The NFL's regional programming rules are famously byzantine, but luckily the506.com cuts through the bullshit for you, providing weekly maps that allow us to answer the only question that really matters: Which fans are the most screwed this Sunday?
Week 16 winner: Ottumwa, Iowa.
Ottumwa narrowly avoided "victory" in Week 14, but wasn't so lucky this week. The city of 25,000, home to the arcade game mecca Twin Galaxies that you may have seen in The King of Kong, appears to be the only place in Iowa regularly included in either the Kansas City or St. Louis markets. This, for obvious reasons, has sucked. On to the maps!
[Update: The Los Angeles market has switched from Chargers-Jets to Bengals-Steelers.]
Oh Jesus. Eight games on CBS this week, with literally one good matchup (Bengals-Steelers). Other than that, you have three games between sub-.500 teams (Chargers-Jets, Raiders-Panthers, Bills-Dolphins), and four games where a team that's clinched or essentially clinched a playoff spot is heavily favored (Titans-Packers, Patriots-Jaguars, Colts-Chiefs, Browns-Broncos). Ottumwa, in southeast Iowa, gets to watch the Colts beat up on the 2-12 Chiefs. If they somehow lose? The Steelers' loss last week means they're almost a lock to clinch a wild card spot anyways.
Now move on from this terrible map and never speak of this again.
Now we're talking. Saints-Cowboys and Redskins-Eagles—already good games on paper—could decide the NFC East. Minnesota needs a big upset against the Texans to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, with Adrian Peterson's run at history going up against the NFL's 5th-ranked rushing defense. There's always one crappy game in the bunch though, as Ottumwa, and no one else in Iowa, is forced to watch Rams-Buccaneers.
Giants-Ravens might be the schadenfreude game of the year. Baltimore has dropped its last three to give the Bengals a fighting chance to win the AFC North. The Giants have gone 2-3 in their last five to drop to third in the NFC East. The Giants need a win to stay alive, the Ravens need a win to reclaim any semblance of momentum heading into the playoffs. One of these teams will fail to accomplish this goal, and it will be awesome.
Bears-Cardinals isn't quite a bad matchup—it's pretty much a must-win for Chicago—but Ottumwa's clearly getting hosed on this one.