This week, we have some must see much ups between division rivals and two games with major playoff implications
- Green Bay Packers@ Arizona Cardinals- As it looks right now, this is the number 3 seed playing the number 2 seed respectively. If the Cardinals can come away with a win, they get a much needed bye in the playoffs. As one of the few remaining healthy teams, they will need all the help they can get. The Packers are looking to keep a lead over the Vikings and avoid a championship clash in the final week of the season, the only way to do that is to win. Smart money is on Arizona to take this game with the way they have been rolling this season but you can never count out Aaron Rodgers. We already know both teams are in the playoffs, so this very well could be another playoff preview which I would welcome. Seeing the best teams play each other is why we have championship games in the first place. Seeing two top ten teams play each other is the best present I could get for the holidays.
- Carolina Panthers@ Atlanta Falcons- Believe it or not the Falcons playoff hopes are not over yet. Of course a lot needs to happen for them to even sniff post season play: Oddly enough, the Seahawks losing out for one. It is not made abundantly clear how that works out considering Seattle already has a playoff berth, but that is where the numbers are. The Vikings would also need to lose out while the Falcons win out. None of this is impossible considering the opponents. Unlikely absolutely but anything can happen. Meanwhile the Panthers have their eyes set on home field advantage throughout the playoffs and even a history making run. If anything, just enjoy the majesty of Cam Newton having a career year.
- New England Patriots@ New York Jets-Much like the Panthers, the Patriots can clinch home field advantage with a win over the division rival Jets. Of course the Jets need to avoid a loss to even have a shot at the playoffs. Of course they didn’t get to nine wins on accident. And in their last meeting they played the Patriots tough and had them reeling for a moment or two. The Jets are in a win or die game this weeks. With a ragtag offense that has clicked better than anyone has expected and an under the radar defense, whether they make the playoffs or not, this could be a feared team for the next couple of years.
- Pittsburgh Steelers@ Baltimore Ravens- This was once a must see game that was often regulated to Sunday night if it wasn’t already scheduled for Monday night. The Steelers are rolling strong and just a couple wins away from making a fourth Super Bowl run with Ben Roethlisberger under center. The Ravens are using backups in just about every important position. If the Jets fall, this becomes a win and in for the Steelers. If anything, maybe the rivalry will light a fire under the Ravens and we might get some good football? I am not holding my breath.
- Cincinnati Bengals@ Denver Broncos- *sigh* I had this game circled for a very long time. Much like the Packers/Cardinals, this was a must see. Two of the top three teams in the AFC clashing over playoff seeding? You know where to find me. But Andy Dalton got hurt a couple weeks ago and Peyton Manning has been MIA for half the season. On and off the field. While both QBs are down, that does not take away from the importance of this game. The Bengals are already in the playoffs, looking to get a much needed bye to hopefully help Dalton heal an extra week. The Broncos aren’t even in the playoffs yet. Every scenario up until now required them to win and they have failed to do that. Luckily even if they fall this week, they still get next week against the Chargers. But why leave anything up to chance, they can breathe a bit more comfortably with a win here and maybe even have a shot at resting on wildcard week.
I hope everyone has a fun, festive holiday weekend. Join me next week as we break down one more week in the regular season. But the coverage won’t end there. The following week I keep the weekly coverage going by breaking down wildcard weekend.
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