David John expects quarterback Cam Newton to feature again in Carolina's running game and Buffalo can push New England.
Thirteen of the 16 games this weekend have play-off implications of some sort and AT&T Stadium in Texas sees both Seattle and hosts Dallas battling for survival, currently on the outside looking in.
Whoever prevails will at least have something to play for in week 17 but a convoluted formula with help needed from other teams for either still to be playing football in January.
Dallas’ cause seemed sunk back on Thanksgiving Day after a heavy home defeat to the LA Chargers was their third on the bounce with running back Ezekiel Elliott midway through a six-game suspension as their offense nosedived to a ranking of 30th in the league.
Three victories since have rescued the situation to a certain extent in time for Elliott to make his return to action this weekend having spent the enforced time off productively getting into what those closest to the team believe is the best shape of his life.
He will be expected to make an immediate impact against an injury-riddled Seahawks defense that has allowed 200 rushing yards in their last two defeats and the early line for Elliott’s rushing yards total has been set at a pretty demanding 114.5.
Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley both enjoyed big days up against Seattle’s defensive unit currently shorn of Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor while Bobby Wagner has been limited by a hamstring issue.
Elliott could prove potentially unstoppable if he gets straight back in the zone with no signs of rust but he does have something to prove after such a lengthy absence.
One rushing line I do fancy to be eclipsed is in Charlotte where Carolina can book their ticket to the play-offs with a victory over Tampa Bay.
It is well worth getting behind Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to eclipse a tempting mark of 43.5 after he has returned to the elite level of form he showed two seasons ago when guiding his team to the Super Bowl.
Carolina have won six of their last seven outings and his rushing totals since week nine read 86, 95, 28, 51, 70 and 58 – he stands a remarkable 25th overall when it comes to rushing yards in the whole NFL and his 643 is just nine behind rookie sensation Alvin Kamara of New Orleans.
Tampa Bay rank 23rd in the league against the run and it would not take a great deal of imagination to see Newton giving them all sorts of issues by successfully running the read option or some play-action – at which he excels.
Buffalo were beaten 23-3 on December 3 by New England at Orchard Park but could be worth backing the Bills to close the gap considerably in the return at Foxboro with a double-digit start on the handicap.
Two victories since – including a memorable overtime success in the snow against Indianapolis – has them very much back in the play-off race and they currently hold the number six seed in the AFC with an 8-6 record.
Their position is obviously under some threat over the closing two weeks and Baltimore could have already jumped a game ahead of them on Saturday if they beat the Colts as expected considering they are 13.5-point favourites.
The Patriots once again proved they remain the best around when a game is on the line after last week’s heart-stopping success over Pittsburgh but a draining encounter of that nature can take some getting over this deep in the season.
The hosts are still in a tussle currently with the Steelers for the No.1 seed in the AFC so don’t expect the handbrake to be on by any means but Buffalo have both enough about them and the motivation to keep this close so take them with that start.
Recommended bets: Christmas Eve
Click here for our transparent tipping record.
Posted at 1800 GMT on 22/12/17.