If you are wondering why I didn't include an intro leading into Week 16, I will get into that at a later time. I wanted make sure I got my picks up in time.
For some television viewers, you will be treated to the double-doubleheader. Meaning,
Crap Fox and CBS will be airing doubleheaders on the final
Sunday of NFL action.
The last few seasons the NFL has scheduled divisional matchups in Week 17 in order to curb teams from resting starters due to clinching playoff spots early.
In the AFC playoff race, all but one playoff spot has been claimed. Denver, New England, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis have all clinched division titles and will play home playoff games. Denver has a first-round bye. Kansas City has one of the two wild card spots, but despite having a better record than Cincinnati and Indianapolis will likely be playing on the road in the playoffs. It is very likely that the Chiefs will not play their starters in San Diego having clinched what they can. There are four teams fighting for that final playoff spot: Miami, defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore, San Diego, and Pittsburgh.
Miami seriously damaged their playoff chances by getting shutout in Buffalo, but they can still make the playoffs with a win and either a Ravens loss or a Chargers win. The Ravens were blown out at home against the Patriots, but they weren't eliminated from playoff contention. If the Ravens are to defend their Super Bowl crown in the playoffs they will need to win at Cincinnati and either a Miami or San Diego loss. San Diego kept pace with a win against the Raiders and for them to make the playoffs they need the Ravens and Dolphins to lose and the Chargers to beat the Chiefs at home. In a high scoring affair in the snow at Lambeau Field, Pittsburgh kept their slim playoff hopes alive. The Steelers are aiming for .500 with a win over Cleveland at home, but could make the playoffs with losses by the Ravens, Dolphins, and Chargers.
Denver and New England are fighting for home-field advantage. If Denver wins, the AFC playoffs go through my new city. If New England wins, they will get the bye week. In this situation, if the Broncos lose with a Patriots win, then the road to Super Bowl XLVIII through the AFC will go through New England.
Cincinnati can win a bye week with a win and Patriots loss. I think the Bengals are more motivated to complete an undefeated home record and knock out the Ravens from playoff contention.
In the NFC, 3 spots are claimed, but no division champions are crowned yet. Despite losing at home to the Cardinals, the Seahawks are in a good position to claim the NFC West and home-field advantage with a win over the Rams. The 49ers clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Falcons closing out Candlestick Park and can win the NFC West with a win at Arizona and a Seattle loss. If the 49ers want to extend Candlestick Park's life through the playoffs, they need to win the NFC West and cheer for the Falcons to beat the Panthers. Carolina is making their first playoff appearance since 2008 with their win over the Saints. That same year Carolina won the NFC South and a first-round bye. They can repeat that feat with a win against the Falcons or a Saints loss. Carolina is still in the running for home-field advantage by combining a win and the 49ers winning the NFC West.
The Cardinals are in an odd position. They need to win to make the playoffs and for the Buccaneers to upset the Saints in New Orleans. The Cardinals could end up with a better record than some playoff teams and miss the playoffs. The Saints can make the playoffs with a win. They can still win the NFC South with a win and a Carolina loss. The Falcons have something to play for as it is tight end Tony Gonzales final NFL game.
At Thanksgiving it looked like the Lions were going to win the NFC North. Last Sunday the Lions were eliminated from playoff contention with an overtime loss to the Giants. With the Lions late season implosion, the NFC North is down to two teams: Green Bay and Chicago. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is expected to start against the Bears in Chicago, while the Bears are coming off a 54-11 beating to the Eagles in Philadelphia. If the Bears win or tie, they win the NFC North. If the Packers win, they win the NFC North.
Maybe I will cover some of the games that don't have playoff implications. The Colts are jockeying for playoff seeding. Indianapolis could rise to as high as a 3-seed, but either way they are playing in the first weekend of the playoffs. The previously mentioned Lions are traveling to Minneapolis to take on the Vikings. While this season has been a disaster for the Texans, sweeping the Titans would mean something. The last win for Houston was against Tennessee back in Week 2 when the Texans were 2-0 before losing their next 13. Washington at New York has draft implications. As the Redskins keep on losing, the Rams draft position improves.
There are 256 games in the NFL season. This season's 256th game is.... Eagles at Cowboys. Winner goes to the playoffs while the loser will have to wait until September 2014 for their next game.
Is anyone else not surprised that the NFL would flex that game into the Week 17 Sunday Night slot?
The Cowboys are involved in the NFL's season finale, where have we seen this before?
Even though quarterback Tony Romo led the Cowboys to a comeback victory over Washington last Sunday, Dallas will have to beat the Eagles without him. Romo underwent back surgery that resulted him ending the season on injured reserve.
There's only one way to describe this:
Barring some miracle, the Cowboys season is over. I'm probably going to root for Seattle, maybe Denver from here on out until the start of next season when my love-hate relationship with the Dallas Cowboys resumes.
Speaking of miracles, I don't think I will be able to catch Mr. Blake since we pretty much agree on our picks this coming Sunday. Same with Ms. Roberts trying to catch me for second place.
I congratulate my fellow prognosticators on a good season and look forward to the playoffs.
Picks are in BOLD
Times are Central Time Zone
Games airing in DFW are noted by (DFW)
Games airing in Denver are noted by (DEN)
Panthers at Falcons (DFW/DEN)
Redskins at Giants
Lions at Vikings
Ravens at Bengals (DFW/DEN)
Browns at Steelers
Jaguars at Colts
Jets at Dolphins
Texans at Titans
Packers at Bears (DFW/DEN)
Buccaneers at Saints
49ers at Cardinals
Rams at Seahawks
Broncos at Raiders (DFW/DEN)
Chiefs at Chargers
Bills at Patriots
SUNDAY NIGHT (GAME 256)
Eagles at Cowboys