This is quite a bit different than how the NFL normally schedules their weeks. And it’s a really good idea I believe. Let’s get right to the schedule and I will explain afterwards.
Special Last Week of the Regular Season Notes on this Schedule
- What the NFL has done is along the same lines as what MLS does on their final day of the regular season: all the games being on at the same time. In the NFL’s case, most of the important games are on in the late afternoon window. This creates drama that might not have happened otherwise if the games were spread out to include a Sunday and Monday (and maybe even a Thursday) nighter.
- I get the point some are making that this splits the audience but really, they are probably, overall, getting more people to watch the late afternoon games than any week this season for sure, if not in the past few years.
- I do understand the idea that having most of the less important games early diminishes that timeslot but in reality, one timeslot usually handily beats the other on almost every Sunday so this is no different.
- Two early games and four late games not being shown here. Can’t see them all folks! I would have liked TSN to have chosen a game not being seen elsewhere for the late game instead of the Bengals-Ravens game but it is what it is. Expect bonus coverage for sure (as long as you stay on CBS or FOX).
So this is it. The final playoff picture look of the season:
|#1 – New England (clinched first-round bye)||#1 – Philadelphia (clinched home field advantage)|
|#2 – Pittsburgh (clinched first-round bye)||#2 – Minnesota (clinched NFC North)|
|#3 – Jacksonville (clinched AFC South)||#3 – LA Rams (clinched NFC West)|
|#4 – Kansas City (clinched AFC West)||#4 – New Orleans (lead NFC South)|
|Wild Cards:||Wild Cards:|
|#5 – Baltimore||#5 – Carolina|
|#6 – Tennessee||#6 – Atlanta|
Buffalo and the Chargers can still get into the playoffs in the AFC. Seattle can do the same in the NFC but as of right now all three teams are on the outside looking in. Every other team is eliminated.
I am going to go with a different tact for the clinching scenarios as we are going to go game-by-game here. This way you will know what game to switch to and know what’s on the line in it. I am not including ties in these scenarios. I might have just jinxed myself. OK, let’s go!
NY Jets at New England
- New England clinches home field advantage with a win OR a Pittsburgh loss
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh clinches home field advantage with a win AND a New England loss
- Cleveland clinches a ridiculously horrible season with a loss
Chicago at Minnesota
- Minnesota clinches a first-round bye with a win OR a Carolina loss OR a New Orleans win OR a LA Rams win
Cincinnati at Baltimore
- Baltimore clinches a playoff berth with a win OR a Buffalo loss OR a Tennessee loss
Jacksonville at Tennessee
- Tennessee clinches a playoff berth with a win OR (a Buffalo loss AND a LA Chargers loss)
Oakland at LA Chargers
- LA Chargers clinch a playoff berth with (a win AND a Tennessee loss AND a Buffalo loss) OR (a win AND a Tennessee loss AND a Baltimore loss)
Buffalo at Miami
- Buffalo clinches a playoff berth with (a win AND a Baltimore loss) OR (a win AND a LA Chargers loss AND a Tennessee loss)
Carolina at Atlanta
- Carolina clinches the NFC South with a win AND a New Orleans loss
- Carolina clinches a first-round bye with a win AND a New Orleans loss AND a Minnesota loss AND a LA Rams loss
- Atlanta clinches a playoff berth with a win OR a Seattle loss
New Orleans at Tampa Bay
- New Orleans clinches the NFC South with a win OR a Carolina loss
Arizona at Seattle
- Seattle clinches a playoff berth with a win AND an Atlanta loss
This should be a fun final Sunday of the season. I might even do some live-tweeting depending on my plans that day/night.
I will be doing the second bowl recap in the next day or two and then a final one before the national championship. Have a great Sunday everyone and hope you all had a great Christmas.