5 NFL Week 17 Games That Might Be Featured on NBC's Sunday Night Football
Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas will have the opportunity to help broadcast a game with huge playoff implications.
The NFL wants the season to end on a high note. NBC has the privilege of ending the season with a game between two teams that are fighting for a division or a wild-card spot.
Following the results of some Week 16 games, the crew at NBC will quickly get together and decide which game they will broadcast for the 2011-2012 season finale. The decision may not look easy now, but after we learn which teams have clinched a playoff spot, the deciding factors will be easier to approach when it comes down to picking that final game.
In this slideshow, I will feature some games and tell you what needs to happen in order for that game to be featured on NBC's Sunday Night Football. I will also give you a quick rundown of each team and their seasons, giving you an idea of what you could expect.
As of now, there are five games in this season's Week 17 schedule that have a chance at getting flexed. Will your team make it to Sunday Night Football?
Ravens at Bengals
Original kickoff time: 1 pm ET on CBS
Andy Dalton has been a pleasant surprise for the Cincinnati Bengals this year, as the Bengals find themselves with an 8-6 record and a chance to make the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens have already earned themselves a spot in the playoffs, but they have not yet figured out if they will host a postseason game at M&T Bank Stadium.
A win for Baltimore means that they win the AFC North, unless the Pittsburgh Steelers win out. A win for Baltimore also means that the Bengals' chances of making the playoffs as a wild-card team are slim, depending on what happens earlier that day with the New York Jets.
The Bengals have run into some trouble lately, losing four of their last six. If Marvin Lewis cannot get his team together for the final two games, Cincinnati's season might not have a happy ending after a good start.
Cowboys at Giants
Original kickoff time: 1 pm ET on FOX
If they have to, NBC should feature the Cowboys and Giants twice on their network. A Cowboys loss against the Eagles and a Giants win over the Jets sets up a very intriguing Sunday Night Football match.
There is a good chance that these two teams meet again on NBC to wrap up the season. If the Cowboys lose and the Giants win in Week 16, then these two teams will be playing for the NFC East, making it a playoff-like game for both teams.
However, if the Giants fall to the Jets and if the Cowboys defeat the Eagles on Saturday, Dallas fans will have the NFC East title under their Christmas tree.
Despite starting the season off with a 6-2 record, the Giants have lost five of their last six games. Coincidentally, the one game they picked up during that six-game stretch was against the Cowboys.
Unlike most teams you have read about or will read about, the Cowboys' consistency has not been an issue. Leading the division with an 8-6 record is an advantage with two games remaining, giving them the best chance of winning the NFC East.
Seahawks at Cardinals
Original kickoff time: 4:15 ET on FOX
Last year, the Seattle Seahawks closed out the season as NFC West victors by defeating the St. Louis Rams and becoming the first 7-9 team to win a division. This year, the Seahawks find themselves in position to close out the season. This time, it would be against the Arizona Cardinals.
However, for the Seahawks and Carindals to be in this position is surreal. The Seahawks started off the season with a 2-6 record, while the Cardinals opened the season with a win but then lost six straight games.
Just shortly after the midway point of the season, both teams found their turning points and began to win games. Since Week 9, the Cardinals have gone 6-1, including three overtime wins. Since Week 10, the Seahawks have gone 5-1.
If the Cardinals defeat the Bengals and if the Seahawks beat the 49ers in Week 16, both teams will walk into the final week of the season with an 8-7 record. The winner of the Week 17 matchup will end up with nine wins and have a legitimate shot at making the postseason.
The problem with this game being shown on NBC is that the wild-card spots may already be decided by the time this game airs. It would be a risky move on NBC's part.
Chargers at Raiders
Original kickoff time: 4:15 pm ET on CBS
How all four teams from the AFC West are alive is beyond everyone. Every single team in this division has held the first place throne at some point this season. The question is, which team will be crowned as AFC West champions?
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers have been very inconsistent this season. Rivers is having the worst season of his career statistically, yet the Chargers are still in position to win the division. San Diego has had a lot of luck in December the past few years and will need a ton of luck for the final two weeks of the season.
The Chargers started 4-1 on the season before dropping six straight games, including two overtime games. With their backs against the walls, San Diego has fought back to remain alive in the AFC West by winning their last three games in blowout fashion.
Since adding Carson Palmer before the trade deadline, the Raiders have gone 3-4. The Raiders were 4-3 before Palmer became part of the Raiders franchise. Palmer played shortly after arriving in Oakland, but he did not start against the Chiefs until entering the game in the second half in Week 7.
Last week, the Raiders had a golden opportunity to step ahead in the division after the Broncos lost to the Patriots. However, the Raiders blew their 13-point lead as the Lions constructed two touchdowns to comeback and win.
If the Raiders defeat the Chiefs on Saturday, the Chiefs will be eliminated from playoff contention. If the Chargers defeat the Lions, then the Chargers and Raiders could very well face off for the AFC West in Week 17 if Denver loses to the Bills and the Chiefs in their final two games.
Chiefs at Broncos
Original kickoff time: 4:15 pm ET on CBS
Kyle Orton, who played for the Denver Broncos earlier this year, now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs and Broncos, like the rest of the AFC West, have been inconsistent throughout the year.
Despite firing Todd Haley and starting Orton at quarterback, the Chiefs still have a shot at winning the division with Romeo Crennel as their interim head coach. Last week, the Chiefs stunned the world when they handed the Packers their first loss of the season. Kansas City's win last week, all of a sudden, turned them into serious contenders to win the AFC West.
Orton's goal since Week 1 was to win the AFC West. In Week 17, that goal still remains the same, but under a different team.
Since the Broncos let go of Orton, Tim Tebow took over as the starting quarterback and created a lot of storylines in Denver. The Broncos are 6-2 under Tebow as the starter and have had a lot of things go their way towards the end of the fourth quarter. But can Tebow and the Broncos rely on fourth-quarter comebacks every week? Last week, the Patriots stomped them, keeping the Chiefs alive in the AFC West race.
This game has the most potential to be featured on NBC because of division implications and the fact that Orton went from Denver to Kansas City this year. Oh, and you can't leave out Tebow.