Since the college regular season is over, the NFL will scrap the Thursday night game and play a tripleheader on Saturday followed by a dozen Sunday games and the Packers-Vikings on Monday night.
The Sunday night game between the Chiefs and Bears is one of the most lackluster games of the weekend because the Chiefs are likely locked into the third seed in the AFC with Baltimore and New England likely to get the first two.
The premier Sunday game is the late afternoon game featuring Dallas at Philadelphia. The only other late game on Fox is Arizona at Seattle so the Cowboys-Eagles will be shown in every NFL market east of Denver.
The NFC battle for the top seed is wide open with four teams – 49ers, Packers, Seahawks and Saints — tied at 11-3 with two games left. Eight teams are in the playoffs and three more, the Texans, Cowboys and Vikings, can clinch this weekend.
Game of the week: The Cowboys go to Philadelphia with the NFC East division lead on the line with both teams at 7-7. Dallas clinched the division title with a win while the Eagles won’t clinch with a win. They would still need to beat the Giants in their finale or have Dallas lose to Washington in their finale. The game is more important to Dallas because Jason Garrett could lose his job if the Cowboys lose and don’t make the playoffs.
Game of the weak: The 1-13 Bengals, who now are likely to get the first pick, go to the 3-11 Dolphins, who supposed were tanking the season but have a chance to win their fourth game. Look for a lot of empty seats in Miami for this week.
What to look for this weekend:
—The 49ers, who have a shot at the top seed, will host the disappointing 8-6 Rams, who need a win to keep their flicking playoff hopes alive. They need to win their final two and have Minnesota lose their final two for them to make the playoffs so they are probably out of it even if they win. Meanwhile, the 49ers are battling the Seahawks, who are expected to beat Arizona, for the division title. The Seahawks and 49ers play next week at Seattle to conclude their seasons.
—There is not likely much at stake when the Bills play at New England. The Bills are likely to be the wild card team and the Patriots likely to be the second seed regardless of what happens in this game. But it would be a big statement game for the Bills to show they are contenders if they upset the Patriots and raise more questions about whether the Patriots are as good as their record. Tom Brady has a 31-3 record against the Bills.
—Green Bay, with a one game lead on the Vikings, can clinch the division title with a Monday night victory over the Vikings. Minnesota has the home field advantage but there are usually a lot of Packer fans at Vikings games. And Kirk Cousins isn’t noted for playing well in prime time.
—Since the NFL started its current playoff format, at least four teams that didn’t make the playoffs the previous year have made it. That is likely to continue because three teams that didn’t make it last year, the Bills, Packers and 49ers, have clinched and Minnesota and/or Pittsburgh have a shot at being the fourth team.
—The NFL has a lot of young guns who are emerging to replace players like Super Bowl winners Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger as the next generation of top quarterbacks. In 183 of the league’s 224 games this year, at least one quarterback at 27 or younger has started. The torch is being passed to the next generation.