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Sunday, December 12, 2004 

Games of the Day

Plenty of games with playoff implications, and a lot of 4pm (East Coast time) starts to allow for Christmas shopping!

Early Games

Seattle's meltdown in the final two minutes Monday night dropped them into a tie with St. Louis, while Minnesota lost to Chicago and stayed tied with Green Bay. Both teams should be fired up, but Minnesota has the edge today. They have too many stars on offense, and Seattle's defense has been pedestrian at best lately. If they can't stop Vinny Testaverde, how's Duante Culpepper going to do? The Seahawks are just one game ahead of 6 teams who are at 5-7, so a loss today could ruin their holiday plans.

Late Games

The Jets travel to Pittsburgh today looking to stop Big Ben. New York is unlikely to clinch a playoff spot today, as they need a win plus some help that includes a Denver loss at home against Miami (don't count on it). Pittsburgh may have already clinched their division by game time if the Giants knock off the Ravens in one of the early games. Both teams have some key contributers missing (John Abraham for the Jets, Plaxico Burress, Kendrell Bell, and Chad Scott for the Steelers), but the Jets defense is on the spot today. They have quietly held opponents to the fewest points of any team in the league (175), partially due to their ground control offense. The Jets rolled over the Texans last week but had several close calls before that; and the Steelers barely survived against the Jags.

San Diego won again last week, but they'll need a win against Tampa Bay today to stay 2 games ahead of Denver. Tampa rolled over Atlanta last week, and are in the thick of the NFC wild-card race. The Bucs are more desparate, and the Chargers are due for a letdown.

Two of the last three NFC champions face off in Carolina as the Rams visit the Panthers. Carolina is also 5-7, and would be tied for a playoff spot with a win today. It's hard to get that excited about either team, but St. Louis didn't exactly set the world afire last week against an awful San Francisco team. The reports of the Panthers demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated, and I wouldn't want to face them in the playoffs.

Prime Time

Don't bother clearing your schedule for these games. Philadelphia has clinched everything except home field, and they have a 2 game lead over Atlanta in that race. Last week's win by Washington was nice, but look at their opposition. Anything is possible in the NFL, but the only way the Eagles lose is if they don't show up, and that won't be very entertaining to watch.

As for Monday night, this game might convince the league to radically change the Monday night TV package - Kansas City and Tennessee are both 4-8 and going nowhere this year.

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