By Danny Cox
Well, this is the final week of the 2012 NFL season, and not all teams are still alive for the playoffs, but there is a bit of work still to be done. For the AFC side of things, all that’s left to take care of is some seeding and knowing where all the teams will stand. Over in the NFC, there are still three teams alive that aren’t technically in the playoffs and could end up in once the weekend is over.
It’s about to get really fun.
Bye Weeks: All bye weeks are done
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have nothing to lose here, but also nothing to gain. They’ve already won home-field advantage and a first-round bye so resting players is most likely what will happen. Tampa Bay has had an up-and-down season, but should be able to get a win here against the benchwarmers for the Falcons.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Neither team has much of anything going for them, but the circus that is the New York Jets is what will be on display here. Will Tim Tebow get to play? Are we seeing the last of Rex Ryan’s anger in green and white?
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens can still jump up into the third seed with a victory and New England Patriots’ loss. Cincinnati is locked into their spot and can’t lose or gain anything. Neither team is going to play too hard here, nor will their key players spend a lot of time on the field. Baltimore will end up putting the slightest bit of extra effort forth.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Chicago can get into the playoffs, and they don’t need much help to do so. All they need is to beat the Lions and hope that Minnesota loses or ties with the Packers. Green Bay is playing for a first-round bye so that won’t be easy. Detroit has disappointed on almost every single level throughout this season.
Except for you, Megatron.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Yeah, then there’s this game.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck and the Colts are miraculously in the playoffs, but it was well-earned and much deserved. The Texans still need to win this game in order to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is going to be a good one.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Carolina has been on a tear as of late, but then again, so have the New Orleans Saints. Many thought that Sean Payton may not be back in black and gold ever again, but now he’s going to be the highest paid coach in the entire NFL. Expect a little fire lit behind the Saints this week as they finish the season out even.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
The defending Super Bowl champions need to win here and get a lot of help from other teams to get into the playoffs. All they can do though is win their game as the rest is out of their control. Philly is just ready for this abomination of a season to be over, and Michael Vick will lead them out, but most likely not in style.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland got a good one from the Steelers earlier this season, but Big Ben wasn’t playing in that one. Neither team is in the playoffs, but Pittsburgh isn’t looking to give the Browns their first season sweep of the Steelers in almost two decades.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
A season of disappointment for both teams will end with the exact same opponent with which they started the season. In that game, the Chargers prevailed after countless mistakes by the Raiders, and the same will likely happen again.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
The NFC West crown, home-field advantage, and a first-round bye are all up for grabs for the 49ers in this game. They’re not going to just sit back and let the Cardinals be the team they were in the first four weeks of the season. Expect San Francisco to come at this game with all their might and everything they have.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Like the Niners, Seattle has a lot riding on this game. Seattle could end up as the NFC West champions and even get a first-round bye. They’ll need some help for both, but the Seahawks are not going to let the Rams stand in their possible path.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Here is the game where both teams have the most to gain or lose. Green Bay can get a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win and some help. Minnesota can guarantee a playoff spot by winning even though they could still get in with a loss. Still, a win keeps their destiny determined for them.
Oh yeah, and one team desperately wants Adrian Peterson to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, and one team doesn’t. Guess who is who.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
New England is still playing for a first-round bye and/or home-field advantage. Chances are that Tom Brady isn’t looking to allow the Dolphins to ruin either of those chances. A little help is needed for both, but the Pats will help themselves by getting the win.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Denver needs the victory and a Texans’ loss for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. On the other hand, Kansas City is awful.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Here is yet another game where both teams have a lot to lose or gain. This is the classic “win and you’re in, lose and go home” situation game. Winner of this game takes the NFC East, and it’s a great way to close out the season. Kind of a toss-up game, but I’m giving the nod to RG3 and the Skins.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.