Welp. This is it. The last week of the regular season. It seems like only a year ago we were lamenting the end of the 2011 regular season. The more things change, the more Rex Ryan keeps on crying and saying weird things like "mad as a hornet" and "no way in heck."
Tampa Bay at Atlanta (FOX): Just go right ahead and skip over this one:
Win or lose, the Atlanta Falcons will finish the season with the NFC's best record.
The Falcons will try to match a team record for wins and finish 8-0 at home on Sunday when they close out the regular season against a free-falling Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that will miss the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year.
New York Jets at Buffalo (CBS): Here's a headline from the summer you may have just ignored because, come on, it's only August 31, 2012: McElroy gets Jets' only preseason TD
Greg McElroy accomplished more in one half than Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow did in three games.
Still, there's no quarterback controversy with the New York Jets.
McElroy became the first quarterback to lead the Jets into the end zone this preseason in a 28-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
[Bathes in own tears.]
Baltimore at Cincinnati (CBS): It's possible we get to watch this game all over again next week, which would mean three Baltimore-Cincinnati games in one year, which would be the record for most cut-rate city match ups in one year. There are many other possible and frankly more likely scenarios, but then I wouldn't be able to take unnecessary pot shots at millions based solely on geography. If we really want to think about a three-peat, the Bengals would have to lose—entirely possibly, they were destroyed 44-13 and gave up 430 total yards in the last meeting—and the Patriots must also lose to the Dolphins. So...not happening.
Chicago at Detroit (FOX): Once the Bears dispose of the Detroit Carrion, they will turn to Green Bay and Minnesota and hope the Packers win, allowing the Bears to saunter into the playoffs. We pause here again to mention that the Bears began the year 7-1 and are now playing the "hope our bitter rival wins so we can keep playing" game. As for the Lions, it took 364 days but thanks to Detroit and it's courage in the face of a losing season, we have our sentence of the year:
They're hoping to snap their longest skid since going 0-16 in 2008.
Jacksonville at Tennessee (CBS):
Houston at Indianapolis (CBS): The Colts can't improve their position one way or the other today, so it's kind of the perfect game for Chuck Pagano to resume coaching. All the intensity and excitement—division rival, Houston playing for the top AFC seed—without the crash. In the ultimately meaningless, yet fun to talk about department, J.J. Watt is two sacks away from the single season sack record and is lobbying hard for NFL MVP. He's also doing cool stuff with kids from Newtown, CT which makes him a good guy.
Carolina at New Orleans (FOX): Drew Brees needs 219 yards to have three years of 5,000 yards passing. He would be the only player to have achieved such a feat (yet) in NFL history. He's also thrown for 39 touchdowns this year—he's had a pretty tremendous year for the Saints but they had a rough start to the year so no one cares. The Panthers also had a rough start and have turned it around of late with Cam Newton looking like a different quarterback the second half of the season. He's thrown 14 touchdowns with only three interceptions over the last eight games compared to five touchdowns and eight picks in the first seven games of the year. This is a longwinded way of saying: irrelevant game.
Philadelphia at New York Giants (FOX): If the Giants want to make the playoffs they need to beat the Eagles and then hope half the NFC loses. Of course, half of the NFC will necessarily lose—the devil is always in the details. Interesting note: the Eagles have kind of owned the Giants of late and there is a really weird and not randomly arbitrary at all reason for that: Plaxico Burress shooting himself in his (not sweat, goddammit!) pants.
This series has decidedly been in favor of Philadelphia since former New York receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself Nov. 28, 2008. The Giants had won six of eight over the Eagles including playoffs prior to that incident before losing eight of the next nine, suffering a 19-17 defeat Sept. 30.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (CBS): The Browns are sure about one thing: they don't know what to do with Brandon Weeden. Head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert appear destined for the Black Monday chopping block and the Browns are concerned that whatever sad sack they get to come in and coach and general manage this franchise won't want to deal with Weeden. But take heart, Browns fans, your offensive coordinator—who, it would appear shares a name with former Minnesota Vikings empty shirt and person hardly deserving of further employment in the NFL, Brad Childress—thinks he's going to be gangbusters next year. Also, veteran tight end Ben Watson said something funny.
"It definitely could be my last game as a Brown, but I hope it's not," he said. "I've really enjoyed my time here. One thing I'll regret is that we weren't able to win here. . . . At the same time, you can't stay in one place forever.