The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 is the reason NFL football appears every Saturday in December. Or, more accurately, this is why we don’t have NFL games on Saturdays all year.
The rule states that the NFL cannot broadcast Friday night or Saturday games during the high school and college seasons until the second Saturday in December. So after the Army and Navy face off, we’re back with some bonus NFL football on Saturday.
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The three Saturday games of Week 16 this season, which can be streamed live on the Yahoo Sports app, all have playoff implications, including an interesting AFC East game midway through the triple title.
Houston Texans (9-5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7), 1 p.m. ET
The Houston Texans picked up a massive victory last week over the Tennessee Titans. This paved the way for them to land the AFC South in Week 16, and possibly remain starters in a Week 17 rematch against the Titans.
The Texans win the division with a win over the Buccaneers or a Titans loss to the Saints on Sunday. A Buccaneers victory would keep alive the possibility of the Texans-Titans in Week 17 being an AFC South championship game, and Tampa Bay is not an easy exit.
The Jameis Winston roller coaster is exasperating and thrilling, frustrating and fun. He still has a chance to lead the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions this season. As with any Buccaneers game, expect plenty of points and plays that will mystify everyone, good and bad.
Buffalo Bills (10-4) vs. New England Patriots (11-3), 4:30 p.m. ET
It’s been a while since the Patriots played an AFC East game this late in the season with any real intrigue in the division.
The Bills still have a long way to go to the division title. They need to win in Foxboro on Saturday, win in Week 17 and secure the Miami Dolphins 3-11 to win the season finale in New England. The Patriots will win any tiebreaker against the Bills, either by a season sweep with a win on Saturday or by a record against mutual opponents if the Bills win this week. The Bills must finish ahead of New England in the standings.
Still, the Patriots haven’t clinched with two games to go and that’s rare. They must also keep winning to retain the Kansas City Chiefs for the second AFC playoff bye. Even if the Bills don’t end up winning the division, Saturday could be a statement that they’re ready to make a real run for the Patriots and the AFC East title in 2020.
Los Angeles Rams (8-6) vs. San Francisco 49ers (11-3), 8:15 p.m. ET
Nothing can be done in Game 3 on Saturday, but one team will try to keep their season alive and the other will try to preserve their path to an NFC seed and a bye.
The Rams are alive for a wildcard spot, but barely after a loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week. Football Outsiders gives the Rams a 1.8% chance of making the playoffs. The defending NFC champions could be officially eliminated on Saturday.
The 49ers are tied with the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West, but the NFL has said neither team can clinch the division this week. The Seahawks and 49ers are playing in Week 17 and that game will most likely be for the NFC West (and prime time) no matter what happens this week. The 49ers’ path to winning the tiebreaker is a complicated one, but it looks like San Francisco will follow suit if they end up tying Seattle at 12-4 at the end of the season. The short version is that Saturday’s game isn’t critical for the 49ers in the NFC West race, although it is important in the standings race. The 11-3 Packers and Saints will back the Rams as it would improve their chances of getting a top-two seed in the NFC and a bye.
The bulk of the NFL schedule for Week 16 will still be Sunday, but Saturday should give us some key answers when it comes to the playoff picture.
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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have any advice? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab