Well, we got lots of things sorted out last week, which is pretty nice. The Broncos can win with Brock Osweilier (again, such a great football name that gentleman has), the Washington team is your NFC East last man standing, and Carolina will not go undefeated. In fact, I feel like if you’re not a fan of the teams playing meaningfully tomorrow, you should just shut it down and spend more time with your family or something.
Unless you live in Minnesota and Wisconsin. If you do, it’s ON. HARD CORE.
So this week I’m going to sort the picks into two categories: Important, and Not Important. I know, of course, that each team treats each match-up as important — and rightly so, given that they’re paid quite well to do so. But if you’re a fan, and you’re generally paying out of your own pocket to care (be it in time or money), know now that you can wait until the playoffs or, in most cases, next season.
On with the picks. (Winners in italics.)
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo: Easy enough, Jets. Win and you’re in. I like the Jets’ calm, taking-care-of-business attitude this year, and as someone who lives in the greater NYC area, I wouldn’t mind seeing them stick it to their former coach.
New England at Miami: Kind of important to the Pats, as a win would sew up home field for the playoffs.
Baltimore at Cincinnati: Despite major injuries at the QB spot, the Bengals can wrap up a first-round bye with a win here (easy peasy), but they need a Denver loss, too. (Or they can lose so long as Denver loses and K.C. wins. Or…you know, divine intervention, maybe.)
Pittsburgh at Cleveland: The win here against the hapless Browncoats isn’t the issue. Anyone can seemingly win at the Factory of Sadness. It’s the fact that the Jets have to lose as well. Otherwise, Pittsburgh stays home.
Jacksonville at Houston: Another last-man-standing division, which means that Houston (the likely winner) will have the honor of hosting a viciously impressive wild card team far better than them next week. Yay?
Tennessee at Indianapolis: So here’s how Indy gets in the playoffs. First, they have to win this. (Easy.) Next, Houston has to lose to the Jags. (Less likely.) Then, all the following teams have to win this week: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver and Miami. And then, they need Pittsburgh and Oakland to both win or tie, so long as they both don’t tie. Look, let’s face it, Indy is out.
Tampa Bay at Carolina: So if the Panthers actually lose this (and shame on them if they do), then Arizona could end up with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they win. Really, this game is only marginally important, then.
Oakland at Kansas City: If Denver loses and Kansas City wins here, they go from wild-card upstart to division champ. And they become that much more dangerous.
San Diego at Denver: Of course, if Denver loses this game, they deserve to lose the division. Sheesh. But if they win here, and New England loses, they get home field throughout the playoffs. So basically, they could be a wild-card or the top-seed. I imagine it’ll be somewhere in between.
Seattle at Arizona: I’m calling it now — these two teams will meet again in the playoffs. Both are so very, very good. Even if Arizona didn’t have a shot at home field, I’d still watch this.
Minnesota at Green Bay: The difference between being a wild card and winning the division. This is what’s at stake at Lambeau in January on Sunday Night. It’s actually kind of epic and fun.
New Orleans at Atlanta: Now you decide to get hot, Atlanta? I suppose better late than never.
Washington at Dallas: All the playoff implications are dealt with. Is pride enough? Does anyone care to find out? I give you your Netflix Game of the Week. There’s a new Marco Polo 30-minute special about Hundred Eyes I’m thinking about here.
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants: Chip Kelly was not, apparently, enough of an offensive guru to stick with Philly. As for New York, I like Tom Coughlin a lot. I say if he wants another year, give it to him. Let him go out how he wants to go out.
Detroit at Chicago: Midwest pride. Deep-dish pizza. Hopes for next year, perhaps.
St. Louis at San Francisco: The city by the bay will be looking for a lot of answers this offseason.
Last week’s record: A decent 10-6.
Season record: 149-91, better than all but three of these guys. A good showing this week could make it a clean sweep.