Week 17 historically brings forth a deluge of soap-opera type scenarios to ponder. The wild-card race is a good time. Pondering the "if/thens" can be mind-boggling. Here is a quick snippet of NFL rules relative to breaking ties for the wild-card race:
- Head-to-head, if applicable.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
- Strength of victory.
- Strength of schedule.
- Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Best net points in conference games.
- Best net points in all games.
- Best net touchdowns in all games.
- Coin toss.
And that's just to break a tie between two teams. If there are three involved, as is the case with the NFC and the Packers, Bucs, and Giants, there are added steps.
The point is that it all matters this week because many teams that have their spot in the post-season locked, will rest their guns. Furthermore, teams that are eliminated will typically rest guys that are nursing injuries that could otherwise go if there were stakes.
With that all in mind, we bring you the Week 17 QB rankings:
1. Aaron Rodgers home vs. Chicago - 4pm Sunday - With everything on the line, I expect Aaron Rodgers to come out gunning in this one. The Bears allow the 9th fewest fantasy points on the season to QBs, but have been more vulnerable over their last five games (fifth most to QBs). He makes for an excellent start in one week fantasy challenges, and of course, for those of you still playing your regular leagues.
2. Peyton Manning home vs. Tennessee - 4pm Sunday - The Colts need this one to win the division, so expect a full effort from Peyton and whatever WRs are left healthy. The Titans are allowing the seventh most fantasy points to QBs over their last five games.
3. Eli Manning at Washington - 4pm Sunday - If the Packers lose and the G-men win, then their chance of a wild-card increase significantly. The Bucs play the Saints, and if they win, they would be tied, in this scenario, with the Giants, and the tie-breaker would be strength of victory, which would not be determined until the games are done this week. Good stuff.
4. Drew Brees home vs. Tampa - 1pm Sunday - There is a lot on the line for both clubs, as the Bucs are playing for a wild-card and need a win to keep those hopes alive, and the Saints could slip into a division title and a week one bye with a win and a Falcons' loss. The Bucs are allowing 15th most fantasy points to QBs over the last five weeks, since the quality of the QBs they face has increased slightly. Brees tossed three TDs and 263 yards in their first meeting.
5. Philip Rivers at Denver - 4pm Sunday - With nothing on the line, I expect Rivers will enjoy himself. Hell, with 603 yards he could still crack the 5,000 yard mark, and if anyone could pull off 600+ yards in a game, it would be him. The Broncos are allowing the eighth most fantasy points to QBs on the season, but 16th fewest over the last five games.
6. Ben Roethlisberger at Cleveland - 1pm Sunday - The Steelers must win for a shot at a division title as they are tied with Baltimore at 11-4. The Browns' pass defense has been especially stingy of late allowing the 2nd fewest fantasy point to QBs over the last five games (they've faced Flacco, Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Henne, and Jimmy Clausen, though), and are allowing the 16th fewest on the season. That said, Ben torched this secondary for three scores and 257 yards in his first week back from being suspended for treating women like dirt. He'll be out there for four quarters, so he makes for a solid mid-range QB1 this weekend.
7. Joe Flacco home vs. Cinci - 1pm Sunday - Only five QBs have thrown for over one TD vs. this secondary (Colt McCoy, Drew Brees, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Ryan, and Tom Brady). Flacco struggled mightily in Week two throwing four INTs and only 154 yards and one TD. The Ravens need a win to keep their division title hopes (and a round one bye) alive. He makes for a decent start this week only because so much is on the line and a few other QBs might be taking it easy this weekend.
8. Jay Cutler at Green Bay - 4pm Sunday - Cutler will be playing a full four quarters, unless he is concussed or or knocked around to the point where Lovie gets really nervous. It's a crap match up as the Packers allow the 6th fewest fantasy points to QBs on the season (but 11th fewest over the last five games), but a win for the Bears puts them in a potential spot to win home-field throughout (If Atlanta loses), and would also knock the Packers out of the play-offs. I'd start Cutler as a mid-to low end QB1 this weekend.