And so we have come to the final week of the season, wherein the vast majority of games are…well, meaningless. A few teams are jockeying for playoff positioning, but most everyone else is playing out the string. That strikes me as mildly depressing, but then, I live in the New York area. Football is depressing for us this year.
So to liven things up, I’m going to put an addendum onto my game listings. A (P) means there’s playoff implications for the team, while a (C) means that there’s a coach on the hot seat. Watching coaches squirm through what could be their final games may seem cruel to some, entertaining to others. It’s probably both.
Anyway, think of this as the intermezzo between the regular season and the playoffs next week. A little palate cleanser before we get to the entree.
On with the picks! (Winners in italics.)
Cleveland at Baltimore (P): The Browncoats are playing for pride, and may pull a QB from the stands if need be. The Ravens need to win this one, but could still miss the playoffs if the Chargers win.
Dallas at Washington: Dallas’ playoff position won’t change whether it wins or loses here. Given that they may rest starters…find a good Star Trek: DS9 episode to rewatch. Maybe a two-parter.
Indianapolis at Tennessee (C): Another playoff team locked in, another cake walk regardless. Will the Titans’ coach get another year to try to, you know, win games?
Jacksonville (C) at Houston (P): Houston needs to win, but also needs the Ravens and Chargers to lose in order to get into the playoffs. Meanwhile, I think Gus deserves another year to unravel the Gordian Knot that is the Jags.
San Diego (P) at Kansas City (P): A game worth fighting for! The Chargers win and they’re in. If KC wins, then the Ravens and Texans have to lose to make the playoffs. Remember the bit where Houston was playing Jax? Yeah. Big ask, that.
N.Y. Jets (C) at Miami (C): Fare thee well, Rex Ryan. The only question out of this game is whether the Miami coach will also be on the unemployment line.
Chicago (C) at Minnesota: Yea, verily, the Agardians shall triumph. And the QB whisperer in Chicago will have music to face.
Buffalo at New England: Tough one to call. The Pats are locked into the top seed, so they could rest starters. If so, Buffalo could make something happen.
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants (C): I would hate it if Tom Coughlin lost his gig. He’s the classiest sports guy in all of New York. Let’s give him a win, Giants.
New Orleans (C) at Tampa Bay: The Jack Sparrows are in year one of a new coach, so they get a pass. Sean Payton, though…we expected more from the Saints this year.
Carolina (P) at Atlanta (P-C): I’m calling the upset here. The winner takes the NFC South title, which is a trophy made of plastic and bubble gum given how bad the division was this year. If Atlanta loses, the coach may pay for it.
Detroit (P) at Green Bay (P): Winner gets the NFC North title and a first-round bye. Loser makes the playoffs as a wild card, but probably goes up against the NFC South champion. Either or.
Oakland at Denver (P): If the Broncos win — and they should — they get a first-round bye. If not, they host a wild-card game. Oakland has already fired its coach this year, of course. That’s what they do.
Arizona (P) at San Francisco (C): If Arizona wins and the Seahawks lose, Arizona gets a bye. Otherwise, they’re on the road for the wild card round. Meantime, San Francisco bids farewell to Jim Harbaugh’s throbbing forehead vein.
St. Louis at Seattle (P): Seahawks win and they get the division and a bye. And have you seen the way they’re playing lately? Scary good.
Cincinnati (P) at Pittsburgh (P): Not a bad Sunday night finale. Winner takes the division, loser gets a wild card. Both teams really dislike each other. What’s not to love?
Last week’s record: 10-6
Season record: 160-78, still in the mix among these guys.