’s excited to finally be back in the midfield against the 49ers.

“He’s trained with confidence,” said Rivera, on NFL.com, speaking of Young’s progress.

He showed us a willingness to stick that leg into the ground and roll it, plant it and cut it down. He’s had a good week, so we’re really excited about that.”

Chase Young hasn't played in over a year.

The defensive end returned to training last week, but has been slowly ramping up his activity after an already lengthy rehabilitation process.

The Chiefs are hoping to make an immediate impact from their 2020 second draft pick as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive after a disappointing loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night.

There isn’t much room for another loss because the regular season races towards the end of the business.

The Eagles (13-1) and Cowboys (10-4) face off on Saturday. The stakes are high for these divisional rivals, with the postseason on the line.

The Eagles have the opportunity to win the NFC East title and the top seed overall in the NFC, thus earning a first-round advantage and a bye at home to the playoffs.

It will be a much bigger challenge for Dallas to win the NFC East. They clinched the playoffs last week, despite losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars. But to win the division, they would need to not only win on Saturday, but also win the rest of the season and see the Eagles lose their remaining games. It is a difficult task, but not impossible.

The last time these teams met, the Cowboys played without starting quarterback Dak Prescott. This time, the Eagles will play without their starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts.

Hurts suffered a sprained shoulder during last week’s win over the Bears. The injury is not considered long-term and he is expected to return for the postseason. In his absence, Gardner Minshew will take over the signal caller’s duties.

There is always interest when the Dallas Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles.

This game is a great opportunity for the Cowboys to get on the right track, between getting the home advantage and taking advantage of facing a backup quarterback. Especially after losing last week, they need this win much more than the Eagles; They need all the momentum they can get in the final weeks of the regular season to get through to the playoffs.

Catch the NFC East show on Saturday at 4:25 p.m. ET.

It will be a great Christmas Day spectacle as both teams look to keep their tender postseason hopes alive.

The Dolphins could secure a playoff berth by winning all three of their remaining games, but they go into Sunday’s game on the back of a three-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, the Packers are on a winning streak but their fate in the final game is still in their hands.

They must win all three of their remaining games and hope either the New York Giants or the Washington Chiefs make a mistake.

“The most important thing is that we still get to play a meaningful football game at Christmas and have a chance to see a lot of things ahead of us,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters.

“We have to go down and get the win, and I said a few weeks ago, we only get one, then we get another, and things look a little different in this match. And we get this, things look a little different going into the next stage.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks forward to the Crusader game.

The Bears (3-11) will welcome the Bills (11-3) to Chicago.

Forecasts predict below-freezing temperatures, high winds, and severe winter weather, which could play a major role in the outcome of this game. As both teams adjust to playing in unfavorable conditions, their game plans must be adjusted according to the elements.

This game has two quarterbacks who can produce in both the running game and the passing game. However, it is more efficient in opposite ways.

Quarterback Justin Fields is more effective rushing, while Bills quarterback Josh Allen has the advantage in the air. With an apparent lack of weapons on the receiving end, the Bears will try to run the ball as often as possible. Their game on the ground will not be affected by high winds and wintry weather.

On the other hand, the Bills wouldn’t be able to count too much on their superior passing game; Allen will have to adjust to how the wind affects his accuracy. For these reasons, bears have a slightly higher chance of delivering upset bills.

Kick-off for Saturday is set for 1 p.m. ET.

Finally, the Bengals (10-4) have a shot at clinching a playoff berth against the Patriots (7-7).

They will secure their spot in the postseason if they win or tie, or if they lose or tie. The Patriots are on the outside of the playoff picture. They will need to win on Saturday to keep their hopes alive.

The Pats will host the Bengals at Gillette Stadium under a sub-zero temperature. They came into this game after an embarrassing last-second loss to the Raiders in Week 15. They’ve struggled this season, due in large part to inexperienced leadership and questionable coaching decisions.

Cincinnati is in the midst of its hottest stretch of the season with wins in its last six contests. Quarterback Joe Burrow hit his stride in the most crucial part of the regular season, and poised to be strong during the postseason.

To win this game, the Bengals would need to come out strong and get an early lead; They should beat New England. The Patriots will be playing without three starters, which means they’re already working from a weak point. If the Bengals get out of the gate and get the points early, it will be difficult for the Pats to crawl out of the deficit.

To find out who comes out on top, tune in Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

Here’s how to catch up on these teams and more across the league in action, wherever you are.

Australia: NFL Game Pass, ESPN, 7Plus

Brazil: NFL Game Pass, ESPN

Canada: CTV, TSN, RDS, NFL Game Pass on DAZN

Germany: NFL Game Pass, ProSieben MAXX, DAZN

Mexico: NFL Game Pass, TUDN, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sky Sports

United Kingdom: NFL Game Pass, Sky Sports, ITV, Channel 5

US: NFL Game Pass, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, Amazon Prime

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