Yes, folks, since the Beloved Purple won't be taking to the field until Monday night, today is one of those Sundays that you can just sit back, tune the television to one channel, and just let the awesomeness of the Red Zone Channel overwhelm you. We're at Week 15 of the regular season, and while only one NFL team has clinched a post-season spot to this point, we're to the point where a lot of things are going to start falling into place here. The fifteen NFL games that will take place today are being touted as the best week of regular season football we're going to get this year, so let's take a look at what's being offered up.
We'll start in the AFC, where the only team with a guaranteed playoff berth thus far resides. The New England Patriots have punched their ticket, and can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they can somehow knock off the Matt Flynn Experience™ in the Sunday Night game, and the New York Jets lose to or tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Should the Patriots tie. . .not bloody likely. . .they can still get home field with a Jets loss.)
The Steelers can clinch a playoff spot with a win, and can clinch the AFC North with a win and a couple of different scenarios involving the "strength of victory" tiebreaker. Since it's about 5 AM when I'm typing this, I don't have the desire at this point in time to figure all of that out. If the Steelers lose to the Jets today, they can still clinch a playoff spot if the Indianapolis Colts lose and the Kansas City Chiefs lose.
In the AFC South, it's simple. . .if the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Indianapolis Colts, they win the AFC South.
The Jets can clinch a playoff spot today if they win, the Miami Dolphins lose or tie, the Colts lose or tie and the Chiefs lose or tie. The Baltimore Ravens can clinch a playoff spot today through much the same scenario. . .though, in their case, a Chiefs' tie doesn't do them any good. They need Kansas City to lose.
Over in the NFC, one team is thisclose to wrapping up a spot, that being the Atlanta Falcons. A win gets the Falcons in, no questions asked. If the Falcons lose today, they still get in if the Giants, Bears, or Packers lose. A loss by any of those three teams gets the Falcons into the post-season.
We've been over the Bears' playoff scenario. . .if they beat Minnesota on Monday night, they will win the NFC North (because the Packers are going to get throttled by New England tonight).
The New Orleans Saints can also assure themselves of a playoff spot today in a couple of different ways. If they win and can get a loss out of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers AND a loss from either the Giants, Bears, or Packers, the Saints will be back in the post-season.
Even the New York Giants can clinch a playoff spot if they win AND the Bears lose or tie AND the Packers lose AND the Giants manage to clinch the ever-confusing strength of victory tiebreaker over Tampa Bay.
And those are basically all the scenarios for today. Here's the full slate of NFL Week 15 action.
Noon Central kickoffs
New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Kansas City Chiefs at St. Louis Rams
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
3:15 PM Central kickoffs
7:20 PM Central kickoff
Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots
7:30 PM Central Monday kickoff
And there you have it, folks. . .fire up the Red Zone Channel, get yourself some hot chocolate, and just relax.