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With three-fourths of the N.F.L. season over, undisputed elites have emerged in the East and West divisions: the perennials in New England, the almost perennials in Seattle, the resurgent Cowboys and Raiders, the metronomic Chiefs and the undaunted Broncos.
The North and South divisions are cluttered with nondescript quasi contenders.
It doesn’t matter what the leaders in those divisions have done so far — or, more accurately, have failed to do. All that matters is how they shape up through the final four weeks of the regular season.
Here is a look at Sunday’s matchups and who we think will win them:
Texans (6-6) at Colts (6-6)
1 p.m. Line: Colts by 6½
This is what constitutes a showdown in the A.F.C. South.
The Texans have won eight consecutive games against their divisional brethren over the last two seasons. In games outside the division in that time, Houston has lost 12 of the last 19.
Now, Houston visits the Colts, whose quarterback, Andrew Luck, has won nine consecutive divisional games at home, including three against Houston.
What gives? Houston’s grip on first place, if just one victory in Indiana during the Texans’ 14-year franchise history is any indication. Pick: Colts
Steelers (7-5) at Bills (6-6)
1 p.m. Line: Steelers by 2
No need to plan on throwing endless spirals into a Great Lakes wind (and the expected snow). The quarterbacks in this game can repeatedly give the ball to their backfield mates and then put their fanny-pack hand warmers to good use.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy is the V-8 engine behind the most productive running game (161.9 yards a game) in the N.F.L. He is great at making knockout artists miss tackles in the open field.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has a 80 carries for 384 yards in the last three games — all Pittsburgh victories. Sounds like a strategy worth continuing. Pick: Steelers
Chargers (5-7) at Panthers (4-8)
1 p.m. Line: Panthers by 1½
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton called it “demoralizing” to go directly from a 17-2 Super Bowl season to this fine mess. Who can argue with that?
In its last three games, Carolina has completed fewer than 50 percent of its throws. Newton’s 80.6 passer rating is a career low through 12 games. Consider his point well taken.
The Chargers have turned their attention to playing for pride, while grappling with unsettled stadium and relocation issues. Whatever their shortcomings, the Chargers do complete more passes than not. Pick: Chargers
Bengals (4-7-1) at Browns (0-12)
1 p.m. Line: Bengals by 5½
The Browns are grasping at the Robert Griffin III straw, knowing that he can boast of being undefeated as their starting quarterback since an opening day loss. He hasn’t played since then, either, but the winless Browns are running out of ideas.
Yes, the Browns are bad in every statistical and meaningful way. But every lousy team but two in N.F.L. history — the 0-16 Lions of 2008 and the 0-14 Buccaneers of 1976 — has found a way to win once.
The Bengals took down the Eagles last week for their first win since beating the Browns on Oct. 23. After this weekend, Cincinnati will finish the season with three opponents currently tied for a division lead. Beating Cleveland should be a given. Right? Pick: Browns
Bears (3-9) at Lions (8-4)
1 p.m. Line: Lions by 8
The Lions have flown under the radar to win seven of their last eight games and take the N.F.C. North lead.
The best way for them to be noticed? Lose to the Bears for the second time this season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has led seven fourth-quarter comebacks, tying an N.F.L. single-season record.
If he continues to play a great game of catch with wide receiver Golden Tate, there should be no need for an eighth comeback this week.
The Bears don’t have much, but their defense is responsible for two of Stafford’s five interceptions this season. It also held the 49ers to 6 net passing yards in a rare Chicago win last week. Pick: Lions
Vikings (6-6) at Jaguars (2-10)
1 p.m. Line: Vikings by 3½
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said it would be pointless for him to return from his September knee surgery if his team was out of the playoff discussion. But how can Minnesota remain in a fight for the playoffs without Peterson?
Minus a workhorse in the offense, the Vikings have lost six of their last seven games.
How bad are things for Jacksonville? Its reigning A.F.C. rushing champion, Chris Ivory, is averaging 3.8 yards a carry. As a lowlight, that pales in comparison to quarterback Blake Bortles’s 15 interceptions. Pick: Vikings
Cardinals (5-6-1) at Dolphins (7-5)
1 p.m. Line: Cardinals by 2
The Dolphins are one game behind Denver in the race for the lowest seed in the A.F.C. wild-card playoff round, and not even last week’s 38-6 loss at Baltimore could undo the benefits of a six-game winning streak.
Miami has to figure out a path through an Arizona defense that ranks in the league’s top five in fewest overall yards, rushing yards, passing yards and first downs allowed. If Miami running back Jay Ajayi can find the 92 yards he needs to reach 1,000 for the season, he will have done very well.
The Cardinals face a convoluted path back to the playoffs, but their first East Coast win of the season could clear some things up. Pick: Dolphins
Redskins (6-5-1) at Eagles (5-7)
1 p.m. Line: Redskins by 1
The Redskins have lost three consecutive road games, and now would be a good time to end that trend. As long as their No. 2-rated offense keeps dropping 418.6 yards a game, the Redskins are as good as any other six-win team out there.
The Eagles have scored 15, 13 and 14 points in their last three games, losing every one. Momentum is a terrible force when going the wrong way. Pick: Redskins
Saints (5-7) at Buccaneers (7-5)
1 p.m. Line: Buccaneers by 2½
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has accounted for a touchdown in all 28 of his N.F.L. starts. That sort of consistency, tethered to his 67.6 percent completion rate in the last month, is why Tampa Bay has won four straight games for a slice of the N.F.C. South lead.
Bury the Saints all you wish, but they are only two games out with three games to play against the division co-leaders, Tampa Bay (twice) and Atlanta. If anyone can score more points than the Saints’ dismal defense allows, it’s Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Pick: Saints
Broncos (8-4) at Titans (6-6)
1 p.m. Line: Titans by 1
No one faces a more victory-resistant backstretch than Denver: four opponents with a combined 35-14 body of work, and dates against three first-place teams. The .500 Titans are as easy as things are going to get.
To win, the Broncos need quarterback Trevor Siemian to have recovered enough from an injured left foot to move in the pocket and step into his throws.
The Titans will ride the improved health of running back DeMarco Murray, a 1,000-yard rusher who used the bye week to rest a toe injury that held him to 3.7 yards a carry the last four weeks. Pick: Broncos
Jets (3-9) at 49ers (1-11)
4:05 p.m. Line: 49ers by 2½
The road to nowhere barrels through Santa Clara, where these two teams will turn to recently benched quarterbacks.
The Jets used the occasion of their official playoff elimination to bench Ryan Fitzpatrick. If the rookie quarterback Bryce Petty wants the job next year, his interview has begun.
The 49ers benched quarterback Colin Kaepernick last week after three-plus quarters of 1-for-5 passing for 4 yards. They have since decided that Blaine Gabbert wasn’t any better, so it’s back to Kaepernick at the helm of a team with a franchise-record 11 consecutive losses. Pick: 49ers
Seahawks (8-3-1) at Packers (6-6)
4:25 p.m. Line: Seahawks by 3
Just when a four-game losing streak had the Packers looking at off-season cruises, they went out and won two consecutive games to make the playoffs a very real possibility.
If they beat the N.F.C. West leaders on Sunday, the Packers will be impossible to ignore. In the last two weeks, Green Bay held the Eagles and the Texans to 13 points each. Nice work, given the damage to linebacker Clay Matthews’s shoulder.
The Seahawks can clinch their division title any week now. They have the sort of defense that travels well and survives the cold and that is allowing an N.F.L.-best 16.2 points a game. Pick: Packers
Falcons (7-5) at Rams (4-8)
4:25 p.m. Line: Falcons by 6
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones picked up a case of turf toe last week against the Chiefs. All of this creates a dilemma for the co-leaders of the N.F.C. South.
They can opt for short-term thinking and play Jones against the Rams, hoping to put a dent on the ninth-ranked pass defense in the league but risking deeper injury. Or they can risk what should be a win and save him to fight on another hill on a different day.
The Rams are content to let the rookie quarterback Jared Goff do his growing up in the lost portion of the season. Pick: Falcons
Cowboys (11-1) at Giants (8-4)
8:30 p.m. Line: Cowboys by 3
The Giants aren’t playing for a division title, not when they’re behind Dallas by three games with four to play. This N.F.C. East showdown is about holding their lead in the race for a wild-card spot and testing themselves as contenders.
The Cowboys’ marvel of a season began with a loss to the Giants at home. Dallas has not lost since. The Steelers ended a six-game Giants winning streak last week, but New York still has all the look of that wild-card team no one wants to make eye contact with in the postseason.
Dallas wants to show how much the rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has grown since his defeat in that season opener and expedite a lockdown of home-field advantage through the playoffs. Pick: Cowboys.