NFL Week 17: What to Watch

By: Thomas Capo
Posted: January 2, 2021

Week 17: Clinch time.  Plenty of playoff slots and two divisions left to lock up in week seventeen

Here are your can’t-miss matchups:

Steelers at Browns: Sunday, 1.3 1:00 pm ET

Pittsburgh is resting starters.  Cleveland is in the midst of a Covid outbreak. Who wins?

What to watch for:  This, quite frankly, might be an awful game.  The Steelers can’t catch the Bills for the number two seed, and without a bye on the line, why bother?  They’re in rest mode, looking forward to wildcard weekend.  The Browns, despite that 10-5 record, NEED to win to ensure a playoff berth.  The only problem is that Cleveland is in the midst of a Covid-19 outbreak and their facilities are closed for contact tracing.  A slew of wide receivers were on the Covid-Reserve list, but have now been designated for practice, so perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope.  

Dolphins at Bills: Sunday, 1.3 1:00 pm ET

No Fitz-Magic.  A wildcard spot on the line.  Can Miami win up north?

What to watch for: Tua under pressure.  The Bills, despite being locked into the number two seed won’t be taking it too easy on Miami this weekend for two reasons.  First, they’ll want to maintain the great momentum they have after clinching their first AFC East championship in a quarter century.  Losing in week seventeen would be a downer.  Second, the Bills want to stamp their authority on the division.  To do that, a solid home win over Miami that keeps them out of the playoffs would be just the ticket.  Add that to temps in the low thirties and a chance of snow in Buffalo and Miami’s path to the postseason is looking a little rough.  Can the rookie who’s shown promise, but has been pulled in and out of the fire in critical situations, stand up and put the Dolphins on his back?  

Packers at Bears: Sunday, 1.3 4:25 pm ET

How motivated is Green Bay here?

What to watch for:  The Pack, despite the best record in the NFC and a head-to-head win over the Saints, aren’t out of the woods just yet.  A Green Bay loss opens the door to a wide range of scenarios for that top seed and the accompanying bye week.  The Seahawks and Saints both have what should be “gimme” games on Sunday, so Green Bay needs to go on the road at Soldier field, against a suddenly hot Chicago squad, and take care of business.  If they lose, not only are the Bears in, but Green Bay could drop out of the one seed in two of the three scenarios, depending on what happens with the two eleven win teams.  Nobody wants to see that. Especially Aaron Rodgers.  It was a nice late season push for Chicago, but I’m thinking it ends here.  

Football Team at Eagles: Sunday, 1.3 8:20 pm ET 

It’s the last game of the regular season.

What to watch for: If Washington wins on the road in Philly, they’ll own the NFC East at 7-9.  If the Eagles play spoiler, the winner of the Dallas- New York game earlier in the day gets to celebrate the worst division title in NFL history.  History could be made if the Giants win and take the division at 6-10, no team has ever won a division with that record.  But don’t worry, we get an NFL record either way. No team to start the year 2-7 has ever made the playoffs. Never.  Ever. Two-hundred-fifty-eight teams have started off that badly.  Zero have made the playoffs.  Since the Giants, Cowboys and Football Team all started off that poorly, no matter who wins the NFC East, the champ will put one in the win column and make history.  2020 is wack, y’all.  

For more NFL thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: Associated Press Images

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