In the early slate, we bid farewell to the 13 teams already eliminated coming into Week 17, along with a few more that will be sent packing along the way. The Texans, Ravens, Chargers and Chiefs are still vying for the final AFC Wild Card berth, with San Diego needing the least help to accompany their victory.
Chargers-Chiefs is the closest thing to an actual playoff game in the early slate. If San Diego wins, they’re in. Kansas City, however, needs a win plus a Baltimore loss and a Houston loss or tie.
The Ravens have the luxury of their must-win game coming at home against a Browns team that is starting rookie Connor Shaw at quarterback and helpfully suspended Josh Gordon for the final game of the season purportedly because he missed a walk-through but mostly just to deny the wide receiver a game played that would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Instead, it will be a little harder for another team to take Gordon away from a franchise that is scheming to limit what might have been his first big pay day in the NFL.
It’s also time to say goodbye to Rex Ryan as head coach of the New York Jets and quite possibly Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator of the Saints. If the future is kind, next season Rex will get another head coaching job and he can bring on brother Rob for the Ryan bros blitz and hookers party the world has long for.
Your early game slate, as rated by KSK’s not-at-all subjective, rigorously scientificated five-star system:
Cleveland at Baltimore **
Jacksonville at Houston **
San Diego at Kansas City ***
New York Jets at Miami *
Chicago at Minnesota *
Buffalo at New England *
Philadelphia at New York Giants **
New Orleans at Tampa Bay *
Indianapolis at Tennessee *
Dallas at Washington **