December 2016


Bad form for the AFC, which has all six of its playoff qualifiers determined heading into the final Sunday of the schedule. The sharpest spotlights will be in the nation's capital in the afternoon, then in the Motor City at night. If the Redskins beat the Giants, then the loser between the Packers and Lions won't get into the postseason.
Aaron Rodgers' last throw at Ford Field was one for the ages. If the Lions can't stop Rodgers and the Packers from completing a magical late-season run on Sunday night, they might not have a prayer of making the playoffs. By the same token, if Rodgers cools off, Green Bay could see its season come to an abrupt end.
With one game remaining during the regular season, the Indianapolis Colts are in the unfamiliar position of having no chance to make the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been in that spot many times in recent years, and so this season is no different. In a game both teams likely thought could hold playoff stakes at one point, the Colts and Jaguars will instead try to salvage individual goals and end the season with a strong showing during an otherwise inconsequential matchup on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
(Reuters) - A showdown between the Packers and Lions that brings down the curtain on the National Football League's regular season may offer the most drama, but there is much at stake in Sunday's final slate of games. The loser may still claim a wild card berth in the playoffs that begin the following weekend, but that depends on results earlier in the day. The Washington Redskins (8-6-1) would claim the conference's second wild card if they beat the visiting New York Giants (10-5), who are already assured a wild card in the postseason.
A showdown between the Packers and Lions that brings down the curtain on the National Football League's regular season may offer the most drama, but there is much at stake in Sunday's final slate of games. The loser may still claim a wild card berth in the playoffs that begin the following weekend, but that depends on results earlier in the day. The Washington Redskins (8-6-1) would claim the conference's second wild card if they beat the visiting New York Giants (10-5), who are already assured a wild card in the postseason.
Matthew Stafford has been at his best this season when the Detroit Lions had to rally in the final minutes. Now the Lions may need one more clutch performance from their franchise quarterback to advance to the playoffs. After two straight defeats, the Lions host the surging Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, with the winner taking the NFC North title.
A victory in Detroit on Sunday gives Green Bay another NFC North title and makes Aaron Rodgers a prophet.
Mighty sequoias fell in sports in 2016, transformational figures who reshaped the games and the culture - from Muhammad Ali to Gordie Howe, from Arnold Palmer to Pat Summitt. The famous poem ''To an Athlete Dying Young'' tells of a runner and his town, and how ''shoulder-high we bring you home.'' So it was with the Miami Marlins and 24-year-old pitcher Jose Fernandez , killed in a boating accident.
The Dallas Cowboys are NFC East champions and clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles will miss the postseason for the third consecutive season and are trying to avoid their second double-digit loss campaign in the past 12 seasons. In other words, there is nothing at stake and the game is virtually meaningless for both squads when the Cowboys (13-2) visit the Eagles (6-9) on Sunday (FOX, 1 p.m. ET).
The NFL is partnering with the East-West Shrine game to increase development opportunities for coaches and draft-eligible players. The NFL will supply the coaching staffs for the two teams from among current league assistant coaches whose teams do not advance to the playoffs. ''The East-West Shrine Game is not only a showcase for tremendous athletes who have a dream of playing at the next level, it is also a venue for upwardly mobile coaches in the NFL,'' NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent says.

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