NFL Sunday: Texans, Eagles, Steelers, Saints, Chiefs and Seahawks live on Sky Sports
Sky Sports NFL Sunday previews are powered by the guys at Pro Football Focus; watch live on Sky Sports Action from 5pm, with Redzone on Sky Sports Mix from 6pm
By James Simpson
Last Updated: 24/12/18 6:10am
We preview Sundays night's NFL triple-header, featuring the Houston Texans @ Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers @ New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks.
We are live on Sky Sports Action from 5pm for an hour's build-up to the first game of the night. Here's a look ahead to what you can expect...
Houston Texans @ Philadelphia Eagles, KO 6pm
The Texans (10-4) come in hot - winning nine of their last 10 - and motivated, knowing they can clinch the AFC South division title with a victory. Houston's punishing defense has improved over the course of the season, and they now boast the fifth-ranked scoring defense (20.1 points per game) and fourth-best rushing D (88.3 yards per game).
Philadelphia (7-7) shocked the league with their defeat of the Rams in Los Angeles in Week 15. Can Nick Foles spark the Super Bowl spirit once again? This is essentially a must-win game for the Eagles, who need help from the Vikings, Seahawks or Cowboys to make the postseason. They will have the confidence to defeat one of the AFC's best teams, but there is no room for error.
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who ranks third in the NFL with 101 receptions, needs 10 catches to surpass Jason Witten (110 in 2012) for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season.
Ones to watch
The Texans come in with star power. Defensive end J.J. Watt, returning from the best part of two years out of the game with injury, is the only player in the NFL with at least 14 sacks (14.5) and five forced fumbles (six) this season. Across from him, Jadeveon Clowney (eight sacks) is capable of causing havoc too.
On offense, Deshaun Watson can make plays with his arm and legs, but the player Philadelphia will focus on most is DeAndre Hopkins. He recorded 10 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns the Week 15 win over the Jets and has three games with at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown catch this season - the most in the NFL.
Nick Foles is capable of special things for Philadelphia - as proven during his stunning playoff run last season - and he loves to look the way of Alshon Jeffery, who had a fantastic eight-catch, 160-yard performance last week. Zach Ertz is the first Eagle to go over 100 catches in a single season.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New Orleans Saints, KO 9.25pm
Pittsburgh (8-5-1) ended a three-game slide with a crucial win over New England last week, maintaining their place at the top of the AFC North. But they have no wiggle room, as Baltimore (8-6) are nipping at their heels. They have the potential to finish as high as the No 2 seed, but also to completely miss the playoffs altogether, so this game is huge.
With a win, the Saints (12-2) would clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. That is a great incentive for them as crucially it would mean they have essentially two weeks to rest and prepare for their first postseason game. They have slowed down a little on offense in recent weeks - only 10 points in defeat to the Cowboys, and 12 in last week's win over Carolina - so they will hope to get back on track this weekend.
Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown has 672 receptions since 2013, tied with Wes Welker (2007-12) for the most by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.
Ones to watch
While Antonio Brown has been doing it for years, Steelers second-year wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster has more receptions (95, sixth in the NFL) and yards (1,274, also sixth) than the nine-year veteran. However Brown more than doubles his touchdown tally with a league-leading 13. This duo are almost unstoppable. How they perform though rests largely on the shoulders of 36-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He is playing above his career averages in completion percentage, yards per game, and quarterback rating.
As for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, he leads the NFL with a 116.8 passer rating and a 74.9 completion percentage, while wide receiver Michael Thomas leads the league with 109 catches this season.
Thomas needs to be double-teamed, and that leaves space for Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. He has racked up a whopping 1,487 scrimmage yards and 16 touchdowns this year. Set up to stop the pass? Kamara and running back mate Mark Ingram will tear you apart on the ground.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks, KO 1.20am
The Chiefs (11-3) were handed a third loss of the season by the red-hot Chargers last Thursday night after hanging on for an overtime thriller over Baltimore the week before. A long rest will have helped Kansas City prepare for this one, as they seek to hold onto the No 1 seed in the AFC. If the Chargers perform better than them in the last two games, KC will drop all the way to the fifth seed.
'Chiefs-Seahawks vital game for both'
Sky Sports' Jeff Reinebold looks ahead to Sunday night's hugely anticipated match-up of the Chiefs at the Seahawks
Seattle (8-6) also have their playoff seeding in their hands, as two more wins will ensure they are the fifth-ranked team in the NFC and likely heading to Dallas for Wild Card weekend. The Seahawks have looked playoff-bound since mid-November, winning four straight over close rivals, but were shocked by the 49ers in overtime last week to suddenly have their postseason place in a bit of jeopardy.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 45 touchdown passes this season, tied for third-most ever through the first 15 weeks of a season and tied for the sixth-most over the course of a single season in NFL history. Peyton Manning's 55 with the Broncos in 2013 were the most ever.
Ones to watch
Patrick Mahomes - one of two favourites (along with Drew Brees) for the MVP award - has been slinging it all year. Watch this game, record it, watch it back and study his tremendous arm talent. His first year as a starter in the NFL; he will be a force to be reckoned with for the next decade. With Kareem Hunt (suspended and released) no longer in the fold, the playmakers are Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, both superstars in their own right. Assuming Hill is healthy, he is the game-changer.
Seattle are averaging 154.9 rushing yards per game, the highest mark in the league. The backfield features the only trio of running back teammates - Chris Carson (913 rushing yards), Mike Davis (439) and rookie Rashaad Penny (413) - with 400 rushing yards each. The Chiefs have the seventh-worst rushing D and the Seahawks will look to control the game on the ground.
That said, look for Russell Wilson to rival Mahomes with his playmaking ability. He loves the big stage, and here's a chance for Seattle to book a playoff spot.
@PFF will provide a host of in-depth analysis throughout the season across Sky Sports platforms including our live coverage on Sunday and throughout our weekly build-up and reaction on www.skysports.com/NFL
Play the Super Bowl Challenge
Follow all the excitement of the NFL playoffs, and put your knowledge to the test, by playing the Super Bowl Challenge.