With the Thanksgiving games thankfully in the rear view mirror, the rest of the weekend features games with extremely important playoff implications.
Here are the remaining games and what they mean:
TB (3-8) @ CAR (8-3) this game is crucial for Carolina as they prepare for their 2 meetings with the 9-2 New Orleans Saints in the next 3 weeks. If the Panthers lose this game, it will mean they MUST defeat the Saints twice to win the division. A win here (and hopefully a Saints loss in Seattle), and the Panthers will be tied for first place with the Saints.
JAC (2-9) @ CLE (4-7) this game lost a lot of meaning when the Steelers beat the Browns last week.
MIA (5-6) @ NYJ (5-6) loser of this game is almost certain to be out of the playoff race. The Wild Card spot is being contested by a lot of 5-6 teams and this weekend will shake out a few of those.
ARI (7-4) @ PHI (6-5) with Dallas winning on Thursday, the pressure is on the Eagles to get a win to stay tied with the Cowboys for another week. The NFC East is still a hotly contested division. The Cardinals are also fighting with the 49ers for second place in the NFC West.
CHI (6-5) @ MIN (2-8-1) the Bears find themselves needing to win to stay tied with the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North after the Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) lost to the Lions. This division is hotly contested with Aaron Rodgers expected to come back next week from his collarbone injury. Should the Bears lose, they will be looking at the Lions from 1.5 games back.
TEN (5-6) @ IND (7-4) the Colts have looked bad in the last two games, against the hot defenses of the Cardinals and the Rams. The Titans defense could make it three in a row without Reggie Wayne (out for the season) for Andrew Luck to use for 3rd down completions. Colts still lead the division, but if they keep on losing games, the Titans could make up some ground with this game!
STL (5-6) @ SF (7-4) the Rams have looked amazing after their defense pounded the Bears and the Colts in consecutive games. Tavon Austin has shown he was worth a high draft pick as both a kick returner and a receiver. A victory by St. Louis could hurt the 49ers chance at the Wild Card.
ATL (2-9) @ BUF (4-7) this game doesn’t mean a whole lot.
DEN (9-2) @ KC (9-2) this game is not playoff related in any way whatsoever… said no NFL follower ever this year. This one is for home field advantage, Division and Wild Card for the AFC. The winner of this game could hold on and take home field for the entire playoffs in the AFC. The loser will most likely have the Wild Card. No pressure Alex Smith.
CIN (7-4) @ SD (5-6) The Bengals need this game. So do the Chargers. Who needs it more? The winner, apparently. If the Bengals can’t win this one, they risk allowing the 6-6 Ravens to creep back into competition for the Division.
NYG (4-7) @ WAS (3-8) the Giants still have a chance to win their way into the Wild Card and beyond. It really depends on what they do this weekend. The Redskins don’t really have anything to play for in this game.
Monday Night Football
NO (9-2) @ SEA (10-1) in a game that could have home field advantage implications. The number 1 seed is probably playing in this game. The Seahawks are reeling from 2 suspensions to their secondary for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That could make Drew Brees one very prolific man against a defense that has kept most passers in check.