The final round of the NFL regular season is this weekend, with plenty still up for grabs. The AFC North, AFC West and NFC East divisional winners are yet to be determined, along with numerous playoff spots. A comprehensive look at the playoff scenarios can be viewed at the NFL.com website. So far the following post-season positions have been clinched:
New England – AFC East and a first-round bye
Houston – AFC South
Baltimore – playoff spot
Pittsburgh – playoff spot
Green Bay – NFC North and home-field advantage
San Francisco – NFC West
New Orleans – NFC South
Detroit – playoff spot
Atlanta – playoff spot
The final round of the season offers some mouth-watering fixtures, with some of the highlights discussed below.
Dallas @ NY Giants
The two sides currently lead the NFC East, both with an 8-7 record. The victor will win the NFC East while the loser will miss out on the playoffs entirely. These two played each other on December 11th, when the Giants won 37-34, having come back from a 12-point deficit. Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo will be playing with an injured hand, which is why most pundits are backing the Giants. Anything could happen though.
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
The Baltimore Ravens are looking for a win to clinch the AFC North and a first round bye, while a win for Cincinnati would see them advance to the playoffs alongside the Ravens and Steelers. The previous fixture between the two was close, and pundits are divided on who will win this one. I would back Cincinnati as a value bet given they are at over 2.00 odds and have arguably more at stake.
Kansas City @ Denver
Kansas City QB Kyle Orton was released by Denver earlier this year, so this is an opportunity for him to prevent the Broncos from completing a spectacular run to the playoffs. QB Tim Tebow and the Broncos have wobbled of late, so this should be a tight game. I reckon Denver will just get over the line, but would back Kansas City at 2.55 as a value bet.
New York Jets @ Miami
The Jets have an outside chance of making the playoffs, but with QB Mark Sanchez in the poor form that he’s in, most pundits are predicting Miami to spoil the party. I would back Miami if you can get 1.70+.
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
Pittsburgh need to win to have any hopes of winning the division, while Cleveland would love to get one over their divisional rival. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger may be sidelined to rest his ankle.
Some other points to make for this round are:
Detroit @ Green Bay – the Packers have nothing to play for and will be resting numerous starters, for those who are wondering why Detroit are favourites.