Ten Playoff-ish Thoughts
Score: 38-17, Steelers
...the game with major playoff implications involving an Ohio team is actually the one that includes Cleveland. If the Steelers win, they still need help from the Bills. If the Browns win, the Jets are in no matter what. Rare is the day when the Browns can decide the playoff fate of two teams in one game. However, Cleveland has been out of the playoffs for weeks, now. At least something is normal in the NFL this year.
Jets @ Bills (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Score: 31-28, Bills
Its simple for the Jets this week, thanks to the Steelers laying an egg last week at Baltimore: win and you are in. That may be easier said than done, though, because the Jets are on the road against the Bills -- led by none other than Rex Ryan, the coach the Jets fired after last season. With the Bills now out of the playoffs, but loaded with talent at a lot of positions, the upset is an intriguing pick this week.
Score: 30-16, Bengals
Had things transpired differently last week -- if the Steelers had won -- this game would be the surprise game of the week, at least in the AFC. Now, though, this is pretty much meaningless. Typically the meaningless week-17 game involving a team from Ohio is Browns versus whoever they happen to be playing. Right now, it's like Bizzaro Ohio, because...
Score: 27-16, Redskins
Kirk Cousins had a walk-off bad-ass moment last week with the press that basically amounted to "how do you like me now?!" He halfway earned it, too, with his late-season surge. I say "halfway" because, if it wasn't for the fact that the rest of the NFC East was awful to an epic degree this season, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
Score: 28-13, Texans
At mid-season, I doubt anyone saw the Texans overtaking the Colts for the AFC South division title. As of right now, it looks to be a near-lock for the Texans, though it could come down to the Strength-of-Schedule tiebreaker, which is just about the hardest one to calculate. It's possible we won't know who wins the division until late Sunday, but that's assuming the Texans lose, the Colts win and Indianapolis' strength of schedule ends up better than Houston's.
Titans @ Colts (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Score: 13-10, Colts
Given the utter disaster at quarterback for the Colts, even a home game against the lowly Titans isn't a lock. In fact, it's far from it. Even if they win, they need help to even have a shot at winning the division.
Score: 34-13, Patriots
This is one of those games where you wonder why they will even bother playing it. Just come out, shake hands, call New England the winner and let everyone out of the stadium without a concussion.
Score: 24-17, Cardinals
For a game between two playoff-bound teams, this one has virtually no drama. The only thing it can have an effect on -- maybe -- is whether Seattle is the number five or number six seed. I'm not even sure if it will affect that, to be honest, because the tie-breakers may already have been decided.
Buccaneers @ Panthers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m.)
Score: 31-20, Panthers
The question right now is whether the Panthers finally got their loss out of the way, or if it shows a chink in their armor. Often, teams on a long run of wins are cool with a late-season loss if it doesn't affect their playoff seeding, but that one definitely had to hurt last week. I mean, we aren't talking about a close loss to a good team. It was an abysmal loss to a really, really awful team. It's possible they just shanked that game wide left, but it could also be cause for concern.
Score: 24-21, Packers
This game is only a big deal because Aaron Rodgers actually looks mortal this season. With his go-to receiver gone since the pre-season, Rodgers has found it difficult to put up points. Minnesota has been a pleasant surprise this year, but few people would argue that either of these teams is playing Super Bowl-caliber football this year. While this game will decide the NFC North, right now it doesn't look like the NFC representative in Super Bowl 50 will be playing football in Wisconsin on Sunday.
All the Rest
Score: 20-17, Falcons
Score: 20-13, Lions
Score: 23-20, Giants
Score: 20-14, Broncos
Score: 26-20, Chiefs
Score: 24-13, Rams