All games on Sunday, December 29th, 2013
In the final week of the NFL regular season, all teams play, all play is on Sunday, and all contests are intra-divisional. This year, as many as thirteen of the sixteen games may have playoff implications. In the interest of simplicity, I'm going to focus mostly on what the teams in these games can get if they win. I've updated this list to include the Canadian rebroadcasters where applicable, though a good source for that week-to-week is the very useful blog A Rouge Point. If you're interested in which specific American markets are getting which games, check out 506sports' NFL map - I only include the American affiliates that reach Canada, and not even all of those, I think.
Teams in bold are playoff-bound or at least still alive, and the only one that's locked into a particular seed is Kansas City (#5 AFC). All times are Eastern. All of the AFC division titles are clinched, but none of the NFC's are. When I say "on top of that", I mean that there's something else a team can achieve provided the previous condition has been satisfied.
Washington Redskins (3-12) at N.Y. Giants (6-9), 1 p.m. (FOX, incl. FOX Rochester)
Neither the Giants or the Jets qualify for the playoffs in a year when their stadium hosts the Super Bowl. If you can think of a reason to watch this game, let me know. Robert Griffin III won't be QB-ing for Washington, and depending on how things are shaping up in Tennessee, they might have a reason to push a little less (see Houston/Tennessee below)...
Detroit Lions (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1) 1 p.m. (FOX, incl. FOX Detroit, Minnesota)
This will be the Viking's last game in the Metrodome.
Carolina Panthers (11-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-11), 1 p.m. (FOX, incl. FOX Boston, Spokane, Tacoma -> CTV Toronto)
Carolina has at least a wildcard - they can win or tie to win the NFC South and a first-round bye, and also the #1 seed on top of that with a Seattle loss and San Francisco win.
N.Y. Jets (7-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-7), 1 p.m. (CBS -> TSN2, CTV Montreal)
Kansas City is locked-in to the upper wildcard, whereas for the other spot, four teams (Baltimore, Miami, San Diego, and Pittsburgh) are playing musical chairs with one chair. For Miami to be seated when the music stops, Miami needs to win and needs a bit of help: one or both of a Baltimore loss and a San Diego win. If you're interested in scenarios with ties, check out this post on a Dolphins blog, as it includes a nifty chart. Personally, I'd be rooting like heck for Cincinnati to beat Baltimore, because you don't want to be counting on San Diego to win in the late game if they're already eliminated, which they would be if Miami wins.
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5), 1 p.m. (CBS, incl. CBS Boston, Detroit, Spokane, Seattle -> RDS, CTV Atlantic, Ottawa, Kitchener, Northern Ontario, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia)
Baltimore's easiest path to the wildcard is to win and look for one or both of a Miami loss/tie or San Diego loss/tie. The defending champions need help getting back in to the playoffs. Cincinnati is looking for a win and a New England loss to make their AFC North win also be a first-round bye.
Cleveland Browns (4-11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8), 1 p.m. (CBS, incl. CBS Cleveland)
To get a wildcard spot, Pittsburgh has to win, then all of Miami, Baltimore, and San Diego must lose.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) at Indianapolis Colts (10-5), 1 p.m. (CBS)
The Colts have the AFC South, but can also get a first-round bye with a win plus losses by Cincinnati and New England.
Houston Texans (2-13) at Tennessee Titans (6-9), 1 p.m. (CBS)
A Houston loss guarantees their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. If they do something silly like win, they will have to count on a Washington win because Houston would "win" a tiebreaker between the teams. More info.
Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at Chicago Bears (8-7), 4:25 p.m. (FOX, incl. FOX Rochester, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota -> RDS2, Sportsnet East, Citytv)
Now we're talking! The division goes to the winner of this game, and neither team is good enough to be a wildcard, so it's win-or-go-home. (Chicago could win the division with a tie, but you might have noticed that ties are rare enough in the NFL that they don't really merit much advance consideration. For the 2009 through 2011 seasons there were no ties at all!) Green Bay will know on Thursday whether or not they get Aaron Rodgers back, but I think they can win with Flynn. (Update: Rodgers is cleared to play and will start.)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at New Orleans Saints (10-5), 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Saints could be out of the playoffs entirely if they lose, but if they win they get a wildcard at least, and a Carolina loss on top of that gets them the division and a first-round bye. Carolina/Atlanta will be wrapping up when this one is getting going.
San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-5), 4:25 p.m. (FOX -> Sportsnet Ontario, West, Pacific)
The current NFL playoff structure favors winners of weaker divisions over stronger second-place teams in stronger divisions. Arizona is likely to be this year's victim. The NFC West can only be won by San Francisco or Seattle, and the other one will be a wildcard, and if New Orleans wins the NFC South it bumps Carolina into the other wildcard, so Arizona must win and New Orleans must lose. San Francisco, as just stated, has at least a wildcard, but if they win and Seattle loses, they get the division and a first-round bye, and the #1 seed is theirs if, on top of all that, Carolina loses.
St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (12-3), 4:25 p.m. (FOX, incl. FOX Spokane, Tacoma)
Seattle has at least a wildcard, and with a win they would get the division and the #1 seed. They'd win a tiebreaker with San Francisco, so if they lost and SF lost too, they still finish at #1.
Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (11-4), 4:25 p.m. (CBS, incl. CBS Boston, Cleveland)
New England owns the AFC East. They can win or tie to clinch a first-round bye, and on top of that even grab the #1 seed if Denver loses.
Denver Broncos (12-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-11), 4:25 p.m. (CBS, incl. CBS Detroit, Minnesota, Spokane)
Denver, already owning the AFC West and a first-round bye, can finish with the #1 seed with a win or a New England loss.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-7), 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Kansas City is locked into the upper wildcard seed and has nothing to play for, but San Diego has the opportunity to win themselves the other wildcard with a win and losses from both Miami and Baltimore. Those games will be wrapping up when this one gets started, so they might well find themselves in the driver's seat at kickoff... or left by the side of the road. (Update: Kansas City head coach Andy Reid says he'll "mix-and-match" starters and backups throughout the game.)
Sunday Night Football:
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7), 8:30 p.m. (NBC -> TSN, RDS)
Chip Kelly's Eagles are so much fun to watch because they keep you guessing and they defy much conventional NFL thinking. Like the Packers/Bears tilt, this is a win-or-go-home matchup between Philadelphia and Dallas for the division title, with neither team being good enough (this year) for a wildcard. Philadelphia could also "win with a tie". Teensy little problem on the Dallas side: Their regular QB, Tony Romo, may not play - he has a herniated disc.
"2013 NFL playoff scenarios for Week 17" - http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000303368/article/2013-nfl-playoff-scenarios-for-week-17
"Cowboys-Eagles NFC East title tilt gets flex treatment" - http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2013/12/22/cowboys-eagles-week-17-flex-schedule-sunday-night-football-nbc/4171657/
NFL Week 17 TV Guide
All games on Sunday, December 29th, 2013
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