Glad to be back for this, the final week of this most irregular NFL season. I’ve missed a couple of weeks, due to illness (No, not COVID. I’ve been a VERY good boy.)
I think it’s fitting that the final week of the regular season is the first NFL football of 2021.
Let me explain.
The 2020 NFL season has been an absolute shitshow. The NHL, NBA, and to a lesser extent, MLB, managed to have successful shortened seasons by maintaining safety standards. The NFL set out to have a full slate of games, and they demonstrated week after week that nothing was going to stop that from happening. They postponed games, changed bye weeks, altered the schedule on the fly, forced players to play under unsafe circumstances. The league made a big show about having stringent safety standards, but their execution was uneven at best, and a mere façade at worst.
A team loses all their QBs due to COVID exposure; just have them start a practice squad WR with no NFL experience at the most important position in a dangerous sport.
A player receives a positive COVID test result on the field after pre-game warmups and after he’s gone around hugging a bunch of his former teammates; don’t cancel the game, just send the player home, try to scrub social media of any evidence, and pretend it never happened.
Week after week, ridiculous things happened, all in the name of playing a full schedule no matter the cost. On Christmas Day, the NFL achieved what I call “NFL COVID 2020 BINGO” by having a game on Friday, thus ensuring that the season would have at least one game played on every day of the week.
Some teams benefitted, while others suffered. It was nigh impossible to appreciate the games, knowing how morally bankrupt the whole operation was.
The whole year 2020 was like that. With social unrest, the rise of extreme right wing and fascist ideologies, the extremely divisive election campaign, the callous, mendacious, treasonous acts of the Republican Party at the federal and state levels, along with the ever-climbing death toll and financial ruin due to COVID, 2020 was a year unlike any other. Even when the election results were confirmed, and the nation (world) erupted in paroxysms of joy, the good feelings were short-lived, tainted by a political and social right wing that proved time and again that it could always find a lower level to which to sink.
So now, here we are, in 2021, 2020 left behind. In spite of everything that has happened, some in the Republican Party still seek to overturn the election. Mask mandates continue to be challenged and ignored. More and more people face financial hardship and ruin. COVID death rates continue to rise.
2020 might be over, but its stain remains.
So too, the mess of illegitimacy that is the NFL season continues. On this, the final week of the regular season, New Orleans, with a shot at the number one seed in the NFC, has had all its running backs declared ineligible due to COVID. Imagine New Orleans heading into the first round of the playoffs without Alvin Kamara.
The NFL isn’t going to suddenly grow a conscience. They’ve had their season, and they’re going to have their playoffs. And millions of people are going to watch and go along and say that everything is ok.
2020 may be over, but nothing is ok.
Here, briefly, is everything you need to know about Sunday’s games:
- KC has wrapped up the number one seed, and is resting starters, including and especially Patrick Mahomes.
- Buffalo and Pittsburgh, both 12-3, have clinched their respective divisions. Ben Roethlisberger will not play this week. Buffalo is currently the number two seed, and would like to keep it that way to give them a potential second home game in round two.
- Five teams sit at 10-5, fighting for four playoff spots: Tennessee, Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Indy (in order of current seeding). None of these teams play each other. Indy is currently out of the playoffs, but could still make it with help, and could even win their division with a win and a Tennessee loss.
- Green Bay, currently the number one seed, stays put with a win. If Green Bay loses, Seattle could claim the top spot by winning, but only if New Orleans loses too. New Orleans could still claim the top spot, but only if Green Bay loses and Seattle wins. Clear as mud, am I right?
- The number five seed (currently Tampa) goes on the road in round one, but will be in the enviable position of facing the as-yet-to-be-determined winner of the pathetic NFC East.
- Speaking of, the winner of Dallas/NYG will have to wait until the night game to learn their playoff fate, as a Washington loss would award said winner the division title.
Week Seventeen Picks
Winners in Bold:
Atlanta at Tampa
Atlanta can’t make the playoffs, but I expect a solid effort from them as they try to finish another disastrous season on a high note against a division rival.
Dallas at NYG
Talent-wise, Dallas has a slight advantage, but I think that Big Blue’s defense will be the difference-maker here.
NYJ at NE
Nothing to play for here, but for Gangrene, a win against this shell of former Pats’ glory is still a win.
Minnesota at Detroit
Nothing but pride on the line here. Dalvin Cook is out, due to the tragic loss of his father.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland
No Ben, plus Cleveland punches their playoff ticket with a win here. Just keep Myles Garrett from flipping out and punching Mason Rudolph's ticket.
Baltimore at Cincy
Lets all watch Baltimore beat up on Cincy; one more week for Baltimore fans to think their team has any chance in the playoffs. Personally, I would LOVE to see Cincy eliminate crybaby Harbaugh from the playoffs.
Miami at Buffalo
This could very well be the best game of the day. Miami will likely need to win to get into the playoffs, while Buffalo would very much like to keep the number two seed.
Seattle at San Fran
Even though San Fran is riddled with injuries, Seattle will play their starters with a shot at the number one seed at stake.
Arizona at LAAries
Another potentially good game, as both teams can secure themselves a postseason berth. No Jared Goff for LA, so their defense will have to shut down Kyler Murray and Co.
Jax at Indy
Indy has to win to have any shot at the playoffs. Jacksonville, having already secured the right to draft Trevor Lawrence, should give lousy coach Doug Marrone a blowout loss as his going-away present.
Tennessee at Houston
Houston has had a disastrous season, but beating Tennessee and costing them the division title (and potentially a playoff spot) would be one hell of a consolation prize.
LV at Denver
Nothing to see here.
LABolts at KC
Mahomes is taking the day off (along with numerous other starters) as KC has nothing to play for.
GB at Chicago
Chicago can still make the playoffs even if they lose, as long as they get some help, but a win guarantees their spot. If Green Bay wins, they clinch home field advantage for the NFC playoffs. I believe quite strongly that if Green Bay is the number one seed, they will be NFC Champs.
NO at Carolina
Due to Alvin Kamara’s COVID diagnosis, all of New Orleans’s running backs are out for this one due to close contact. New Orleans’s very good defense will have to be very-good enough to beat Carolina, because Kamara has carried the offense this season.
Washington at Philly
Washington wins the NFC East with a win. Philly has so many injuries, I’m surprised they can field a team. This putrid matchup between two losing teams to decide which seven-or-six-win team gets the privilege of a playoff berth, flexed into prime time, is the perfect capper to this disgustingly illegitimate NFL season. As such, it would only be fitting for Washington to lose, putting New York in the playoffs.