For the first time in NFL history a team has started a season 0-15 but Detroit's quest for futility is just one of the many headlines in the NFL for the final week of the regular season.
The playoff picture is still being painted and it keeps getting more abstract by the day as a number of teams or trying to have a shot to play in the Super Bowl.
For the most part each game is important so let's cover them all (the meaningful ones).
(Note each game is on Sunday times Eastern)
1:00 PM Games
St.Louis at Atlanta
Not much to play for for the Rams but Atlanta has a chance to win the division and win a first round bye with a win and a Carolina loss. For Atlanta a first round bye would be another highlight of an amazing year where few expected them to contend with first year coach Mike Smith and rookie quarterback Matt Ryan who replaced the incarcerated Mike Vick.
Chicago at Houston
Chicago's overtime win over Green Bay makes this game meaningful as they need a win and a Viking loss to win the division and qualify. Houston has done well winning four out of five but at 7-8 it was too little too late for the Texans. For the Bears they have won three straight and are trying to mount a final surge.
New York at Minnesota
The Giants clinched home field so they have nothing to gain in this game. As for the Vikings a win or a Bear loss clinches the division and a playoff spot. The Vikings have won four out of five but lost when they had a chance to clinch on Sunday to the Falcons who mounted a final minute rally to win.
Carolina at New Orleans
The Panthers lost a tough one to the Giants on SNF but still have work to do this week as they can still wind up out of a home game in January if they lose and Atlanta wins. The Saints were plagued by inconsistency at times Drew Brees was getting MVP talk and at times they looked horrendous and they also lost four games by less than a touchdown which proved costly as they have nothing to play for.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
The first game here that is meaningless as the Browns are out of contention and the Steelers are locked in as the number two seed and have a bye for the first round.
Oakland at Tampa Bay
The Raiders have also been somewhat inconsistent beating playoff contenders and losing to first overall pick contenders. The Bucs need a win and a Cowboy loss to get in the playoffs. The Bucs have been fading as of late losing three straight and two of those to division opponents. They have already lost/will lose their defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to the University of Tennessee since he is opting to join his son, Lane who was named coach of the Volunteers after getting fired by the Raiders.
Tennessee at Indianapolis
Meaningless game as both teams are locked in at their respective seeds but the Colts have been red hot winning eight in a row.
Detroit at Green Bay
Also meaningless but the Lions have not roared all year as they are 0-15 and could be the first team ever to go 0-16 which would be another black mark for a city that has been declining in the past few years. Green Bay has paid for their treatment of Brett Favre as they will go from 13-3 to out of the playoffs.
New England at Buffalo
The AFC East has been a dogfight to say the least. Three teams all fighting for one maybe two spots and it has gone back and forth. The Bills seemed to be contenders until the wheels fell off their season about midway through.
The Pats need a win and a Dolphin loss to win the division or a Raven loss to earn a wild-card spot. Impressive for a backup quarterback who has proven himself worthy in Matt Cassel and a team that came back from a tough overtime loss to the Jets in week 11.
Kansas City at Cincinnati
4:15 PM Games
(Note that its at 4:15 which means fans at home can watch a meaningful 1:00 game longer and not be left hanging if it is still close late)
Jacksonville at Baltimore
For the Ravens its easy win at home and you're in, lose and you go home. Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has done well and has put the Ravens in this position and the Baltimore defense has been themselves.
Miami at New York
The showdown that seemed unlikely to be important in August is as important as can be in December. For the Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington has revived his career and the introduction of the "Wildcat" has caused problems for every team they haved faced. The Jets have flown turbulently this year at times flying high and at times destined to crash, Sunday will determine how this flight will end.
Brett Favre's leadership has helped the Jets enormously but his decision making has hurt them just as much. A defense that seemed stifling a few weeks ago now appears to be a mirage as teams have been able to pass with relative ease against them. For Miami a win and they win the division a loss and it could spell disaster since they lose the head to head with Baltimore. For the Jets a win and a Patriot loss wins the division or a Raven loss gets them a wild card.
Seattle at Arizona
Arizona clinched the NFC West and Seattle is out of it so meaningless
Washington at San Francisco
The home loss to Dallas proved costly to the Redskins and the 49ers are out of it as well so meaningless
Dallas at Philadelphia
These two NFC East rivals meet again with playoffs on the line again. The Cowboys have made it hard for themselves with off field sagas and on field enigmas. The Eagles have surged after tying the Bengals in the worst game this season. Donovan McNabb has gone from the butt of the joke to potential hero but it has been the play of Brian Westbrook that has led the Eagles. For the Cowboys a win and they're in. For the Eagles a win and losses by Tampa Bay and Chicago gets them in.
Denver at San Diego
Winner take all in this one as the AFC West is on the line. Both teams have potent offenses with good quarterbacks. Jay Cutler has led the Broncos to the third best passing attack in the league despite losing running backs like loose change. Phillip Rivers has led the Chargers to the seventh best passing attack despite an ineffective LaDainian Tomlinson who has had a nagging toe injury. The Southern California weather should serve as no hindrance to these teams as both these teams will light the score board.
My Predicted Playoffs
I see a Raven choke on offense as the Jags eke it out. No way will Favre nor the fans let the Jets lose at home.
The Eagles will play spoiler despite being eliminated and the Vikings will fall victim to the schedule since the Giant running backs can beat any team no matter who is in there.
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