What are the five must-watch NFL games this week? ESPN's matchup quality metric, which utilizes ESPN's Football Power Index to rank games on a 0-100 scale based on the quality of teams and projected closeness of the final score, tells us the top games of Week 15.
1. New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS)
Matchup quality: 89 out of 100
FPI win projection: Steelers, 53 percent
FPI AFC 1-seed leverage: Steelers 90 percent, Patriots 89 percent
While neither team's participation in the playoffs is in doubt, who claims the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the home game in a potential AFC Championship Game rematch definitely is. The Steelers could all but lock up home field advantage, as a win on Sunday afternoon would jump them to over 99 percent according to FPI's projections. New England, on the other hand, could become a commanding 89 percent favorite should the Pats prevail.
As things currently stand, a Patriots/Steelers rematch in the AFC title game is the most likely scenario in the AFC, with the teams meeting in 47 percent of the simulations. The Patriots, despite their surprising loss to the Dolphins on Monday night are still seen as the top team in FPI, and as such would be 64 percent favorites against Pittsburgh should the AFC Championship game be played in Gillette Stadium. Should Pittsburgh prevail and host New England, the Steelers would be a slim 52 percent favorite in the rematch.
2. Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday, 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
Matchup quality: 76 out of 100
FPI win projection: Chiefs, 53 percent
FPI playoff leverage: Chargers 64 percent, Chiefs 51 percent
Last week the Chiefs virtually eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention and will try to hang on in the AFC West when they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night. FPI thinks it will be a much tougher task. Kansas City was a 70 percent favorite over Oakland, which ranked 18th in FPI entering the contest, and the Chargers are currently ranked 7th in FPI, which means FPI only project the Chiefs to win 53 percent of the time -- close to a coin-toss.
A Chiefs win would re-establish them as near-certain AFC West champions -- 95 percent favorites. A loss wouldn't eliminate them outright, but would drop them to a 21 percent chance. A win would bump Los Angeles to 77 percent AFC West favorites and give the Chargers an 81 percent chance at the playoffs overall. Certainly a loss doesn't help either team, but Kansas City would still have a 44 percent chance at the playoffs should it lose, compared to 17 percent for Los Angeles.
2. Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX)
Matchup quality: 72 out of 100
FPI win projection: Seahawks 66 percent
FPI playoff leverage: Seahawks 56 percent, Rams 25 percent
Another divisional matchup sure to swing the fortunes of the teams involved will take place in Seattle on Sunday afternoon. The Seahawks currently trail the Rams by a game, but a win would pull them level and give them the head-to-head tiebreaker, having already beaten Los Angeles in Week 5.
FPI has Seattle as 66 percent favorites in the game, and should they prevail the Seahawks would become 69 percent favorites in the division and have an 83 percent chance at the playoffs. A loss drops those numbers to 3 percent and 27 percent. Los Angeles would become 98 percent favorites to win the NFC West with a victory and a virtual lock to make the playoffs at 99 percent, but a loss would drop the Rams to 31 percent and 74 percent.
4. Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX)
Matchup quality: 69 out of 100
FPI win projection: Panthers, 62 percent
FPI playoff leverage: Panthers 39 percent, Packers 23 percent
The Packers' glimmer of hope just got a little bigger.
With Aaron Rodgers announcing he's been medically cleared, Green Bay's FPI chance to make the playoffs has increased. Following Sunday's game, with the model hedging its bets between Rodgers and Hundley, it gave Green Bay a 6.6 percent chance to reach the postseason. Now, after Rodgers was installed as the starter again the model, the Packers were bumped up to 9.2 percent. They'll take every percentage point they can get.
The Packers have a 37 percent chance of beating the Panthers in Carolina on Sunday, but that's better than the 28 percent shot they would have had with Hundley under center.
5. Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX)
Matchup quality: 66 out of 100
FPI win projection: Eagles, 71 percent
FPI playoff leverage: Eagles 0 percent, Giants 0 percent
What does life after Carson Wentz look like?
For the Eagles, it might be better than most think. At least according to FPI.
Yes, it hurts to lose a player of Wentz' caliber. But they have a not-terrible backup in Nick Foles, and that suddenly matters quite a bit. FPI accounts for changes at quarterback and adjusts team ratings accordingly, since the model is displaying team strength going forward. Following the Patriots' loss on Monday Night Football, FPI still thinks the Eagles are the most likely team to win the Super Bowl -- even with Foles -- at 26 percent.
High-leverage game of the Week: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Matchup quality: 60 out of 100
FPI win projection: Falcons, 57 percent
FPI playoff leverage: Falcons 44 percent, Buccaneers 0 percent
This game is better than it looks on paper because it is so critical to Atlanta's playoff chances. At the moment, last year's NFC champs have a 55 percent chance to reach the postseason. That would jump to 74 percent with a win and drop to 30 percent with a loss.
And, as well as the Saints (and Panthers) have played this year, don't totally count the Falcons out of the NFC South race, either. As it stands now, they have a 12 percent chance.
For more from ESPN Analytics, visit the ESPN Analytics Index.