NFL Week 17: Regular Season Ends Today, But Only These Games Matter

Every team in the NFL is set to play today, but there are only a handful of games that truly matter.

That’s because these games have the distinction of finally completing the NFL playoff puzzle. With these final pieces set to drop into place, it will become easier to speculate which teams will advance all the way to Super Bowl XLIX.

Some will finally decide divisions. Others will which NFL teams will clinch the few remaining post-season spots. The most interesting match-up going into NFL Sunday might be the Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons.

If either team were in any other division at this stage of the season, they would already be resigned to the fact that their NFL season is over.

The NFC South has been quite the bizarre exception to practically every other division this year. With every single team performing horribly against other non-NFC South teams, it has led to a terrible showing overall. However, rules are rules, and there is no way that the entire NFC South can be sent home. One team from this troubled NFL division will host a playoff game.

Atlanta is confident it can continue its trend of dominating other teams in its division, but Carolina may be catching fire particularly late this season. No matter which team comes up on top, the winner will likely be the underdog of the NFL playoffs.

Another significant NFL game involves the San Diego Chargers. They head to the Kansas City Chiefs, who themselves are already knocked-out. This match-up is important because should the Chargers lose while the Baltimore Ravens win, it will be the latter squeaking into the NFL playoffs.

Though there are only two playoff spots open as of now, there are still quite a few divisions to be decided headed into the end of the NFL’s regular season.

Only the New England Patriots are sitting pretty at this late stage. Not only did this NFL team comfortably win its division, but the Patriots have earned both home-field advantage and a first-round bye.

The Seattle Seahawks can follow suit in the NFC by defeating the St. Louis Rams. Although the Seahawks are already through to the NFL playoffs, they’ve been working to hold off the Arizona Cardinals. If both these teams lose, the bye and home field advantage will pass to the Detroit Lions.

The Lions must beat the formidable Green Bay Packers to help that scenario along. However, Detroit will also need the Dallas Cowboys to lose.

The Cowboys game will be interesting for the simple fact that they are in a position no one predicted at the start of the 2014 NFL season: First in their division with an chance to get a first-round bye and home field advantage.

Bizarrely, this is an NFL team that might prefer to lose the home field advantage; at present, Cowboys are the only team with a perfect record away from their home stadium.

Which game are you most excited to watch and what is your playoff scenario?

[Image Credit: CBS Sports YouTube Channel]