It's Almost Over: Your NFL Early Games Viewing Guide

The season continues its slow spiral down. Only three Sundays remain of the regular season. This is one of them and it's already here, so really there's only two. And the last week is kind of bullshit anyway with teams sitting guys. So, if you want to get technical-season's over.

New York Giants at Atlanta (FOX): Victor Cruz will be wearing these cleats today, in honor of one of the child victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. Jack Pinto's family apparently told Victor Cruz that they had considered burying Jack in Cruz's number 80 jersey. Which is just about one of the saddest and weirdest things I've read. Moving on....Part of the reason it seems every single person talking about football thinks that Atlanta and its 11-2 record is soft is because of last year's loss to the Giants in the playoffs. They got smoked. They got smoked in a manner that seems habitual. "Matt Ryan and Mike Smith never won anything," is something you hear often. Never mind that they lost to the eventual Super Bowl winners. "You need to win at least one more time—play in two playoff games—so we can see progress!" While we have to wait a few weeks for that particular story line to play out, we at least have the revenge factor. Atlanta is a pass-heavy team these days—289 yards of its 376 total yards per game come via the pass—and that may put a damper on the revenge angle, what with the Giants pass rush and penchant for forcing turnovers this year.

Minnesota at St. Louis (FOX): First paragraph of the first article I read on this one:

The popular NBC television show Heroes featured a simple-yet-effective phrase as its tagline: "Save the cheerleader, save the world."

The formula for beating the Minnesota Vikings is similarly straightforward: stop Adrian Peterson, beat the Vikings.

Weirdly specific and dated pop culture reference, but I'll allow it.

Jacksonville at Miami (CBS): Unless you live in Florida, you have no reason to see this game. If you have the Sunday Ticket, it's on channel 711, just skip right over it. Otherwise you might see Paul Posluszny break down and cry and who wants that on an otherwise relaxing Sunday afternoon?

"Even though it's late in the season, horrible record, we are trying to build something special and carry some positive momentum into the offseason," linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We are at the most difficult point of the year: losing, bad record, no playoffs. But we still have to do things right because eventually, someday soon, this organization will be a playoff team and we've got to start putting those building blocks together sooner rather than later."

[Gently, pityingly punches Posluszny on chin.]

Green Bay at Chicago (FOX): Chicago had the world in the palm of its hand, and then boom. Jay Cutler gets concussed, the defense is all beat up and Adrian Peterson walks into town. Green Bay has been quietly putting a run together and can win the NFC North outright with a win today. Cutler is expected to play and the defense will be getting Tim Jennings and his eight interceptions back. So that's good. Biggest news of the weekend, though, is that Robbie Gould is out for the year with a calf injury. He is replaced by Olllllllllllllllinnnndo Mare! What a name.

Washington at Cleveland (FOX): The Browns have won three games in a row—wins against Charlie Batch's Steelers, the Raiders and the Chiefs—and have completely lost their minds. Trent Richardson:

"I don't want to override my boundaries with, 'We're the best team,' or say stuff like that, but we're putting something together here and it's going to be beautiful," said Richardson, who was taken No. 3 overall in this year's draft — one spot after Griffin. "We haven't arrived yet, but we're just trying to win to get to the next level and be an elite team."

Great. If Robert Griffin III can play, you'll lose. If he can't you might not lose.

Denver at Baltimore (CBS): These are your current three and four seeds in the AFC playoff picture, with Denver holding a one game advantage over the Ravens. Baltimore has gotten the shit end of the stick these past two weeks, losing on a last second field goal to the Steelers and in overtime to the Redskins. But! Ray Lewis might be back. And maybe Terrell Suggs, too. Also relevant: The Ravens fired Cam Cameron and replaced him with the man who not only served as one of Peyton Manning's closest friends/mentors for 10 years in Indianapolis but, more importantly, has the world's most expressive face without ever moving a muscle.

Indianapolis at Houston (CBS): Despite being absolutely demolished by the Patriots on Monday, the Texans still have the best record in the AFC and can lock up the division with a win against the Colts today. Barring some crazy change in fortune, the Indianapolis Colts look like they will be going to the playoffs this year after winning just two games last year. The Colts have already won nine games this year, but only one of those wins has been by more than seven points. So, depending on your perspective, the Colts are either charmed, or doomed for some rotten Luck. Speaking of, he's been a bit not-so-good of late.

He's completed less than 50 percent of his passes in back-to-back games and has 10 interceptions over the past five, including two last week while throwing for 196 yards — his second-lowest total of the season.

Luck has been sacked 10 times in the last three games, raising his total to 32 — tied for third-most in the league entering Week 15.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (FOX): When last we saw the Buccaneers, they were losing at the last second to the hapless Eagles. At one point this year, it seemed like Tampa Bay was putting together a nice run, but they've been the anti-Colts recently. They've dropped three straight by a combined 11 points. Now, they need a lot of help to make the playoffs.

Tampa Bay is two games behind wild-card leaders Seattle and Chicago and has four other teams in front of it as well. The Bucs have made matters worse by dropping six of nine conference games.

As for the Saints? They are directly behind the Buccaneers. So, maybe just regroup and get 'em next year.

What You're Watching

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Via The 506. CBS:

It's Almost Over: Your NFL Early Games Viewing Guide

FOX:

It's Almost Over: Your NFL Early Games Viewing Guide