Greetings, friends...so, here we are. An 8-8 team SHOULD make the playoffs this season (barring another Ed Hockuli moment), while a 10-6 team and possibly an 11-5 team will not (depending on the Patriots and how they fare at Buffalo among other scenarios). Many questions have been asked about fairness (mostly from the Boston area, I imagine) and I say the following. For those who whine about the BCS and the NFL playoff system need to make up their minds...please. There is NO way to have this both ways. While I respect the opinion of those in favor of a "power ranking" system to decide playoff teams (just like the BCS does today...for the most part), I believe that the system that is in place now is the most fair. Several NFL officials and team officials agree that this season is an aborration rather than a trend and I agree. The NFL is the ONE professional sports league where year in and year out, it can honestly be said that most every team has a chance to be in the Super Bowl come February at the begining of training camp. MLB, NHL nor NBA can say that to be sure. Here are the games I will be watching tomorrow with great anticipation:
1pm EST games:
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings. My Vikings can't choke the NFC North away...can they?? Well, it's possible. I know that most of the so called experts like the Vikings because the Giants have nothing to play for. Well, I disagree. The Giants have a bye next week and want to remain sharp. They saw what the Patriots did in the season finale against them last season and don't want to go into the playoffs soft this season. I think the Vikings pull this out IF and only if they don't get blown out early AND if Brandon Jacobs is shelved (although Derrick Ward proved to be a killer against Carolina last week). We'll see.
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans. I am SOOOO thankful for the NFL Sunday Ticket since I live in the Dallas area and the Giants-Vikings tilt is the early game here on FOX. I can flip to this game which is also on FOX and see that the Texans will score some points which is bad news for Bears fans. The Bears offense is pathetic and the Texans have just enough on defense to hold them to under 20 points. The Bears pass defense has been awful and got worse with the injury to Mike Brown and honestly, this week, THAT will be the difference maker. Expect Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, et, al to put up HUGE numbers and lead the Texans to a season ending victory and give their fans high hops for a winner in 2009.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills. This is the early game on CBS in my area so...I'll watch this just to see if the Bills can show up and win one more for Dick Jaron and play spoiler for two teams this season (yes...they ruined Denver's season last week...more to follow). I don't see that happening here, however. These Patriots are poised and proud. They aren't the perennial AFC champs and most successful team of the decade by accident. Look for the Patriots to win and then...hope they can get some help from the Jets and Jags.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers. You didn't think I would look away from the potential train wreck, did you? Well, OK, I am only going to peek in on this one periodically, since I can't stand either team (hey, I'm a Vikings fan, what do you want from me??). However, I am actually going to root for the Lions to win. A few quick thoughts, first, these guys have NEVER given up from what I have seen and DO NOT deserve an 0-16 fate. Second, the game is at Lambeau Field and how funny would that be for the Packers to surrender the Lions only win on THEIR home field on Christmas weekend...a great gift...we just need Ron Propeil to market that for us...LOL.
4pm EST games:
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles. THE game of the day...perhaps, but maybe only for the Cowbys by the time we hit kick-off here. We'll know the fate of the Bears and Buccaneers by then and whether the Eagles are still alive or not. Some say that the NFL did the schedule this way by design. I think that is a very ignorant thing to say, but does hold some merit. why couldn't the Bucs-Raiders game been moved to this time slot. It's NOT unusual for a game in Tampa to be played later on Sunday. OR this game could have started at 1pm. But, it is what it is and I am actually hoping this becomes a winner take all affair. It'll make the game that much more fun to watch.
Miami Dolphins at New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. I love that chant...even if I don't particularly care for the team itself. Anyway, this also lets us get a glaring look at the Jets and the mistake they made in giving up on Chad Pennington and signing Old Man Favre. Now, yes, in August, I clamored for the Vikings to sign Favre, but I am glad we didn't. I like Pennington's chances to show up his former team and show them the door towards elimination for 2008 (the first even numbered year this decade that the Jets missed the playoffs). This should be a GREAT game though...perhaps the best of the DAY.
FLEX game on NBC:
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers. The Chargers get yet ANOTHER life to gain a playoff berth at 8-8. That happens with a win in the NIGHT game, which I truly believe will be THE BEST game tomorrow. I believe that the Chargers have control of this one all night because of Denver's inability to run or stop the run. Two of the best young QB's in the NFL are on display but in the end, the grit and competitiveness of Phillip Rivers wins out and the Chargers become the most dangerous 8-8 team to ever reach the playoffs. Look out Indy, you'll be next.
So there you have it. My thoughts on the best of the best in week 17. It should be a lot of fun, enjoy.