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After Christmas gave us the gift of entertaining football, the NFL has resolved to give us games that will be huge. The playoffs have already begun for some teams clinging for the opportunity to extend their season into the playoffs.
With the end of the calendar approaching, people usually make New Year’s resolutions to (attempt to) better themselves in the coming year. We show what cliche New Year’s Resolution applies to each game in the Week 17 edition of the Student of the Game’s Matchup Mania.
Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals – “Always be at your best – no matter how easy someone else may have it”.
It is the Monday night game, but this battle is a huge one for playoff seeding. With the Kansas City Chiefs remaining schedule being less than mediocre – facing their remaining AFC West rivals in Denver and Las Vegas – the Bills must battle the conference Champion Bengals and the Patriots in the closing weeks to maintain their tiebreaker advantage for the bye week in the playoffs.
If they can do that, beating the Chiefs will become easier in Buffalo in January than playing in Arrowhead Stadium (assuming Buffalo makes it back to the conference Championship.) But the Bengals are also doing their part to host as many games in Cincinnati as possible.
Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
From an epic battle among one conference’s best to a toilet bowl featuring some of the league’s worst. The chances that a player in the remaining slate of college bowl games could be a future starter for either of these losing-record teams is quite high. However, in an unfortunate series of events known as the NFC South, this trash heap of a game determines a potential playoff contender. And by contender I mean sacrificial division “winner” hosting a first round trip for playoff bonus money.
Bottom line: we technically can’t count the immortal Tom Brady out quite yet.
Cleveland Browns vs. Commanders “Never give up and keep chasing your dreams”
While the playoff picture in the NFC is a cluster of teams lining up like 20-somethings trying to get into a club on New Year’s Eve, this right here is the doorman of a game. Before anyone else can move in, the Commanders must lose.
If Washington wins out, quarterback Taylor Heinicke and the squad will be celebrating with a lot more than beer. And if they beat Deshaun Watson and Cleveland, chances are that a large portion of the football world will cheer with them.