Guest Author - Tara O´Gorman
With just one week left in the regular season, many division titles and playoff spots are still up for grabs.
In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers (North) and Tennessee Titans (South) are the only teams who have already clinched their divisions, with Tennessee holding homefield advantage. Titan’s quarterback Vince Young returns Sunday after a long-term injury and is slated to play, although he will not start against Indianapolis. The Colts earned a wildcard, but no other team in the AFC can rest comfortably yet.
Miami and New England are still battling for the AFC East division title, while Denver and San Diego are still vying for the AFC West. The two will face off Sunday, with the winner clinching the East and the loser heading home, eliminated from playoff contention. The Baltimore Ravens are still in the running for a playoff bid, with a 10-5 record heading into week 17 against 5-10 Jacksonville.
The NFC also awaits the end of several games this week to determine playoff position. The comeback-kid Atlanta Falcons (NFC South) have clinched a berth for the postseason, after 2007’s dismal 4-12 finish. The Carolina Panthers have also made it to the playoffs and will play this weekend at the New Orleans Saints in a game that will determine who wins the NFC South.
Atlanta must beat the Rams and the Saints must defeat Carolina for the Falcons to win the division. Defensive End Jamaal Anderson is listed as ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game, due to an ankle injury.
The Arizona Cardinals (NFC West) and New York Giants (East) have both clinched their divisions, with the Giants earning homefield advantage for the postseason.
The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears also finish the season with the NFC North on the line. The Vikings host the Giants, while the Bears travel to Houston.
The Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams, and Cincinnati Bengals end their seasons with heavy losses. Detroit plays the Packers this week, in Green Bay, hoping to manage what would be their only win this season. The Lions are currently 0-15.
San Francisco coach Mike Singletary celebrated Christmas this week with a (still-unconfirmed) contract extension, reportedly to be made public after Sunday’s game. Current NFL policy does not allow for interim coaches to be given permanent status during the regular season, but ‘reports’ have been circulating that the deal is all-but-done.