Taking a look ahead: NFL Week 17

Looking ahead to the final day of the NFL’s 2017 regular season:

1. New Year’s Eve won’t be Football Night in America The NFL won’t close the regular season with a prime time game on New Year’s Eve because it got unlucky this year. They try to schedule good matchups for the season finales. Like Dallas-Philadelphia and Carolina-Atlanta. But it turns out Dallas is out of the playoffs and Philadelphia has nailed down the top seed so nothing is at stake. And nothing may be stake when Carolina plays Atlanta if Seattle loses to Arizona and the Saints beat the Bucs. So the NFL decided to pass on Sunday night and flexed games so playoff contenders play at the same time.

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Taking a look back: NFL Week 16

Looking back on Week 16 in the NFL:

1. The 16th week of the season brought the playoff picture into focus and left the NFL without a good enough matchup the final week for a prime time Sunday night game. So the regular season will end with the second games when the 12 playoff spots will be set. In the AFC, the four seeds are set with the Ravens and Titans needing victories in final week to clinch wild card spots. The Bills and Chargers need wins and help. In the NFC, only one final spot is open. Atlanta gets a spot with a victory over Carolina while the Seahawks sneak in if they beat Arizona at home and the Falcons lose.

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Can the Jaguars’ “Trashman” continue to pick them up?

Just three weeks ago, when the San Francisco 49ers were 1-10, their Christmas Eve matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars seemed likely to attract little intention.

But now it is suddenly an intriguing matchup between two young quarterbacks who’ve been on fire the last three weeks.

Jimmy Garoppolo has led the 49ers to three consecutive victories since taking over as quarterback and now is being hailed as the team’s franchise quarterback of the future.

But the victories were against the Bears, Texans and Titans. The Jaguars defense, the best in the league, will present him with his toughest challenge yet.

While Jimmy G is trying to establish his reputation, Blake Bortles of the Jaguars is trying to change his reputation.

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Taking a look ahead: NFL Week 16

1..   Going into the second to the last week, five teams have clinched playoff berths (Philadelphia, New England, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Jacksonville) and four (Eagles, Patriots, Steelers and Vikings) have clinched division titles and one (Eagles) has clinched a first round bye. Two more AFC teams (Jaguars and Chiefs) can clinch division titles with a win  Christmas Eve. The Eagles can clinch top seed in the NFC with a win while the Rams can clinch a division title and the Saints, Falcons and Panthers can clinch NFC playoff berths with wins. Baltimore’s win Saturday night means they can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over Cincinnati in its season finale. Minnesota’s victory over Green Bay Saturday night means they can clinch a bye Sunday if Carolina loses to Tampa Bay.

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Taking a look back: NFL Week 15

A look back at Week 15 in the NFL:

1. The highlight of the weekend was New England’s 27-24 victory over Pittsburgh in the best game of the season and the highest rated TV game of the year. It shows the fans are still attracted to a great matchup, but the NFL doesn’t have enough good matchups and good teams this year as overall ratings decline. Even the bad things about the game – Pittsburgh’s coaching mistakes and another controversial no catch ruling — created more talk and buzz after the game. The biggest consequence about the game is that the Patriots now will win the No. 1 seed and have home field advantage in the playoffs if they win their last two. If the Steelers and Patriots wind up in the AFC title game, it will be the most hyped game of the year.

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