At Shutdown Corner, we're here to provide clarity whenever possible. To that end, and with the help of the handy-dandy Yahoo! Sports Playoff Scenario generator, it's time to lay out which games are most important today, and why. While four of the eight early games included key scenarios for teams looking for playoff appearances and seeds, five of the eight late games have specific playoff meaning for at least one team playing in each.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans - If the Jags win and the Colts lose, the Jags take the AFC South and head to the postseason. They'll have to do so without David Garrard(notes) and Maurice Jones-Drew(notes), but they have the benefit of going up against the worst pass defense in recent memory. Texans fans unhappy with the decision to keep Gary Kubiak as head coach have to wonder whoat would happen if a team of Jacksonville reserves engineered a blowout.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins - The Giants have to beat the Redskins and hope for a Packers loss if they want a taste of the postseason. If the G-men do see their season end today, they have nobody to blame but their offense. New York amassed the most forced fumbles since the 2006 Chicago Bears, but they couldn't stop giving the ball back. The question then would be whether a big name like Bill Cowher could turn heads away from Tom Coughlin.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers - This is where it gets complicated. No matter what happens, the Bears are the two-seed, which might encourage them to rest their starters. The Packers win and they're in. If the Bears win and the Giants win, the Giants are the six-seed. If the Packers and Giants lose, Tampa Bay is in because they won today. If the Packers win, they're the six-seed.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks - Both teams are well aware that you're laughing at them, and they don't care. The Rams, who beat the Seahawks in October and would wrap up a four-seed at 8-8 with the sweep at Qwest Field, are just happy to be out of a three-year night mare that saw them winning just six total games. The Seahawks are looking to become the first losing team ever to grab a division title in a non-strike season, but Pete Carroll said that the goal in his first year back in the NFL was to win the division and go to the playoffs. 7-9 ugly may not matter to him, but you can bet it will matter to the NFL if the Seahawks go in as a four-seed and the 10-win Buccaneers stay home by dint of divisional bad luck.
- The Packers