Saturday, December 29, 2007

Yay! It's Week 17!

After 16 weeks, we’ve finally reached the end of the regular season. It couldn’t get here soon enough, and honestly, it can’t be over soon enough either, with the playoffs in plain view now.

Most of the playoff spots are secured, and we know who’s going to have the #1 draft pick, but there’s still plenty to play for - for some - in Week 17.

The biggest storyline for this weekend is whether or not the Patriots will beat the Giants at the Meadowlands to finish a perfect regular season.

With both teams having locked up their playoff positions, it’s unknown how much the starters will play a role, or if they should, but Tom Coughlin has said he plans to play his starters, and play to win.

As for the Patriots, we’ll see, literally, because there’s no way around it. The game will be simulcast on both CBS and NBC, and you can bet ESPN will be providing score updates on a regular basis.

Hopefully it’ll be worth all the hype that it’s getting. New England doesn’t really stand to gain much from winning, outside of remaining unbeaten. The same goes for New York, who’ll just have the satisfaction of ending New England’s chances at history.

There’s certainly a lot that could be lost though, so we’ll see how long Coughlin will keep his word, and if Bill Belichick bothers to keep Brady in for more than a quarter, or turns the glorious pursuit of history over to Matt Cassel and the rest of his second-teamers with plenty of time left on the clock.

There are only two playoff spots to be decided, and both are the #6 seeds in each conference.

In the AFC, Cleveland hosts San Francisco and Tennessee goes to Indianapolis, with the Browns and Titans both at 9-6.

If Tennessee wins, they’re in, and there’s a good chance that they could do it, considering the Colts have zero to play for, and won’t play Peyton Manning for more than a half, at most.

First up, though, is the Browns’ matchup with the 49ers. Cleveland must beat the hapless ‘Niners, who will be on starting QB #4, with Chris Weinke getting duties under center on Sunday afternoon, in order to have a chance at a playoff spot going into the evening. Then it’ll be up to the Titans to make or break their destiny.

In the NFC, the #6 seed comes down to Washington and Minnesota, both at 8-7.

If Washington beats Dallas, then they’re into the postseason at 9-7. The Cowboys are in much the same boat as the Colts (and for that matter, the Patriots and Giants too) are - they don’t need the win, and won’t really gain anything from keeping their starters in for longer than they need to.

Minnesota will hope that the Cowboys somehow do get the W, so that they’ll still have a chance at the postseason heading into their late afternoon clash with the Broncos in Denver. The Broncos don’t really have anything to play for besides pride, as they’ve had a disappointing year, but won’t hand a victory to the Vikings.

There’s sure to be some drama in the next 30-odd hours, but then again, with several teams with something to play for going up against teams with little or nothing to play for, then things could very well be just a little anti-climactic.

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