NBC decided a day too early to make Eagles-Cowboys the regular season finale Sunday night game. Instead, the most enticing game of the Week 17 schedule stays in the afternoon slot. Later in the week, it got even more interesting with the surprise return of Aaron Rodgers for the NFC North deciding game against the division rival that knocked him out two months ago.
Both defenses have been similarly pathetic for most of the season. Chicago went into a similar situation with a defense they could exploit last week in Philadelphia, but were buried in a shootout they never bothered to join. Really, the best thing you could say for the Bears is that at least they have the Packers at home for the rematch. In the one Green Bay drive with Rodgers in the first matchup, they made moving the ball look effortless. While a lot more needs to work for the Bears to win than Cutler playing well, his performance could be a key determinant in whether Chicago makes a sincere effort to keep him after the season. Going down in flames once again to the Packers will likely usher in a new era of quarterbacking for the Bears, even if Josh McCown decides he’d rather just spend time with his family.
In San Diego, the Chargers, because of the Dolphins and Ravens losses, face a win-and-in scenario. And should they fail at home, it’ll be one of the biggest choke jobs in recent memory because Kansas City is sitting everyone. Should the Chiefs backups prevail, the Steelers get into the playoffs following an 0-4 start.
Meanwhile, Princess Leia appears to be running the Arizona Cardinals Twitter feed this week. #ScruffyLookingNerfHerders
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 28, 2013
Has to suck to rely on the final stand of the Schiano Men coming through for you to make the playoffs, especially when they’re playing in the Superdome, where the Saints have yet to lose this season.
Another long shot that teams will be desperately counting on for playoff help is the Bills, who can knock the Patriots from the 2 seed by winning in Gillette Stadium for the first time ever. The last Bills road victory against the Pats came in 2000, a year before Tom Brady took over as starter. The leading passer for the Patriots in that last Buffalo win in Foxboro? John Friesz. The cruelly hopeful reassurance for Bengals fans and those hoping for Pats schadenfreude: the Buffalo front seven did an impressive job of wrecking Miami’s shit in an upset victory in Week 16. The sad reality: it’s still Thad Lewis at starting quarterback for Buffalo.
Your late game slate, as rated by KSK’s not-at-all subjective, rigorously scientificated five-star system:
San Francisco at Arizona ***
Green Bay at Chicago ****
Buffalo at New England **
Tampa Bay at New Orleans **
Denver at Oakland **
Kansas City at San Diego **
St. Louis at Seattle **