Updated: Jan 8
16. Cardinals vs. 49ers
Returning the Favor
The Cardinals have nothing to play for and no chance to win. The Cardinals added more weapons in the offseason, and yet they have broken down yet again and become a mess. The Cardinals somehow have the 3rd draft pick. So they can take solace in that.
The 49ers are playing great right now, and if they win this game, they could grab the one seed. Many people think the 49ers are the best team in the NFC. Will they prove it with a win?
15. Saints vs. Panthers
The Saints and the Panthers have nothing to play for this week. They are both out of the playoffs, and they are well under .500.Its just about pride and bonuses and either showing why you should stay on the team or why another team should pick you up. In the case of these coaches, both could be on the chopping block, so a win might help them keep their job.
14. Colts vs. Texans
Who will make their fanbase angrier? The Texans have the number one pick in the draft, and the Colts are at five. Nobody wants to drop in the draft, but someone probably will. Which team will get the win when their teams need it least?
13. The Chargers vs. Broncos
Have and Have Nots
The Chargers most likely won't have anything to play for by the time their game starts. Even if they did have a chance to move up their seeding, they should rest their starters, considering all the injuries they have had all year.
The Broncos have nothing to play for besides pride. They didn't win against the Chiefs last week, but they played a lot better than they had the rest of the season and scored more as well. If the Broncos can keep showing these glimmers of hope, then maybe, just maybe, Hackett was the problem.
12. Vikings vs. Bears
The Vikings really have nothing to play for. Kevin O'Connell has indicated that the Vikings will play starters, and it sounds like they want to get out to a lead and shut the starters down in the second half. They could try and get the two seed but they shouldn't, in my opinion. Why risk an injury to a star player over a two-seed you may not even get? The Vikings are going to be playing the 7th seed or the 6 seed. This is the playoffs, they are going to need to beat good teams. Even if they get the two seed they will either be playing a Packers team that just thrashed them or a Lions team that beat them by double digits, or a hot Seahawks team. As opposed to a Giants team they just beat. The Vikings should rest and prepare for the playoffs.
The Bears, on the other hand, probably want to lose. If they lose and the Texans win, the Bears have the number-one pick in the draft. Also, the Bears have ruled Fields out, and they are starting Nathan Peterman. It will be interesting to see how the Bears look without Field's production against a top-ranked team.
11.Bucs vs. Falcons
Will it Get Better or Worse?
The Bucs have decided to play even though nobody besides Tom has anything to play for. Tom is maintaining his record of being in every game since his suspension. Todd Bowels has basically said that this Falcons game is practice, and he isn't concerned about injury. Will that statement come back to hunt him?
The Falcons are getting a chance to evaluate their young Qb Desmond Ridder against a playoff team. If the Falcons lose, they could move up on the draft board. So, in essence, the Falcons can't lose.
10.Eagles vs. Giants
The Eagles just need one win to get the one seed and the NFC East. The Giants are sitting their starters because they have nothing to play for. Smart decision by the coach of the year candidate Brian Daboll. However, will the Eagles coach be as smart? Jalen Hurts is questionable for this game. I see no reason for the Eagles to start him and jeopardize a playoff run. If they put Jalen in and he gets hurt, the one seed no longer matters, and they are dead in the water. If the Eagles can't beat the Giant's backups with their backup Qb Minshew, who use to be a starter, then they don't deserve the one seed.
9.The Cowboys vs. The Commanders
The Cowboys have one last chance to go after the one seed in the NFC. If the Cowboys beat the Commanders, they could possibly win the one seed or clinch the division. It's also another chance for the Cowboys to show they can win the games they are supposed to win and not make mental errors. The Commanders aren't gonna roll over, but the Cowboy's biggest enemy in this game is themselves.
The Commanders don't have much to play for. Pulling off a shocking win would be a good way to end the season, and it would give them a non-losing season. Also, this will be Sam Howell's first career start. Will Sam Howell hit the ground running?
8.The Dolphins vs. Jets
The Jets have nothing to play for, but spoiling the Dolphin's season. The Jets had a disappointing end to a promising season all because they missed on Zach Wilson. The Jets are one of the clearest examples that I've ever seen of a team that's just a QB away. If the Jets had a decent Qb, they would have made the playoffs. They have running backs, tight ends, receivers, and one of the best defenses in the league. All they need is a Qb, and they shouldn't wait on Zach Wilson. We'll see if the Jets can drag the Dolphins down with them.
The Dolphins are still in playoff position. They just need to win this game. However, just like the Jets, they are a Qb away. Tua has been hurt, and Teddy Bridgewater has been hurt every time he has come in relief of Tua. So the entire season rests on the shoulders of the third-string Qb. If the Dolphins had Tua, they would be in the playoffs, but injuries have complicated their path. Can the Dolphins overcome everything and make the playoffs?
7.Raiders vs. Chiefs
Sometimes things fall in your favor. The Chiefs have been in the periphery of the number one seed for a while. They have been winning, but it felt like they weren't getting the one seed with the Bills out ahead with a tiebreaker. Then out of nowhere, Hamlin has a tragic injury on the field and shocks the sports world and beyond. Now that Hamlin is thankfully recovering, the game that got canceled as a result of his injury has redefined the playoffs. The Chiefs can grab a piece of the number seed. If they beat the Raiders, they won't necessarily get a home-field advantage depending on who they play, if the Bills also win. However, a win today does get the Chiefs the coveted 1st round bye. Who stands in their way? The Chief's easiest division rival, the Raiders.
The Raiders took another L last week, but this one was quite encouraging. Jared Stidham balled out against the 49er's defense. Was it just a fluke, or can he do it again? Can the Raiders spoil the season for the Chiefs?
6.Rams vs. Seahawks
One Last Hurdle
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that the Rams and Seahawks would play in week 18, and the Rams would be out of it, and the Seahawks would be playing for a playoff spot, I wouldn't believe you. However, that's the situation we find ourselves in. The Rams broke down, but they found new life at the end of the season with Baker and Cam Akers. The Seahawks have had a really good season. Pete Caroll has proved he is still one of the best coaches in the league, and Geno has revived his career as a QB making the first Pro Bowl of his career.
5. Bills vs. Patriots
The Evil Empire still clings to life. Last year the Patriots couldn't be kept away from the playoffs, and this year they have a chance to get back. However, first, they have to defeat the team who beat them like they stole something last year in the playoffs. If the Patriots win, not only could they return to playoffs, but the Patriots will cost the Bills their shot at the number one seed and get a chance to get revenge for their loss in last year's playoffs by beating the Bills in this year's playoffs.
On Monday night, things looked grim for the Bills. They had a teammate fighting for his life on the field and in the hospital. The players looked traumatized, and who can blame them? Then it looked like they may not have a shot at the one seed with the canceled game. However, with changes the NFL made, the Bills have the chance to get the one seed if the Chefs lose. A win against the Patriots, at the very least, prevents the Bills from having to play at Arrowhead in the playoffs. All they got to do is defeat the Evil Empire again.
4. Ravens vs. Bengals
Ball Don't Lie
The Bengals seem frustrated that home-field advantage between them and the Ravens could be decided by a coin flip instead by win percentage. However, I don't think the Bengals have anything to complain about. The NFL is right. If the Ravens win this game, they would have beaten the Bengals twice, and the only thing separating them would be the one unplayed game. All the Bengals have to do is beat the Ravens, and this won't even be a concern. If the Bengals deserve home field advantage, they should go out and prove it.
The Ravens have a big opportunity to go out and prove that they should be the division winners and possibly secure home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. All they have to do is beat the Bengals one more time. The Ravens still have Lamar on the bench, and they should keep it that way because regardless of the outcome of this game, they will be in the playoffs, so Lamar should get as healthy as he can.
3. Browns vs. Steelers
A New Hope
The Browns have nothing to play for in terms of playoffs. However, there is something else on the line in this game. Spirit, The way you end the season is very important, it's the last impression you leave everyone with. Carson Wentz, for example, didn't have that bad a season on paper 27 Tds, 7 interceptions, and he was one game out of playoffs. However, nobody remembers that cause the Colts lost to the Jaguars and missed the playoffs, and Wentz got shipped off to a new team. The Browns have a chance to show Browns fans and the world that they have their Qb and they will be making a huge impact next year.
Steelers have been on a whirlwind ride. They started the season with Mitch Trubisky and quickly realized that wouldn't work. Then they put in Kenny and went on the rookie rollercoaster, but the ride finally seems to be pointing up. Kenny Picket is coming into himself, Najee Harris is playing inspired football, and the defense is rebounding. Now a season that looked lost is a Browns win away from being a playoff birth and or Mike Tomlin's 16th winning season, which continues his legacy of never having a losing season. All the Steeler's hopes are within reach. They just have to grab them.
2. Jaguars vs. Titans
Throw Down for the Throne
The Jaguars have been battling all season. They have taken some losses, but they have always come back and got a win. Interestingly, the Jags have beaten teams at all levels. They haven't just been beating chumps. The Jaguars had a five-game losing streak, but they are on a four-game winning streak, and if they beat the Titans, they will match their biggest losing streak with their biggest winning streak. The Jaguars are one game away from making the playoffs and sending Trevor to the playoffs in his second year. If Doug Pederson can pull off a turnaround like this, he will be on a shortlist for coach of the year. Will the Jags take over the division?
The Titans looked like they would easily run away with the division, but then, as the Jaguars surged, the Titans collapsed. The Titans are on a six-game losing streak. However, all hope is not lost. The Titans are getting healthy at the right time. Just the opposite of last year. Last year they dominated all year, and then they crapped out in the playoffs. Maybe this year, they can struggle all year and then peak in the playoffs. Despite the Titan's six-game losing streak, the Titans can rewrite their story in one game. All they have to do is beat the Jags, and they win the division and go to the playoffs, and nobody will remember the losing streak. It all comes down to this. What kind of season will the Titans have?
1. Lions vs. Packers
The Ultimate Showdown
The Packers looked like they were down and out. Then their receivers started to show some promise, and the coach finally adjusted to the fact that the Packers are going to win through run game and defense rather than Rodgers. Plus, the defense started playing really well, and the Packers got some lucky breaks with their opponents. Now all they have to do is beat the Lions, and the Packers are back in the playoffs. Last time they faced off, the Lions won. Are Packers still better than the Lions?
The Lions have had a great season, and they are so close to their first playoff game in many years. Are the Lions finally ready to live up to their potential and become contenders? They started out 1-6 and won their way back into the playoff picture. For years Rodgers has smugly dominated the Lions, and now they have a chance to make the playoffs and knock Rodgers and the Packers out of the playoffs. Everyone is counting out the Lions and talking as if the Packers have already won the game and made playoffs. Can the Lions shock everyone beat the Packers one more time?