This year's slate of Week 17 games promises a good amount of excitement. There are a handful of "win and you're in games", with the Browns going up against the Steelers and the Cardinals and Rams facing off for a wild card spot. The top seeds in both conferences are pretty much locked up at this point, but who they'll be playing is still very much up for grabs. Nearly every playoff team has something to play for, a rare occurrence. Only the Steelers and the Chiefs will be resting important players en masse.
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You know what's not exciting? The race for the NFC East. The battle for the top position and a playoff spot will come down to the final day of the NFL season as the Giants, Cowboys, and Washington all have a shot at taking the division crown. The Football Team has a slight edge over their two counterparts; all Washington needs to do is beat the Eagles to clinch, or have the Cowboys lose. The Cowboys will be playoff-bound if they win and Washington loses, while the Giants need a win and a Football Team loss.
Whoever comes out on top will have the privilege of hosting a playoff game at home with a sub-.500 record. Hooray! We could see Daniel Jones duke it out with Tom Brady or Andy Dalton suiting up for the postseason for the first time since Vontaze Burfict knocked out Antonio Brown.
In other words, these NFCE squads will be fighting for the chance to get obliterated on national television, to the disappointment of us all. It's dumb. Division winners should get a playoff spot, don't get me wrong. If we did away with that, we may as well do away with divisions at large, and nobody really wants that. But they shouldn't automatically be one of the top four seeds.
Anyway, enough grousing. It is what it is and the NFL isn't going to change anything. The wheels of change turn as slow as they do in our government. I am here to tell you why we should all be rooting for the Giants to beat the Cowboys and then the Football Team to lose to the Eagles, thereby allowing a playoff game to be played in East Rutherford.
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Let's begin with the alternatives. The Cowboys not only stink like the rest of the division, they're also uninteresting. The defense is simply bad and every offensive skill player has underperformed dramatically without Dak Prescott. Tony Pollard is the only kind of fun player on the 2020 Cowboys and he's gonna play 10 percent of the snaps because Ezekiel Elliott makes ten times his salary. You'd think an offense with those two along with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup would be fun. But no!
Washington would be a great redemption story for Alex Smith, but his calf injury is lingering and there's a good chance he wouldn't be able to play if his team managed to qualify for the postseason. That would leave Taylor Heinicke to start a playoff game. Old Dominion legend Taylor Heinicke, you ask? The one and the same. I would rather not watch that play out. The defensive line is pretty exciting and the Ron Rivera story is incredible whether or not they're playing next week, but it would be a brutal offensive showing. And Daniel Snyder sucks, so let's not root for him, at the very least.
Which leaves the Giants. Jones is not a good quarterback yet, but he's so erratic the game would be interesting with that alone. Will he throw for 300 yards while turning the ball over four times? Maybe! He could also be immaculate. Who knows! Not even Joe Judge can tell us exactly what we might get with Jones in a playoff game. Most importantly, the Giants would have the narrative edge, the storylines the NFL needs to whip up interest in a game that will likely be a blowout no matter what.
That narrative? Tom Brady vs. the Giants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will almost definitely be the No. 5 seed in the NFC for the postseason. That would result in Brady playing his kryptonite in the form of an organization. His personal boogeyman Eli Manning might be gone, but the Giants have Brady's number. He proved he can still beat them earlier this season in primetime, but in the playoffs? A whole 'nother story!
You know that's what the league and its rightholders want. There isn't anything interesting about Brady torturing whatever nameless Cowboys corner would be playing or putting an end to the feel-good Washington season. The Giants, though? That might be enough to get people to turn on the game and keep it on, even when the Bucs inevitably go up by three touchdowns.
You have the randomness factor with Jones and the narrative factor with Brady. If we have to watch an NFC East team play a postseason football game, that's the one I'd want to watch.