NFL Week 17 Viewing Guide -- What in the Blue Hell Each Game Means

Categories: Game Time, Sports

"College football has the best regular season of any sport, and the lack of a playoff is one big reason why." -- Bill Hancock, Executive Director, Bowl Cartel Championship Series

That's my favorite inane argument against a college football playoff -- that somehow the existence of a playoff cheapens the meaning and enjoyment of the regular season. Typically this is followed by Hancock citing the most important game of Week One of the college football season and bludgeoning us with his duplicitous rhetoric that the reason an early game was so important was the lack of a playoff at year's end. It's completely nonsensical logic for anyone who chooses to eschew generalities and peel back the onion layers of a logical playoff system.

Hundreds have done that. As my counterargument, I will merely outline the reasons to watch the games in the final week of the NFL regular season.

Here are the playoff implications for all 16 NFL games this Sunday:

Carolina at New Orleans, Noon FOX
New Orleans clinched the NFC South with a rout of the Falcons on Monday night but can still clinch a first-round bye with a win over Carolina (the easy part) and the remote possibility that the Rams beat the 49ers in St. Louis (the much trickier part).

Chicago at Minnesota, Noon FOX
It's Josh McCown! It's Joe Webb! It's the NFL on FOX!! (Translation: This game means nothing.)

NY Jets at Miami, Noon CBS
The Jets have to win to even have a prayer of getting in. If they beat Miami in Miami (which is no gimme), then they need the Titans to lose (or tie), the Bengals to lose, and one of the Raiders or Broncos to lose (or tie). Speaking editorially, the playoffs would be more fun with the Jets and Rex Ryan in as the sixth seed. However, I don't think the inexperienced Texans would be all that hyped about facing them.

Buffalo at New England, Noon CBS
The Patriots have already clinched a first-round bye (giving them an extra week to figure out how to play defense), but can clinch the first seed overall and home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Bills.

San Francisco at St. Louis, Noon FOX
The 49ers can clinch a first-round bye with a win, which should jibe perfectly with the Rams strategy of losing to remain mathematically alive for the number one overall pick in the draft!

Detroit at Green Bay, Noon FOX
Green Bay has clinched home field throughout the playoffs, and with an undefeated season going up in smoke a couple weeks ago, we will probably get a heaping helping of Matt Flynn. Detroit needs to win to stay out of a head-to-head tie with the Falcons (who beat the Lions in Week 7) for the fifth seed, mainly because the fifth seed gets the Cowboys-Giants winner, while the sixth seed has to go to New Orleans or San Francisco. It's a very underplayed subplot right now.

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