Months of preparation will either pave a postseason path or be all for naught for many an NFL team in Week 17.
While the AFC playoff picture has already been painted, aside from the shuffling of seeds one through three, it’s still anyone’s guess how the NFC will look after the season finale. Here are picks for the games that will influence that picture.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
In the 2012 NFC East Championship Game, the 3-6 Washington Redskins will face off against the 4-5 Dallas Cowboys.
My apologies—that’s actually what the 9-6 Skins and the 8-7 Boys’ records were six weeks ago. They fought back the can’t-wait-until-next-year temptation to control their own destiny with one game remaining in the regular season.
In that game, expect Pro Bowl passer Robert Griffin III and the Redskins to escape in a nail-biter, again. Washington won 38-31 in Cowboys Stadium, and now at FedEx Field, it’ll lengthen its six-game winning streak to clinch the fourth seed.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson made Green Bay Packers fans remove their cheese hats and put on brown paper bags in Week 13. Well, at least family members of Packers defenders may have.
AP racked up 210 yards against Green Bay in his first time facing its stop unit this season. Despite his otherworldly effort, though, the Pack still prevailed, 23-14.
The fact that Minnesota couldn’t keep it close even with Peterson’s display of domination should make Vikings fans nervous about Sunday’s showdown. Because even if he goes off again, they know Christian Ponder isn’t sniffing Aaron Rodgers’ production.
Green Bay will knock off the Vikings.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
It’s OK, though.
Minnesota can still make the playoffs as long as the Bears lose too…never mind. All hope is lost.
Chicago will face off against the lowly Lions, who haven’t won a game since November 4th. They boast the longest losing streak in the NFL. And yes, even the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars have earned a win more recently.
If the Bears blow this one, ownership needs to clean house. Barring a miracle, though, they’ll bear down on Detroit.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco has been called the most physically dominating team in the NFL this season. And after an embarrassing 42-13 spanking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers are furious.
Fury and the capability to impose one’s will on another isn’t the combination of characteristics a club led by Brian Hoyer wants to hear about its next opponent.
Arizona has won one game since the turn of October. Consider it San Francisco’s personal punching bag in Week 17.
NFC Playoff Picture
1st Seed: Atlanta Falcons
2nd Seed: Green Bay Packers
3rd Seed: San Francisco 49ers
4th Seed: Washington Redskins
5th Seed: Seattle Seahawks
6th Seed: Chicago Bears
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.