For several teams this is it. They either will figure it out this week or will have an entire off season to figure things out. From the opening kick off of the first game to the last whistle of Monday Night, the playoff picture will be made clearer.
(3-9) New York Jets v (4-8) Buffalo Bills
Both the Jets and Bills came off of heartbreaking losses. The Bills literally had the win slip through their fingertips. Now both teams are matched up in a division rivalry game, where the only thing at stake is pride.
(6-6) Carolina Panthers v (4-7-1) Cleveland Browns
Carolina really need to figure things out now. They have picked the worst time to have a slump. They literally about slumped themselves out of a playoff opportunity. With the Cleveland Browns focused and on a mission to build momentum for next season, they are not going to be a guaranteed win. In fact, I would not be surprised to see the Browns win this game and basically put an end to the 2018 playoff chances for the Panthers.
(4-8) Atlanta Falcons v (4-7-1) Green Bay Packers
Two underperforming teams that both saw their playoff hopes dissolve last week are matched up this week. Green Bay made a coaching change as a result, and criticism now surrounds Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile in Atlanta, fans are coming to grips that their team will not be making it back to the big game. And they are now hoping Drew Brees do not end the season hoisting the trophy in their stadium.
(6-6) Indianapolis Colts v (9-3) Houston Texans
I thought that the Colts would have been coming into this game sitting at 7-5, but last week’s lost put that to bed. A loss here will surely eliminate the Colts from playoff contention. And they are playing the red hot Houston Texans at home in a divisional game.
(7-5) Baltimore Ravens v (10-2) Kansas City Chiefs
This is a big game for the Ravens. They are literally hearing the footsteps of the Titans trying to snag that 6th spot. And with the Titans winning Thursday, they currently sit at 7-6. But the Ravens are a huge underdog to the Chiefs. With the game being in Kansas City, can the Raven do the unthinkable and knock off the Chiefs on the road?
(9-3) New England Patriots v (6-6) Miami Dolphins
I feel sorry for any team having to play the Patriots right now. This team is playoff ready and are on a mission. This win here should clinch the division for the Pats.
(10-2) New Orleans Saints v (5-7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Saints are looking for a clinch themselves. If they can beat Tampa on the road, and Carolina loses (or ties) they clinch the South. The Saints are not just eyeing a clinch, they are about proving themselves. After the loss to the Cowboys, teams think the Saints “got exposed”. The Saints know that other teams will try and replicate the game plan of the Cowboys. And the Saints are looking to remind teams how dominate they really are. Look for the Saints to try and make an example out of Buccaneers in this game.
(4-8) New York Giants v (6-6) Washington Redskins
The Redskins lost Colt McCoy to a season ending leg injury. This is the second quarterback they lost this year to a season ending leg injury. And right now the Redskins are tanking. Hard to imagine a team that lost two quarterbacks to season ending injuries are going to be able to make the playoffs. The Redskins are licking their wounds, and Giants are coming into this game with momentum.
(5-7) Cincinnati Bengals v (9-3) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are looking to hold firm to their five spot. But they will be cheering for the Ravens to get the upset, as this would set up for an even bigger showdown for them next week against the Chiefs. But they may not want to get caught looking past the Bengals, and risk getting upset at home.
(6-6) Denver Broncos v (2-10) San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are already talking about offseason position battles. The season for the 49ers ended the week Jimmy G went down. This team just could not find a win or beg for a break anywhere. The focus for this team needs to be dealing with their defense, especially their secondary.
With the 49ers looking toward the off season, and the Broncos still in the hunt, this should be an easy pick.
(4-8) Detroit Lions v (3-9) Arizona Cardinals
This game will be more for fantasy players. This is a game that has no bearing on the playoffs, and will not be on radars. But this could be the needed points to score a fantasy win.
Detroit continues to be that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team that will either play great or suck. And they are playing a Cardinals team that are playing their hearts out, but can still find themselves on the wrong end of a blow out.
(6-6) Philadelphia Eagles v (7-5) Dallas Cowboys
This should be America’s game of the Week. Both the Cowboys and Eagles meet having found their rhythm. Philadelphia believes it has found their running game to bring back the threat of their play-action pass offense. And the Cowboys have found a receiver in Amari Cooper to keep teams from stacking up the box against Zeke. These teams will put all this to the test to see who will take the East.
(7-4-1) Pittsburgh Steelers v (2-10) Oakland Raiders
Talk about a team needing to get things right, the Steelers have been in their own little slump. Losing their last two games, Pittsburgh is really needing to tune things up in time for the playoffs. Lucky for them they get the Raiders this week.
Sunday Night Game: (11-1) Los Angeles Rams v (8-4) Chicago Bears
This is the game that will let Bears fans know if they are not only playoff ready, but have a team that can actually win the thing. We will get to see potentially the best defense in the NFC (if not the NFL) vs (one of) the best offense in the NFC. This could be an exciting game.
Monday Night Football: (6-5-1) Minnesota Vikings v (7-5) Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks will be tested this week against the Vikings. They just got their seating for the big dance, but they are already at the risk of losing it. And the Vikings can’t afford to lose this one sitting at 6-5-1. The outcome of this game could change the layout of the playoffs. And if teams like the Panthers take care of business, this could get them a step closer to gaining a seat.