Some NFL fans will get their Christmas wishes this Sunday should their favorite teams book their place in the playoffs.
It's crazy how many spots are still up for grabs.
The last AFC wild-card spot is up for grabs, with three teams all in contention. Meanwhile, in the NFC, nobody has won the division, with three spots overall up in the air.
So there are quite a few games with postseason implications, and it makes for a lot of excitement heading into Week 17.
|Home Team||Away Team||Pick|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cleveland Browns||PIT|
|New York Giants||Washington Redskins||NYG|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens||CIN|
|Tennessee Titans||Houston Texans||HOU|
|Indianapolis Colts||Jacksonville Jaguars||IND|
|Miami Dolphins||New York Jets||NYJ|
|Minnesota Vikings||Detroit Lions||MIN|
|Atlanta Falcons||Carolina Panthers||CAR|
|New Orleans Saints||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||NO|
|New England Patriots||Buffalo Bills||NE|
|Seattle Seahawks||St. Louis Rams||SEA|
|Chicago Bears||Green Bay Packers||GB|
|Arizona Cardinals||San Francisco 49ers||SF|
|Oakland Raiders||Denver Broncos||DEN|
|San Diego Chargers||Kansas City Chiefs||KC|
|Dallas Cowboys||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI|
Schedule via NFL.com
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Might this be Rex Ryan's last game on the New York Jets' sideline? He seems to think so (via Fox Sports' Jay Glazer).
Rex Ryan told his players in team meeting last night that word on street is that he's getting fired and ... http://t.co/sLNbTFS4X2— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 22, 2013
It would be unfortunate, as Ryan has performed his best job as Jets head coach to get this team seven wins. Before the season, New York looked like one of the worst teams in the league, but it was instead flirting with the playoffs for much of the season.
The Miami Dolphins aren't without major stakes in this game, as they need a win to assure themselves of the final wild-card spot.
However, I can't look past the Jets. Ryan's always seemed to have the support of his players, and they'll at least want to send him out in style. They could possibly convince general manager John Idzik that Ryan is still the guy.
That motivating factor will lead the Jets to victory on Sunday.
Prediction: New York 24, Miami 20
Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
The door isn't completely shut on the Arizona Cardinals, as a win and a loss from the New Orleans Saints would mean they get the last wild-card spot in the NFC.
The Cardinals have won their last three games and seven of their last eight.
The San Francisco 49ers are riding an arguably better hot streak, winning their last five and 10 of their last 12. The only two losses in that stretch were at home against the Carolina Panthers and on the road to the New Orleans Saints.
In recent weeks, the Niners have looked like one of the most complete teams in the league. They're finally healthy, and the combination of stifling defense and productive offense will take them far in the playoffs.
San Francisco will win a close one. A couple of picks from Carson Palmer will prove to be the difference.
Prediction: San Francisco 20, Arizona 16
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Would you expect anything less from Jerry Jones?
He encouraged Kyle Orton with one of the most passive-aggressive threats you're going to hear. Speaking on his radio show on Dallas station KRLD-FM, he said (via Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):
We paid a lot of money several years ago for just this very circumstance. Should we be in a situation where a game or a possible intermittent time when Tony couldn’t play, we get the very best we can, and that’s why we signed Kyle Orton for over $10 million a few years ago, just for this very occasion. Kyle has a very strong arm, he’s very experienced. If required, he’ll be able to step in and do as good under the circumstances as you could expect.
See? The Cowboys totally spent a lot of money on Orton a few years ago, so they have all the faith in the world in him. So if Dallas loses, it's all Orton's fault and he's a terrible person for not living up to his end of the contract.
But fear not, as Hill reported Jon Kitna has been brought in as well.
Cowboys are expected to sign Jon kitna as third qb. A blast from the past— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) December 24, 2013
Whether it's Tony Romo, Orton or Kitna, the Cowboys will be in trouble on Sunday. Their defense remains one of the worst in the league. Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy should be met with little resistance.
Look at how Philly decimated the Chicago Bears. Now imagine what it can do against Dallas.
Prediction: Philadelphia 38, Dallas 21